Friday, March 28, 2008

So tired today

I am so tired today. I feel like I’ve been wrung out. I need to come up with something, and I need to look at a million things before I can crisply deduce what I need to convey…but I may as well be star-gazing to decide how much sugar I need in my tea. What I’m trying to say here is that what I want to do and what I am doing are pretty unrelated.

Gosh, where did all those days go? When I was sharp and focused and targeted and accomplished so much in one day. Oh, that was yesterday. So quickly one forgets.

In any case, I just want to read pulp. Not Orman Pamuk and Saul Bellow. I have started and stopped reading ‘Snow’ and ‘Seize the Day’ a thousand times now. This, despite finding the books so riveting. I just want to read something fast and, maybe, a little trashy.

I was so vocal about it in office today that a collage loaned me the novel she was reading, ‘The Little Lady Agency’ by Hester Browne. It looks like it will be a tasty read, something to pore over with a big bag of chips.

I love chips, by the way. And my favorite is a packet of Lays – classic salted, Spanish tomato, and the Caribbean Sweet Chilli. My office canteen doesn’t have these, though. It has Bingo. And although I absolutely love the tomato-flavored Mad Angles, I don’t much care for their chips. But since I like salted chips the best, I take their regular salted variety. The description on the packet is hilarious, with salt being described as ‘perfect little grains of invisible fineness’ and such like.

I am so tired and sleepy. Just the thought of enduring this kind of exhaustion is tiring me out.

I guess I’ll just scrape together some get-up-and-go and leave.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A most perfect day

Usually days roll into my life without invitation or agenda. Today, it’s a marble with blue-green-yellow swirls, with a coat that glints with flecks of river water in sunlight. It’s just a little marble..no bigger than the ebony-colored globe inset in the eyes. But it’s perfect. It’s small, and it encompasses a vision of every single comprehensible thing. It’s tinted, but it’s a colorless canvas of every single incomprehensible thing.

A day of fairness, a day of beauty, a day of appreciation.

My day today was my favourite Margaret Atwood novel. My day today was Cat’s Eye.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Today

I had such a good, lip-smacking lunch today. A fat, gobi paratha with spicy filling and a glass of chilled, thick mango milkshake. Mmm! That was so good!

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I would really love to go book shopping today, and get my hands on a solid novel that I could flip through quickly. Instead I am stolidly engaged in some kind of an analysis exercise. I think I’ll feel more charitable towards it after a nice, hot cuppa.

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I just had a very nice snack. Puranpoli and cabbage sabzi. It was actually my lunch, but I was so sated with paratha and milkshake, that I put away the rest of my dabba.

I like eating a little, but at regular intervals. To me, this indicates extracting a fullness from a few important things, instead of being swarmed by a mass of stuff, and not seeing any meaning in anything.

There was that poem that was about this idea. Auguries of Innocence. I think I’ll read it again some time now. To see the world in a grain of sand, and….something in a flower…

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I’d like to go out to dinner some day…with some one interesting and deep. Also stylish and fit. I don’t want to be around frumpy, unhealthy people for a little while. Since the last few days, I have been feeling a little condescending towards unfit people. I intend to remedy that, but until I get on my own case, I want to go out for dinner with someone who exercises, sleeps on time, thinks of the mountains, has an agenda on how to architect destiny. I just want to eat with someone who will have me enthralled.

I think I will work towards it. I think I may meet some people at work like that, but then we always end up talking about work and such like.

I wish I could get in touch with some of my college friends. I remember enjoying sandwiches in the foyer with some of them. Or wait! I’ll try to get in touch with my cousin. He’s usually great fun to hang out with. I think I’ll ask him if we could have dinner together, in some small sidey Chinese place.

I wish I go out for dinner with someone really interesting soon. I have a feeling it’s going to happen.

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I really, really want to know my future. I wonder if there is indeed any foolproof method to do that.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

If ecstasy be thy name


Today, as of this minute, this second, this minute flutter of the tick, I am ecstatic.

I love summers. I love the spirit of vacation that floats around in the warm breeze and then ossifies on your finger tips and in the hollows of your collar bones and your ankles. Making you smile and idle awhile.

