Old Rao Dhaba on NH 8

photo (7)As a frequent road traveler to Alwar starting early morning from Delhi, I often make a pit-stop at Dharuhera, Rewari for breakfast. NH-8 is dotted by several highway dhabas, and the most common name among them is ‘Rao’ with different prefixes & suffixes. The most authentic and oldest one is called ‘Old Rao Hotels & Caterers‘, which is 24 X 7 super busy joint and its parking lot is filled with small and big cars. It’s a large yet simple eating joint with plastic tables and chairs, and an photo (9)open kitchen, and you are not going to find the servers in neat uniforms. However if you are looking for some fresh and hot food desi style, this place offers good value for money. I have had numerous breakfasts and have tried them for a few dinners too. The dishes that I always stick to here are Aaloo Paranthas & Curd for breakfast, and Butter Chicken & Naan for dinner. Their stuffed bread offerings are good and mouth watering. Breakfast for four would cost around Rs 500.

My Rating: 3/5 (Taste, Service, Ambience, Value for money, Variety)

Must Try: Stuffed Parantha, Butter Chicken

 

Advertisements

Smoke House Deli

Smoke House Deli

Smoke House Deli

I had planned a lazy breakfast at All American Diner at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi this Sunday (20 Oct 2013) . All American Diner has been among my favorite breakfast joints for years. We reached around 10.30 AM only to find it packed with a wait period of 30 mins. After getting our names put on the wait list we were frolicking around appreciating gold fish amidst blooming lotuses and acrylic art to pass the time only to be told later to ourphoto (1) disappointment that we will have to wait for an hour! At 11.15 we were hungry and not in a mood to wait. Names of joints and locations were suggested as alternative and finally Khan Market was chosen. Rest was decided through the help of Zomato, and Smoke House Deli it was. We four ordered for our favorite breakfast including eggs Benedict, hash brown, wedges, beans, scrambled eggs, pasta, bacon, juice photo (4)complemented with flavored water. We indeed enjoyed a breakfast fit for kings. The joint had awesome food, nice interiors and courteous service. A must go if you enjoy continental cuisine. Breakfast for four would cost around Rs 2,500 and It’s worth every rupee spent. Find the joint at 17, Khan Market.

My Rating: 5/5 (Taste, Service, Ambience, Value for money, Variety)photo (3)

Breakfast Timing: 0800 AM – 1200 Noon
Must Try: Eggs Benedict, Hash Browns, Breakfast Bacon
Phone: 011 3014 6022

Alexander

alexGenre: Action | Year: 2004 | Duration: 175 mins | Director: Oliver Stone | Medium: DVD (EAGLE Entertainment) | Trailer: HERE | My rating: 2.5*/5*

Favorite Dialogue: Alexander: “Conquer your fear, and I promise you, you will conquer death.”

The screenplay of this epic movie based on the life and times of ‘Alexander The Great’ king of Macedon, who conquered Asia Minor, Egypt, Persia, and part of Ancient India, is based on the book by the same name written by historian Robert Fox. The story of Alexander (Colin Farrell) is narrated by Ptolemy (Anthony Hopkins) throughout the movie while he’s getting his autobiography scribed 40 years after 323 BC from Egypt. The story moves from his childhood and his closeness to his mother Olympias (Angelina Jolie) and teachings of Aristotle to his youth and his love for his childhood friend Hephaestion (Jared Leto), who was charecterised more like a cock tease homosexual than his heroics throughout, to his conquests across Asia Minor defeating Darius, and later marrying a tribal girl, Roxana. Towards the end he gets poisoned by his own generals fed up by his eccentricities and lust for war.

However the movie failed to capture the greatness of Alexander, and nearly succeeded in making a mockery of it all. Unfortunately, this awfully directed cinematic disaster is my Movie of the day.

