Monthly Archives: June 2014

Jaya: An Illustrated Retelling of the Mahabharata

Devdutt Pattanaik 

I consider myself more well-versed with the Mahabharata than the average person, because of my interest in Hindu mythology and the amount of reading I’ve done on the subject. But I’m really glad I read this, not just because of the small details I learned about (I counted 6 things I hadn’t known about – Sahadeva’s precognition gained by eating Pandu’s flesh, Draupadi cursing dogs to copulate in public for stealing Yudhishtira’s slippers, Vibhishana being present at Draupadi’s swayamwar, a couple of stories on why Krishna stepped in to protect Draupadi when Dusshasana tried to disrobe her, why Shakuni did his best to ensure the destruction of the Kuru clan, Draupadi’s regret over Karna and at least a couple more interesting tidbits) but because of the wonderful lessons it provides. The author also mentions several variations of the tale, regional renditions and folk variations adding layers to the original story. Even as one feels the familiarity thanks to the places (which still exist) mentioned and can identify with the experiences and tribulations of the mortal characters, there is also an awe created by the elements of divinity.

The excellent illustrations and the simple yet elegant and evocative storytelling took me back to a time when I first started hearing these stories – childhood. So vivid is the prose that one can easily create visualisations of the events. The explanation of events are done on many planes – rational, metaphysical, spiritual, bringing a lot of clarity to the complex tale. The concepts of dharma and justice are explained beautifully and even as the Pandavas grow their perspective during their exile and their pride, anger etc get tempered before and after the war, there is tremendous learning for the reader too. It is easy to understand why this is indeed considered the greatest story ever told, and continues to be relevant through ages. The original tale is epic, and so is this narration. Very highly recommended.

Jaya

A response to Facebook’s shrinking organic reach

Facebook’s plummeting organic reach has prompted several questions on whether it makes sense to continue investing in a presence on the platform. The short answer is still yes, and while I have never been a fan of Like acquisition, the platform continues to offer several avenues to help brands meet business outcomes. But marketers must learn from this episode, understand that Facebook and most other social platforms are fundamentally leased media and not owned, and be more cognizant of the landscape inside and outside Facebook in order to address business objectives better.

Rather than going for my standard long form text, I thought I’d play it differently and take the help of my favourite pop culture phenomena in the process. The disclaimer is that this is meant to be a primer on how to tackle this issue rather than a comprehensive silver bullet.

until next time, Like? ūüėČ

The Island

No, not a fancy one, just the one on 80ft Road, Indiranagar. It’s been around for a while, but we never managed to get there. (map) It shares the building with Oye Amritsar, and the ‘dangerous’ design of walking paths with Banana Beach, Koramangala. But despite that, we liked the decor – the space is well utilised, and full of non-intrusive spaces for different sized groups, thanks to multiple sections. The music goes around in loops but doesn’t really do any damage. On a Saturday night, it was a mixed crowd of PYTs and grown ups like us. ūüėČ We had reserved in advance, and that might be a good idea for you as well.

The menu has much to offer and is what you’d call ‘lounge cuisine’ – Mediterranean, Continental, American, and a smattering of Oriental and Mexican. We asked for a couple of martinis – Chocolate, and Pineapple Coconut, and though the ingredients in both were standard favourites, and they were generous with the alcohol, they just didn’t work. The appetiser – Spicy Cilantro Chili Chicken was much better fare, and in addition to the moderately spicy chicken, it also had this amazing dip – mint was definitely in it, and a fruit – we’re still not sure if it was passion fruit or pear or..

collage1

We had ordered a Filipino soup (Chicken) which they had to be reminded about! When we finally got it, we pointed out that we had ordered a by-two. It seemed we were apparently the first at The Island to order a soup in that form, because the person who brought the soup asked us what it was! Good start to the trolling! The soup itself was not bad, more like a stew than a soup – thick, thanks to the barley. We had to debate quite a bit for the main course, and finally decided on a pizza over several other contestants. The Chicken Cravers with chicken sausages, spicy chicken salami, roast chicken, and Mozzarella among other things, was quite tasty and filling! That meant that we had to skip the second dish we’d wanted, and go straight to desserts. I signaled to the troll for the menu and he brought me the bill! ūüėź Thankfully, the Chocolate Extravaganza was exactly that, and we were pleasantly surprised at the sheer size of it! Lots and lots of spongy, moist chocolate to end the meal on a high!

collage2

The bill came to slightly over Rs.2200, and most of it was courtesy the alcohol. The service ¬†¬†is not the best I’ve seen, but¬†food is decent and the place has a soothing ambiance, so we’ll probably drop in a second time.

