Flambe

One of the other side effects (other than one’s own sides, that is) of having a Food Court almost next door, is that eating out is easily taken care of. And that’s why it took us quite a few weeks to unplug ourselves from ‘Crepe Connection’ and visit a new place.

Flambe‘ opened a few weeks back in Koramangala, opposite GK Vale, and above the Bata showroom – on the same road  (map) that has China Pearl, Vicky’s Tava Lounge, Oye Amritsar, The Esplanade etc.. Parking shouldn’t be too difficult, even for 4 wheelers since there are many side roads. Flambe has an a/c dining section as well as a terrace section. With the kind of weather Bangalore’s been having, we chose the latter.

It’s quite a pleasant setting, though the seats with a view of the road are clearly meant for larger groups. Also, some of the tables, though aesthetically appealing, lack a bit on functionality, since they are too low.

Over to the menu. Multi-cuisine meant that there was much choice. For starters, there are Nachos and Cheese Fritters, Corn & Cheese balls, Paneer Kalimirch, Achari Tandoor Mushrooms etc, priced at Rs.110, for the veggies, and for the meat minded, Chicken Satay, Crispy Lamb, Pahadi Murgh,Reshmi Kabab, Lahori Boti Kabab etc and seafood too – fish – lasooni fish tikka to fish fingers, calamari, shrimp, priced  between Rs.110 – Rs.320. The soup section, relatively, has fewer options – about 4 veg options, priced at Rs.60 and about 10 non veg options from the regular Hot & Sour and Chicken Shorba to the zuppa di pesce at Rs.70-110. There are a few salad options too, about 3 each in veg and non veg at Rs.70-140.

The main course starts with sizzlers and flambe options – veg, chicken and seafood in both cases. There are half a dozen sizzler options, priced at Rs.100-330, and 9 flambe options, at Rs.200-400. You also get other regulars like Stroganoff, enchiladas, fish’n'chips, a few pasta options. (Rs.110-270) Multi-cuisine means that these share the menu with sweet’n'sour vegetables, Methi Chaman, Hyderabadi kadai Subzi, Dal makhni etc (Rs.70-140) and Diced Chicken in Black pepper, Shredded lamb with onion and capsicum, Mutton Kolhapuri, Malabar fish curry, Goan prawns curry, Murgh Adraki etc  (Rs.190-320). To go along with that, there are quite a few rice and roti options. They also have a snack menu.

We went through all of that, while munching a plate of nachos, complimentary. :)   We finally chose a Brodo di Pollo, “a traditional italian chicken broth served on a slice of toasted bread”, to start with. I think they meant along with a slice of toasted bread, or probably not, because we got the by-two soup along with 1 croissant, which we erm, manually converted to by-two. But the broth was hot and tasty, with loads of chopped vegetables and chicken, though the taste did remind me a lot of Tabasco sauce.

For the main course, we both chose from the flambe section. D, because, well if the restaurant were named so, this should be the specialty, and me, because it seemed destined. Earlier in the day, i had successfully ‘flambe’d’ my tongue, though with hot chocolate, not alcohol. D ordered a Chicken Pepperonata, “a traditional italian roast chicken with pimentos, flambed with red wine”, and I asked for a Chicken Diane, “boneless grilled chicken and bell peppers flambed with brandy, served with mushroom and pepper corn sauce”. The flooring has two levels, and we were on the upper part, which meant that, though we could see it, the flambe-ing couldn’t be done near our table. That does take a bit away, I thought. Both the items were quite good, though they managed to give me 2 free bones in my dish. When I asked about what ‘boneless’ meant, the guy appeared clueless and mumbled ‘only two bones at the side’. D’s Pepperonata was mildly spicy and tangy, though she felt that the meat could’ve been cooked a bit more. But notwithstanding that, still a good dish. The Chicken Diane was done very well, with a strong pepper flavor that I quite liked.

There are a few dessert options, including Crepes and Banana Fritters, but we had a movie to catch, so we skipped dessert.

All of the above cost us just less than Rs.700, including service tax, and a service charge of 5%. The service is quite good and attentive, the ambiance is pleasant, and overall, a decent experience.

