OMR Food Street – A Symphony of Flavours from around India and the World

Date – July 23
Time – 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Venue – OMR Food Street – Thoraipakkam
Event – Blogger Engagement Programme in partnership with the Chennai Bloggers Club
The concept of a food street has been in existence since the times of the Mughals in Delhi and the Nawabs of Awadh. The parathe-wali gali in Delhi, the streets of old Lucknow, the stretches in Kolkatta near the New Market, China Town and Esplanade, Sowcarpet in Chennai the Chowpatty stretch in Mumbai, VM Street in Bengaluru are all examples of some popular food streets that we know. OMR Food Street – visit – http://www.omrfoodstreet.com has been operational for a while now and offers a wide variety of pocket-friendly culinary delights all in one property.

A lovely evening,

Of walking with friends,

Old and new,

Sampling food from,

Faraway lands,

Jokes, smiles, laughter,

All in harmony,

With lovely food,

Truly a memorable evening,

Thank you OMR Food Street!

There are shops selling vegetable and meat wraps, crepes and waffles, parathas and lassi, Salem Thattu Vadais, cakes, pastries and milkshakes, biriyani, shawarma, fresh sea-food, cooked sea-food, the ubiquitous filter kaapi, the flavoured soda, ice golas and much more.

We received a coupon sheet worth Rs 300 which we used in the various kiosks/restaurants located in the property. Other than Ajnabee Mithai Ghar all other restaurants were happy to accept the coupons.

I personally liked Ki Mu 200 – a millet-based food restaurant and their ragi dosai and chakkarai thinai pongal were good.

Zuki & Co – their crepe filled with jam and drizzled with a dash of honey and dry fruits inside was sumptuous.

Wrap-Aholics – Vegetable filled wrap was amazing – loved it!

Stuf-fed – Aloo parathas, and dryfruit lassi – safe dependable – nothing outstanding – I have eaten better parathas.

Cake Park – Chocolate Truffle Pastry – You can’t go wrong – sinfully decadent. Also bought a box of peanut cookies. Loved them!

Pros:
Good variety and easy on the wallet.

Delicious food.

Cons:
Toilet and wash basins at the very end of the compound. Have to be cleaner!

Need mineral water cans at regular gaps as well as washbasins. The paper tissue is not a good idea to wipe stuff off your hands.

Stench of the seafood is quite thick in the air. After a point of time it was nauseating all of us are not like Goundamani in “Singaravelan” –

The concept may be drive, buy and say bye – but there were lots of people who came walking in — definitely need chairs at least!

A great experience. Thanks OMR Food Street and The Chennai Bloggers Club.

The 39th Chennai Book Fair

Well this year the usual Pongal Book Fair by BAPASI did not happen at Nandanam because of the devastating December floods of 2015.

Some splinter groups set up a fair at Royapettah during Pongal – but well that was no way the real deal. The floods of 2015 caused severe damage to participating publishers – the total loss is estimated at about 25 crores, which is very tough to recover; despite insurance!

This year the fair was held at Island Grounds. The usual competitions for children in terms of painting, debates, elocution and writing went on with the usual fan-fare. The venue has a toy-train that’s quite remarkable and drew a steady crowd.

The Fair is significant as a book which I compiled and includes submissions by members of the Chennai Bloggers Club – “After the Floods” was published by Sixth Sense Publications.

Edited by KS Lakshmi, Cover and trailer by Kishor LN and a wonderful introduction by RJ Balaji.
We thank Karthikeyan PK from Sixth Sense Publications for trusting the efforts of the bloggers!

Buy the book online

http://sixthsensepublications.com/index.php/after-the-floods.html

There are lots of stalls this time around – almost 700. Lots of books, stalls from Singapore with books priced really steep 😦 organic seeds and planting, usual spiritual, cookery, self-help, fiction, comics, management, competitive exams, all the usual books. A stall on blow paint drawing techniques and one about robots and stuff for kids was quite interesting. As I had clear instructions on not to buy books I just walked like a drug-addict away from a stash of fine-cut cocaine but no chance of getting my hands to the ‘coke’!

The rains made a sudden appearance on Tuesday night and scared the living daylights with water gushing in through gaps in the pandal sheets above. It was deja-vu again as water flowed through. Thankfully the rain gods were kind enough and did not trouble too much after that.

