A Feast For The Eyes

What I usually notice when I enter a restaurant is the whoosh of the AC as I walk in from the heat outside. At Sodabottleopenerwala that isn’t even an option; the fabulous décor is the first thing you notice, right from when you spot it on Lavelle Road. After seeing that almost every other establishment on the road includes ‘Lavelle’ in its name, SBOW was a bit of a shock. The bright red-checkered-table-cloth-type signboard is unmissable and as you walk under it into the restaurant, there are unique boards (including a family tree with George V and Mary) that you must crane your head painfully to read. Just at the entrance and I had already seen the giant bottle opener (unusable), the mini-blue scooter and a table with an old-tap feel.

I was not prepared for the level of energy I experienced as I walked into this new restaurant with the oldies theme. The music was just audible above the lunch time crowd. With a first come first served policy, the place was packed, and navigating through the tables to wait for one at the bar was a good chance to take in the food that everyone was having. Served in tiffins, dabbas and other dull aluminum dishes, the food looked very homey. Drinks of every kind and colour floated by on the trays that the efficient staff whisked around the large room.

The food presentation vied for attention as I stared at the walls, the tables, the bar and the train tracks that are suspended above the diners. The tracks and the tiny train on it were probably the most memorable part of my visit. There were a few quirky tables, covered with the distinctive bright red-checkered table cloths, like one which seemed to be based on part of an old bicycle. An abacus, innumerable mirrors and portrait photographs covered most of the walls. The wall dedicated to bottles with light shining above formed a beautiful backdrop to the train as it wound its way around the room and the songs changed from old Bollywood numbers to English ones seamlessly. The crowd at the restaurant reflects the kind of people it draws—from a few children to many older people, the place seems to be one that every visitor enjoys for one reason or another. A sports channel on TV, the range of the music, and the mixture of bakery, bar and restaurant draw most of the people who fill up the place.

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On her second visit to SBOW, Radhika Rajagopal told me, “I love the décor, and the berry pulao which I had today.” It was my first visit to a restaurant that is all about Parsi and Iranian style food. I was excited to try the Chicken Farcha, which is Parsi style fried chicken, and the Mawa cake. The chicken came in something I can only describe as reminiscent of a bread tray, with a little bowl of the most amazing green chutney. The pudina was a great combination with the meat. With dishes like Eggs Kejriwal (which my friend ordered), Aloo Aunty’s Vegetable Cutlet, Tardeo AC Market Mamaji’s Grill Sandwich and Breach Candy Awesome Okra, the names were certainly interesting, and reading the menu thoroughly was a fun activity. Sadly the Mawa cake wasn’t available, so I chose the apple pie and custard. The custard did what the green chutney did with the chicken, it made the apple pie just right.  The meal was not all I had expected it to be, considering the excitement with which people talked about it. My friend kept saying, “Maybe we ordered the wrong things,” but that isn’t what every person who eats in a restaurant should have to think of before ordering.

One person at a neighbouring table had brought his guests from Pakistan to check out SBOW, a place that many people associate with memories of their pasts. As a frequent customer, Anwar Ahmad said he really likes the place and the Parsi items on the menu, and was busy pointing out the different artistic things to his guests; things that one simply must see on a visit to SBOW. From the train, to the faded bakery advertisements on the walls, to the photographs on the bathroom door to indicate who should use them, they all add to the charm that is inherent in the place.

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Once again the walls caught my interest. We realized the orange walls camouflage one of the ACs and in our minds greatly resembled a razor, with the silver slats contrasting against the orange. Staring at the bakery and the baking done behind the glass window was an interesting thing to do. It was an alternate focus to the cute counter with jars of sweets and other goodies right by the door. The things that really define the SBOW establishment, in Bengaluru and other cities are picked by the chain.

Jokes pop up at you from every part of the SBOW experience-from the menu to the posters and the cover that the bill came in. The one on the cover showed instructions for the bill with a person taking out their wallet and counting out some money, and then even more to pay the bill. A spot-on joke, with the food being ridiculously expensive for a college student budget. But this was belied by the number of young people and huge gangs who were adding to the bustle of the place during the time I was there. For Manveen Gill and Viji Sethu, SBOW brings back their own younger days in Bombay. Viji laughingly recalled the days when a cup of Iranian chai and vada pav together cost 40 paise. The meal she just finished consisting of chai and vada pav definitely cost more, but she remarked that for ambiance like SBOW’s, that’s what you would expect.

The nostalgia most people seem to feel is not for days in this city, but places like Bombay and Delhi, which is what the restaurant is centered on. Even I felt nostalgic with Aicha playing, the serving dishes like the baking trays we used when I was a kid, and slightly faded black and white portraits which remind me of the ones at my grandparents’ home. Somehow, they capture home at SBOW, while remaining sophisticated and interesting.

The Diary of a Looming Deadline

People seem to fear me, I don’t know why. I am the sweetest thing you could ever come across. I don’t frighten people unless they want to be afraid me, in which case I oblige. I love to have people see me coming along and react without any adverse reaction, sadly this doesn’t happen often. Only people who others call “nerds” (I think it’s the word), have no problem with me. Those are my kind of people. They don’t call me names, they look at me with distaste very rarely, and best of all, they honour me!

Now there are those people who hate me, and see me as the enemy. It really hurts when they complain about how I am looming over them, it is very unfair, it is not in my control where I am set down on the calendar. I just try to pass each day like it is my last, because I have to keep hopping from one day to the next. You know, when they postpone me, or when they throw me out and affix me to some other task. When this happens, I know I did my best and can peacefully move onto the next person.