The Island,  Plot No.3, 80 Feet Road, Off 2nd Main Rd, Beside FCML Shop, Near Columbia Asia Hospital, 1st Stage, Indira Nagar Ph: 41261114

A Greek odyssey – Days 8,9

Continued from Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Day 8 – Athens

We were brought back to our standard vacation practice with a thud – the half day city trip began at 7.30! Breakfast was a rush (in any case, just about the level of our previous stay) and we were delayed by 5 minutes! After a round of collecting people from various hotels and then changing buses, the tour began in right earnest. The first visit was to the Panathenaic Stadium, which apparently has its legacy linked to that of the full marathon. The story goes that a soldier ran non-stop from Marathon to Athens to convey the Greek victory over the Persians. He collapsed and died soon as he delivered the ‘we have won’ message. This distance is what makes up a full marathon now – just over 42 km (!) – and it was included when the modern Olympics began in 1896.

We saw many more interesting things around Athens – accompanied by a bilingual commentary (English and French) by our guide – the temple to Zeus with its Hadrian’s arch, (and the magnificent columns) a statue of Lord Byron who died in Greece, Heinrich Schliemann’s house which is now a numismatic museum,¬†the Parliament which was once a palace, and the change of guard that happens there. Apparently the best looking soldiers are chosen for this job and it’s a matter of privilege to them to chosen as a guard here. We also saw the constitution square, the oldest university, an ancient library, an academy for philosophers, the first parliament building (now a museum) Some interesting anecdotes as well – apparently they found Roman baths while they were digging for the Athens Metro project! Most of these were seen from outside, and we finally landed at the new National Archaeological Museum near the Acropolis. Apparently, acropolis is a common noun of sorts used to denote any citadel/fortified area built on a higher ground.

Greece42

The museum tour took over an hour across all three levels, and though the guide did her job – making sure we heard as much of history and mythology (familiar names like Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Apollo…) as possible during the time – it proved a bit tedious. But to be noted that the Greeks have done a great job into preserve and restore their history and culture. ¬†I loved the glass floors at several places which allowed us to see the excavations in situ. Apparently a lot of the missing ‘pieces’ in the relics are being showcased in Britain, and despite several pleas, they are refusing to return it! The tickets bought by the guide could be used across four monuments in the next four days. Alas, we had just a day more! The museum has a cafe, well explained exhibits and even archaeologists on call to explain! Photography is not allowed on 2 out of 3 levels, so we didn’t really shoot a lot.

Greece43

We then walked up the winding path to the Acropolis. The buildings are so majestic, and the top of the acropolis gives a spectacular 360 degree view of Athens. We spent quite a while there, and then walked down to Plaka – the old market area.

20140523_124946a

20140523_123625a

Greece44

Greece45

There are guys all over the place saying shukriya (!) and trying to sell stuff to you! Our plan was to lunch at Plaka, but thanks to hunger pangs and a slew of restaurants on a lane we reached, we decided to ignore the restaurants in our list, and just eat! Kotili appealed the most and we set about the task eagerly. We ordered what they called a ‘small platter’, penne, and a carafe of the house wine. Everything turned out to be excellent. The small platter seemed huge and does have a lot of meat, but it’s also a good packaging job over a mound of fries! Their service though is the differentiator – the most jovial and entertaining I have experienced! They also gave us complimentary Mastika and a little plate of dessert! Shot and sweet!

Greece47

Somewhere during the meal, I turned around and saw that we were very near the Monastiraki station! That meant we were on a lane parallel to the flea market! Greece is not having the best of economic times, and some of this was evident in the downtown area Рentire shopping complexes closed, for instance. But this area had quite a bit of buzz happening. We did a little bit of shopping, though judging by the prices it should have been called a fleece market! Now that we had figured out the area and the possibilities, we decided to get back to the hotel to rest a bit. Caught this outside the window and were careful with the curtains!