The Fair ends tomorrow go pick your books and buy a copy of our anthology as well.

In terms of food, the spread was outstanding and real good job by the catering contractors who have brought in various vendors to the fair!

E for Etc Cafe – Celebrating Food with the Chennai Bloggers Club

I can’t thank Karen enough for adding me to this motley crowd of bloggers called the Chennai Bloggers Club. How this group has grown and how some of the members are much more than mere friends to me; they are family!

So we received an invitation to sample the special ‘Seafood Festival’ that Etc Cafe has launched, in fact the bloggers got to sample the delicacies before the actual launch of the event. Now you may wonder what this “Agmark tachhi mammu paiyyan” (aamam ga youth dhan) was doing at a Seafood Festival? Well good selection of vegetarian recipes as well.

img_20160323_193321.jpg

The restaurant is tastefully done hosts a boutique space as well and there are Indian games like snake and ladders that you can play to enjoy yourself as well. Ample parking space is a big plus. The owners of the establishment welcomed us and did not bore us with any long presentations and let us enjoy the food with ease!

img_20160323_193237.jpg

The palak shorba/soup was amazing, the kofta was well done and the starters that involved cheese and veggies left one wanting for more. Among the juices we got muskmelon juice and cranberry orange combo I guess, which were perfectly balanced.The food – the non-veg platter was mind-blowing is what my friends said. The vegetarian food was great as well. The desserts were mind blowing there was baklava, chocolate mousse that was outstanding.

img_20160323_193250.jpg

Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/ETCRnC/

Average costs around Rs 1200. Check out their desserts and pastry counter! The sea-food meal deal was priced at Rs 999.

Address: No. 7/4, Rutland Gate, 5th Street, Behind Thousand Lights, Nungambakkam, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600006
Phone:044 2833 3353

I am not a genius food blogger, I can’t shoot myriad angles of pics of food when is hot on the table and I enjoy cooking more than eating! Thanks for giving me a chance to attend this event.

D for Divinity in Music – A visit to the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music

This was definitely not meant for me! Heavyweights who signed up for the actual event, dropped out because of personal reasons and a vacancy was created. With the permission of the co-admins of CBC, managed to get a ticket for the event. The trickiest part of the whole deal was that particular weekend; I should have been travelling outside in the hills shooting birds; but that too got cancelled.

So the plan was that the PR-member would pick us up in a cab and fellow attendees would join us enroute. We drove, or rather the cab-driver drove, drove and drove and we were practically a stone’s throw away from Pondy 🙂

img_20160326_135302.jpg

The MARG group has a mega town-ship and Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music is an integral part of the education sector within the township. Township is divided into education, industry, residences and recreation, I guess.

img_20160326_135646.jpg

We proceeded for lunch in the canteen and we were treated to impromptu discussions on music among the students there. Two kids next to me were discussing timbre, scale, rhyme and rhythm and kept arguing about 2 and 2.5 with regard to specific notes! It was a sign of things to come. We had an excellent conducted tour of the facility. Got a chance to attend an actual music class.

The jackpot moment – A Session with the musical virtuoso the violinist who redefined all rules with his ten-stringed double-headed violin – L.Shankar. That 1 hour of listening to him speak was worth all the time that we had to travel back and forth to SAM.

L-Shankar-at-Swarnabhoomi-academy-of-music

Pic Courtesy – Chennai Bloggers Club

We saw students from around the world, music teachers who taught these students; it was a surreal environment. We thank SAM and the PR Agency for giving us a chance to visit SAM. Oh! Did I forget they serve awesome banana milk shakes in the canteen for Rs 30!

img_20160326_150652.jpg

The man who does all the hard work and wears a smile and a cap – Bragadeesh

It was a long drive home, we had dinner and returned to our respective houses. A great event, thank you CBC for a wonderful opportunity!

Waiting for Madras in Chennai

This post is a part of the blog tag in The Chennai Bloggers Club with the theme Chennai- A Blend of the traditional and modern. I was tagged by Asha who is currently based out of the USA and has been blessed with a beautiful baby – Princess Ameya recently. You can read her wonderful post here.

