Monday, 15 August 2011

I-Day greetings

Hello hello hello - Happy Independence Day to all! As we enjoy this long weekend, Anna Hazare gears up for yet another (pointless?) Hunger Strike. Sorry if I seem cynical, but I have been with him and the Lokpal Bill all the way up till now. There is something about that guy that I suddenly picked up on that has gotten me rather hesitant about his goodness and greatness. I think he is a marvelous case of marketing - he has had the best gimmick-y campaign after Axe deodorant! Let me be proved wrong and hope some thing for us regular folks, comes out of all this hype and hoo-haa.
But I'm feeling very jai-ho, so I don't want to indulge in negativity today, especially when I think, there are lots of parts of India which are indeed shining. Case in point - Pune!

 Official Wheels at Oakwood: The London cabs!

Pune happens to be a happy comfort zone for my parents as well as the rest of my siblings and although it is so close to Mumbai, we never get to come here as often as we would like to. But I determinedly made sure we made it here for the long weekend and I am so glad that we did because it has been just lovely. Whenever I come here, I am always observing and taking notes of the burgeoning economy in this little (still provincial) town; where the slogan seems to be "bigger is brighter". The city is growing and how! With spanking new malls all over the place housing the top names in high-street fashion, leather, home-ware and lifestyle or the world-class residential and commercial properties (Philippe Starck in Pune of all the cities in India says a lot about the kind of cash and standards in the city) and of course, the best names in hospitality opening hotels in all parts of the city - life is pretty darn  good here.

In our 48 hours here, we managed to check out some of the latest hot spots and restaurants here. To start with the ICC Marriot had 7 incredible restaurants. One of which is called, "Shakahari" and as the name suggests it is a vegetarian restaurant, but with a twist. Contrary to popular belief, India is NOT a land filled with Vegetarians. We love our meats and how! There is a dearth of upscale, "fancy" vegetarian restaurants and Shakahari is probably the only one to take this bold step. The menu is innovative and fresh. The idea is interactive eating with live kitchens and live preparations. It was a great experience.

But the place to be was "Paasha" on Saturday night. It is the rooftop of the Marriot and is a kebab and north Indian restaurant with lounges and bars and various rooms and seating options. The mood is contemporary cool with dim lighting, stunning pillars made of layered glass and with a DJ spinning some of the hippest house music I have ever heard in a long time. The place was packed despite its size! From the rooftop, the next stop was the Marriot basement level, into M I A M I - the newly opened night club in Pune. Of course, my mum and sister wanted to check it out and we gingerly stepped into the club which was so packed, it was difficult to move. Unfortunately it was a bit too hip for the three of us and after a very, very quick peek-a-boo, we bolted out!
After talking to some of the staff at the lobby, we found out that there were probably a good 600/800 people floating in and out of MIAMI that night - wooohhh!!!

Another contender to MIAMI, is another new bar called KUE at the Westin. Now, we visited the Westin on our last trip and were left rather disappointed by our experience there as the food was so-so (Italian restaurant) and the place was less than desirable. However, Kue is supposed to be amazing and a little more calm and *ahem* refined, compared to the crowd that we had encountered at the Marriot. So this puts it on the To Do for the next Pune venture.

Finally, we also visited the Ista Hotel. Compared to the other hotels, Ista hasn't been hard selling itself quite as much. I was really keen on checking it out because I had read about it alot and was curious to know what it was like. After a dekho of the Hermes store there (Yes, I am obsessed!), we went up to the all-day dining Sunday Brunch restaurant called 88. What a meal! And what terrific pricing! (Rs. 488 for the soup/salad/dessert brunch and Rs. 988 for the whole hog - all taxes included!!!). To our surprise and delight, we were greeted by Chef Anthony who was the Head Chef of India Jones at the Oberoi in Mumbai. This man is a magician and is so utterly charming and whipped up a fabulous spread. The mood at the restaurant was familial and was got packed soon with all sorts of characters! The best part of this meal was the baby (Anasuya), gurgled and cooed away to the 80's music beats that the artist there was playing and delighted us all thoroughly...! I left Ista with a special doggy bag of my favourite, jelly-like white fungi mushrooms, that Chef Anthony generously gave me. Definitely expect a blog post when I prepare them!

Ahh, another little spot worth mentioning, tucked away in a very dark corner of the Osho ashram lane (Koregaon Park, lane number.1 ) is a strictly vegetarian restaurant called Darios, run by an Italian husband-wife duo. The place is close to 2 years old and I am surprised we hadn't visited it an earlier trip...oh well! The place is cute, although is in desperate need of some lighting! The rather extensive menu offers some thing for every one and being an all day diner, there are bites and bigger bites on the offer. Pune-style pricing for wholesome, fresh was a pleasant moment, eating sun dried tomato pate, accompanied by the occasional cooing of the ashram peacocks that hang out on the lawns of the Hotel Sunderban, within which, Darios is located.

The sweet and short trip was perfectly completed, with a pit stop at the Blue Diamond (or should I say, Taj Vivanta Pune?) to collect the world-famous kheema-pao for our daddy dearest who wasn't with us on the weekend...This was relished by him over dinner at home tonight. Glad to note that despite all the hectic changes and additions to Pune, there is still some thing that remains consistent and irreplaceable...


No comments:

Post a Comment