Saturday, 27 June 2009

New York: The experience

My second movie experience in "Gandhidham" (I know say the name with a very very American accent - sounds more like "Ganyi-DAMN" now)... super awesome che!

NEW YORK: The Indian film community has finally arrived!
First Dev-D and now this one. Hollywood ki maa ki...
Let's see if you Amricans can see the beauty of this movie - This flick deserves an Oscar! Move aside Slumdoggy.

The setup
My colleague from Ghana is in town. Finally a partner - I can't go for a movie alone.

Ticket Counter Tales
We went to the newest multiplex in town.
The ticket options were Rubby (INR 150), Diamond (INR 125), Gold (INR 100) and Silver (INR who cares).
Iph ai had ae hawt Guzzu chicks with me, Ai would have surely taken the Rubby tickets!
But the idea of sitting in private boxes freaked the two of us out!
Err.. if you are puzzled, Rubby is a typo. They did mean Ruby...

News Reporter: Piyus Bhai
As we bought tickets, the previous show just got over. A horde of unhappy people walked out of the hall. My colleague (A Turbaned Sikh) took up the name of Piyus and started quizzing people about how the liked the movie.
Apparently, the movie sucked.
There was no story.
The ending was horrid.
Damn! We seemed to have made the wrong choice here. Or did we...

The Movie Hole (HALL)
Red jajjy super reclining seats.
Walls with Red Lightings.
Red Carpetings.
Super Swanky!
All through the movie, Piyus (The worlds first Sardarji Guzzu Bhai) and Jignes (me), tried conversing/commenting in Guzzu! We also tried passing respectably sleajy (yes yes. Oxymoron it is!) comments on Katrina, in Guzzu :P
Behind us, a Guzzu family had come with food, glass plates and stainless steel cutlery - clink clink clink - constant background music.
Talk about Dolby Sorround Sound!
Also...No one in the Hole got the "I just came" joke... Jesus Save Me.

New York
What a movie!
I am impressed...
YRF finally will make some money without SRKs blessings!
Kabir Khan - Kudoz dude! You are the man.
John Abraham - Dude are you on steroids? Nice shirts all through by the way.
Neil N M - Dude can you whine!! Also, you shouldn't have gone for the Ambulance at all silly boy!
Katrina - PHISH! HOT! sweat sweat. TOTTA!!! WOW! oooof! sweat sweat. She does have the most awesum butt! She beats J LO hollow man! She would look horrid after marriage though - watch out Sallu. It's amazing how your college tracks pants dint wear out 8 years hottie! Also, you make me weak in the knees with the way you take my name! Yay!
Daniel - Nice Home Run dude!
People of Amrica - Buck Fush!!!!!
The FBI - Shame on you, you Freaks. What's with the Peeing bit? Get a Life.

The Concept
A very very deep idea - conveyed very very well.
Katrina's butt! wow! sweat sweat!! (Err... dunno where that came from!)
Irfan Khan's timely dialogues make people see where the story is coming from.
Nice run up to the climax - predictable though.

Good. Great. Awesome.
Katrina's song for John (mere sang) captures the essence of the relationship between two lovers:
Men are always going to be weak suckers! Women will always be their Rocks of Gibraltar! :)

The End
Hmmmm.... Now I know why Piyus Bhai's last interviewee never liked the ending.
It was not all heppy heppy - was very Romeo-Juliety instead. Nice though.

5 stars.
Stop Reading.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Her hair...

"Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder and the rain
To quietly pass me by"

There was something about her hair... Something I could never pin-point.

It could have been their colour - black like the darkest night.
It could have been their shine - like the moon shines on a cloudless night.
It could have been the way they smelt - enthralling and intoxicating.
It could have been the way they felt - soft and tender like the finest cotton.
It could have been the way they let the wind flirt with them.
It could have been the manner in which they fell over her face.

They would appear so perfectly organised at times, I'd feel scared to touch them.
And at times they'd take up a form so tussled, I'd feel an involuntary urge to help fix them.
I loved they way they curled suddenly, about midway down their length.
As if she was bored of the monotony, and want to bring about a change as abruptly as possible.
Her hair reflected her persona - composed and confident, peurile and barmy, spoilt and recalcitrant - the craziest mix I have ever come across.

I loved toying with her hair - I would be at my playful best.

The sight of her walking on a beach would leave me in a frenzy: The wind toying with her hair - tossing it about playfully. She would try to tame the wind many a times before she would finslly accept defeat. The shortlived grimace on her face would give way to the most cherubic of smiles - one which would turn a lover into a zealous fanatic.

It's funny how her hair played a very significant part in my life - way more than she ever realized. They symbolized the continuity of our togetherness, in a manner which was rational only to me. I had bestowed upon them, the role of being the umbilical cord which would connect me to her in the after life...