I landed in Madras for the first time in 1989 or 1990, the memory is hazy but it was an epic adventure as I got separated from my uncle at Howrah Station and was re-united with him in true filmi fashion. My first memories of Madras as a 7 year old-kid in a tee-shirt and shorts, alighting from the Howrah Mail at Chennai Central Station was the intense smell – a mix of sweat, piss, jasmine flowers, and a smell that I now know is a combination of milk and coffee powder. ‘Eau de Madras’ is what I would like to call it. Over the years the smell has become a pronounced stench with the mix of alcoholic fumes and chewing tobacco adding to strain on the olfactory receptors.

There is a lot of good in this city that has been brought out again and again in various forms. Today I present some harsh and inconvenient truths:

  • Every place is perfect to spit or take a leak or shit away without a care in the world. For every first-time visitor to the city, on alighting the train and walking out to board a bus adjacent to the government hospital the city appears like a massive public toilet – this is a bitter fact.
  • Loud, louder loudest – The concept of private space is quite alien. Be it bus, train, share-auto, shopping mall or cinema hall, everyone is yelling at the top of their lungs on their mobile phones.
  • Pavements a dying breed – The pavements here are a joke. Whatever space is there is taken by people putting up shops. Or they are too narrow for two people to walk side-by-side.
  • Loudspeakers, banners and pandals – Be it a death, be it a birth, wedding or house-warming, or a movie release – the banner, the loudspeaker blasting songs and the pandal make their presence felt. Elections and religious functions add on to the chaos.
  • Taking a Stand – As a city, as a group, the city’s citizens are too laid-back for their own good. Someone else will do this, someone else will report this incident, this takes its toll and no one does anything. Rampant bribing, rampant mis-use of power, hand-in-glove tomfoolery by goons, politicians and certain law-enforcers make me lose all faith in the judiciary.
  • No space for the old – There are so many old-age homes that have mushroomed filled with people who are no longer needed. The roads, the temples, parks and beaches are full of people who seem lost, destitute and in pain. There is a begging cartel that works and there are many genuine outcasts. Where are we headed to as a society?
  • TASMAC – The craze for alcohol is creating problems aplenty within the state. Families breaking up, domestic abuse, children beginning to drink at 13 and 14 years of age. Stealing and indulging in fights to get money to buy alcohol – this is an endless mess.
  • I am searching for the city’s true identity. In pockets I find the goodness of the gentle souls. The people who genuinely care for others. The unconditional support offered to outsiders. The wonderful joys of waking up to the bells of the temple, the aroma of fresh idlies and coconut chutney, listening to concerts both Carnatic and hard rock, film festivals where KB and Kubrick are discussed with equal ease. The city is a strange mix of a lot of good and a lot of bad elements. There is a lot to look forward to as the city is poised for phenomenal growth and the boundaries of the city keep extending to accommodate the people arriving every day.

The city is like a strange maiden whom I met on a dark night in the rains; she seemed to say something but before I could understand what she was saying, she vanished like an unfinished dream. The hunt for the maiden and the city’s true identity continues.

I pass on the baton now to Umashree Raghunath. She blogs on a variety of interesting topics.

Happy Blogging!

Matrikas Journal and Notebooks – Product Review

There is something special,
About jotting down,
One’s thoughts in a diary.
The feeling of closure,
When one writes down,
The day’s highs and lows,
The dreams and expectations,
The truth and reality,
All in our diary,
Using a pen in our own hands.
A diary is an extremely personal tool.

Something like a magic lamp,
When in the future,
We open the diary,
All the memories of the past,
Flash by in multi-coloured hues.
Page after page,
To remind us how far,
We have travelled in life.
And to remind us,
Many miles lie ahead!!!

I had a chance to review a set of journals/notebooks/diaries from Matrikas Paper Products. This is part of a Blogger Engagement Initiative and I am really thankful to fellow blogger Sulaiman who recommended this to me. I filled up a form on Facebook (Part of a Matrikas App). I received a courier well-packed with the products.

I have been writing personal journals for over 17 years now, starting from old corporate diaries that the elders in the family used to hand down to fancy notebooks and handmade-paper books and recycled paper notebooks, I have used a wide spectrum of products. A couple of years back I bought journal books sold by the Isha Foundation and loved the intricate cover designs and the paper quality.