Flambe, #93, 5th Cross, 6th Block, Koramangala Ph: 41606888/89

Version next

Those kind souls who follow this blog’s feed on Google Reader or a similar service, might have noticed the change in url a few weeks back, to the /blog sub-domain. Apologies for the sudden flood of old posts in the last few days, the shift caused a few hiccups, and a post was also sacrificed. Thanks to an e-mail, it was retrieved, and was re-posted yesterday. The kinder souls who read posts till the very end might have noticed a small line on an announcement, a few posts back. Actually there are two, linked to each other. One of the announcements is the revamped main domain – www.manuprasad.com.

I’ve always been experimenting with lifestreams – from the easy to set up Friendfeed to the slightly more difficult sweetcron, and several in between. But this time, I decided to get it done by a professional, and as far as my needs and expectations are concerned, Chugs did a great job.

But why now, and why a professional approach. Well, the other announcement is that I’ve quit my job in The Times Group, though my last working day is more than a month away. I sense great shifts happening in the way we work, live and the way we function as a society, and I also feel that this is a great time to start creating the job work profile I’d like. The new website is a reflection of not just my work interests, but also me, as a person. My skill sets and interest areas are here. Thanks for your interest in advance. :)

We started with Google Reader, so let’s end with it too. A significant feature was added to the service a few days back. Google Reader will now help you keep track of even pages which don’t have a web feed, like www.manuprasad.com. I plan to test this using my website, as I see it as a harbinger of some inorganic developments in the ‘feeds updates’ domain, which will be of great interest to corporate and brand websites.

until next time, www.manuprasad.com, take a look :)

Bonus Read: Hugh McLeod talks to Seth Godin on Linchpin

PS. Meanwhile, a slightly dated piece of news – Got featured in Surekha Pillai’s list of top 10 desi twitterers in Impact magazine :) )

The clique friendly web

In spite of the last post, I’m a bit ambivalent about Vir Sanghvi’s column.

On one hand, I am in complete agreement with the rebuttals that I have read – Lekhni, Amit, Rohit. Rational and well articulated.

And yet, over the years, that’s almost 7 of them, I can confidently say that blogger cliques have always been around. They may not have been formed with that intention, but over a time frame, many have developed that way, and this is a phenomenon I see on twitter too, where ‘followers’ tends to be taken literally. Will I name any? No, simply because they are cliques, and these days, cliques to mobs is a single click conversion. Heh.

Simplistically put, many news channels and newspapers started out as a means of expression. Those who produced good content realised that many were paying attention to what they had to say. They looked around and noticed that there were others of their kind too. Mutual acknowledgment was a bit difficult because of business considerations, but they still stuck together, broadly, in terms of stances towards issues. The adoption of the medium rose, bringing new audiences. Somewhere, the quality of content became iffy. Sometimes because it had become a business, and sometimes because the content creators lost objectivity and started dictating norms, because they believed their audience was THE only audience that mattered. Of course they had measurement tools. Heh. (Just a small detour to say that even media planners trash the TAM and IRS/NRS methodology, yes, go on, take a poll)

And then the web happened, and became a force to be reckoned with. It brought with it, blogs, which took less than 5 minutes to create. Some of the creators spent exactly that much of time. But others stuck on. Time and effort brought them recognition, and even some fame. They looked around, saw others of their kind. There were hardly any business consideration, linking to each other became the norm. The audience was being built all this while, and unacknowledged, a herd mentality too. Personal branding crept in. In many cases, the quality of content might have dropped with time – rehashed content using previously successful templates, link-baits, these are just online manifestations of things we see in newspapers and television. But though the posts were not as funny as they used to be or not well thought out, the audience stuck on, it was after all, a cool community to be in. There’s nothing wrong with it, its human nature to seek out kindred souls. The unfortunate part is the increasing intolerance for contra-views among many bloggers. You can see enough comment wars if you look around. At some point, perspectives became dogmas.