Last night, I drove home from Colaba at midnight. It was, is, and will remain one of my purest experiences of joy and bliss. After I crossed Afghan Church, it felt as if I wasn't driving the car, but that it was taking me off somewhere..a place where jugs of moonlight and cups of sapphire lay waiting on a table bevelled with constellations. A distant, glittering land of magnficence.

As we drove past Marine Drive and went over the Peddar Road highway, my car had become this little, weighless mote of light that seamlessly floated along some greater channel of energy. The Hanging Gardens to my left, the Porsche showroom to my right, the beautiful expanse of the road ahead of me, and a stunning, black sea somewhere around.

I have a vision of God in my heart. It's a child, someone like Huckleberry Finn. It's not very smart but it's very loving. It's temperamental, and does whatever it has to for a tight, warm hug. And when you're sad or angry, it will not leave you alone. It will poke you until you get up and play. And in its complete unselfish rambunctious joy, it will throw open its arms and pull you into a sloppy, loving embrace. I have always felt that way about God. Years ago, my neighbor had summed up this sentiment perfectly when, on hearing her daughter's aspirations to become a model, had claimed 'Insha Allah!'

It is the most emphatic and the truest translation of what I feel when I think of Bombay. It's the city with roads that, at certain points in time, will tug you in, swathe you in its expansiveness, and infuse that hearty potent fervour of a promise into empty words.

Sometimes, not out of joy, but out of something stronger and quieter, like acknowledgement of honor perhaps, one can't help but salute the road...even if one is lost; especially when one is lost.
Because until one reaches home, until one finds one's way, at least there is this.

Insha Allah.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It feels a little blue today....





It feels a little blue today, and a little bit of green. It feels like a silvery scarf, with something in between. The pearls are strung around a scruffy neck with diamonds in the gutter, the honeydew smells heavenly and the butterflies are all aflutter.

My mind is a ton-heavy today, my spirit is a bowl of air, my heart is reshaping itself all the time, with kaleidoscopic flair. It is a poetic month, this florid, summer March. It smells of carefree days and ice cream dukes and hints at hours of parch. When the sun glares down so often, with such an angry scowl, the road beneath just hoots at it, like an avuncular owl.

As an evening approaches with its soothing orange and yellow, harsh croaks of business subside to something mellow. Sugarcane juices in large mugs slake many a thirsty throats, reminiscent of Sandra Bullock’s movies – especially that one - Hope Floats.

Somewhere it’s summer on a field…and it must feel blue and green. Here, it’s just a silvery scarf, with something in between.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rhyme T-T-Time

If time could be razed of meaning
With shards of relativity gone
If one didn’t think of a minute’s cessation
Or the moment a moment was born

If every layer of captivity
Would fall off the temporal wall
If pricks of stagnation and continuum
Would cease to rise and fall

If the time one knows stopped being the time one knew
And simply became memory, running free
Would one still lose it so steadily
And how long would forever be?

Happy Happy Happy! Joy Joy Joy!

My exultant heart gurgles forth with sprays of joy. I had the most amazing auto-rickshaw ride this morning.

I missed my office bus by three minutes. Painful curses were piercing my heart at the time, but seeing three empty rickshaws outside Fine Arts gallery dissipated all of them. One auto for every minute that I had missed the bus by. Poetic justice and metaphoric moments are quite lovely!

All of them were very willing to take me to Marol. I got into the first one and started bundling up my head with a dupatta, bracing for that horror of a road strip – Asalpha. But, I seemed to be traveling in a Mumbai of 1982. The air was fresh, traffic was light, and cars kept moving. We jalopied around bends of the Ghatkopar station in idyllic pace; I could actually see stringy branches swaying to some sort of breeze (there is no semblance to a natural element in this area.) The auto gamboled all through Asalpha, at a really smooth, easy comfortable hustle. I could see peaceful, sleepy cows chewing cud and a man with a pink face chuckling into his mobile phone.

I reached office early and decided to climb up 5 floors. Upon reaching my destination, I glided through the doors without so much as a gasp. I can now positively attest to the truth that happiness makes your heart stronger.

