4 things that inspired me this week


Its friday night where I am (India) and I should be asleep since I have an early morning tomorrow. But as things stand sleep evades and I have Violaine by the Cocteau Twins, playing in the background as I type this out from my bed to get into relaxed sleep mode.

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1. Happy Tooth with tiny Teapots

I was thinking of going back to the store where I had seen this giant tooth and the little teapot minions .. this picture is a happy pill and it just makes me smile. Its sweet when people do eclectic stuff with mundane objects. Just fires up imagination.

 

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2. Junky by William Burroughs

On my reading list was the re-reading of Junky by William S. Burroughs and inevitably it makes me sad but humored at the same time.  I do think it has a lot to do with the craft of a writer that allows or brings on this sensation. How this book inspires me, is that it reminds us each time there is no such thing as good or bad but it2 always about choices and perspectives and where we are at different times in our lives. Also the fierce desire to survive and fight and survive is a reflex that kicks in no matter what. It’s just a head book and in no way does it have to do with any innate feelings.. please try not to over- analyse :)

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3. Stainless Steel Teaset – vintage alert

Oh, is it two mentions of tea objects in one post? Oh well.. I’m allowed. We go to this chic tea boutique / cafe / bistro called Infinitea because I really like the dark wood contrasted with teal interiors and quirky Alice in Wonderland lamps for which I will actually add another picture. Also they have a decent curation of artisianal teas from around the world and the food is not bad at all.

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(It’s in black and white because the picture is not the hero of my story, though it does look rather pretty. ) So that said, about the teaset, I ordered a Masala Chai, which for the uninitiated is a classic Indian style tea or chai (Hindi for tea) Made with a strong tea leaf brewed with spices like ginger, cardamom, cinnamon and sometimes a piece of clove and peppercorns; It is enjoyed quite milky and sweetened and is so good for an evening pick me up when you want a little rush in your cup. This stainless steel teaset was what it was served and for me it was pretty much the most perfect service for a masala chai; and which if you have lived or been in this country, is associated with oldschool coffee houses, country clubs and tearooms. (This chai is aftually perfect with those buttery whitebread chicken sandwiches, which we will most definitely discuss in the future.. I just had to bring it up). The trouble is that these teapots and the stainless steel cup and saucer are quite hard to find. But I have made up my mind that I must, must have it! Will let you know when I do :)

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4.Deep red and washed out seagreen

We all know that green and red just work together, but the fact that these colours were not really meant to make a deco statement where I found this setting is why I liked this so much. Minimalism, decrepit old architecture and elegant timeless colours are so simple in their aesthetic value that sometimes I feel we over complicate our surroundings these days with too much over-the-top because of the choices we have available to us. If we just strip, declutter and reuse … it makes a much bolder and elegant statement that cannot be ignored. This picture was taken in a grand Indian monument, the Jama Masjid, a Mosque built under the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the mid 17th Century. This box is close to the entrance where people might drop their gifts for the maintenance of the mosque. This was about drawing inspiration from the past and staying close to our basics.

So what is the moral of this story? Always keep you eyes open because you can find ideas to evolve, bit by bit, everywhere :)

That’s all for today. Thank s for reading. I am now ready for bed.

Good night. Sweet dreams.

Food Review: Ling’s Pavilion in Colaba for an authentic Chinese dining experience


 

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

The Ling’s Pavilion was on the our radar for a couple of months, before we actually did finally make it there and we wanted to go mainly for China’s pride, Crispy Duck more popularly known as Peking Duck. This review is a result of us arriving ravenous on an early Sunday evening.

The over 20 year old Ling’s Pavilion is located just off the bustling Colaba Causeway, the Cafe Mondegar lane, to be precise. Run by second generation naturalised Chinese it maintains its authenticity under the watchful gaze of the patriarch “Baba Ling” as he is affectionately called. The restaurant is replete with Chinese style indoor landscaping, typically tacky decor that sometimes tells you the food is going to be good – with a pond with Koi fish and bridges and sculptings and even a cherry blossom style tree.

We took our seats, and after the ususal debate about what “not” to order, we decided to first just order what we were here for “Crispy Duck.” With our luck, Baba Ling was in that evening and it would be silly not to ask him for a recommendation. Baba Ling comes up to our table and says, “do you’ll eat everything?” and “how hungry are you?” We said, “No Pork!” and “Very hungry!”