And then came twitter, and microbloggers. It became all the more easier – from the simple RT to #followfriday and lists, there are multiple tools available, to build audiences, and cliques. And as I’ve written before, we on Twitter are famous for mobs. :)

So,  my point is Mr. Sanghvi, relax. We’ve seen it all before, its only the medium that has changed. The people remain. This too shall give way to something else. If all goes according to the way it has before, in a few years, you can chuckle over post like yours by some blogger, who thinks someone in what is then the new media has been judgmental to a senior blogger. Heh.

Meanwhile, the good part is, the web makes content production and distribution very easy, so you can ignore people if you personally think they’ve ‘lost it’. You will always find a contra-voice, it might be brow beaten sometimes, but it exists.

until next time, sanguine ;)

De-privacy

The Twitter discussion last week with Surekha and Karthik, was mostly about attribution, but it had another facet to it – privacy. Last week, a childhood photo of mine was shared on Facebook, I promptly untagged. Thankfully Facebook still allows that, though I wonder for how long. But it made me think. Does the photo belong to the person clicking it or the person who has been clicked?

Surekha, for example, mentioned that she was okay if her tweet was reproduced, so long as it was attributed to her. I am ambivalent about my stance since I have at least a couple of problems, one practical, one theoretical (for now) – first, the context of it, where will it be used and in what context? I even stretched the thought to whether I can choose who gets to RT me and which tweets. Second, what if someone has a revenue model out of aggregating tweets, and that’s not just MSM I’m talking about, its online publications, blogs and blog aggregators too.

The first one is about privacy. When I share a status/tweet on FB/Twitter, I do it on the assumption that its shared in a relatively closed network, and in a context. It would be ironic if the content creators of new media to say they’ve been mistweeted. With Facebook’s  changes in policy at the end of last year, the definition of privacy is actually up in the air. No, actually Facebook is deciding what is privacy and that it is over. And to think that privacy was the cited reason for the non-portability of the data on the network!! There are two wonderful posts on the subject which you really should read – one by danah boyd and the other by nicholas carr. On a tangent, this post onThe Inquisitr about how (in the context of customer service), in spite of the web making every person a media outlet, the concerned corporations would choose to listen to only a few. The fear being whether rules of personal privacy would also be decided by a select few. Are we talking the Schmidt language here – “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place”. Oh, did I take that out of context? Heh.

The second one (about the revenue model) made me think about media and brands and intrigued me because it is linked to privacy, and more so, because I sensed a paradox – between the individual’s notion of privacy and how we expect a media outlet/brand to be dictated by us on how and where its content is used. Yes, they are not individuals. But even if news per se is not owned by anyone, isn’t the particular form in which it is carried owned? The brand, is owned. The way the web is evolving, do they have a choice about where they are seen and who talks about them? This is not a debate on whether it makes sense for them to be private/public, but my point is about choice. When we start thinking about ‘linking’ as a right, just because the web economy is supposedly supported by it, I get the feeling I mentioned earlier – will a (new) powerful few dictate how it plays out? Privacy and control – they cross paths a lot. What really are we creating?

until next time, protocols

Vir review

Read this, and come back.

I sit in the darkened hall, hoping this ordeal will be over soon. Vir is droning on. I am surprised that he expects this kind of drivel to be accepted by any audience, let alone appreciated. It seems to be a creation from some other era, when talking down to a dumb audience was the way to be, and everything would be lapped up, just because a star was articulating it.

These are times when intelligent content is supposedly the mantra, this is the age where the audience has learned of its power, and discovered means of expressing it. And yet, occasionally we do see Vir like stuff coming out, as though the ancient contents of the draft folder mistakenly got published. I’m sure they sold the tube rights first and will be guaranteed good TRPs, more so because the guys online who believe in representing themselves are sure to diss it. You know, content very seriously and self righteously done, but so bad and outdated, that consuming it becomes fun.