Greece46

We did have quite a few dinner options planned, but the lunch hadn’t been digested yet! So we decided to head back to Monastiraki for a yogurt dinner. We found¬†Yogolicious opposite Kotili, and they had the DIY concept of yogurt, with six yogurt variations and tons of topping options! D chose plain with fruit toppings, while I chose chocolate with all the choco-toppings I could find! The pricing is by weight and we ended up paying 10 euros. We then walked around a bit, listened to a concert happening at the square and then caught the train back to the hotel. Since we wanted to see the Acropolis view at night, we dropped in at the Titania’s own rooftop hotel, and over Mythos beer and Coke Zero, watched the ¬†glorious structure all lit up!

Greece48

Day 9 – Athens – Dubai – Bangalore

:( was easily the mood since it was time to go back! We were scheduled to be picked up from the hotel only after 1, so we lazed around, ate the standard breakfast (they didn’t have hot chocolate the second day!) and decided to lunch nearby. We walked around a bit and decided on the Meet Me cafe near the metro station. D chose a club sandwich and a Freddoccino, and I had a Choco Venessia and a Caesar salad. all good, except I liked D’s drink more. We went back to the hotel and packed. A lot of sighs were heard!

Greece49

The pick up van arrived right on time and we had a few Japanese for company as we made our way to the airport – about 45 minutes away. The tour operator’s representative was there to wave goodbye! I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and Rush in the first flight to Dubai, and absolutely loved both! We were at a different terminal in Dubai airport and whiled away our time reading and a coffee at the Nestle outlet. I slept all the way in the second flight. The 4.15 PM (Athens) journey ended at 9.05 AM (Bangalore) and also ended the Odyssey.

The trip (all inclusive) cost us about Rs. 3.75 lakhs – 1.23L for the international flights, 28k ¬†for the 2 flights within Greece, 18k for the Visa which was quite a breeze, (though the paperwork kills!) 1.35 for the custom package from Fantasy Tours, (includes hotels, some of which we specifically asked for, boat tickets, airport/ferry transfers and a half day Athens city tour. Everything was handled very smoothly) ¬†and the remaining for meals, (a Gyros can be had for as cheap as 2 euros, a meal at a good restaurant is between 20-40 euros) buses, entry tickets, and of course, shopping! You can save costs on many things – cheaper accommodation, lesser wine ūüėÄ , more Gyros, boats vs flights within Greece are some I can think of. Also, most people like to do at least 2-3 countries in Europe at a time, and it does have its benefits, you might want to look at that option. But we have our own quirks and absolutely had a great time, enjoyed every bit. Not at all bad for a first visit to Europe. When you visit, say hellos to Hellas for us! :)

until next time, waiting for the next wanderlust!

P.S. If you don’t plan to use data at all, store Google offline maps on your mobile before you set out :)

A Greek odyssey – Day 7

Continued from Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

This had to be the laziest day of the vacation! We had very few plans. We woke up very late, just in time for breakfast, and then went back to the room to snooze, enjoy the view, and later get ready before our check out time at 12. Our boat to Athens was only at 2.15, and we left from the hotel at 1.15. Our (same) super friendly driver dropped us back to the new port, well in time for the boat.

greece40

This was promised to be a looong ride Рover 5.5 hours. We stowed our luggage on the ground floor as before and proceeded to our seats. This time there was no confusion because not only was the boat much larger, the crowd was also thin. So we ignored our designated seats and sat on ones we liked. Lunch was in the boat itself Рa burger and a Caesar Salad washed down with Amstel beer. The boat passed Tinos (D was thrilled to see a town straight out of the book she was reading РAnd the Mountains Echoed) and Syros (significantly more folks got in at both these places, but we managed to keep our seat!) before we finally managed to get a glimpse of Athens, which seemed to spread over a very large area!

greece41

A well-dressed white haired driver, picked us up and insisted on lifting some luggage despite my reluctance. The yellow taxi dropped us at the Titania in downtown Athens in about half an hour. I wondered if the shops on the street were an indication of Athenians’ chief preoccupation! The Titania is one of those old hotels which just got itself a renovation. Free wifi only for an hour in the lobby area. Hmmph! The room was functional and clean, with a view of the street below, no balcony though.