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

The arrival of the Crispy Duck to our table was met with squeals of glee us because by the time it made its way to the table we were ravenous.

All the condiments and parts to the lovely dish were layed out; a Bain-marie that had the pancakes, a glazed soya sauce spiced with chinese red peppers, a rich and reduced thick plum sauce, slivers of finely sliced cucumbers and scallions and gorgeous sauted roasted garlic which you could literally pop into your mouth like savory toffees.

Crispy Duck, up close

Crispy Duck, up close

To enjoy the crispy duck, you layer all your beautiful relish on the pancake, starting with the duck that has a basic five spice seasoning with lots of ginger which just enhances and duck’s natural flavour. Next top the pancake with some cumcumber, the spring onion slivers slivers, the lovely roasted garlic, and a controlled addition of the delicious plum sauce as per your taste. All you do then is roll it up, like you would a regular wrap and bite in! So, to be honest, the duck wasn’t crispy, but disappointingly moist – like it had been steamed and the pancakes just didn’t feel light and fresh. We suspect these were made in an earlier batch, and had lost the flaky lightness. The plum sauce, and those fantastic roasted garlic cloves really saved the dish from complete disappointment and it was all-in-all a pleasant activity putting the wraps together.

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

Crispy Duck, cucumber, scallions and garlic layered on the pancake

Baba Ling, then sent across this delicate baby fenugreek soup clear soup with the freshest Bombay Duck nestled right in the centre of the bowl. It looked so pretty in and tasted light and fresh. The flavour extremely simple and subtle yet had a very distinct aroma and taste which suited the texture of the fish. Bombay Duck, that is locally called bombil, native to the Arabian Sea and a classic fixture in Maharashtrian / Malvani cuisine has a very distinct texture and especially when it is dried a distinct strong smell. The flesh of this is so moist and delicate that it practically slides of the bone. This acted like a cleanse to the palate and a nice preparation for the main course; the heat from the baby fenugreek, makes this a lovely winter soup. This is not on the menu, but I think we had won Baba Ling over with our determination to experiment and so we were privy to a little something from the Chinese delegation table that had arrived a little after us. He said, “if you were bigger group, I could send more, but for you two, soup will do.”

TIP: When you step into Ling’s make sure you do a quick scan for a Chinese table, because they always know what to order, and if they are a big enough group the meal will be customized by Baba Ling and you could get a choice item or two off their table.

Steamed Ginger Fish

Steamed Ginger Fish

The finale to this meal, was Steamed Ginger Fish with a small portion of steam rice. Delightful. We had this with pomfret as the dish is ideally made with a white fish like , sea bass or halibut and it traditionally comes served whole on the dish. Now the fish, was truly a sensory delight. You can easily break off soft parts of the fish with your chopsticks and then scoop up the seasoning with a spoon onto your rice. I imagine this dish to be a true to roots, Cantonsese style meal, simple, delicious and wholesome and a classic staple. it uses basic ingredients, and a simple steaming style. This flavours come with lots of ginger, rice wine, five spice powder and soya sauce and also fried onions and a little peanut for that added smoky nuttiness. This really was wonderful, with the ginger and scallion flavour really being the perfect bridge between the fish and rice. An extrmely simple yet elegant Chinese authenticity.

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Steamed Ginger Fish with Rice

To note for freshness of the fish and how well it is cooked, look for moist flakiness of the flesh; the smell mostly just tells weather the fish or seafood is cultured or caught.

Where the Crispy Duck lost out in a few places, the soup and the ginger fish really held its own. The beauty of this meal was in the simple serving and the process involved in, while eating and layering your meal – this quite literally makes it a delicious sum of all its parts.

Sometimes more than giving a verdict to a restaurant for excellent food or otherwise, its nice enough to enjoy the strong points and the overall experience. We’ll give a verdict when we go again and try some more from its extensive menu. But overall there is authenticity in the way the food is served, the items on the menu and the fact that you can get customized dishes for your table. We would strongly recommend a visit, next time you are looking to go for Chinese, if you are in the Colaba or the South Bombay (SOBO) area.