Oh, its over. The lights have come on. Damn, its not Vir, its Veer, at least, so say the end credits. But then, what’s in a name, eh? Though I do get irritated when someone spells my pseudonym wrong.

until next time, some really sanguineous stuff here ;)

Collage

Not that I’m going to bore you with events from Y2K on, I have other stuff to do that with, but a decade can be a long time. And when there are events to add some perspective to that timeframe, it makes it even more poignant. That’s exactly what happened when, thanks to a get-together organised by batchmates, I realised that its been 10 years since we passed out of that place. (‘passed out at’ is equally applicable, thanks to a few classes!!) What makes it fun is that while I got myself a degree, and so did D, she claims that she lost whatever degree of sanity she had before she crossed paths with me. :D

So, the place where we became er, engineers. I’ve always wanted that – Er, for engineer. Like Dr for Doctor. Er.Manu. Er, ok, let’s move on. Like the place has. While not entirely unrecognisable, its changed considerably. New buildings, better access roads, well maintained gardens. And they actually have speakers starting from about 200 m from the college, that play music to de-stress students. Just a vowel movement from our times of distress!! Hmmph.

The current batches were on vacation, which meant D and I could walk around and click away to our hearts content. We walked around the college campus with a few of our friends. Many of them are now responsible parents – mostly to toddlers. Kids who are too young for me to tell them that I have seen his/her father in the same state, if not age. Toddy tales for toddlers are perhaps not a great idea. So we talked about teachers and papers and cricket matches and strikes. Memories were rekindled, legs were pulled, tall claims made about the life and times from more than a decade back.

And just so that I can come back here and revisit the road once traveled, here are a few snapshots.Walk with me :)

DSC02367 Since there are no shortcuts to success, there is no lift, and we used to have many classes scheduled right on the top floor. It also meant that teachers took longer to reach the class, and students got themselves an excuse to loiter. And so it was, that when a teacher was spotted beginning the long climb, an announcement was made by whoever happened to be surveying the scene. Usually the teacher’s nickname was used. :D

Surveying. Right at the basement was our department’s preferred source of dehydration. So more people passed out than passed thanks to the heat. During exams, we were tested by being asked to find the distance between two inaccessible points. Since in reality, they were accessible, kids figured ways to actually measure the distances so that they knew the answer. That made it even more difficult, since many had no idea how to arrive at that answer on paper. :D

DSC02375Workshop. One of the 2 papers in 4 years that made me re-appear for an exam.  For D, the only one. I liked metal, but the damn thing refused to be filed away. I appeared the next year with a wooden smile. I got a block of wood this time. Everything dove tailed into place.

Learned of love and ABC’s,

DSC02372It wasn’t really all work. Our sports ground. Weekends were the main periods of activity, and since I used to hop on to a Cochin bus every Friday evening, I seldom played. The building on the left was my hostel in the third year, and the one on the right in the final year. We got single rooms in the final year. I still remember the ‘Sifar’ (Lucky Ali) poster on my door, with the picture of an open palm. Ironically, I was an SFI member (student wing of the Communists), as opposed to the KSU (the Congress’ student wing, sharing its symbol)

skinned our hearts and skinned our knees.


DSC02385

The corridor that has heard my voice many many times. Shouting slogans. Trying to out-shout my counterpart in the opposing party. And the singing, since the auditorium was here too. Two worlds, two voices, both sound asleep now. :)

DSC02389And thanks to the first set of activities, I was called to this room occasionally. The principal’s. At one time, we had the entire batch sitting in front of his room because he wouldn’t let us go to Goa for our study tour. He also happened to be a schoolmate’s father, which made me feel rather guilty whenever I cracked jokes/made slogans at his expense. :D

And every time that I was down


DSC02348

Another place of great intrigue. I have only gone beyond this gate once. Into the building that is, not the other way. This is the LH – Ladies Hostel. The one time I went in was during the election campaign. And I was made to sing. Who suffered more, is just a matter of perspective. :D

Apparently other souls used to surf around much more frequently. Once someone climbed on to this building’s terrace and dumped washing powder into their huge water tank. Since the water was also used for cooking, the tank had to be emptied and cleaned, so the entire batch got a few days of leave.DSC02388

And when I was not making a fool of myself singing, I was playing Dumb C. This is the place where we won a Dumb C competition at the college for the first time. We even cracked the Dumb Dumb C round, which was still a novelty then. :)

DSC02383And when I wasn’t busy with all the other stuff, this is where I could be found, in the classroom. We couldn’t go in this time, the room was locked. But thankfully, so are the memories.