The Rivered Earth

the-rivered-earthThe Rivered Earth

by Vikram Seth | 120 Pages | Genre: Poetry | Publisher: Hamish Hamilton | Year: 2011 | My Rating: 9/10

Recital of the poem ‘Fire’ by Vikram Seth HERE

Vikram Seth has written 4 libretti for 4 musical performances conducted over 4 years (2006 – 2009). A mix of original work and translation, they draw from three cultures – Indian, Chinese, and European – and are set to music by the composer Alec Roth and violinist Philippe Honoré. Titled ‘Songs in time of war’, ‘Shared Ground’, ‘The Traveller’, and ‘Seven Elements’, each of these four librettos in this book is presented with a foreword that provides a backdrop for the particular work. Exquisite pieces of calligraphy by Seth, in Chinese, English, Hindi and Arabic, prefaces each text.

In the first libretto, Songs in time of war, most of the poems are set during a terrible rebellion in the Tang dynasty, which caused vast devastation and famine. In the second libretto, Shared Ground, Seth moves from the Tang Dynasty to the Stuarts, to Salisbury, England, to the very house where the idea of the book of libretti was first born. In a delightful poem titled Host he recounts his admiration for his favorite Anglican poet, George Herbert,

“He’ll change my style.”
“Well, but you could do worse
Than rent his rooms of verse.”
Joy came, and grief; love came, and loss; three years –
Tiles down; moles up; drought; flood.
Though far in time and faith, I share his tears,
His hearth, his ground, his mud;
Yet my host stands just out of mind and sight,
That I may sit and write.”
 
 
The third libretto, The Traveller, which is about the stages of human life – unborn, childhood, youth, adulthood, old age, and death, is influenced by Rig Veda. Suitable texts for the stages were taken from various Indian languages – Tamil, Hindi, Brajbhasha, Urdu, and Bengali. And therefore the tone of the poems are playful, philosophical, contemplative, passionate, reminiscent, and yielding. The final libretto,Seven Elements, is inspired from all the three cultures, and thus its seven poems are based on seven element in nature, air, water, earth, fire, space, metal, and wood.

This deeply sensitive, appealing and seductive book about friendship, love, loss, drama, history, geography, literature and music is my Read of the Week.

The Man Who Knew Infinity

200px-Ramanujan_biography_coverThe Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan

by Robert Kanigel | 438 Pages | Genre: Mathematics/Biography | Publisher: Penguin Books| Year: 2000 | My Rating: 10/10

“Dear Sir,

I beg to introduce myself to you as a clerk in the Accounts Department of the Port Trust Office at madras on a salary of only 20 GBP per annum. I am now about 23 years of age. I have had no University education but I have undergone the ordinary school course. After leaving school I have been employing the spare time at my disposal to work at Mathematics. I have not trodden through the conventional regular course which is followed in a University course, but I am striking out a new path for myself. I have made a special investigation of divergent series in general and the results I get are termed by the local mathematicians as ‘startling’. I would request you …………….. Being inexperienced I would very highly value any advice you give me. Requesting to be excused for the trouble I give you.

I remain, 

Dear Sir,

Yours truly,

S. Ramanujan”

– Excerpts from a letter dated “Madras, 16th January 1913” to Cambridge Mathematician, G.H. hardy.

This brilliantly researched and well written book by Kanigel is a biography of an incredibly genius and among the greatest Mathematician of all times in the same league of Jacobi or Euler, Srinivasa Ramanujan Iyengar, commonly known as ‘Ramanujan’. Ramanujan independently compiled nearly 3900 results (mostly equations and identities).  Most of his claims have now been proven correct even after 90 years of his death inspiring a wide range of new research, which is still continuing.