"Her hair reminds me of the eternal place
Where in the end I'd lie
And pray for hurt and the pain
To quickly pass me by"

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Her eyes...

"She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain"

Her eyes were capable of weaving a yarn.
They could allure, captivate and charm.
They could induce, seduce and command.

Her whites were spotless. The irises, a chocolatey brown.

The eyes were deep set. Or rather, they looked deep set due to the highly prominent facial features that sorrounded them. And as if to compensate for that apparent relegation to the background, they'd developed the power to move mountains with just a glance.

Her eyes almost always had a glint in them. It was as if they beheld everything that they glanced upon rather than just seeing them.

Akin to Iris (the Greek Goddess of the Rainbow and the messenger of the gods if I remember my Greek Tales correctly) the divine light in her eyes could communicate what she felt...

They would light up with happiness, glimmer with excitement, burn red with anger and glow pink when she was playing the role of a temptress.
They'd display a fresh green hue when she spoke of mountains, turn a dreamy blue when she wished for it to rain and sparkle with the pied brilliance of a kaleidoscope when she'd to do something naughty.
They'd turn a wee bit lachrymose when it was time to part after our intermittent romantic run-ins and they'd shed a painful tear when she was wronged.

Her eyes had this way of looking at me, like as if I were a helpless little puppy lying on the road, cold and in need of her love.
They would look at me with the promise of tomorrow. They would gently gesture towards the turn to be taken on that fork in the road.

Her eyes had the power of lifting my spirits up and high... until she shut them on me...

"She's got eyes of the brightest skies
As if they could kill my pain
I'd love to look into those eyes
And see them make it rain"

Friday, 19 June 2009

Her smile...

"She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky..."

The first thing people would notice about her was her prodigious smile.

Whenever she wanted to respond to emotional stimuli, her facial muscles would interact with the most wondrous outcome ever: The ends of her lips would flex, exposing a beaming, dazzling row of (upper) teeth and giving birth to a billion watted smile.

And the effect of this smile, on it's recipient was neither ordinary nor unique.

I, for one, would react like as if I had been made to smoke an entire stick of Cannabis.
Current would surge down my spine causing my sides to tingle and my muscles to tittilate.
Somewhere in the back of my head Slash's Axe would belt out the awesome lick to "Sweet Child of Mine."
My eyes would lose focus, my mind would start to wander aimlessly in space - my entire body would feel like it was floating - towards that billion watted source of energy.

Interestingly, Cannabis was one of the first known Lie Detectors - when administered, the user would lose control of his/her senses and inevitably speak only the truth.
Not surprisingly, her smile had the same effect on me - out came the truth - with no thought to what the impact of being such a truthful sage could be!

She had the most perfect lips - curving ever so gently. It seemed like they were painstakingly chiselled by the maker.

Her zygomatics were sharp and protruding. When she smiled, they stood out even more - symbolising the pride she took in her being so perfect.

Her smile would make people overlook the fact that her nose was a tad bit bigger in proportion to the rest of her face.

It was as if her face was constructed to look perfect when she smiled.
Smile she did - all the time. And look perfect she did - all the time.

She had mastered the art of communicating with her smile.

There was a smile to tell me she loved me.
There was a smile to encourage me.
There was a smile to tell me that things would be just fine.
There was a smile to make me feel strong.

There was a smile when she had a naughty trick up her sleeve.
There was a smile to show excitement.
There was a smile to show innocence.
There was a smile to show her happiness.

Soon, there was a smile to show her dissappointment in me.
Then, there was a smile to express her sadness.
She also developed a smile to show her anger towards me.
I forced her to come up with a smile when I made her shed a tear.

In the end she was left with one smile for me...a smile to show me her hatred...

When I think of her smile, Slash still plays the awesome lick - the words of the song differ from the original version however...

"She's got a smile that it seems to me
Reminds me of hatred, I created for me
Now everything is silent, like death just crept by"

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The plunderin' lass-lubber...

Happily and carelessly
I played the game aimlessly
Irresponsible, wanton and boyish
To me it all seemed so toyish

The game kept me young and on my toes
My life was full of happiness and devoid of woes
Poised with a new challenge at every passing stage
Conquest after conquest made me forget my age

One day however, the game took a turn
The rules changed, the player felt a burn
I was suddenly mesmerised, and a lot about me changed
I started behaving differently, almost mentally deranged

I took time off to think
And seperate reds from the pink
What I treated like parrots, this time, was a Dove
I stared in disbelief, for I was surely in love

It was difficult to move a finger
When I wasn't around her to linger
Living apart from my beloved was a task so hard
Days passed like months, time seemed to tard

