Saturday, June 16, 2007

Clubbing with a denim Jacket

There are certain things/activities I was ABSOLUTELY sure that I'd never indulge in...when I was young(er). Now when I see myself do them or at least comtemplate doing them, I keep wondering what has changed. Yah ofcourse, there is a recent incident prompting me to write this philosophical post - isn't there always?! I went "clubbing" yesterday. And for me that was a BIG DEAL cos all my life I've (for a variety of to be and not to be revealed reasons) avoided clubs and dancing and succeeded. But I went yesterday to the Avalon in Boston, a dark sweaty loud place with thousands of crazed rave music fans jumping to Paul Van Dyk. And horrors of horros .. I enjoyed it. Hence you are being subjected to this post. And as usual since I am supposed to be preparing my defense presentation and not doing this, I'll make this short and sweet.
Things that were a "I won't" and are changing to "Why not?"

1. Rave music at a Club: Possibility of a migraine(oh all that loud uncouth lyric-less music), dance move insecurity, I am not so puppy, who can do it without getting stoned and I can't score here.. variety of reasons could have stopped me yesterday as they have in the past. But they didn't.

2. Talking to strangers in a strange town in a strange country at 2 am: Aaah, do you need to ask me why I didn't do it earlier? But I did talk to three strangers (a fashion designer from Toronto, a restaurant manager and a boy who thought my hair was way cool), and managed to not scare them away with my raised eyebrow. I must be losing my charm!
It was late night in Dundes Square (Toronto) and the girl with the way cool hair was dead bored. I guess that's why she relented.

3. Wearing a denim Jacket: I'd see my Cosmopolitan-expert cousins flaunt those aggressivly and I'd keep wondering why. Those things are SO UGLY. But... maybe the short ones with dull buttons are not so bad after all?\

4. Watching Spiderman/Batman/those crazy comic figures fly around on a movie screen: Who pays $10 to be retarded? I do. Nowadays.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A LONG tale of four tummies

This post is dedicated to travel and food. Like most other posts on my blogs are. But this time I’ll try and devote as much to travel as I do to food. Because usually the non-tummy related aspects of my travel feel left out. Or maybe this time I’ll just devote different posts to each.

So, the following sections are about all the different cuisines I tried in the last 15 days since Ma Baba landed in the US. I have gained 20 pounds. I have devoured 10 cows, half a sea-ful of shrimps, another sea-ful of salmon and haddock, a few pheasants, a couple of rabbits and a herd of goat. My ecological footprint is so large that I’ve stopped feeling any guilt. Forgive me Oh Lord of the Greens. I will live without electricity for the next few weeks to make up for that (if you notice I still don’t say I will be a vegetarian for the next few months/years… I know that is not possible.)

I am going to be as systematic and detailed as is possible, just in case someday when I am old and without teeth and need to relive happier meat-filled days, I happen to read this post…..

Ma Baba’s trip To North America: A tale of four tummies

They were expected to land at 4 am May 11 at the Newark airport and we were there, half asleep but excited with a coffee and a sugar sweet blueberry muffin in hand. (I just read that blueberry muffins have the highest number of calories out of all the muffins). The first day was pretty uneventful, saliva wise (Chinese take out does not qualify as food). A grand lunch meet with the east coast Majumdar clan the next day made up for that – after a big dose of jhaal muri (spicy rice crispies Bengali style) Biryani, machher chop (fish fry) and 4 types of ice creams all the Majumdars were happy.. ofcourse we were already planning next day’s lunch.

May 13th, a 2 hour stop over in NYC.. mostly spent at the Indian Tandoor Oven on the Upper East side, a Bangladeshi restaurant near the east side. The place reminded me of the usual shaadi pandals (wedding tents) one sees in Dilli, the same garish colors and white table cloth on round tables. All that was worth mentioning were the naans – the softest I had tasted for a while. Ma claimed she loved it cos she could chat with the waiters in Bangla.. we reminded her that it hadn’t been that long since she left India and in any case the only language she had been speaking throughout was Bangla – no encounters with Amreekans yet (we were in NJ after all.. the land of desi aunties who made Sanjaya reach the finals of Idol). I have to add (out of sheer immodesty) that dinner that night in Boston was cooked solely by me – a quick dal-sabji meal that sufficiently impressed the family since the last time they saw me doing housework was…..never.

May 14th, the weather was great in Cambridge and ideal for river-lovers. We decided to have a picnic by the Charles with some super sized Burrito from this new local Mexican joint that has opened up. I was getting all psyched thinking “Oh my God! Did I ever imagine this would happen? Four of us picnicking .. outside of Nainital?” (pls note my use of the word psyched which, in case you non-yankee types don’t know, means something totally different here than it means back home. No I was not all freaked out and scared that we were picnicking in Boston. I was just crazy happy! As another side note, if you say I AM THE SHIT, It means I am real good and not that I am real turdy. Just for your info. I know it has nothing to do with this post J)

Culinary event wise, May 16th was the biggest day in Cambridge when we took Ma baba to Dali’s – a Tapas Bar in Inman square. A had taken me to its other cousin in Newbury street for my birthday and I had loved to food, then we had taken P there when she visited in March and she had loved it there. So it seemed like a safe enough bet. A, my veggie boy who loves ordering all the meat, chose a dish each of duckling in berry sauce, pheasant, braised rabbit in red wine, some stuffed shrimps, a lamb dish and a garlic chicken (in case Ma got scared and wanted to play safe). This huge meal was accompanied by a pitcher of sangria and a cocktail for (the red-wine allergic) me.