When I went down for brecker, the idlis were soft, the saambar was tasty, and the chai actually tasted as if it had milk and sugar. (Another 15 minutes and I’d be having the third batch of diluted slop.)

This morning, I could actually sing to work..or perhaps even get pink-faced and chuckle into the phone. Pity no-one called.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pain but also beauty and wisdom

I'm currently having a lot of pain in my stomach. It's a dull ache at most points in time, but sometimes it shoots up my back. I don't know how or why a pain in the stomach gets transferred to the back, but maybe pain also has a vanity element to it. It probably needs to be felt in all profiles. Like when you wear a fitted dress in a dressing cubicle.

Anyway, I read something from the Tao Te Ching

What is a good man but a bad man's teacher?
What is a bad man but a good man's job?

A very soothing feeling in the tummy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

To munch on

Last evening, I was browsing through Lokhandwala market with a friend. I was in the mood to eat something -and frankly, when am I not? At one place, a small eatery near a Natural ice-cream outlet seemed to be a magnet for a hungry crowd. All of them were adult shoppers. It was a dabheli store, and the cook was a magician with a knife and a spoon. He was slicing up paavs and smearing spoons of mashed masala and toasting them in butter with such seamless precision and speed that his hands were a blur. If you watched them in action long enough, you’d just keep gazing in some sort of stupor.

Meanwhile a lady with a little girl happened to approach us from a distance. The lady stopped in front of the stall and looked longingly at the zsizzling on the tava. Her daughter, meanwhile, had rushed inside the Naturals ice cream parlour.

My friend remarked how street food, like dabhelis or vada pavs, was now in the province of the older generation. Kids don’t take this stuff at all. She mentioned that it’s a matter of time before something like this becomes extinct. After all, nowadays, if something doesn’t cater to the young, it may as well be gone.

I had never thought of street food from a demographic angle, but it’s definitely something to think about.

Difficult morning

I yelled at an autorickshaw fellow today. I’m feeling very bad about it.

There were two autorickshaw fellows outside Fine Arts gallery in Chembur. I asked both of them if either would take me to Marol. Both nodded yes, and then started persuading each other to take me. The first guy told the other guy to take me, the second guy told me to sit in the first auto, and as I was getting into the first auto, the guy told me to get down and go to the second auto.

I yelled very loudly. In cartoons, sometimes when a character is being yelled at, you can see his hair being brushed back because of the force of the sound. It seemed the same way with the auto guy. I shouted really hard. I stopped only when my thorax started aching. The second guy who acquiesced to take me told me to calm down.

Lately, with whatever has been happening in the city, in the world, etc., it is very important to be courteous. The last few weeks, I had been trying to consciously not lose my patience with people.

I failed today. I meant to apologize to the auto-fellow and his friend. But by the time I paid up, the guy rode away.

My chest still hurts and feels heavy with a knot of ill. My body will not forget this…But I am really sorry.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Little Miss Sunshine

I had a very annoying auto ride from Maitreyi Park, Chembur to Marol. So, to make myself feel better, I’ll make a list of all the things that made me happy until now:

1.

I realized that I like the French word for song: chanson

2.

Just remembered a small poem by W.B. Yeats. Had read it long ago, but still remembered it:

When to the heart of man
Has it ever been less than treason
To go with the drift of things,
To yield with a grace to reason,
To bow and accept the end
Of a love or a season


Some things endure longer than memory..like poetry. That’s why they are forever.

3.

Came across another poem that I loved a few years ago, but had forgotten about it. Robert Frost’s ‘Nothing Gold Can Stay’

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold,
Her early leaf’s a flower
But only for an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down today.
Nothing gold can stay.

4.

I didn’t have to wait for the lift for very long.

5.

I got a pretty cool assignment.

6.

I may be going to a new marketplace today. I love seeing new things.

7.

I’m wearing a really comfortable, flouncy skirt, high heels, and a dainty pendant after a really long time. Feels nice and pretty.

8.


Got invited to a Saturday night dinner. Interesting, but I may be doing other things. Let’s see.

9.

Am thinking of buying and reading ‘The Hobbitt’. I think it would be a good book to read. Also, my heart gets all exultant and I love the prospect of reading a brand new book.

10.