In 1913, while working as a clerk at Madras Port Trust, Ramanujan wrote a letter to the premier English Mathematician of his time, G. H. Hardy, and thus began one of the most productive and unusual scientific collaborations in history, that of an English don and an impoverished and unparalleled genius from India. Hardy arranged a fellowship for Ramanujan to sail for England and come to Cambridge University, leaving behind his wife and family in Madras. Ramanujan’s isolation from his family and the intensity of his work eventually took their toll, and within seven years of leaving India he was dead due to tuberculosis at a young age of 32. Ramanujan was creative and an original thinker, more so than perhaps any other mathematician in history. Hardy had said for his formulas, “They must be true because, if they were not true, no one would have the imagination to invent them.”

This biography with all the drama, the richness with an insatiable love for numbers, and the cultural sweep of a fine historical novel is my Read of the Week.

The White Tiger

whiteThe White Tiger

by Aravind Adiga | 318 Pages | Genre: Fiction| Publisher: HarperCollins India| Year: 2008 | My Rating: 9/10

“You Chinese are far ahead of us in every respect, except that you don’t have entrepreneurs. And our nation, though it has no drinking water, electricity, sewage system, public transportation, sense of hygiene, discipline, courtesy, or punctuality, does have entrepreneurs. Thousands and thousands of them. Especially in the field of technology. And these entrepreneurs – we entrepreneurs – have set up all these outsourcing companies that virtually run America now.”

– Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger

In his debut novel, which won the Man Booker Prize in 2008, Aravind Adiga has brilliantly portrayed the modern India with its newfound economic prowess through its narrator, Balram Halwai aka Munna with an obsession for China, Chandeliers, and Corruption, rising from being a ‘country mouse’ from a nondescript village of Bihar to a business entrepreneur in technology driven Bangalore. Balram’s narrative is framed as a letter to the visiting Chinese Premier, written over seven nights while sitting at his office in Bangalore. In his letter he talks about the initial years of his life spent in Laxmangarh attending school for few years before moving to work with a tea stall, and later moving to Dhanbad with his brother Kishan, where he learnt how to drive and became a driver for a weak-willed son of a feudal landlord from his village. For him ‘the darkness’ represents the areas around river Ganges deep in the heartland marked by medieval hardship, where brutal landlords hold sway, children are pulled out of school into indentured servitude and elections are routinely bought and sold. Later he moved to Delhi with his employers, which he has described as moving from ‘darkness’ to ‘light’, and one rainy day he slit the throat of his employer with a broken bottle of Johnnie Walker Black, which he justifies as an act of class warfare, took seven hundred thousand rupees in cash and fled to Bangalore. His life in Delhi has taught him the corruption of government and politics, inequality between rich and poor, which he uses to set up his business of transportation for call centers with a motto of ‘driving technology forward’.

This novel as a penetrating piece of social commentary, attuned to the inequalities that persist despite India’s new prosperity is my Read of the Week.

Mother Pious Lady

Mother Pious LadyMother Pious Lady: Making Sense of Everyday India

by Santosh Desai| 380 Pages | Genre: Short Essays| Publisher: Harper Collins India | Year: 2010 | My Rating: 8/10

This book, a collection of essays from Desai’s column ‘City City Bang Bang’in The Times of India is all about the quirks and essence of the Indian middle class. India having a heterogenous society with deeprooted parallel cultures across its regions and religions have common binding factors too in our peculiar tastes and ‘sab chalta hai’ (everything works..) attitude.

The name of the book comes from a typical matrimonial ad in the english dailies, “Status match for a very pretty, very fair, Brahmin girl. Decent marriage. Father Govt servant, Mother Pious Lady…”, is a witty take on Indian society who’s obsessed with fair skin (Unilever’s Fair & Lovely sells like hot cake around the Country fuelling dreams of the middle class and filling coffers of the company), and arranged marriages offer such an insight into the psyche of Indian society and social structures.

I laughed throughout the book as I could relate to the stories being a part of both the pre and post economic liberalisation of the Indian Middle class. A must read if you enjoy humor and want to learn about the real India beyond glossy mags and bollywood.

This fantastically witty and hilariously delightful book is my “Read of the Week”.

%d bloggers like this: