Monthly Archives: July 2011

Turquoise – The Indian

It does sound a little like a movie dubbed into Bollywood, but hey, it’s a restaurant and the name matters only so much. The review first appeared in Bangalore Mirror, and I’ve had enough of ‘blue’ wordplay. :D

This is located above Mom&Me on the road leading from Intermediate Ring Road to JNC (map) and is one of the twin Turquoise restaurants. The European is on the floor below, and you can find my micro review on 4sq. :) Valet parking is available.

The turquoise theme is prominent in the decor and the chandeliers creating the shape of a musical note makes for an elegant picture. For seating, you could lounge on the comfortable sofas or choose the more functional, yet tastefully done regular furniture. The gigantic dragonfly near the bar is an attention grabber. Bollywood remixes playing in the background and a TV screen offer ‘entertainment’.

The menu begins with a few standard shorba options, and then offers a decent range of kababs. Thereafter, in addition to some standard and some not-so-standard main course Indian fare, there is also a page devoted to Parsi favourites. For once, there seems to be a balance between vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. The rotis section manages to offer a few unique options, but the desserts section is limited and sticks to the regular favourites. The Indian is a resto-lounge, and seems to have a well stocked bar and a collection of mocktails. The Turquoise Smoothie we tried turned out just fine.

The Galawati Kabab, a patty of tava fried lamb mince marinated in spices and served on a mini paratha, didn’t quite get to the ‘melt in your mouth’ level but managed to live up to its billing of a signature dish. But the Baida Roti with kheema and eggs stuffed in a pancake and tava fried proved to be the unanimous favourite.You really must try this. The Aatish e Aloo – stuffed potatoes – managed to start a spicy Bollywood conversation, but the dish itself was quite bland. The Mahi Afghani Tikka, Calcutta Betki chunks with coriander, yoghurt and cream, too went into the same category.

In the main course, the Zardari Kofta in a nut-based gravy was the pick, followed by the Murgh Makhani. The Hyderabadi Lagan ka Murgh with the cashew nut gravy had sounded right, but fell short of expectations. The efforts of the Dum Pukht Aloo’s gravy, to salvage the dish’s reputation proved futile.The Naan Baluchistan with a minced meat stuffing, and the Khameeri Roti were both excellent, the Gosht ki Dum Biriyani was reasonably good, and the flavourful Jeera Rice was appreciated too. The Qubani ka Meetha didn’t do much to sweeten the dessert deal though. The biggest disappointment was when we were told that most Parsi dishes required advance notice. Even in the other sections, we missed out the ones we really wanted to try – the Naan Changeezi, the Turkish Baklava, to name a few.

The service was courteous to begin with, but began to display an overboard version of ‘maa ka pyar’ while the food was being served. They insisted on disproportionately filling up our plates. The billing took us almost half an hour. On the cost front, a non-veg starter, a main course with a veg and non-veg dish along with a few rotis, and a dessert would set you back by `1,200. Considering the options available in the vicinity, this is on the higher side.

Turquoise’s Indian version has its share of tasty fare, but given its location –  where a stone thrown would most likely land on a restaurant – they need to better their act. The non availability of dishes and a torturous wait for the bill left us blue, like that Akshay Kumar movie.

Turquoise, 2nd & 3rd Floor, (Above Mom & Me), Shop #9, 5th Block Koramangala, Bangalore 560095, Ph: 65776588

Brands and Plus points

Considering that I tweeted this sometime back, and found this a great read, this post is not on the pros-cons/ how to use Google Plus or on the lines of 'why I am getting out of Facebook and hopping into bed with Google Plus'. These are just thoughts based on a query I asked on and about the platform a couple of days back.