It was briefly cloudy today. Or it may have been cloudy for a whole lot longer, but I just noticed it briefly. I love cloudy days. So mellow. Like cool cucumbers over tired eyes.

Yep. Today’s been good so far.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Margarita, Movie, Michael Clayton

I love Lokhandwala. It has the bizarre joie-de-vivre of a circus. It’s bustling, chaotic, and so filmi. It’s got an amazing ambience where everything looks like props. And everyone looks like extras. But happy extras, because there are no lead actors. There are guys wearing netted kurtas, giving side-long glances to imaginary cameras. I see ladies in short, pink skirts and lilac nails tapping away on chocolate coloured lap-tops. I see huge film posters and malls and wide, crowded, dug up roads. I see food stalls and clothes stalls and stalls that sell huge, gaudy belts. If ever Lokhandwala gets its own emblem, it will be a shiny see-through top.

I was meeting a friend at Ginger Marie – a little tea joint near Fame Adlabs. It’s not particularly noteworthy, but I like it because it’s small and usually empty. The staff smiles when you enter…and that seems to be happening less in most eateries as time goes by.

My friend, U, came by and we ordered strawberry Margaritas. I love, absolutely love, that drink. I practically forced it on my friend, who I’m sure, went along with my suggestion because it had something to do with strawberries. And although the drinks were served with perfectly salted rims and all, they were a tad syrupy. Most mocktails are made sweet and syrupy. I wonder why. A colleague once mentioned that restaurants feel compelled to give a customer a sugar rush to compensate for the superior high that comes from intoxication. That may be thoughtful, but I think my colleague was being sarcastic.

Now, the idea was to simply shoot the breeze a little bit, desultorily stare into the lovely ruby glaze of my glass while U told me about her gym workouts, etc. etc. Instead, while we were sipping the Marges, we kept looking at the huge purple building to our left. Happy, excited people chatting on the phone. Happy, excited people milling around pani puri stalls. Happy, excited people standing in line for tickets. Happy, excited people going in for movies. We just had to be there. So we slurped the last of our drinks and left. All happy and excited.

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed it, but the Fame in Lokhandwala has a distinct tug. I can’t ignore it. Even if I’m going for a meal in the vicinity, I just have to stop by and check movie listings.

We got tickets to Michael Clayton. I think the film was exceptionally narrated. That envelope inside an envelope inside an envelope approach was meticulous. I found the beginning particularly riveting, when the lawyer is almost babbling about the details of his discovery in the background while we see shots of empty offices, dark streets, and lonely buildings. There are several parts where you feel as if you’re inside someone’s head. So, you sort of get involved in little mental clicks and snaps when clues start piecing together.

And George Clooney is just so right. He’s this suited, precise fixer who lives in throes of personal disarray. Yet there’s something so kind and generous in those vagabond eyes. He’s a really beautiful man. Not just Hollywood sexy. That’s in fact, the least of his appeals. There’s a strong eternal generosity in his smile. Like a beautiful sunrise.

The woman who plays the ‘villienne’, so to speak, definitely looks the part. And she has a voice that makes everything sound sinister. I’m sure if she just went in to a bistro and ordered for cheese sandwich, she’d make it sound like doom. That’s a gift, in some parts of the world. My friend said she looked menacing because you could see the shape of her skull. Her hair or ‘externalities’ didn’t camouflage enough. (See, this is why I don’t want to go to a gym. It makes one weird.)

The climax is so hushed and sad. It’s like you wait for a million years for an important letter and that comes – inside an envelope inside an envelope inside an envelope. And when the final envelope is opened, there’s no letter. Just a really old photograph of when you were young. It’s that simple, and that sad. That scene when George Clooney says his final words to the lady and walks away – that scene is just painted in cadence. And because a moment of triumph is treated with quietude instead of clamour, you still find yourself glued to your seat in the end, when Clooney is driving around New York in a cab.

It’s that simple…and that sad.

Monday, March 03, 2008

February Flavors

Sometimes, I get this feeling – that there’s so much to learn and absorb. Like all the parts of the brain are sitting around a canopied table by a waterfront and sipping from different glasses. It’s a lovely feeling.