I wish that we could both be there.

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun.
But the hills that we climbed
were just seasons out of time

They said D and I hadn’t changed much. Oh, but we have, I wanted to say. But I smiled, because I was still wondering how, when, and why. The college still poses difficult questions, but there’s a degree of comfort in knowing that life and I can move on, sometimes even without answers. :)

until next time, snap out :)

Beyond the web…

What makes the evolution of the web more interesting is that in whatever small ways, we all are drivers of the changes that are happening. Seth Godin wrote a thought provoking post sometime back on the evolution of a medium, in which he points out the end result of banality.

On Twitter recently, Surekha, Karthik and I had a good discussion on attribution and payment models, triggered by Karthik’s post.  again got me thinking on digital collectivism. I’ve always wondered about the conflicts of digital collectivism and mediocrity, and recently read a good post in the WSJ, that not only made a case of the former working against innovation, but also the need for a better system for intellectual property rights.

Digital collectivism, content creation, Intellectual Property Rights are all issues that would have to be simultaneously grappled with. Right now, separate industries are battling it out in their own turf, what would happen when individuals like you and me are faced with these? Systems are evolving faster than standards can. With more people, including celebrities getting on board Twitter, and the web in general, there is going to be more content abundance and the need for trust based networks. I, for one, believe that proper standards of attribution would have to be a part of the trust based economy.

Meanwhile, because of the subjective/personal nature of the social web and the relative ease in creating content/products/services, it is safe to expect that niche models and economies would happen. We would perhaps move beyond what we call social media now, as it becomes a standard, because as Rex Hammock correctly states, the web is bigger than social media.

But then I had a strange notion. As habits change, new consumption patterns emerge and technology evolves to such an extent that geographical constraints become even more irrelevant, will we see a different kind/system of human aggregation? Will we see virtual gated communities with different protocols, that will tie back into reality and help build sustainable economies different from what we can fathom now? Going back to that WSJ article I linked to earlier, has the net already accumulated baggage, in terms of the way things work? What if the web has already evolved to such an extent that these new systems would find operating within it, a constraint?

Would we then see the emergence of a new medium? Think about it, the timeframe between emergence of new media  are getting crunched. And there were days when nobody thought there would be something that would make newspapers almost redundant. Does that mean the net will? Perhaps not, but it just won’t be the super hero it is now.

until next time, internext

Good Read in context:  “In Networks we trust, but privacy is another matter

Shift + Alt + Holmes

I’m quite a huge fan of Sherlock Holmes. If you remember, schools had this process in which one student was asked to read from the textbook, and another had to start from where he left off. Though most teachers went along a row, some smart ones picked random students. In Class 8 when ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’ was part of the syllabus,  I was once so engrossed in reading ahead that i got a ‘Get out of the class’. No, the teacher wasn’t really evil, I think i might have irritated her by pronouncing it as ‘hoond’ and then, when corrected, asking whether i could say “Howston, we have a problem.”  So yes, though M in ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ happens to be Moriarty, Holmes’ arch enemy, and it might be played by Brad Pitt soon, I am a huge fan.

And so i was quite disappointed not to be able to catch ‘Sherlock Holmes’ in the cinema hall in the first week because we were shifting homes. But fate had a mystery in store for me. The curious incident of the dogmatic nozzle in the night time. I can explain, and will. :D

We managed to bring a semblance of order to the place quite late. The toilet attached to the main bedroom had not been explored much, until then. And when we did, we discovered this strange arrangement.

leftistWhat do you mean what’s wrong. Its leftist. Doesn’t it strike you that the damn nozzle is on the wrong side? Not a good thing to discover when one is erm, pooped. Since the nearest tap was relatively far, we didn’t have lota options.  I have to add – the limited length of the nozzle pipe meant that  if you did try using it, i guess the twists and turns required would  make you feel a bit like the sari donned Draupadi in the Mahabharata!! Actually in the end, you’d feel like Dushasana – edge of the seat stuff, but you have a headache and still cut a sorry figure. After several minutes of discussions with D, that’s the wife not Dushasana, we realised that we had our backs against the wall, figuratively and otherwise, since the engineer wouldn’t help us out that late in the night. And that’s when I remembered Holmes’ famous admonition – “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth”