The context: I observed that, on my Plus stream ( I have 'circled' about 150 people), a few people were sharing the same content they did on Twitter and LinkedIn, presented the same way as well. I could understand why they would use these as distribution networks because it is difficult to accurately predict who catches what in busy streams. But what did surprise me was this content being shared as 'Public' on Google Plus, when it is very easy to create circles of people with common interest and share accordingly. (using earlier interactions on other networks or even what they share on Plus) And so I asked

Predictably, the most insightful comment came from generic propecia online no prescription 1

twitter.com/#!/misentropy” target=”_blank”>Iqbal, who nailed it with “we are used to the environment defining the limits of who we share with – rather than having the ability to choose and consciously picking one set of people over another, every time we have something to say.” In this context, I remembered an excellent post by JP Rangaswami on the subject of filters, publishers and subscribers. While I agree with his summation that “We can only fix filter failure by providing subscribers with better filters, by providing publishers with tools that allow subscribers to filter better“, I did feel that in the interim, till the environment (/infrastructure) is able to deliver this at least to a certain degree of satisfaction (it's a dynamic scenario, not likely to be completely perfect), publishers (us) should filter our output too.

All of this led me to a comparison of this scenario to that of brands as publishers. Thanks to traditional media platforms, brands had an environment which to a large extent defined the what/who/where/how of marketing communication. Few brands have been able to cope with the explosion of platforms and the freedom, choices and protocols that come with it. As consumers become filters and learn selective broadcast, exploring and navigating the platforms might be a good idea for brands, but it might be a better idea to (also) invest in a content-communication infrastructure which can be customised to meet both the dynamics – the brand's messaging needs and the consumer's sharing habits. (in the brand's context)

until next time, helpless to help+ :)

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A People Person?

Scott Adams’ post titled “People who don’t need people” (via Surekha) reminded me of Asimov’s Spacers, the first humans to emigrate to space, and their life on Aurora, the first of the worlds they settled. Scott Adams predicts that “we will transfer our emotional connections from humans to technology, with or without actual robots. It might take a generation or two, but it’s coming. And it probably isn’t as bad as it sounds.

In the huge canvas that Asimov had created, the Spacers chose low population sizes and longer lifespans (upto 400 years) as a means to a higher quality of living, and were served by a large number of robots. As per wiki, “Aurora at its height had a population of 200 million humans and 10 billion robots.

These days, as I experience the vagaries of the cliques and weak ties – not just Malcolm Gladwell’s much flogged social media version, but even real life ones, I can’t help but agree with Scott Adams that it won’t be as bad as it sounds. I probably wouldn’t mind it at all.

When I feel like a freak
When I’m on the other end of someone’s mean streak
People make fun I’ve got to lose myself
Take my thin skin and move it somewhere else

I’m setting myself up for the future
Looking for the chance that something good might lie ahead
I’m just looking for the possibilities
In my mind I’ve got this skin I can shed

Scott Adams began his post noting that humans are overrated. Sometimes, I wonder whether humanity is, and whether losing our current perceptions of it would actually make a difference. (earlier post on the subject)

Lyrics: Invisible, Bruce Hornsby

until next, bot.any

Empire of the Moghul: Raiders from the North

Alex Rutherford

The first of the ‘Empire of the Moghul’ series, which begins in 1494 when the 12 year old Babur is suddenly forced to become king of Ferghana, on the death of his father. Babur feels a strong sense of destiny and is convinced that fate has something special in store for him. His ancestry, which include Timur and Genghis Khan, only reinforces this belief.

But the events that follow his coronation prove to be a roller coaster ride and he is forced to reconsider his future. From being king of a small state to the ruler of Samarkhand, to being a king without a throne, Babur is thrown into situations which provide him valuable life lessons, all of which would help him establish the Mughal dynasty in Hindustan.

Rutherford (mostly) remains true to history but has embellished a few characters to liven up the tale. From the Shah of Persia to ordinary foot soldiers, Rutherford manages to show their role in the life and thinking of Babur, quite effectively. The notes state that he has traveled to most of the places mentioned in the book. That is perhaps what has helped him to appreciate and give vivid descriptions of places, events and even people, making it easier for the reader to visualise the richness and grandeur of the ancient rulers, their royal abodes, and even the trials and tribulations that the land forces its inhabitants to live through. Relying perhaps on the Baburnama, Rutherford succeeds in balancing and showcasing Babur, the emperor, as well as Babur, the person.