It was already close to 9PM!¬†We decided to freshen up and go to Gostijo in Monastiraki – one of the restaurants in our list. The lady at the reception was quite helpful, and told us exactly how to reach the metro station ( a couple of minutes away) and what direction to take (to Piraeus) to reach Monastiraki, which was the next station! The streets were filled with graffiti, and so were the metro coaches (outside) The navigation at the stations is a little difficult until you figure out that you have to ignore the ‘To’ and just focus on ‘Exit’. :) Monastiraki is famous for the flea market – right next to the station – but that closes pretty early- most shops were shut when we reached. The square offers a view of the Acropolis up on the hill at night. Majestic and pretty at the same time.

greece39

We didn’t forget our habits, and got lost a bit, despite maps, before we finally found Gostijo. We weren’t really impressed with the menu outside (which refused to open to the kosher section!) and the persuasive skills of the owner of Oineas (same lane) landed us there. It wasn’t on our list, but turned out to be a fabulous little place. His collection of vintage ads is absolutely impressive. Take a look at the video. The lady who took our order convinced us to try Tsipouro along with the Farfalle and Risotto we ordered. What a thing that turned out to be – Ouzo at least has the anise flavour, this one is pure spirit! The food was splendid though, and that includes a fantastic dessert of layered chocolate. This was the first restaurant to give me a Trip Advisor card (asking for a review)

greece38

Now that we knew the streets, getting back to the station was a breeze, and we caught the train in the Kifisia direction, but we managed to keep our reputation intact by losing our way at the other end, and circling the hotel area for about ten minutes before we found our way back!

White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India

William Dalrymple 

In the eighteenth century, when the East India company was not yet the force it would one day be, there existed a few Englishmen (and other Europeans) who took up the ways of the fading Mughal culture. These were the White Mughals and among them was James Achilles Kirkpatrick, who arrived in India a soldier and soon rose to be the Resident of Hyderabad, mostly thanks to the influence of his older brother William.

Friend of the Nizam, and an ardent lover of the Indian culture he came in contact with, he was willing to sacrifice everything to marry Khair un Nissa, a Hyderabadi noblewoman, who was already engaged to be married. Although the core of the book is their love story, and its aftermath, Dalrymple does take a while to get to it. He first gives us the prevalent scenario and glimpses of the other White Mughals like Hindoo Stuart, David Ochterlony etc to set the context. Even after James is fully in the picture, he focuses on the Nizam’s court, its players and its intrigues in which James is heavily involved, Hyderabad’s strained relationship with the Marathas and the charged political atmosphere which the Company was trying to profit from. But this also gives us an elaborate view of Hyderabad, its people, its art and culture and finally James’ relationship with Khair. In this broad canvas, we can also see the various Governor Generals and their varied stance on relationships with India and Indians. The images allow us to visualise the life and the times.

<spoiler> After the death of James, the book follows the life of Khair as the story moves from Hyderabad to Calcutta to Masulipatnam (and tangentially Chennai) giving us tiny glimpses of the social milieu there, even as Khair pines for her children who have been taken away from her. Dalrymple provides a touching description of the very young children shedding their Muslim identity and donning a Christian one as they board the ship to England. In fact, the painting of the children with Sahib Begum’s (soon to be Kitty Kirkpatrick) teary face is extremely poignant.

Khair’s only consolation is the presence of her mother, the correspondence with her grandmother and her (ultimately) tragic relationship with another Englishman. Except for the well being of Kitty Kirkpatrick, James’ and Khair’s daughter, the lives involved all have tragic endings, many of which cause lump-in-the-throat moments. Khair’s mother dies in penury and her son dies an invalid at a young age. Though Kitty corresponds with her grandmother, they never get to meet each other. As the author says, the death of Kitty in 1889 was the end of an era, of a world where cultures and people mixed freely without the biases and clashes that came later. A wonderful read for those interested in history.

CIMG1673

A Greek odyssey – Day 6

Continued from Day 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

The day’s agenda was to take the boat to Delos in the first half, have a late lunch and then wander around Mykonos town before keeping our appointment at M-eating. There were three trips to Delos – two in the morning, one in the evening – and we had decided to take the second one at 10 AM. Breakfast at Grand Beach wasn’t up to the stellar benchmark set by Volcano View, but was still quite a spread. We walked to the Old Port and just about managed to turn up in time to buy the tickets. Costs are 18 euros per person¬†(including return) and it takes a little over half an hour on a boat with comfortable seating. The entry to the Delos excavations, a heritage site, is at 5 euros per head.