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The security in my office is so annoying. I really miss the security in my Noida office – so polite and efficient. Not like these people here. They whine so much. I have to get a form signed by someone, and now, just out of spite, I haven’t got it signed. I’m not really ashamed of myself for this – although this isn’t the most mature way of ‘teaching a lesson’.

Every night that I have booked the cab, I have had to do numerous rounds of follow up. They don’t even bother to call and tell me that the cab has arrived. And now, I get all these ‘oh, but you haven’t signed…oh, but we are waiting…oh, but I’m so held up because of you…oh…’ type of calls. Well, too bad.

In any case, the boss isn’t at his seat. Glee.

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Some times, I wonder what I’ve become. With some amount of Seinfeld-type observation, I can safely say that I have become a surrogate boyfriend to all the post-30, single women in my company. They come up to me and ask me if they’re looking fat. (I never believed that stereotype until now – when I have been at the receiving end of it. I don’t do it ever. I know when I’m looking fat and I know when I’m not. What’s an outside opinion going to change?) They come up to me and tell me things that commitment is a good thing and I shouldn’t be scared of it. (I am married, they aren’t.) They tell me things that a woman doesn’t really need a man, but it’s nice to have one. (I completely endorse the idea as it would let me off the hook.) They tell me that some people aren’t serious about marriage; they have a low threshold for adjustment and compromise. (If it feels like a compromise, something’s not right. When it is right, it feels like a new, happy experience.) They tell me about their ‘feelings’ (which is, I suppose, the catch term for all types of megalomaniac secretions.)

They get upset if I don’t make plans for weekends with them. They get upset if I don’t call back. They feel I don’t introduce them to my other friends because I’m not ‘serious’ about them. They tell me that I’m really fun to be around and they would miss me if I left. (In time, people get over everything…and I do mean everything.)

They tell me to introduce them to guys. (My cupid license expired years ago.) They tell me to talk to the people they’re thinking of dating. (And frankly, everyone sounds good on the phone.)

I get fed up sometimes. And just for the record, when I say that you aren’t looking fat, it doesn’t mean that you are looking good. Stop assuming.

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I think it’s a nice world where people hold elevators for strangers. And then even smile at each other.

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I’ve probably touched up my lips with this juicy tube lip lacquer the fourth time in an hour. I love it. It smells nice and it looks so good. What I love best is the kind of finesse it lends to my face. My lips don’t look ultra-glued the way some glosses make them. As in, it’s not like an insect would come and get stick in the gook. That would make a funny, albeit gross sight. Albeit is a great name for a clothes store, I think. Something that stocks alternative garment, perhaps. Brocade fitted stockings, netted and lace slippers, khadi silk stretch denims, corduroy saris, etc.

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I’m really excited today. I think I’ll have a really engaging meeting in a few minutes – one where I will actually LEARN something. And also finish up a substantial bit of work, although I really don’t know how I can finish it all by tomorrow. Oh yes, stay up late tonight and finish.

I plan to go out for lunch tomorrow with a couple of friends, as well as dinner with some office colleagues. This weekend, I plan to spend some time with mom and probably take her for a film. That should be fun. Let’s see – my friend may come and stay over with me tomorrow night. She’s interviewing with a school tomorrow afternoon. If all of that goes well, we’ll probably go to Bandra and get something to eat.

Gosh! It’s been so long! A week almost!

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I think I need to start distancing myself from some people around me. This place is a tad strange. I have come to believe that you only meet and interact with those people with who you have a karmic debt. Sometimes you pay your dues, some times you collect them. There’s always an equation. So, it’s always good, although it’s tough to remember it in the middle of an exasperating conversation.

Anyway, this week is rather tough people-wise. It’ll get better…and if it doesn’t, it’ll just get over. Whatever works.

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I was at Bembos last night – the one in Bandra. I love that place. I tried an American veggie large burger (which wasn’t really very large), small fries, and coffee. I love the burger and black coffee combination. Doesn’t make me feel all that slothful.

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I learnt a new word today – ‘prepended’. It’s the opposite of ‘appended’. Sometimes, e-mails have their disclaimers upfront, instead of after the email. In that case, it’s a ‘prepended’ disclaimer.