Those people who never keep to me, but never complain about me because I don’t even really exist for them– they make me feel so under-valued. I sometimes wonder what I did wrong for these people I never even meet until I must leave to be so unhappy with me. I will soon be forced to leave them, that is when they notice me, blame me, get angry with me or continue to ignore me.I don’t know which I find more insulting-when they refuse to acknowledge me or when they acknowledge my existence but bemoan it. How would they feel if I did that to them? I am so loving of them—I  wait for them, I keep on dragging my heels, while they drag theirs until they finally feel motivated enough to fulfill my requirements.

Maybe one day I will cease to be such a burden, and be embraced the way I deserve to be, as a challenge they must face head-on and work to complete with all their effort! Instead I am ridiculed with half-hearted, pathetic attempts to appease some unimportant and often invisible master.

Humans have the oddest personality problems, I have never met another entity with so many inconsistencies in the make-up of its features. I don’t know what they would do if they didn’t have me and my brethren to keep them in check. Luckily, they haven’t figured out that without them giving power to us, we wouldn’t be able to cause this totally unwanted dread and even fear in the hearts of their young and old.

Now I must go and cause some anxiety to a few students and employees around the world, while my friends do the same in the rest of the countries.

Stop! Green Light

The light winks,

It knows what it’s doing to me,

Cheeky thing,

It knows what I want.

 

A break from the long day.

Time to remove what I don’t need and get what I do.

But it smiles benevolently.

Mind-reading monster.

 

I must push on,

Keep going until I don’t have to.

 

Home will be reached;

Cold and dripping with rain,

Because of the wily

Unbending Light.

MOOCing all the way home

With my rather tame obsession for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) I have completed two and am at present enrolled in three more. My tendency to multi-task has backfired rather painfully—the work from all three is colliding with the work I have to do for the college I actually attend. The weekly assignments from the MOOCs are interesting, but quite frankly a pain in the behind when Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and R.L. Stevenson beckon from the Victorian Period.

To get on to the more positive aspects of MOOCs, they help to really make you feel better about yourself. This is not just in the clichéd “Oh, it is so nice to meet new people” sense, but in a more complex way.

As far as meeting people goes, I like to preserve my anonymity, so I really don’t interact too much on the forums and discussion threads that are constantly popping up from sources all over the world. It is interesting to see the things people write, and occasionally the ludicrousness of the opinions will make me laugh, but often I agree with certain views. When people disagree, there is a fair amount of debate that I find entertaining, sometimes informative and otherwise just completely unintelligible!

When people hold views I agree with I feel a sort of anonymous approval and self-affirmation. This is how these courses help me, apart from the most obvious way in learning about some topic or the other. The courses can help you remember that there are people out there who agree with you about things, which somehow makes me feel I am not alone in the big scary world. It is like when you meet someone and you agree about everything, you feel connected. This happens on a much larger scale with some of the MOOCs, especially where you get to read people’s assignments as part of the peer grading system.

The most interesting thing perhaps is that the videos and assignments force you to rethink some of the ideas you hold. Either by directly proving their fallacy, as in the case of myths about Psychology that were debunked in my course- Introduction to Psychology as a Science, or by just pointing out chinks that you can go on to attack, until you are left without any armour (just to complete my metaphor).

Some see MOOCs as a waste of time, but I think people who stick it out to the end become more critical about the subject of the course, and can apply the positive aspects of it however they want. Or even the negative aspects, I mean, who knows what some people choose to take away from a course?

html, Why are you so weird? Or is it me?

Learning about html made my mind crash along with the site I was using. I feel like this happens to me a lot. The site becomes non-responsive, or the download stops, or the internet suddenly stops working, essentially something happens that makes me wonder what I did. When my friend tried the exact same thing, lo and behold, the code worked and SHE didn’t make the site become non-responsive.

So, I can’t help wondering if it is just me? I get along with some aspects of technology really well, at other times, I fee like I am totally technologically challenged. On the other hand I know I am not, because I can pick up how to use things pretty fast. I guess I am just one of those people who can’t be good at everything, that’s okay,since it does not limit me from being spectacular at others.

 

 

Pedestrian vs. biker

Every time I ride my motorcycle through Bangalore I wonder at the absolute insanity of some of my fellow commuters.

For instance, I know that indicators were invented for a reason, but hundreds of other people really don’t seem to.  Even when they know that a simple push of a button to turn the indicator on could save a lot of trouble (and lives) people insist on swerving into your path like they don’t care if you crash into them. At least look in your mirrors before you do this, you uncouth monkeys! But even that is too difficult when you are riding far over what the speed limit and common sense dictate.

Everybody is always in a hurry, and drive/ride like they really don’t care what happens to other people on the road. And if they are riding slowly, they do it in the most annoying way possible, basically in the middle of the road or blocking any possibility of overtaking them. And that leads me to another point, these slow-movers rarely move to a side unless you make it sufficiently inconvenient for them to keep ignoring you, i.e. by creating a racket with your high-pitched horn.

The horn method also works on pedestrians who casually stroll without any sense of urgency while crossing the road, or those pedestrians that stand in the middle of the road admiring the sky or whatever, or even those pedestrians who insist on walking on the road when there is a perfectly good pavement built for their use.

Now, I must come to the other part of my rant, being a pedestrian in a world dominated by law-breaking riders who ride on the aforementioned pavements, who ride way too fast on small roads where there really is no pavement, who insist on installing really loud annoying horns, who have no mufflers so they roar and make the earth shake( this is a general complaint as a person who is easily disturbed by loud sounds, especially during the first couple of stages of the sleep cycle)!

This feels like a topic that could go on forever so I will stop myself before you think I am the most annoying person who ever ranted. 😛