Delos has been inhabited since 3000 BC, and old as I am, even I can’t remember that far back! If you’re into history (or even Greek mythology – it’s where Apollo and Artemis were born) this is a must-visit, even otherwise it’s a very good experience. We had just about three hours to complete a DIY tour. (you can also pay for a guide – either via your hotel or at the site itself by joining a group, but we decided not to) One tip I’d give is for you to go straight to the museum after getting the tickets. Though they give you a list of things to see at the entry, the museum has a brochure with a map that explains the three different ‘circuits’, the important things to see (100 of them) and most importantly, the time taken to cover each circuit.

greece31

greece32

We just walked along the first path we saw, and used the explanatory boards to figure out what the structures were. It’s really quite an experience to see the efforts made to maintain/restore the ruins, as well as get a glimpse of how life must have been in those times. There is also this little adventure of climbing to the highest point on the island – an uphill task – that is oh! so totally worth it! I think it’s the windiest conditions I’ve been in, blew my cap away and I could barely hold on to the mobile and camera. Not exaggerating, the video should convince you.

greece33

greece34

20140521_120842a

The boat ride back, at 1.30, turned out to be a free roller coaster ride as well. I thoroughly enjoyed the choppy waters, but D didn’t think my ‘wheeee’ noises every time the boat went up and crashed down were funny. She is not very fond of such adventures, and the lady sitting next to her looked like she was going to be history soon! The waves went high enough to eclipse the windows. We got back to Mykonos and by a stroke of luck, found our fourth lunch/dinner option – Niko’s Taverna¬†– in a lane right next to the port. Lunch was Octopus, and fish and chicken specials of the day, washed down with red and white wines. We then walked around town, catching some interesting sights, and sharing a choco-filled crepes before going back to the hotel to sleep.

greece35

The original plan was to lounge in the room and catch the sunset from the lovely balcony, but we realised that the sunset wasn’t really visible from that point, so we crossed the road to the beach, which offered a splendid view.

greece36

20140521_201513a

Dinner was to be at M-eating, which reminded me of the snootiness of some Bangalore restaurants because of how they behaved differently with different customers.¬†I guess this one can afford it because of the undisputed Trip Advisor rating. I’m not taking away from their imaginative cuisine, or their style, but if I compared it to Niko’s or Eva’s, I’d choose to repeat visit those any day as opposed to M-eating. Quail, (smoked fillet with Katiki Domokos mousse, walnut pesto and honey gravy) Fresh Ravioli, (stuffed with braised beef fillet and goat cheese in demiglass tomate and basil foam) (you guys get the idea!) ¬†a full bottle of O Topos Mas, (Cretan regional rose wine) a quailing wallet, and a quarter empty stomach (for all those ingredients, the total quantity was more nibble) later, we swayed our way into Yummy’s to customise our dessert crepe.

greece37

The winds were strong (or was it?) and we somehow (and I still wonder how!) made our tipsy walk back to the hotel and warmth.

A Greek odyssey – Day 5

Continued from Day 1, 2, 3, 4

We woke up at about 9, it was almost like we were having a vacation or something! ūüėČ In addition to the standard items for breakfast, we also tried the yogurt. The Greeks love it, and with some honeyed help, it was indeed very good! As per the plan, we left the hotel at 10.45 after sitting around for a while enjoying the view. In summation, it wasn’t that the Volcano View staff were impolite or unpleasant, it was just that they always gave off an air that they had better things to do. While the view from the place is splendid, you could get the same from the Fira town itself, so you could consider some options there. ¬†A group bus took us to the port (which we’d seen from our room) in less than half an hour. An hour later, our ride arrived. After stowing the luggage, we went to find our seats upstairs. There was quite some confusion since they seemed to have aggregated passengers from two boats, but in the end, we got comfortable seats with a view. (though the glass is usually quite smudged) There was a cafe, but we weren’t really hungry. 3 hours later, after crossing Ios and Paros, we were in Mykonos.