I came out with a clean slate, as a sign of penance
With an aim to seek support, sick of self defense
The knowledge of my past would render circumstances better
In sooth, I believed, my dreaded past wouldn't matter

Then suddenly one day, light was killed and darkness hired
I had spoken too much, too soon. Upon me it all back fired
The rules changed again, the player left all alone
Mentally sapped this time and unwantingly danger prone

From there on I began, with myself, a long fight
In no time at all, my blacks turned to a tense white
In vain I tried to go back to my old ways
Soon to realise, a reputation tarnished never pays

Sadly however, I soon accepted the cardinal thing
My actions only made me lose, to the me within
I gave up fighting with my self, torn and distraught
My new life stays devoid of battles to be fought

It's hardest to handle betrayal from the one who taught you to trust
Despite feeling new lows, live on you must
The greatest learning here is about the law of averages:
Every plundering pirate meets his end, at the hands of wandering savages...

Monday, 15 June 2009

Brunchie/Snackie (Food Review: Cote d'Ivoire)

After that wild Saturday outing - when you reach home at 3am - your belly full of beer; your pocket a few hundred dollars lighter after yet another unsuccessful run at the casino; exhausted after hopping from pub to pub, yet elated after the awesome drive from Cocody to Riveria and back (atleast twice!) and of course fresh from conversing with random officials of the Gendarmerie pretending to have known them forever - all you can think of is sleep!

And you inevitably wake up at that time on the following Sunday when it's already too late for Breakfast and is still quite early for Lunch.

Well you have reached the ideal stage which opens you up to the very Western Metrosexual concept of Brunch! While in India we loosely use the term Brunch for any meal which substitutes lunch and takes care of that breakfast you missed out on, in a city like Abidjan, it is a trend - If you are metro savvy, you would be having Brunch on a Sunday!

A round up of my favourite places in Abidjan serving Brunch and Snacks...

Pako Gourmanderie - a cafeteria, a confectionery (Patteseria), a bakery (Boulangerie), a Snacketeria, a Chocolatier and an Ice Cream Parlour (Glacier) all rolled into one, open from 6am in the morning to about 9ish at night, this place is a foodie's delight.
Pako offers exciting meals for the keen Brunch-maniac - Eggs cooked as per your choice, Sandwiches, Burgers, an exciting range of Breads, Hot and Cold beverages, Crepes and Beer...BURP!

Have to try: Chocolat Chaud, Crepes (Miel, Chocolat, l'Orange), Chausson de ananas (Delicate patties filled with tender Pineapple filling), Mini Beef Burger, Pain de Chocolate (Bread Rolls with a light filling of Chocolate), the Pizza slices and the Croissants.

Patteserie Abidjanaise
A French Confectionary where everything looks as good as it tastes, this place is colourful not only in decor but also in terms of the delectable food they have on display!
Located in a desolate lane off Rue de Marseilles, initially I used to be scared to drive up to this place in the dark...Silly me :)
From Cakes to Pastries to Chocolates to Candy, the place has everything one desires when on a trip to sate ones craving for sweetmeats.
One can decide if one wants to sit on tables places alongside the road (with local folk) or up on the terrace (with upscale French citizens) - the former totally beating the latter in terms of an experience!
The coolest thing about the place is that its open 24x7. Hurrah!

Have to try: Panini Poulet (Chicken Paninis), Pizza Reine (Mushrooms, Tomato and Onions), the Chocolat Milkshake, Chips de Crevette (Prawn chips - Calcuttans know what I'm talking about!), the Pastries and the Apple Pie.

Al Bakawat (Not Bagawat!)
Located on Rue de Marseilles, the place has a very Arabic feel to it.
Located across the Lagoon (which blows a constant breeze into the place) and with outdoor seating, the place always has exciting Lebanese music playing. Nearly every individual is puffing on an argeulih (Hookah).
Having spent numerous evenings at this hotspot, we came up with our famous Rating Scale Game here! (Boys can get in touch with me to know more about that!)

Have to try: Argeulih - Pomme/Raisin (Apple/Grape Flavoured Hookah. Warning: They like it strong!), Brochette du Poulet (Lebanese Bread served with Spicy Leb. Chicken Tikka), Kebe (Mutton Kebabs - Granular and Rugged) and the jus de Ananas (Pineapple Juice).

News Cafe - Why O Why did you shut down :(
The most awesome place we ever knew! It was more of a Bar than a Cafe - though we'd go there mostly for the Chocolat Chaud (Hot Chocolate) and the Donuts! Also, very very classy Frites (Finger Chips) and an exceptionally cold Pression. Perfect after the heated training sessions we were made to undergo!

[I dedicate the awesomeness of this place to UK - the place where Mani's curse ensured that our fortunes remained entwined for the next year or so! Cheers to when we left the ENMITY (:P) way behind, replaced it with competition and finally let kinship and camaraderie take over. And to Battrick - for the role it played and continues to play in our lives!]