20 somethings for people who wear glasses and how to deal


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I just read a post on Scoop whoop about 29 problems of people who wear glasses and decided I had some of my own thoughts on that, which I could summarise in 20. I’m sure I’m missing a few so all you bespectacles please drop me a line and tell me what problems you seem to face with your glasses and when you are without :)
1. Deafness - When I am not wearing my glasses, it literally induces deafness. My hearing, as against my vision is pretty good. But when I’m not wearing my glasses on the off chance that its not going with my outfit… it’s better not to talk to me .. smile and hug but no talking.
2. Passport Pictures - OMG Passport pictures .. without the glasses, and since I can’t tilt my head in cute angles I look like a squint psychopath.
3. TIP: When you do take off your glasses, for a pic try and not look straight at the camera in a full frontal, angle your head, give a side glance, it will take the edge off the suddenness and let your eyes adjust for the picture. I always come off looking squint or like I have brain fever because of the strange glazed look
4. Poltergeist - Glasses have a devious poltergeists after them and you will contanstly feel like you are misplacing them
5. 3DMovies – I don’t know if I have really been able to fully begin to love 3D movies with the bells and whistles of having to wear those damned 3D glasses on top of my thick rims. I’m officially 6 eyes and not just 4 eyes like before I stepped into the cinema. And then then of course the lower glasses will frost up.
6. Fogging – Pilots have not seen this kind of severe fogging before landing or take off, like a bespectacled beast has at fairly mundane occasions cooking, stepping out of air-conditioning, or when its ridiculously hot.
7. Spectacle Seat – They mysteriously always find themselves sitting smack in the middle of wherever I’m about to sit and I sit and then ruin the alignment
8. Contact Lens – Not always an option. Not getting used to contact lenses… or wearing your glasses after you’ve worn your contacting lenses and wondering for a good 37 minutes what’s going on. People with the mysterious lazy – eye will understand that all optometrists are terribly unethusiastic about prescribing contact lens to us.
9. Accessorise – Have to work all my accessories around my glasses, which is the fun part. And sometimes dressing for a real shi shi evening or a wedding when you have to be two shades short of a Christmas tree … wearing glasses isn’t really an option. There are clever things you can do to work with them when you need to dress up. Maybe a post on that at some point.
10. Eyeliner - Having to make my eyeliner wings really far out so that they aren’t completely hidden by my hipster rimmed glasses
11. Exercise - Going for a run with your glasses… on the treadmill or in the great outdoors… not an option… the dripping sweat and the consequent fogging up. Done for! Completely uncool / terrifically annoying
12. Glasses - All the eyewear you buy have to be powered unless you wear contact lens… what to do when you’re swimming … so you need to power-up your speedo googles too.
13. Crying - Glasses totally ruin a good crying session. First you cry then you glaze and fog up and then you realise you’re wearing the damned glasses and look even more ridiculous (even if you’re alone) and then the salty tears don’t let you clean the glasses and then you cry some more.
14. Amnesia - Forgetting your glasses on top of your head and asking everyone around where they are
15. Dirt - Glasses get dirty and you need to wash them how you wash your jewellery. Dirt gets into all sorts of cracks and grooves.
16. Expensive - You spend an arm and a leg on good frames.. you just can’t buy them off the street. And forget wearing your Cavalli or Ray Ban sunnies unless they are powered.
17. Tan lines - oh dear god those tan lines. It’s a curse.
18. Moment - Having an intense moment sitting close to someone special and the glasses fog over
19. Another Moment - Having an intense moment sitting close to someone with your glasses off and being gripped by fear if you’re looking squint
20. Debate - People saying “oh my god you have beautiful eyes, I never noticed” when on an off chance you take off your glasses … or then people fighting over whether I look better with my glasses on or off … with me having no say, whatsoever in the matter

What did I eye just see


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This mirror absolutely deserves a mention because I am now trying to figure how to get my hands on it.. don’t you quite think it can fit in beautifully not just in a store, but even at home, a chic restaurant or for that matter an eclectic office space as well. The teal and the circular scallops make this a mirror that you just want to look at and take selfies in :)

We see it in Khan Market, New Delhi at a store called Cottons ..where the clothes are to love too.

What is terrible, is that I had to rely on my phone and the app to be able to get my act together and get back to blogging. But you kmow what, it’s actually not that terrible, because I love technology and the Internet and the fact that I’m actually doing this.

It’s been a year and have to carefully go and have a looksie at the post just prior to this … I wrote about overcoming bloggers block… because after that as you will / can see.. there has been zero activity.

Oh well.  Let’s keep this baby on the road and Hello!