And that’s how I told D that if she wanted to use this loo now, she would need a paradigm shift. I suggested an option that looks like the one on the top in the image below, facing the wall.

toilet

She said “What crap. Sometimes you really go potty ” :|

Ha. Toilet humour, the last resort. I wonder if I should say that for the post too? And that would once again make me the butt of the joke. :|

until next time, alimentary tracks, my dear Watson? :)

People, Organisations, Media

Shashi Tharoor. Sachin Tendulkar. The connection is not just the initials, but also VISA. Get it? :D So, anyway, Tharoor’s tweets (again) created a minor ‘controversy’ and I observed a few interesting tangential stories.

Tharoor’s boss commented that such issues ” should be sorted out within the four walls of the two ministries”. So there was a good debate online and offline on how, as an elected representative, his responsibility was to the public, and whether the government, like many private organisations, might have some sort of non-disclosure norms. Tharoor, while having to go by official policy, had a view on his own and was expressing it. It reminded me of communication policies in organisation and a post recently on gaping void titled “If your boss tells you ‘our brand must speak with one voice’, quit.” The point to note is that SM Krishna is not a stranger to Twitter, but his usage of it was as a platform during the elections. A bit like an organisation using social media as a broadcast platform with least strategic intent. Tharoor, on the other hand, uses it in a completely different manner, and uses it well, IMO.

I doubt that this is the last ‘Twitroversy’ that Tharoor will find himself in, because I sense his larger agenda in this – forcing transparency on a system which clearly lacks it. (Generalising) In some ways, the similarity (of the government’s functioning) with organisations is quite evident. So, you could say that Tharoor is a pioneer in India’s version of government 2.0. But the internet with rife with stories, usually with bad endings, of employees talking about their employer. Facebook and Twitter have contributed largely to  this too. No, that’s not a warning of any sorts, I think this trend will only increase, and the endings will have to change. Employees would have contractual obligations, but as organisations move towards social business design, the nature of these also would have to change. In India, where the net is yet to achieve (mass) maturity, a member of the government working towards transparency in what can be called ‘THE system’ is bound to have an effect on culture. The other effect of transparency I am looking forward to is accountability. As Seth Godin says ‘Put a name to it’. I think accountability will have a huge role to play in Social Business Design, and the faster organisations adopt it, as opposed to seeing employees as army ants following a diktat, the better it will be for all concerned.

I also saw a debate on Times Now, which, to me,  exposed the difference in the way bureaucrats and even old journalists see Twitter, as opposed to the users of the service, in this case represented ably by Prem Panicker. Someone commented on Twitter that the media creates these controversies around Tharoor because he has moved a layer between the government and public. I’d agree to a certain extent, because though India’s internet penetration is still in single digits, even media houses realise its the future. The media, print or television has seen itself as the ‘middle man’ and services like Twitter are just ripping away that fabric. Meanwhile, Vir Sanghvi (on Twitter) commented that “If Shashi Tharoor said same things to journos he would be hailed as frank. When he tweets he is called irresponsible” To me, this is another manifestation of the same sentiment.

Ironically, Tharoor, a few minutes before the controversy started had tweeted about the future of journalism – about the influence of stringers and bloggers, but the need for educated and knowledgeable editors as well. I read recently about the rise of TMZ, and the new form of reportage. The way I see it, along with transparency and accountability, there will be a variable trust factor in the reader’s mind for every source. The source might be an individual, a group, an organisation, a company, the trust factor and context will dictate the relationship. Even as individuals like Tharoor become ‘media’ in themselves thanks to (in this case) Twitter, newspapers and organisations will have to work out very quickly on how to adapt to this change in status quo.

until next time, mediators :)

PS. Shorter posts and an announcement – next week :)

PPS: True to style, Jyoti Basu virtually ‘died’ yesterday, on Twitter.