Located in the ever popular mall Capsud on Bvd VGE, Debonairs and Steers were fast food joints from South Africa.
Debonairs serves the most awesome Pizzas and Steers is known for its delicious Burgers. With tables places on the mall floor, this was always a popular vantage point :P

Have to try: the Mumbai Masala Pizza (Chicken and Lots of Green Chillis), the Bacon Burger (Beef patty with strips of tasty tasty Bacon and Cheese), the Pression (again!), the Ice Creams (The only place where you'd get Carte d'Or Ice Cream bars like Vienetta - imported directly from South Africa)

Castle Fried Chicken

Ape-ing the Western concept of KFC, Abidjan boasts a franchisee of the South Africa CFC - but lands up falling seriously short of the awesomeness which the Finger Licking Good Stuff can make you feel!
The place serves nearly everything the other places in the list serve but is simply superb when it comes to the Manaiche it can prepare! A Manaiche is a Lebanese Paratha laced with Zaatar (A dry mixture of Thyme and Sesame Seeds, fried ever so lightly in Virgin Olive Oil - Try it now if you haven't yet!) or Fromage (Cheese).

Have to try: Apart from the Manaiche avec Zaatar, you have to go for the Tiramisu and the Chicken Cheese Burger available here.

Man! That was a mouthful :)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Food Review: Cote d'Ivoire

Well, what better way to talk about a place I love, than to use food as a reference parameter!
I will be itilizing my regular framework while trying to sum up about what added 13 kilograms to my body weight: The Drinkie, Brunchie (new addition to the framework), Snackie, Mealie and the Dessertie.
Also, given that I spent 18 months in Cote d'Ivoire, I would like to do justice to every kilogram I tediously put on and would hence be talking about each stage in details and hence in individual posts.

Drinkie (Cheers!)

One simple word.


Liquor of all sorts can be found easily available in supermarkets and general stores!
And if that is not enough, drinking and driving is not a crime.
Drinking while driving is also not illegal...
See! Heaven's the right word....

Of the local beers available in the Ivory Coast, the ones worth mentioning are Flag and Castel (the spelling is not wrong). Any die hard Kingfisher fan will not mind settling for one of these in exchange.
Recommendation: If drinking one of these, ask for a Pression (French for Pressure; and indicating a Draught Beer).
Of the imported Beer Corona ruled the roost (within the city atleast). A few others like Becks, Desperados (Beer mixed with Tequila) and Guiness are extremely popular.
The Indian restaurants stock Cobra and Kingfisher for the Indian who wont budge.

Lifestyle Tip: Drive from Abidjan to Assinie on the weekends (after 2pm prefferably). Use a 4x4 SUV. Do not drive below 100 kmph. Ensure you have a like minded friend with you. Carry (atleast) 3 pints of Corona per person, for the drive. Load your CD player with Audioslave, Staind, Metallica, Nirvana and the likes...

An erstwhile French colony (with ties that have not been severed), Cote d'Ivoire is the ideal place for any wino to fulfill his fetish for almost any variant of the formented grape juice. No matter what your budget is, you can find a wine to match it (Red, White or Rose).
My personal recommendation:
Muton Cadet Reserve (By Baron Rothschild); Margaux; St. Emillion; Cabernet Sauvignon; Pomerol among the Reds (anything from 2004/05 to render them affordable).
Sancerre for the White Enthusiasts.
Rose Wine...Chee!
Sauvignon for Chilean winos.
Sirrah/Shiraz for Aussie mates.
Californian wine??? Wine???

Lifestyle Tip: Drive from Abidjan to Assinie at night! SSSShhhhh. Carry two bottles of red wine atleast. One for the way. One for the beach. Lets hope you make it back from that scene buddy!

Vietnamese Wine
Had to mention this one. Visit any Vietnamese restaurant and you will surely see large glass flasks. Those with weak hearts should look away immediately.
Those with a twisted sense of life should go in for a closer look...
You will find the flask full of snakes, lizzards, scorpions, newts, toads and some red fernlike plants immersed in a transparent liquid!
These creatures are apparently caught alive and kept sealed in these flasks for years at end. Their dead and decaying remains (along with the toxicity they are famous for) ferments the liquid and renders it with magically potent aphrodisiac like properties.
This is drunk in traditional China cups which have a peculiarity in their design. As you drink, the falling meniscus uncovers the portrait of a voluptuous lady (who happens to be stark naked) on the inner wall of the cup! Pornographically potent!

Lifestyle Tip: Click snaps. Peer into the jar. Fulfill your curiosity by tapping the walls. Dont bother trying to drink it buddy. Vommit isnt fun!

