Monday, February 26, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

Saw this amazing movie based on the true story of an even more amazing person. God, it really drives home the point of how grit and determination to 'pursue' your dreams can totally transform your life. Of course, the path is never easy. In the case of Chris Gardner, the protagonist, it is a road that seemed impassable at times. The most heart-wrenching moment is when a homeless Chris spends the night sitting in a subway men's room, with his son sleeping on his lap; someone keeps banging on the door wanting to use the facility, but his son needs the rest, so he braces a foot against the door and covers his son's ears to block out the noise, tears streaming down his face.

Even if this were fictional, it would have been tremendously moving. But to know that somebody actually underwent this struggle..... it opened my eyes for a much needed introspection....

Monday, February 19, 2007

Droplets from my Memories

One of the better accidents of fate led a fellow blogger to leave a few thoughtful words for me. On visiting her blog, I was stunned to read a post that so closely mirrored a feeling that I have often had, yet could perhaps never have expressed as beautifully as this.

Reading it, I was inspired to leave a record of some droplets, pearls of my memories...moments when I felt uplifted, truly blessed to be alive and well, and at one with the universe...

- Hurrying on an overbridge at Kurla station, furious at every lecher jostling past, yet looking up all of a sudden and then feeling wonderfully calmed at the sight of a glorious full moon.

- That one instant on a monsoon evening, when the clouds part and the sun shines through briefly....have you ever noticed how ethereal the world looks then? And it is only in that fleeting moment, when all the elements are present: it has to be in the evening, with the sun at that precise angle, and with the clouds a specific shade of gray...the world around you lights up in a way that it never does otherwise, and pearls of water glisten in that magical light.

- Walking through Nariman Point, my mind anxious about work, and then feeling a refreshing sea breeze waft in....again I look up, this time its sunlight filtering through the trees, the first flower blossoms falling.....the beauty of Bombay in a short-lived spring.

- On a hilltop in Khandala, gazing at the panorama below in sheer awe, amazed that such vivid natural beauty exists only a couple of hours from the bustle of Bombay.

- One night in a garden outside Hyderabad, when despite a party rocking all around me, it was just me and the music, moving with a rhythm, with a freedom, with an exhilaration I had never felt before, nor since.

- Moments of shared, uncontrolled laughter....the pearls that can set you off even years later.

- Those few instances of true friendship, when despite the flaws, the fights, the disappointments, the loneliness, you realize that someone has selflessly stood by you. Or it is the unexpected phone call, email, SMS.....a few words that let you know that friendship transcends distance.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Emirates Palace Hotel

The Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi

Not the best pic in the world (but decent enough considering I had to dash from the car with a guard shrieking on his whistle telling me to get lost). I had the opportunity to visit this architectural showpiece last night courtesy a corporate dinner. A chance to finally see the inside of this place (and the hope of mind-blowing food!) drew me there.
The hotel is, of course, the most ornately fabulous place I've ever been to. No expense has been spared in embellishing every inch of it. God bless those tireless, talented artists who combined to produce this wonder, and those who are in very likely thankless jobs, struggling to maintain its glory.
The buffet stunned us with its sheer extravagance (I've never seen a table with more dessert delicacies!), but alas, looks were deceiving in this case. It was good, but it couldn't compare to the exquisiteness of the fare at the much more humble Taj Khorfakkan.

We didn't get to see much of the hotel, but Insh'allah, someday I'll stay there on my own money.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Love at First Bite

In India, and apparently in the UAE too, the name 'Taj' is quite frequently adopted by many in the food and hospitality business. But the actual offerings rarely live upto the glory of their name. Fortunately, this wasn't the case with the Taj Khorfakkan Restaurant.

The bland European-style fare served at the hotel in Khorfakkan forced us to seek tastier avenues (that and the fact that the buffet cost a bloody bomb!). We were told that there was only one Indian restaurant nearby - the Taj. So we set off on our first evening, hoping for some less expensive, more wholesome food than our lunch had been.
Though it was neat and clean, the place didn't have any 'ambience' to speak of. The first unique thing was the menu, bound inside two wooden boards carved like ornate doors. Not expecting much, we stuck to the usual options - biryani, chicken kebabs, a mutton gravy and some rotis. But man oh man.....the flavour.... the heavenly, gorgeous, mouth-watering flavour!!!! I was stunned ..... I couldn't imagine finding the best Indian food I'd ever tasted in a small coastal town in the UAE!!!
For the next three days, we took all our meals there. And they just kept getting better. We must have tried almost everything on the menu. But for me, there was nothing more beautiful, more exquisite, more perfect than the paratha. A hardcore non-vegetarian, it wasn't the succulent kebabs or the excellent fish fry that I fell for, but the paratha. If I could, I'd compose sonnets in its name, and for chef Abdul, God bless the man. After years of eating parathas that were dry, rubbery, tough or over-browned, here was a gorgeous work of art -- all glowing orange against a shimmery cream..... flaky, marvelously soft and oh so tasty! Truly love at first bite!!!