Saturday, 29 June 2013

My Life As A Wanderlust : The Story of a Bong Gastro-Enthusiast !

Bengalis have certain typical characteristics to define them... Food, Travel, "Adda" (meaning discussions, yes Bongs discuss everything from communists to capitalists and from socialists to psychoanalysts...), and of course "Kaalture" (culture... for a Bengali, "kaalture kora" (meaning propagating one's culture, is as essential as breathing)...

So, my husband, an extremely enthusiastic specie of the Bengali clan, who has been long away from the irresistible charms of "rolls", "muglai porota", "puchka", "jhaalmuris" , all of which make up the famous street food of Kolkata.... and of course his favorite Indo-Chinese cuisine consisting of "chowmein and chilly chicken"... even the mention of these, sends my husband into a nostalgic emotional roller-coaster...  imagine his wonder and joy, when we discovered an Indian Restaurant, here in Pretoria, which serves authentic Indo-Chinese cuisine.

Before I go a little further, let me tell you a bit about what an Indo-Chinese cuisine is...

According to Wikipedia, Indo- Chinese cuisine is the adaptation of Chinese seasonings and cooking techniques into Indian tastes. This cuisine is said to have been developed by the small Chinese community that lived in Kolkata (Eastern Bengal) for over a century. Today it's one of the most well loved and famous cuisines of Kolkata and has become an integral part of every Bengali's food dictionary.

My Husband is an untiring lover of Chinese cuisine... not the authentic Chinese but the Indo-Chinese cuisine, that I have described above... in his own words, he can have Chinese, day in and day out every single day for his entire lifetime, and never be tired of it... of course, I highly suspect his devotion, but nobody ever comes between a Bong and his food...!!

So when, we, by mistake, discovered an Indian Restaurant and lo and behold... there was an Indo- Chinese menu, not just separate dishes on the main Menu, but a menu in itself... our joys knew no bound, especially, when I looked at Rahul's glowing face, I knew, this discovery meant a lot, lot more to us than anybody could ever imagine...

We had traveled almost over almost three continents, Asia, America and Africa, and no where except Kolkata, had we found this particular cuisine... of course we had searched... searched every Indian Restaurant and even the Chinese ones. We ordered with great enthusiasm and waited apprehensively, hoping, almost praying, that our dishes would meet our expectations. We had tried hard, and come far indeed...

And then they came...

Our feverish expectations were answered... the dishes were marvelous... we were overjoyed...

So if any of you gastro-enthusiastics are out there, and any of you want to taste what "Indo-Chinese" cuisine is all about, here in Pretoria (which, sadly does not have a decent Chinese restaurant), please try this restaurant called "Namaskar Restaurant" at Hatfield Corner... the ambiance is beautiful and sophisticated and the food is as I just said marvelous... trust me all those who live near Silver Stream and it's surroundings, it beats any Indian restaurants around...

So the "foodie" in us is fully satisfied now... we are a couple who love anything related to food, making it, eating it, making others eat it and even seeing shows about it... if you are a foodie like us... try new places, have new cuisines and discover a world where your tongue rules your heart...

Next on our platter is authentic African cuisine...!!!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Me Before You... A Review : Innocence Writ Large...!!!

After a long, long while, I read an out and out love story... and what's more I really liked it... I think it's been over one and a half years, that I have touched anything remotely romantic not even touching the occasional Mills and Boons romance...!!! In terms of reading , I had divulged deeply into autobiographies and non-fiction... a endevour to challenge myself into reading what is "boring" (my words) and "un-engrossing" ( again my words)... well I was doing pretty well and even reversed my thinking about autobiographies and non--fiction, which I now think are deeply engrossing and very interesting, I would go so much in saying that non-fiction actually makes you think, long after you have kept the book down.
Anyways, coming back to Me Before You, a novel, that I read recently for our book club, is written by Jojo Moyes, a British author. This is the second novel. Before reading, me and my partners at the book club, we all scrutinize the Amazon reviews... if you see the reviews of the book, the average rating that readers have provided is 4.5 stars... that was intriguing enough...  Though a word of caution here... please do not read a book, simply based on the reader's review and definitely not just the reviews of the Amazon readers. They have given an average rating of 3 stars to "A Hundred Years of Solitude"... !!!

However, coming back to Me Before You... it's a love story... yes, an out and out love story... yes I can already visualize a few yawns, especially in the male readers of this post. But before you think it's just another "girl meets boy romance" (well it is one), it also address a very deep issue of our society : Euthanasia or Mercy Killing... I really loved the way the author has integrated this much debatable topic in the book and it so seamlessly goes with the story.

A brilliant narrative, all of the book is in first person narrative, with the female protagonist's voice writ large. I could not understand why the author chose not to showcase the male protagonist's voice. It would have been quite interesting. The story runs lucidly and the humor is dark, but subtle. I really liked the portrayal of the two main characters and how their relationship shapes up. The other characters in the book are also very interesting. Without giving the story up, I can say this much, that the book, does not mean to preach, nor does it take a judgmental view. The author tells a simple story and leaves it upon the reader to reach their respective conclusion. The story is short but very, very engaging. 

I, as a reader, really felt like being in the shoes of the characters. I give due credit to the author, for including the voices of the vital characters apart from the Protagonist... and yes, for a very practical ending... sometimes, when the conclusion does not match the expectation, I really hate the book... but here, it did, and I am grateful to the author for that.

A beautiful story, it's simple, elegant, and innocent. After a long while, I came across such an innocent romance, and I loved every bit of it.