I am not a tea guy, so I wont bother talking about Tea. Coffee however deserves a special mention since it's so close to my heart.
Coffee in the Ivory Coast? Bad Idea at first!
Almost anywhere, the cafe au lait will leave you dissappointed!
Italian Capsule Coffees however can be very interesting shots to take. Available in a variety of flavours and strong enough to keep you awake all night, these are typically drunk in small cups and without milk. One does however have to acquire a taste for these babies. Mint candy would really come handy once you are done dunking a couple of these shots!
There was a cafeteria called "Beantown" which opened with the promise of Cold Frappes in a variety of flavours. It shut down almost as quickly as it opened!

Recommendation: Turkish Coffee. Available in the Turkish Cafeteria in Pleateau, this baby will soothe your throat

"What is a city without its pubs?" - Samir Kapur :P

Of the million Night Clubs/Pubs and Bars in Abidjan, each with its own speciality and catering to a loyal clientele set, here follows a round up of my personal favourites...

Havana Cafe
Definitely the best pub in Abidjan, I have never had enough of this place. The place is actually a sports bar in the guise of a rustic Hawaiin Shack.
There are two Harleys (in perfect working condition) that you walk by as you enter the pub. These ladies make you feel like you want to get drunk enough to pretend you can ride them :P
Other attractions are the surf boards across the cieling and the life size motorised water scooter by the far side.
A projector beams sporting events from around the world onto the wall of the pub - Football, Rugby, Tennis, F1, Snooker and Cricket (at times when we have managed to convince the owner of its importance!).
People in here are always in a good mood. The music is always right (even when they belt out Ivorian tracks!).
The waitresses here are on the lines of those you find in Hooters (Knock Knock!)
On Saturdays, a local Ivorian band creates a riot. The lead singer (who sings in Both English and French) can also manage to pull of an awesome rendtition of Knocking on Heaven's Door with a Reggae twist when he's in form. Pay him a small amount of money and catch him dance like the craziest thing you've ever seen!
The place boasts a variety of Cuban Cocktails apart from your everyday stuff and the experimental drinker can have a ball here.

Le Giraffe (2.5 litres of Chilled Draught Beer which comes in a long glass tower with a tap at the bottom). Be a man... Bend low onto the floor and Chug!!
Mojito - the real deal and unlike anywhere else - take my word for it.
For the foodies - Calamers (Squid. Gross but worth a try), Beignets de Accra (fritters made of fish and egg) and the Chilli Con Carne (Good Old Beef Chilli).

Lifestyle Tip: Get to the pool table early. You will eventually get challenged for ownership rights to the table by either the Aissie Gang or the Lebanese Gang (winner plays on). Accept the challenge. Lose gracefully. Smile the Indian way. Dunk your beer! Challenge them again just to get another game ;)

Experience of a lifetime: Convince the owner (An old Frenchman, Hell's Angel Club Member - long dirty hair, tattoos, ripped muscles, dirty sweaty stinky persona et all) to show off his Harleys. There was this one time he rode it into the pub and started revving the engine up full blast. He drowned the music out and covered the pub with sweet Harley Smoke. Nothing can get better than that after you are five beers down!

Desperation to get there but cant due to exhorbitant tickets, a very long flight and the painful yellow fever vaccination?
Try Totos in Mumbai (about half as good as Havana) and Buzz in Gurgaon (about 33% as good as Havana). In fact, I have never come across a pub which comes closer than these two everr can to Havana Cafe!
Mr. French Owner, you owe me free drinks for all this promotion I am doing!

Che Cafe

Chic, classy and very French, this place is famous for its Karaoke nights (French only). Here, you can rule over the pool table since you're probably the only one who is interested in playing pool at an expensive place like it!

Recommended: Le Margherita - Simply scintillating!

La Prive
Strictly for dancers only, a non dancer like me has always found this place to be a waste! Amazing ambience however, great laser lights, superb decor, a well stocked pub and always choc-a-block full, this is the place to be on Friday Nights!
With great dance music playing aloud, the who's who from Abidjan's social circle hang around here.

Recommended: Eye Candy. Also, too much of candy can be injurious to health!

The Piano Bar - Cafe de Rome

Located below the Casino at Cafe de Rome, this bar/pub boasts a great Band. With Ivorian Lead singers and a South East Asian Guitarist (Who puts Santana to shame with his version of Black Magic Woman), the place is ideal for big losers (at the casino :p) to come and relax!

Recommended: Le Margherita. The Chocolate Mousse (Freaking Awesome!)

My learning from this post: Two Beers and you've got rid of your Creative Block!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Abidjan - Le Paris de Afrique l'ouest

I was very queasy aboard the 11 hour flight to Abidjan - the fear of flying coupled with the sheer lack of knowledge about the Dark Continent is enough to get to anyone I'd say.

