Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Happy New Year

It's 2006. The last day of 2005 was spent on the magnificently named Jungli Maharaj Road. The translation is loosely Wild King: I would be very interested in learning where the name originated. This is another shopping thoroughfare, however it contains a healthy complement of restaurants and cafés too. Like MG Road there are also some old buildings, and here's a photo of one.

As I was accompanied by my wife and her sister the shopping was predictably clothing orientated. This gave me an opportunity to reacquaint myself with India's genuine fake merchandise. Genuinely fake goods are T-shirts, jeans and jackets with designer logos splashed all over them. They are genuinely fake because it is obvious that they have only the most tenuous connection to a Parisian or Milano salon. My favourite examples are where multiple brands are plastered over a single item of clothing. Yes, you too can have a Chanel-Gautier-Lacroix-Versace T-shirt for a couple of hundred Rupees. They also had children's clothes and Roshni and her cousin Sharon did well. Not so many designer labels, more tawdry unlicensed Barbie and Mickey Mouse. Fortunately, the brand free clothes can be very nice.

Next it was time for a bite to eat. The first café we entered was an Indian greasy spoon: fries and burgers in lots of fat - no thanks! (There was a McDonalds across the road - so you can go wrong eating here). Fortunately there were many alternatives, and we settled on the Iranian Café Sunrise. It served a mix of Indian and Iranian dishes, dates appear to figure highly in Iranian cuisine. It was all very delicious. They also had hookahs, which my dining companions were eager to use. An older gentleman seemed a bit shocked at the sight of them puffing away!

After lunch there was still shopping to be done, so we hopped into an auto-rickshaw and headed for MG road. San bought an all black chiffon sari. All her other saris are fancy silk and gold outfits: good for parties, but otherwise impractical. We shall see if this one is worn more often... The shops at MG road are open late on account of a four hour siesta between noon and four o'clock. As the sun went down stalls selling snacks began to open. We shared a cone of berries, the genius here was that they were sprinkled with salt. Yum. San got herself Henna'd up via a speedy process that was new to me. Rather than the normal painstaking process of tracing out a design by hand she was stamped with wooden blocks. It did smudge a bit though, so perhaps the slow method is still better.

Before heading home we got a surprise phone call - we'd been invited out for a New Year's Eve dinner at a restaurant near our flat by Andy, Sujata and her family. More great food and some bottles of Kingfisher too. The dining has been pretty good these last few days. The devvies at work had organised a lunch out at a place nearby. I'm sorry to the curry restaurants of Brum - you were outclassed. The next day there was a do at the Delcam offices to round off a two day sales partner event. Whisky, bingo, endless snacks, a biryani and some crazily intense dancing - a night to remember! Well, the whisky made remembering a challenge...