This set of products from Matrikas took me by surprise and impressed me with the beautiful cover designs and top-class paper thickness and quality. I would like to recommend their products to all those who love to write.

Go ahead contact Matrikas right away 🙂

Arunachala Animal Sanctuary – Where Love is God is!

The Arunachala Animal Sanctuary was established by Mr. Leslie Robinson a yogi whose love for animals is deep and profound and reflects in the care that he bestows on every creature. Ably supported by Dr Raja, Dr Arun and support staff – Shekar, Mani, Vishwa and a few more people whose names I do not recollect. This group of people protects and cares for abandoned animals, accident victims with unconditional love. There are a number of dogs and a couple of monkeys in the sanctuary now. Squirrels, donkeys, cows and calves, pigeons and crows and other birds all the beautiful creatures of the Lord have received care and love here. Stray dogs in Tiruvanamalai are sterilized and over the years there has been a significant control in the number of strays and incidents of human-dog conflict.

It was an overwhelming experience at the Sanctuary and as I spoke to Dr. Raja and Mr. Leslie, I realized the value of their selfless service. Currently around 175 dogs and around a dozen puppies are there at the sanctuary. The dogs have been hurt, are strays or abandoned pets. All of them receive care, love and warmth. When a dog relieves itself the place is mopped immediately, there is no flinching, no fear or worry, all I found here is love lots of love. The dogs started barking when they saw me for the first time then they came to me sniffing and settled down comfortably. If you are suddenly accosted by 30 odd dogs of all shapes and sizes, you do not jump, run, shout or be angry. You remain calm, patient and let the dogs know subtly that you are a friend.

The Sanctuary also provides veterinary support to people who bring their pets for treatment and those who can afford to pay are requested to make a donation. The main diet is milk, rice, vegetables and nutrient supplements a mix of Ayurvedic and Allopathic medicines. Every month at least 750 to 800 kilos of rice are needed, every day at least 30 to 40 litres of milk if not more is needed. The wonderful people who do this service need Rs 4.5 lakhs every month to foot expenses and manage day-to-day activities.

Stats:

Since the shelter opened in January, 2007, they have:

  • Performed 5,192 ABC sterilizations.
  • Given 8,561 anti-rabies injections (the homeless dog population is rabies free…people bitten still have to get the anti-rabies serum injections…there’s always the remote possibility that a dog had been bitten by a rabid bat, or other wild animal)
  • Gone out on 1,638 emergency rescues. (In the last twelve months, averaged 45 rescues a month).
    Had 20,879 out-patient visits for treatment in the clinic. (And have seen over 4,000 “owner dogs”…That’s a guesstimate).
  • Given 64,442 in-patient treatments.
  • Found good homes for 633 puppies/dogs, and 12 cats/kittens.
  • Treated 1,812 animals other than dogs: 327 cats, 480 birds, 373 cows & calves, 354 goats, lambs, & sheep, 71 monkeys, 83 rabbits, 12 squirrels, 28 donkeys, 3 pigs, 24 peacocks, 18 parrots, 3 eagles, 14 horses, 3 bullocks, 6 deer, 2 snakes, 5 turkeys, 1 owl, and 5 ducks.

I humbly request the readers of this blog to please visit their Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/arunachalasanctuary

Also their website – http://cms.arunachalasanctuary.com/

No donation is too small no contribution is insignificant. The Sanctuary needs your help and support. I humbly request you to help them.

Make cheque payable to “Arunachala Animal Sanctuary & Rescue Shelter” and mail to:
Arunachala Animal Sanctuary & Rescue Shelter
Chengam Road, Next to Government Arts College
Tiruvannamalai 606 603 Tamil Nadu, India
Important: Include a note with your name, address, and email address
 
Please write to – arunachalashelter@yahoo.com for more details and options to transfer money online.

Also do read:
http://www.anaflora.com/articles/fe-ther-ani/india-shelter.html
http://richardarunachala.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/puppy-pooja-at-arunachala-animal-shelter/

We can make a difference – I have belief that my readers love creatures big and small and they will offer support.

In you my dear readers I place my trust. Thanks with Grace!!!