We were four of us on the flight - bright exponents of the concept of "Brain Drain" armed with apparently coveted educational degrees (a sham if you ask me for my personal opinion)- having each conducted cartloads of research on Cote d'Ivoire on Google. We spent quite some time comparing notes. The fact that we could find only three common points amongst the four of us increased manifold the uncertainity that had set up abode in our minds, apart from telling us that each of us had a very different style of google-ing!

1) Abidjan in it's heyday was known as the Paris of West Africa
2) After the civil war in 2004, Cote d'Ivoire was labelled as an extremely dangerous place with strict warnings issued to potential travellers by the US/UK government on their respective websites
3) Cote d'Ivoire was the largest producer of cocoa in the world

The rest of our flying time was spent quizzing each other on the meanings of mal-pronounced French words. (We were each armed with a copy of a French to English Dictionary, given that we were relocating to a country where French was the most common means of communication and English was virtually unknown!)

The sight of Abidjan Airport was very appealing to my eyes. A country ravaged by war and with an ultra-modern airport... yeah baby!

But horror of horrors struck us when we finally de-boarded the aircraft! The apparent concept of the Visa on Arrival worked well only if your local guide was present to recieve you on time! And in case your name was mis-spelt on your invitation letter (as was my luck) the process was even more tedious!

After a brilliantly funny/scary 40 minutes of trying to understand questions being cannon balled onto us in French (using our dictionaries to the maximum and with close to negligible success as far as outcomes were concerned) we were bailed out by our local guide.

The drive from the airport to town was particularly fun for me. There were men decked in green military uniforms, standing at nearly every corner, brandishing guns and how! As we passed a group of them showing off their Admiral Kalashnikov's I litterally jumped out of the car in excitement. Thank god for the thin line between literally and actually!!!

Now Abidjan is a breath-taking city. Built around the Ebrie Lagoon, the city is divided into zones (as will be described to you in future posts), each with something special (at least to me).

As I sit here in Gurgaon, on a perfect night and with nothing much to do apart from sleep, the only place I wish I'd rather be is Abidjan.
Somehow, it will always be like home to me - probably the only place where I can be on my own and not feel alone.

Le Paris de Afrique l'ouest - je t'aime!

Monday, 8 June 2009


Aviatophobia has plagued me through a greater part of my childhood. The fear peaked when I lost a second cousin of mine to an air crash. I never knew him well. Id probably only met him thrice in my life even though we lived in the same city all our lives. And then he was no more...

Taking up a placement in West Africa was probably one of the toughest desicions I ever took in my life. The mental preparation was immense... way more than the 11 hour flight time from Dubai to Abidjan.

The second time I went to Africa was the worst time Ive ever had flying!
I missed my flight from Dubai to Abidjan for starters. To make matters worse, I was bundled onto a Kenyan Airways flight, which hopped like a frog from Dubai onwards.
Kenyan Airways... a different saga altogather! I was flying on the same route where a crash had taken place 4 months ago. The flight was mostly empty. I managed to get 4 seats all to myself somewhere on the plane, knocked myself out on a few shots of liquor and crashed for most of the 6 hours from Dubai to Nairobi.
When the flight landed, almost every passenger on the plan broke into an applause - directed towards the gods and not the pilots who stood there with faces beaming with the glow of achievement!
After a wretched, boring and expensive 9 hour wait at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (Nairobi, Kenya, E Africa), the next Kenyan Airways flight took me from there to Cotonou Cadjehan Airport (Cotonou, Benin, W Africa).
From there on, it was one flight to Kotoka International Airport (Accra, Ghana, W Africa) and then the final one to Felix Houphouet Boigny International Airport (Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, W Africa).
I reached my destination almost 24 hours later, dead tired and with a broken back and sadly had to report for a 4 hour meeting almost immediately.

A close second to this experience was my my flying experience from Lagos to Abidjan. I flew Ethiopean Airlines from Murtala Muhammed International Airport (Lagos, Nigeria, W Africa) to Accra, before changing over to Air Ivoire for the last leg to Abidjan.
My plane landed in Accra like a bouncing tennis ball and sscared the life out of me. In fact, I held onto my boss like there was no tomorrow!

Simple conclusion: African Airlines - A Strict No No!

A few things worth mentioning however...

Abidjan Airport.
Any first timer into Africa would be pleasantly surprised seeing this Airport. Modern in architecture and facilities, one would surely not expect something like this after seeing the larger, more popular airport in Accra. Great duty free outlets, nice waiting rooms and 100% aerobridge enabled, the airport is a great entry point into probably the most exciting country in the West of Africa.