In essence, a good read, especially for those who have an interest in history, and for those who don’t, read it as you would, a regular story, it does justice on that front too.

Weekly Top 5

This week's stories include Amazon's Kindle Textbook Rental, expansion of endless.com's free shipping, S3 data, Amazon Prime's deal with CBS, Amazon.com's acquisition of ParAccel; Zynga's IPO filing edits, Google's stake, revenue sharing with Facebook, failed PopCap bid, merger of Lolapps and 6waves; A

pple's market cap, OS X Lion, MacMini, new MacBook Air, Apple Thunderbolt Display and Kodak lawsuit; Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango), phones from Fujitsu-Toshiba, Dentsu-Skype deal, Bing maps update and Microsoft retail stores; Google+ statistics, verified accounts, AnonPlus and the new g.co url shortener.

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Consumer Tracks

I heard a very interesting quote recently, attributed to Rishad Tobaccowala -

When consumers hear about a product today, their first reaction is ‘Let me search online for it.’ And so they go on a journey of discovery: about a product, a service, an issue, an opportunity. Today you are not behind your competition. You are not behind the technology. You are behind your consumer.

That reminded of the title of a post last month from Mitch Joel – “The Ever-Evolving Consumer Evolves (Again)“, in which he talks about how consumers are now more advanced than marketers in terms of technology and how they communicate. Quite agree in general, though it varies with geography, kind of demographic and so on.

Simplistically put, word of mouth with a technology assist. You'd say that every 'social media' presentation has a version of it, and I'd have to agree. But the interesting part is how brands react. For the purpose of this post, let me give you a contemporary tool based example.

Within a few days of the launch of Google +, a few brands jumped on to the wagon. They weren't just content sites, but regular brands. Only to be told by Google to lay off until they were officially allowed to. Were the brands behind the con

sumers in this case? Or technology tool? Not. But even if they were allowed to operate in Plus, would that guarantee a success story? Not necessarily. That's probably because many a time, when brands (and brand managers) get to know about technology, they choose the easy way out. Order the agency to create a page/handle/group and get x number of fans/friends/followers, post some content to 'tick' engagement and then wait for the next shiny object. The harder way is to understand why people are active on the social platforms and the networks that are created within. In this context, relationship and trust. Something that brands lost when they made full use of the fact that traditional media didn't allow consumers to talk back.

Mitch Joel is right when he says that brands finally found an answer to the first coming of the web. They answered the 'why' reasonably well – information, and built websites. But with an explosion in platforms and interactivity, the answers this time around aren't that simple. Having a touch point at every new internet nation state is a great thing, but if brands look at the new shiny technology/service through the prism of why users are flocking to it, and go through the data – information – knowledge – wisdom path to figure out if/how they can use the technology/service to anticipate and meet consumer needs, they might be evolving a better and scalable strategy for the days ahead.

until next time, to corrupt a cricket line, platform is temporary, class is permanent ;)

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A clocked up life

Time has always been one of the most important constructs for me. In most of my actions, it is probably the first parameter kept in mind. The debate on whether it’s a human construct or a dimension that exists anyway is still not resolved in my head. But I still swing more towards a construct because in the words of one Julian Barbour, “Change merely creates an illusion of time, with each individual moment existing in its own right, complete and whole.” He calls these moments ‘nows’ and further postulates that “Time is simply the measure of the space between two separate and unrelated ‘nows.'” Unfortunately, this seems to take us further away from any possibility of navigating that distance beyond the linear flow we experience.

I was reminded of this because of an article I read in TOI and from my own recent experiences. The article was about an Amazonian tribe called Amondawa that had no concept of time. They live in a world of events and had no words for ‘next week’, ‘last year’ etc. Also, no one had an age. Instead, when their position in life changed, they took on a new name!!

