Monthly Archives: February 2011

Phobidden Fruit

This review was originally published in Bangalore Mirror. Have made  Vietnaam ke vaaste changes to this edition. :)

Phobidden Fruit is on 12th Main Indiranagar and is less than 50m from the Sony junction (with 100 ft Road), going towards Daddy’s Deli. Parking shouldn’t be too much of a problem, there is 12th Main itself and enough smaller side lanes.

Since the cuisine was specialist, I had the Pho sight to go prepared, and was accompanied by a few Nam ‘veterans’ – Madman, and Prateek and Nithya Dayal. :)

The place is a sort of glorified garage space. But though the ground floor is relatively uninspiring, negotiate the spiral staircase and you’re transported to a cheerful casual dining ambiance with wooden seating and pretty cushions. We got to hear some 80s pop and with the occasional creaking of the dumb waiter, this seemed just the right setting for a relaxed meal.

The menu offers a bunch of appetisers, and has quite a few options for vegetarians and non vegetarians. In fact, the latter would be spoilt for choice – chicken, beef, clams, pork, prawn, fish, squid, lamb…see? You can take a look at the menu below

We started quite well. The Banh Xeo, crispy rice crepes with a filling of button mushrooms, onion and sprouts accompanied by a spicy sauce ended up  the favourite, as did the Fresh Spring Roll (Chicken), though Madhu did mention that it might have worked better with rice noodles inside instead of rice, and could have done with some more herb flavour. The Viet Spare Ribs were fairly good too, despite the ribs being stingy on meat.

After the starters, it was time for the Pho play. The Pho (we tried Beef and Chicken) shared a common broth and the meat was added later, but it’s still a Saigon pick, as is the Viet Red Prawn Curry.

The Saigon kick was delivered in the form of the Kho that I ordered, salmon cooked in a rich, sweet and spicy caramel sauce. There was notthing to counter the overly sugary sauce. The desserts were also bit of a disappointment. The Coconut Sorbet, while not lacking in flavour, missed out on the texture of a sorbet. The Lemongrass Ice Cream again got the flavour right, but was more like a custard. The Che too seemed to stray from its original version. We tried a Vietnamese Iced Coffee, but instead of the condensed milk and strong coffee that was expected, this turned out to be a much diluted version.

The service is quite prompt and despite all the tables being full, managed to do a good job without any major trouble.

All things considered – a catchy name, a relaxed setting, and the possibilities of a unique cuisine, this place deserves a visit. So, if you’re feeling blue, and would like to ginger up your appetite with a new cuisine, but without an astronomic bill, you could try out this Vietnamese gastronomic experience.

Phobidden Fruit, #965, 12th Main, HAL II Stage, Indiranagar.  Ph: 41255175

PS: If you’d also like an advanced user review, do read this. (HT: Madman) :)

Plugging In

Since I have been on streams and brands for a while, I thought I’ll take a break and plug you in on a couple of discoveries and connections. For those reading this in Google Reader or actually anywhere else other than this site itself, kindly step outside. No, the hands can still be on the keyboard/mouse but please drop in at the site since it’s contextually relevant that you be here.

One of the fringe benefits of writing this column for Bangalore Mirror is that I sometimes discover interesting startups that are useful to me as well. Now I am associated with two of them – one on each blog. And since we’re on discovery, and I don’t want to bore you more with semantics, allow me to introduce you to Dhiti, a content discovery engine driven by semantics. I first read about them at Pluggdin and then got a mail from  Aditya (at Dhiti) to try it out. I have, many a time, expressed my frustration about WP’s native search, the plugins I have tried to augment that, as well as the not-as-accurate-as-I’d-like YARPP plugin that I have been using so long. Dhiti arrived just in time and, from the short experience so far, has solved this to a very large extent. To see it in action, scroll away to the bottom of this post (later, after reading the post completely!!)

The Dhiti plugin, which you can download from here, has versions for WP.com, (thanks Ranjani) Blogger or self hosted WP blogs like mine. It provides multiple ways for you to get to more, and contextually relevant content in this blog – a ‘search’ function, a ‘Topics’ section displays the topics the post covers, a ‘Concepts’ section which shows the related topics, and ‘Nuggets’ which show excerpts from posts. Words in both Topics and Concepts are clickable and when you click them, the Nuggets show the excerpts of posts in which they have appeared and highlight them, so you can quickly understand the context and navigate to the relevant post accordingly. It functions just like a browser with ‘back’ and ‘home’ functions. You can even make it a pop-out within the page if that works better for you. Do play with it and let me know your feedback. I have asked for better customisation options and am also supposed to get some analytics from them.