The take off from Abidjan.
With the airport located on the edge of the ocean, the flight takes off into the ocean. The beautiful African skies, mixing with the serene blue waters dotted with a few thousand fishing boats (almost all of them sporting white sails) bordered with the Golden Sandy Beaches is one of the most amazing set ups to take off into.

The take off from Nairobi, West ward Ho.
The weather at Nairobi was amazing when I happened to be stuck there (in the month of September). The air was chilly and laden with rain. The flight took off and almost instantly flew over the Masai Mara. One of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen, the green canopy is only broken by brown peaks and blue water bodies (Lake Victoria being one of these). The Africa sky is in general very different from the sky elsewhere, and more so in the case of Kenya. The clouds stretch across it forming patterns which will make you gape in awe.

Flying over the Nile and Luxor (Egypt).
The flight from Abidjan to Dubai flies over the Nile while over Egypt. Ive done this leg thrice and each time, it has been dark. Despite the darkness, the Nile is visible very clearly. On the banks of the Nile lies the Egyptian City of Luxor. From the air, this looks like a collection of lights forming squares and dashed lines (of light again), connecting the three squares. A very pretty sight, more so since it signals the end of Africa and the on set of the Red Sea!

Ever since I moved back to India, flying has been a weekly affair for me. Somewhere along the way, I got over my fear of flying. In fact, I feel at home when I am flying now.

A few great sights I came across recently...

Taking off from Mumbai, Northbound.
The flight takes off over Juhu Beach (on the right) with Versova Beach further to its right. The number of people dotting the beach is amazing. Coloured dots cover almost every inch of the beach and extend into the water. The plane then turns rightwards over Madh island and comes back over Versova beach on its way up North. This sight is particularly pleasing to me, since Versova Beach happens to be a personal favourite (for whatsoever reason!).

Landing in Mangalore.
The landing strip in Mangalore lies on the falttened top of a hill. Trees stretch on either side of the runway and along its length. The entire set up is like landing in a rain forest! A very beautiful landing on the whole, with green hills on either side beyond the trees.

Hyderabad Airport.

Very international in feel and a somewhat smaller version of the Dubai airport, Hyderabad airport definitely ranks high up on my list of favourites. Well designed both externally and internally, the entire experience is a welcome change from the regular rigmarole of boring airports like Delhi/Mumbai and Kolkata. A lot, of course, is lacking when compared to Changi and Dubai (my top two, in that order).

Bon Voyage!

Sunday, 7 June 2009


Its been so long
Since youve been gone
And I'm still holding on
To memories

We spent yesterday
Planning for tomorrow
But I'm left holding on
To memories

My sun wont shine
My grass wont grow
Time stops in its tracks
The tide just wont flow

I wish you were ordinary
And easy to forget
Cause I hate holding on
To memories

Bereft of tomorrow
I live in yesterday
So I just hold on
To memories

My sun wont shine
My grass wont grow
Time stops in its tracks
The tide just wont flow

Im holding on
To memories...
Of you and me...

On my journey towards becoming a Rockstar (I wish :P), this would someday hit the charts at No. 1. Now if only I had my guitar here with me....And if only I could play the damn thing :P

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The third verse...

If I were to label a song as my favourite song of all times and across all genres, it would undoubtedly be Sweet Child Of Mine by Guns and Roses.

I clearly remember the first time I heard this song. I was still in school...
The introductory guitar chords just blew my mind out. The words managed to paint a beautiful picture in my mind. And from there began my search... for my Everly!

The song has been right on top for me, since then. It has also been the ring tone on my cell phone for the last 3 odd years, my alarm for the last 8 odd months and what not!

It's amazing how a simple poem written by Axl Rose to his then girlfriend (Soon to be wife... and soon to be divorcee) Erin Everly, turned into one of GnR's masterpieces.
They were unsure of the music they had given to it...
Slash's intro was laughed off at first!
They did not know how to end the song... "Where do we go now?" aquestion asked by Rose actually ended up as part of the song...

It seems Everly took Rose back to the happier parts of his childhood.
It also seems like he felt protected when he was around Everly and that he hated seeing tears in her eyes, which were probably brought about by him.

I happened to come across my Erin Everly some time ago and in no time the meaning of the song was clear to me.
Not surprisingly, the fate of me and my Everly were starkly similar to that of Rose and his (save for the marriage bit :) )
And Everly's surely do bring out the creative best in their Roses!
My creative juices have been flowing a little too much...

Someone give me Axl Rose's phone number I start tormenting you with a Third Verse of my own :P

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A hint of rain...

This morning I was amazed to see dark grey clouds stretching across the sky! And not a trace of sun.

It looked like rain. It did not however feel or smell like rain (Calcuttans will surely get the meaning of this statement).