For a fortnight in May-June, I was in Kerala, spending most of my time in a hospital waiting room. My entire routine had been changed. Nothing can be more disruptive for a creature of habit, but it did gave me a chance to observe time and my relationship with it. I noticed that time played an intrinsic part in my life because of associations – from mundane things like when I had to take a bath/ go online to things like when I would see D next. The associations make memories and our visions for the future, and those make up our navigation mechanism. If the associations did not exist, time’s importance could be reduced to a minimum, if not completely.

On those starlit nights, it was easy to remember Dr.Manhattan’s  line from Watchmen, though in another context ” I am looking at the stars. They are so far away. And their light takes so long to reach us. All we see of stars are their old photographs.” But for us, it’s a now. So which really is the now -the stars’ now or my now or both? But then again, if not time, what would be my main narrative?

until next time, anti-clock-wise :)

The Great Kabab Factory

The last time I was in the vicinity of Mantri Mall, I had some awesome food thanks to Partha Jha. The place we visited – Chandu’s Military hotel also sends lots of traffic to the other blog, thanks to a totally (food) unrelated post I wrote then. :)

This time, the visit was to an eatery inside the mall, for a Bangalore Mirror review. Parking at the mall is much better than in the initial days! Our destination – The Great Kabab Factory was a franchise that has operations in many parts of India and the Middle East, including the third floor of Mantri Mall.

The space has been utilised well, though the decor is pretty functional. The cutlery tries to lend a grand touch. The colours are also restrained except for the bright blue shades in the form of lighting, but these don’t help remove a general dimness. Interestingly, though the staff wear overalls to go with the factory idea, the theme ends there.

On to the menu. The dinner and weekend menu offers a selection of six kababs, followed by a biriyani main course and four desserts. The weekday menu is priced lower because a couple of kababs and desserts are taken out. The combination of kababs change  daily, and you stand a chance of getting the same combination only once a fortnight. But the signature dishes are available daily and after a round of all the kababs, you get to repeat your favourites. Ditto for the desserts. They also have a a well stocked bar, and given the price of the Fresh Lime Soda, you’re definitely better off guzzling beer. The prix fixe (set menu) weekday lunch is priced at Rs 449 plus taxes and weekends and dinners are at Rs 599 plus taxes. The price is the same for veg and non veg versions. Considering the options available, this is rather steep. (check comments for update)

Among the non vegetarian fare, the Galouti Kabab was the winner with its finely minced meat that puts it in the ‘melt in the mouth’ category. Roll it up in an ulta tawa paratha and you’re sure to ask for a repeat. The Taj Kabab with bell pepper and coriander was excellent too. The Shoolay Murgh Tikka, a mildly spicy kabab,  and the Shammi Kabab were also favourites. However, the signature Barrah Kabab was missing, and the Machhi Amritsari and the Lasooni Chooza were disappointing. The Phaldhari Chaat, roasted apple with chaat masala, was the redeeming dish in the veg menu. But charging the same rate for the veg fare seemed unfair. Especially since they were not great. The Paneer Tikka Kalimirch was bland and the Peshawari Aloo did nothing to impress either.

The Murgh Dum Biriyani was greasy and the Murgh Qurma accompanying it couldn’t do much to salvage it. Its veg counterpart, Vadi Pulao, wasn’t great either. The Shahi Tukda was the pick among the desserts though the Gulab Jamun had some competition to offer.  The Doodhi ka Halwa, made from bottle gourd, sounded promising, but didn’t actually work out.

The staff is well-trained and as each dish is brought to the table, give you a rapidfire tutorial on how it is to be consumed. The service is prompt and ensure you don’t feel too bad about the 10 per cent service charge.

The Great Kabab Factory does live up to its name and manages to produce quite a few delectable kababs but unfortunately, they don’t really come at Factory Outlet prices. So, unless you have just completed a bhook hartal or are gifted with phenomenal maas consumption abilities, the price of the kababs might make you go ‘Sheesh’!

The Great Kabab Factory, T-40, 3rd Floor, Mantri Square, #1 Sampige Road, Malleswaram, Bangalore 560003, Ph: 22667360