greece23 greece24

A pleasant hotel representative was there to pick us up, and he helped with the bags too! He chatted all the way to the hotel (just about 15 mins) showing us landmarks, directions and a brief about the town. The Grand Beach had a room with a view that could rival Volcano View. Ok, almost. They had WiFi too.

greece25

Town was less than ten minutes away by walk, and we decided to go there for lunch. We saw the windmills and then walked to Little Venice for lunch. We immediately noticed that prices in the menu were higher than Santorini and Rhodes. For lunch, it was Linguine pasta and calamari, and a great view of the windmills too. Ouzo, the anise flavoured Greek favourite was consumed, for the first and last time!

greece26

Sunset was quite a while away, so we decided to find out where the boat to Delos (the plan for the next day) started from. The old port was less than 5 minutes away, and right next to it, we found the by now familiar little churches. If you’ve wondered how it looks inside,

greece27

But after that, we got utterly lost in the maze that is Mykonos town! But there were quite a few good things that happened as a result – we found 3 of the 4 restaurants we had earmarked for lunch and dinner, and also tasted Ben & Jerry’s for the first time! Ecstasy happened in the form of yogurt and chocolate fudge! We then slowly walked back to the room to rest.¬†Later, sunset was from the windmills area and it turned out to be a wonderful one, though the winds threatened to fly us away! My 10 euro fake Puma jacket continued to be a life saving hero.

greece29 greece30

20140520_200114a

We walked to Avra (only open for dinner) but weren’t very impressed with the menu, and decided to try M-eating. (also open only for dinner) That turned out to be full with a waiting time of 45 minutes. Eva’s Garden was the final one among our candidates, (all three are on the same road) and we got a table inside – the garden area was full. The ambiance was absolutely old world and the food was great. We had the Eva salad, cashew chicken and as always, house wine. :) They gave us complimentary Mastika shots after dinner. Greek liquor does take getting used to!

greece28

On the way back, we reserved a table at M-eating for the next day, and then had ice cream ‘made from Greek milk’. The friendly guy even had Mastika flavoured ice cream, but we had had enough. The ice cream was good, but not nearly as good as Ben & Jerry’s. We then walked back to the hotel and watched the splendid night view of Mykonos.

A Greek odyssey – Day 4

Continued from Day 1, 2, 3

The day was planned in complete accordance with the bus time table photo. Volcano View has a breakfast spread that you could spend the day exploring Рall kinds of meat, fruits, cereal, breads and even a couple of yogurt options. We took the first shuttle to Fira, and from there, the bus to Perissa at the priciest ticket of 2.2 euros/person one way. The view was as always splendid, and blue domes followed us everywhere. Perissa is a black sand beach, half an hour away, and we reached there at about 10.30. Either the early hour, or the fact that the tourist season was only about to begin, the beach was relatively empty, calm and silent. In fact, the web says this is one of the more unspoiled beaches in Santorini. There are a few beach restaurants along the road. But we walked on the beach and the non clingy black sand made it a pretty wonderful experience. It was quite windy and the sky seemed to promise rain. We could see a ferry to Kamari, our next stop, but we had planned on a bus ride anyway. We spent about an hour and a half at Perissa, and then got back to Fira for the bus to Kamari in time for lunch.

greece18

Kamari is another black sand beach, just more touristy with a kilometre of beach side restaurants. In fact, the restaurant staff practically drag you in, reminding us our South East Asian trips! We weren’t really hungry so we avoided them and walked along the beach, but then the promised drizzle arrived, though only for a few minutes. After about 2 rounds comparing restaurants, (this was an unscheduled beach as per the plan, so we had no lunch options readily available) we dropped into one place – Hook, because they seemed to have a good 2 person combo meal. (most restaurants here do) But we changed our mind soon after we had tried their chicken soup!

greece19

Tavern by the Sea, a brand new place, seemed to have an interesting menu and service staff as well. D ordered a Soutzoukakia (minced beef, cumin and tomato based) served with rice, while I asked for a¬†¬†Zalouzi Tagliatelle, (chicken, ham,¬†Kefalotyri, parsley, white cream) to be washed down with a carafe of house rose wine. Enjoyed the wine and the food and the lovely breeze. This was one of my favourite times during the vacation. I think the friendliness of the restaurant staff had much to do with it. One of them was Bulgarian and he said he wanted to see India because they had dubbed TV serials (from Hindi) where he came from! When I told him we were off to Mykonos next, he nodded appreciatively and said it was Santorini’s party capital. During the wining and before the eating, I saw a man painting ‘Hoetl’ on the signboard. I commented that the wine was good, but they said that’s how it was written on the paper he was given, and he just copied it!