As I stepped out of my house and sat in my car, a beautiful Peacock ran across the road, its long blue tail partially fanned out. I was dead sure it would rain now :)

And Voila! Little drops of rain fell down on the dry dusty Earth... for exactly 45 seconds. Before I knew it, the sun was out and shining like there was no tomorrow.
Boy! The entire thing has left me feeling so low! I feel betrayed... and cheated by the rain gods.

But then again, I am in GDD. I could not expect things to come as they seem.

The entire episode reminded me of the time when I bought 4 bottles of chilled mineral water, only to realise later that they bore the brand mark of "BERISLI" and not BISLERI!
Same green colour on the cap and the label, same bottle shape et all.

Somethings always fishy about water in GDD :P

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Food Review: Gujju Fare in GDD

Coming to my favourite topic : FOOD!

Being a hardcore Foodie, the degree of love I develop for a place is totally dependent on the quality of food available there. If Africa is heaven for a Foodie, GDD is hell!

Now let me clarify that the being a Foodie comprises of being a Drinkie (if I may use that term), a Snackie (pronounced Snakey, given that I am in Gujju-land!), a Mealie (Im sure youre getting the drift now) and finally a Dessertie!

On the Drinkie front, GDD is probably the worst place one can find himself in, and this is not only due to the dryness! The Nimbu-paani, The Chaas (very very important due to the dry, dusty loo) and the fancy "Mock"tails leave you wishing you'd stuck to aereated drinks! The tea and coffee available here (a customary offering no matter where you, you can't say no) are probably the worst Ive had anywhere im my life!
Thus, living here has made me forget the Drinkie aspect to being a Foodie.. and frankly speaking, that reeks!

As far as Snackie satisfaction is concerned, the place scores and how! Packets of Theplas (called Theplis here for no apparent reason) served with the most awesum Mirchi ka aachar are by far the tastiest Ive ever let onto my tongue! The next thing which ranks high on my list in this category are "Dhabelis." (Thanks Mrugank for introducing me to this concept of Snacking).
For those not familiar with this Snake, its some awesomely spicy Bhaaji, laced with sweet and spicy chutneys as per your taste and packed into a traditional Pav using a layer of spicy peanuts. Simply heavenly! And the cheaper they are, the tastier they get. Available for 5-10 INR each, these never seem to agree with one's stomach however :)
Add to this a wide variety of fried snakes (Bhujias, Coated Peanuts, Gathias and almost any other oily snake you can find anywhere else) and roasted snakes (Soya sticks, Lentils and other such stuff, the credibility of who's being roasted is forever in doubt) and you finally get something you can consume!
One thing that really surprised me is the absence of Dhokals! Beat that! I thought Gujju food and Dhoklas were synonyms. I believe I was completely wrong all along. While one may find a variety of other types of Farsaan (Snakes) here, including Khandvi, Dhoklas are extinct. Dhoklas have always been a crazy part of my diet (Mom would call the term "essential" an understatement) and the dissappointment has been very hard on me!

Again on the Mealie front, the place leaves you dissappointed.

North Indian Fare: Well you could get decent rumaali rotis here. But what good are they when your curries and sabjis are light years away from the scrumtuous stuff one can manage to get almost anywhere in Delhi/Cal!

South Indian Fare: The one place which could actually match up to the National Dosa Standards (exists in my food guide atleast!) was shut down after a short stint of just three weeks! And I cant for the life of me understand why they'd need to shut down when one would have to wait in lines for 45 mins to an hour in order to get a damn table.

Chinese Food: Hahahaha. I cant stop laughing when I think of what they pass off as Chinese Food here. Let me not bother writing about it!

Junk FoodS(:P) : The place boasts of two pizzerias who home deliver for free. No matter where you call from, you are always Out of Delivery Zone! Also, while one of them is affiliated to an International Pizza Chain (U.S. Pizza), the other newer one decided to call itself Uncle Sam Pizza (US Pizza in short). None of these clowns can come remotely close to what you can conjure up at home using FunFoods Pizza Sauce and Amul Cheese! You also get some weird Sandwiches which cost more than a Sub and taste like.... cant get the term!

Finally on a sweeter note, the desserts here leave you wishing you'd let the taste of Dhabelis and Theplis linger on. Gujju desserts like Shrikhand have always been a weakness for me...till I came here. I avoid them like the plague now.
With no credible Ice Cream brand being distributed here (No! Not even Amul Ice Cream) they are not worth touching.
One can manage a good variety of Indian Sweets here.


In no time you will find yourself living off cartons of Milk, Cornflakes/Muesli, Milk Bikis, Juice and roasted snake items! Of course you can throw in a Dhabeli/Thepli here and there, but it would always leave you hungry.

Hurrah for Weight loss! (and Im talking inches, kilos and also in terms of what the mirror shows) :D