So, Dhiti gives food for thought, and my new friends at the other blog give actual food. Ok, they help you find food, specifically restaurants. Zomato, formerly known as Foodiebay is now taking snippets from the restaurant reviews on my blog, and adding them to the menu and photos they already have. More than the hits that will hopefully deliver ;), I was really kicked about their Android app. If you have an Android, download the app right now from the market. It automatically detects your location, and then allows you to discover a random restaurant nearby, recommends a restaurant near you or just plain search. Pretty much all the website functionality is built into the app. There’s even a button to call! The showoff feature is the ‘Shake’ and though it doesn’t do the ‘slot machine’ like Urbanspoon, it still rocks! :)

until next time, scroll below for discoveries :)

Whose line is it anyway?

When I wrote about the ‘notional boundaries’ in the context of the Arundhati Roy speech, I was reluctant to push the issue further. But while reading ‘The Argumentative Indian’, I came across a section called ‘Critique of Patriotism’ under ‘Tagore and his India’, in which the author – Amartya Sen – mentions that Tagore had once written ‘Patriotism cannot be our final spiritual shelter; my refuge is humanity.

Tagore also apparently used characters in his novel Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) to hint at how nationalistic sentiments could easily turn sectarian. Amartya Sen ends the section with the words of Bertolt Brecht “…of the corruptibility of nationalism. Hatred of one group can lead to hatred of others….” you can read the section in entirety here)

And that started a thought on nation states. If we consider attributing more than a functional (say economic, political, administrative etc) importance to it (despite its ‘freedom’ being earned after much effort and sacrifice), how can we logically dispute a demand for separate states intended on the basis of say religion or language, especially since these might be older than the boundaries of the nation state and could prove a better cohesive force than the idea of a country?

This is not to say that I’m in favour of this kind of a line or line of thought, but I would like your help in finding a logical conclusion.

until next time, line of reasoning :)

Illusions

Richard Bach

Richard Bach and Donald Shimoda, master and disciple. One, a messiah waiting to retire and the other reluctant to learn. Both barnstorming pilots in mid west America.

The book is about our perspectives and perceptions of reality, and a view that what we see around us is an illusion.. of our own making, a manifestation of what we want it to be.

Shimoda is tired of being a messiah as he thinks people are more interested in the miracles he shows them, than any understanding of what he’s trying to say. As the narrative progresses, Richard is first awed by the miracles himself, but then starts questioning his sense of reality and begins the journey to become a messiah himself.

The book consists of many profound quotes from what is called the “Messiah’s Handbook”, which Shimoda lends to Richard. A handbook with no pages, because it opens to the page which answers the questions in the reader’s mind, but like Shimoda says any book can do this, because it is the reader’s interpretation.

The larger statement here is that each of us has in us, the power to make our own path just the way we want it, if only we let go. To quote, “Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they’re yours”

Attention everyone

It was a strange coincidence that I watched the 62 Super Bowl ads back-to-back, (thanks to this aggregation effort by Mashable) on the same day that I read this very insightful post by Steve Rubel on “Attentionomics“. The slideshow is also embedded below. In addition to the key takeaways – the lifespan of content created on popular networks, it also suggests ways to overcome this.

The interesting thing was that I would have watched the Super Bowl ads without any prompting. Which makes me wonder whether the logical and scientific way proposed above to ‘game’ the attention economy is the best approach. I think my discomfort stems from the fact that this leans more towards the ‘media’ in social media and looks at the social platforms from an information dissemination perspective.

My consumption of the ads was more out of interest. The term ‘Intention Economy‘ springs to mind immediately in this context.

The intention economy is an approach to viewing markets and economies focusing on buyers as a scarce commodity. The consumers’ intent to buy drives the production of goods to meet their specific needs.

The thought is whether/how this can be applied to consumption of content. If it can, then the approach would be to make the content as easy to find and accessible as possible, to ‘appear’ at the time of demand, and create different contexts to drive that consumption.

There is another perspective too. The easiest way to  elucidate it would be with the example of Google Reader/ Twitter Lists, where I pay attention to certain content creators, because I trust and value the content they produce. As Edelman’s Trust Barometer would tell you, the ‘trust in experts’ has actually increased this year. Their appeal does not really depend on the attention metrics.

Can’t think of any other ‘angles’, but if you do, please drop me a line, or comment.

So perhaps like the owned-paid-earned forms of content, brands will have to work on all 3 fronts. Harness expert power (employees and others), seed efficiently, create and use contexts effectively, and be easily accessible (like the brand-stream I proposed last week)

until next time, at ease now :)

PS: New research on why consumers ‘break up’ with brands on email, FB, Twitter, could be taken as a pointer to look at   alternatives to information dissemination.

A piece of happiness

I always equated happiness with peace of mind. That having one automatically meant having the other. I somehow doubt that now.

Does happiness come from going after what you’ve wanted, irrespective of the roadblocks that appear before you? And does peace of mind come from an acceptance of things happening around you and to you?

Would you have peace of mind if you tried your best and still not got what you wanted? Would you still be happy then?

Would you be happy to get what you wanted irrespective of the sacrifices you had to make, and the paths you had to take? Would you still have piece of mind then?

Do you think they are the same? Or does the presence of one immediately dispel the other? If there had to be a trade off, what would you choose – happiness or peace of mind?

until next time, mindful happiness