greece20

A light drizzle was back when we were ready to leave, but not really much of a bother, thankfully. We left for Fira and then back to the hotel to sleep a bit before heading back to town for dinner. Fira may not be as striking as Oia, but it does have the same ‘features’. We didn’t really expect it, but once we started exploring it – in search of Volcano Blue (our dinner destination) – its cobbled streets and view of the other islands that made up Santorini does have a lot to offer. Just like Oia, there are quite a few restaurants that can give you a sunset view. Volcano Blue, we discovered, was just one of them. We skipped it because the Japanese had invaded! (they weren’t as noisy in Greece as in our previous encounters) We landed at Aris because we liked the vantage point for the view of Fira and beyond.

Aris has been around for a while, and it shows. It’s an old hotel that is clearly in decline. The waiter was very friendly but forgot our wine order. He profusely apologised when we pointed this out while he was bringing the starter, and in his agitation, spilled some wine on the table too. But what we came for – the view – was wonderful. We sat wining as the sky changed color and the lights came on.¬†When we left, the place was empty, we were the only people to dine there that night. But this was something we saw across Fira. Except for a couple of restaurants, there was hardly a crowd anywhere. Too early in the season, perhaps.

greece21 greece22

We stopped at a desserts outlet on our way back, and then waited at the bus station before continuing to the shuttle pick up point. We had a message waiting for us Рthe pickup for the Mykonos boat would be at 10.45 the next morning. Time to pack, and hit the bed.

The Humming Tree

Indiranagar was definitely the area we wanted to be, but The Humming Tree was a second choice. We’d called up Loft 38 earlier in the day for a reservation, but they said they weren’t taking any and we should just walk in at 7.30. We did, and walked out at 7.31, because they were fully booked. Very professional! So we sulked our way to The Humming Tree, which was the other place we’d considered. Thankfully, the place was near empty when we reached and we could easily get the seat we wanted – glass facade facing the road. Oh wait, the restaurant is on 12th Main, (map) exactly opposite I & Monkey, on the 3rd and 4th floors.

The place definitely has character, and has been modeled with music events in mind. Funky decor that includes posters, a mishmash of furniture kinds, foosball and spaces that give you privacy with the right amount of buzz around you. I didn’t agree much with the music early on, but I ain’t that young no more! :)

The night was perfect for a soup, but they didn’t have any on the menu, which, unlike the pretty one you see at Zomato was just a group of printouts living together on a clipboard. We were just in time for the last Happy Hours¬†order (< 8PM, on weekends as well!) and chose a red wine Sangria. Some of the beers listed on the menu were not available, and that was quite a downer. There was beef among the starters, so that decision was easy. The Sangria came quickly enough, and was really good. Just the right amounts of fruit, ice and alcohol and not measly in terms of quantity. The Beef Piccante was a little cold by the time it got to the table (wonder why) but it was spicy and had well cooked meat, and we really enjoyed it.

collage1

For the main course, we asked for a Gnocchi with creamy pesto and chicken, and a Pork Burrito, which won against the Goan Pork Sausage Burger. The Burrito had braised pork, cheddar cheese, lime rice, beans, salsa, sour cream and onion and the flavour bursts ensured a good dish. The Gnocchi proved a great complement of sorts, thanks to its subtle flavours. We wanted the Chilli Chocolate Cake for desserts, but that wasn’t available. The next choice was the Dark Chocolate and Almond Mousse Cake. The texture wasn’t really mousse – it was a different kind of moist soft – but we liked it.

collage2

All of the above cost us a little over Rs.1850, inclusive of all tax and charges. By the time we were through, the place was really packed, and it was easy to understand why. Excellent ambiance, good food, prompt service. We’d definitely like to visit again.

The Humming Tree, 949, 3rd Floor, 12th Main, Indiranagar, Ph: 9886651373