Bingo came over to meet the Adams family from India on Thursday and we all drove down to Gloucester and Rockport. We started our beach trip with a bang – huge haddock and sole baskets at the Fish Shack. These were probably the best fried fish I’ve had – my last experience (I am not a fried food lover) was at London where I was convinced by P’s friend that my life would be incomplete without trying their famous fish n chips. The batter was too thick and the fish tasted like oil – another reason for me to not like London! The fish at the Shack, however, was more fish and less batter, so I was happy! Lunch was immediately followed by some apple and cherry strudels at the Strudelry further down the Bear Neck and if we could have managed it, some fudges from the fudgery as well.. but the mere sight of those (delicious looking) choco fudges was making us sick so we gave up (the three bears in the corner and the lil boy peeping thru the fudgery window at them made the trip to the fudgery worth it even without fudges in our tummy).

Weekend was in NYC again and S& N suggested an Ethiopian place on the Upper East Side (I think it was very creatively called The Ethiopian!) for lunch. The place was pretty cool, with the usual “African” decorations and knick knacks for sale. I love the way Ethiopian food is served, although the portions seem smaller than they actually are when served on such a huge anjeer (flat bread resembling a dosa/appam). I enjoyed the fried lamb and the beef the most, though some of the veggie dishes were almost tasty as well! At night we decided to try out Karaoke again (Sing Sing), this time with another wild singer joining our party – P. Oh but that should be saved for the “travel” post. All you need know for now is that while 2 of our Karaoke party members were pushed home to get IDs, the three of us devoured some (pretty decent) Shawarma platters. And ofcourse back at home N, my ice cream angel, had got some amazing ice creams stocked in the fridge for me… J

Sunday lunch was at an Afghani restaurant near the Met. The kebab platters made me dream of Karim (and the oily biryani must have added another 2 pounds.) The strangest part of the restaurant was the old Bollywood songs in the background and the Mexican cooks. No wonder the food tasted kinda fusion! A & I decided to eat dinner our so we ended up spending about 2 hours looking for an appealing and cheap enough place to eat at Northampton (we were both feeling broke after the endless chain of eating outs). Nothing seemed to fit so we ended up at our Thai Corner in Amherst. The food, as usual, was mediocre. The Thai iced teas, deliciously sweet!

Tuesday, May 21st I reached Toronto. The rest of the gang was already walking up and down Yonge street. We were staying at the Marriott, bang in the middle of Yonge street so tummy wise we had chosen the ideal location. First night was probably the best meal ever, at the “all you can eat Korean bbq” on Yonge. Ma baba were fascinated by the grill on the table, the waiters amazed at our eating capacity and we ended up eating a year’s supply of meat – chicken, beef, veal, white fish and mussels, marinated in the most amazing sauces. Next day dinner was Shawarma sandwiches again (cheap and easy) in front of the Idol finale (I lost interest when Melinda was kicked off, but I was watching to make sure that dirty boy Blake didn’t make it. He didn’t. I would have broken the TV otherwise)

Oh ya how could I forget our cute little Thai place “Papaya” with its most amazing coconut shrimp soup and the sweet young manager/waiter. He recognized me when I went back a week later (I was on my own this time) and insisted on chatting non stop while I ate my soup! Papaya was different from the usual corner Thai deals, the décor was really chic – all white, metal and minimalist. Reminded me of Suede in the Priya complex.

Kingston meals were mostly at home, we had had too many meals out and had pretty much exhausted all kinds of cuisines. Ma Baba had discovered a kind of fish that tasted like ilish so we had a couple of meals consisting of Ma’s famous shorshe ilish (ilish fish in mustard), P cooked some thai curries and coconut chickens and rest of the time we tried to give out tummies some rest. P and I discovered that my favorite café on Queen st (The Sleeping Goat) served masala chai and samosas so we spent one evening pouring over Boggles and eating a massive samosa which tasted nothing like the real thing but was good enough for the semi NRI in us! I started laughing while P ordered the samosas and chai – it was just so ironic that we were paying 6 bux for some oily Indi food in Canada while back home we wouldn’t have eaten one even if we were paid to eat it (at least I wouldn’t have!) All this “leaving your home land” jazz seems to have softened our brains and corrupted our taste buds!

We couldn’t get reservation at the sea-side restaurant for Ma ba’s anniversary so saved that meal for my last night in Kingston. The meal was more fancy-shancy and less taste. We started with some beef appetizers (Ma had tiger shrimps), followed by Mojito chicken (ordered by the oldies) veal (P) and sesame salmon (me). The dessert was probably the best part – chocolate mouse topped with lots of whipped cream. HEHEHEHE. I better hit the gym as soon as I land in Boston, actually to lose all that I’ve gained I should start jogging from Buffalo airport!

My last night in Canada was spent over thai soup and satay with the sweet Papaya man and another (you can bet it will be the last for this year) Shawarma sandwich with my latest favorite book “The Curious Incident of the Dog”. If you are a "Catcher" fan (like most sane people are) give this book a try.

Whew. That was definitely the longest food post anyone could have written. I still have 2 hours to kill before my flight takes off from Buffalo so now I shall go search for some dinner deals! More travel news to follow on my travel blog. And I promise this time I won’t even mention the word “meat” :P

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