I’m working on a really tiny bit of legal writing today. Strangely, I just seem to have taken to it pretty smoothly. I have always thought I’d be great at drafting contracts, etc. if I spent a solid couple of years working with a great lawyer. I think I should keep that in mind and probably work towards it. I’ve always found law and lawyers to be too cool for comfort…in a good, sexy way.

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Cold wars are strange. It’s much tougher to handle than a ,umm..what do you call it…a ‘hot’ war? It’s quite effective when you want to freeze someone out, I suppose…but it takes away the spontaneity of sharing ebullience. That’s a little sad.

We mess up so many things some times.

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Today was a good sort of day. I have been working in a really scattered fashion for much of the 7 hours that I’ve been in office, but a lot has been accomplished. Of course, there’s a whole lot more to get through as well. I don’t know how I’m going to finish it by tomorrow.

I have started a review now and it should take me the better part of tonight to get it done. I’ll take the office cab and amuse myself by looking at the moon over the bridge. That sounds like the right thing to do.

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I wonder about the aloofness of people. It irritates me. But I’m hardly one to bring this up since I have practically been labeled an aloof ice-queen here. I like it when I’m called aloof. Everything worth having is aloof – like a rainbow or clouds or even the first spritz of monsoon. Yes, aloof is good.

But I’m still irritated.

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Okay, it’s a Wednesday morning and I haven’t seen Michael Clayton yet. I was planning to go for the film today but I don’t think I’ll be able to leave that early. I am really feeling bad for my project manager. I have kept promising him a document since the last few days now, but I just haven’t been able to finish it. It’s not for lack of trying, though. It is just so long.

But I should have estimated better. It’s a lesson I need to learn really quick.

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I really have to take some time out, maybe over the weekend, and think hard about my career. I need to consecrate my energies now. I am truly thankful for being in a job that I enjoy and for being part of a group that is so strongly geared to pushing my limits in terms of learning. I want to absorb whatever benefits I can, now. I wish I were better with people though. My instinct is to retreat when I meet opinionated people. I have a cousin like that. She just has to have the last word. If we’re out and we’re ordering soup, she’ll make some remark like, “Tomato soup is the tastiest.” Let’s say I respond, “I like mushroom.” She’ll come back with, “But tomato soup is healthier.” Whatever she does or whatever she eats, drinks, wears, buys- always has an edge over what everyone else does.

Sometimes, just to spite her I argue on and on. But then, I don’t like getting petty. I mean, one just has to take stock and understand that debating over soup is not like warring over oil. Eww! I just had a horrible thought in my head right now. Dark, thick, greasy liquid in a bowl. Oh wait! That is the soup my canteen serves. He he! But the spinach soup is good.

In any case, I should figure out a way to deal with such people effectively. They are bright people, they are smart and funny and great to be around. But they are intensely irritating.

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So, I’m on a hunt to discover new tasty Chinese places in Bombay. And considering where I work and where I live, my Bombay, for now, is Bandra. (Even though Bandra is not where I work, and it’s not where I live. It’s still a handy midway.)

Thus far, my favorite Chinese restaurant in Bandra is Golden Orchid. But it’s always good to have an alternative, so I decided to try out Royal China at Turner Road.

I liked the ambience. It’s very pretty in dark wood and winking tea lights and there’s none of the obvious red paper lanterns and pictures of a solitary Oriental woman pouring tea under a peach blossom. That much is fine, but come on….all the eateries in Bandra have got the ‘urbane chic’ style down pat.

So, we get on to food. And unfortunately, that doesn’t pass muster. I had a sweet corn and asparagus broth that was quite okay. It wasn’t a creamed soup, and I have never really had asparagus stalks cut up into little pieces and boiled. But it was interesting. The potage suffered from less salt, though. Then I had a plate of corn curd and it was fried perfectly – not too greasy at all. A teeny bit more salt would have helped enormously. We also had a portion of some sort of vegetable medley with grilled brinjals and tomato sauce. Interesting, but a little low on sodium. And so it went on for the rest of the evening - dish after promising dish – but without that one humble contributor to great taste. Salt.

I think that should be it for this month. It’s a good idea to finish a post on ‘Flavours’ with food.