Friday, April 13, 2012

Gurgaon - Gluttony and Gender Issues

I spent a wonderful 10 odd days being spoiled silly by my sis in law and my cousin. They have a lovely new home in one of the innumerable towers that dot the Gurgaon landscape and I enjoyed a long overdue holiday with them. One thing that unites all three of us is our unending love for good food and our constant search for new places to eat, new flavours to try out. And Gurgaon is simply bursting at the seams with options for the die hard foodaholic.

From road side momo joints to swanky restaurants that serve endless lunch buffets that include cuisines from around the world, Gurgaon covers it all. Goan, Bengali, Korean, Udupi, classic American fast food, Italian, you name it, it's there somewhere! And if it hasn't got there yet, rest assured, it's coming soon.

Among the meals that really stood out were the Goan lunch at Bernardo's tucked away on the first floor of the Galleria shopping centre. Roast pork, prawns recheado, spicy Goan style fried liver, pork vindaloo, mutton Xacuti, we had it all, perfectly rounded off with a helping of that queen among desserts, the  deeply sensuous layered Bebinca.

Then there was Love & Mustard - a brightly lit restaurant with a cheerful colour filled atmosphere and an extensive menu offering many traditional Bengali treats. It had been a long day and we were not at our 'eager to eat' best. However, the food was so good that we found ourselves revived and licking our plates. We ordered Alu'r dom with luchi, Polau with kosha mangsho, and chicken chaamp with triangle porota. All was perfect except that what they passed off as polau was, in fact, biryani rice. Not that it tasted bad, it just wasn't   what we'd ordered or expected.  Love & Mustard is also in the same Galleria mall.

Another memorable meal was Gung the Palace, a Korean restaurant in Gurgaon that also has a branch in Green Park, Delhi. This was one occasion where I wished I knew more about the cuisine so I could eat things in the correct combinations and sequence to do full justice to the meal and to appreciate it correctly too. However ignorance did not get in the way of enjoyment and we feasted on the best Barbecued Pork Belly I have ever eaten, accompanied by Spicy Calamari and a wonderful light Kimchi fried rice. This might not sound like a lot but with a Korean meal you get such a huge variety of little side dishes that include pickled vegetables, and a fabulous fish stock and greens soup, that you really eat like a king.

The portions are huge and are usually for four.You can ask the staff for help while you order and they will happily guide you through the unfamiliar sounding names of the dishes. The menu card has pictures and descriptions to help you along anyway. To really enjoy Gung, go in a group. And if you can't rustle up a group, go anyway.

The best food was at home. Classic Bengali home fare. Seasonal vegetables, daal cooked in different ways, and an endless variety of fish! The heart and soul were as sated as my rapidly expanding tummy. Ruti torkari for breakfast reminded me of summer holidays in Kolkata at my Father's house where Jethima (aunt) would make different vegetables every morning for breakfast, to be eaten with rotis or parathas or, sometimes, with hot fluffy luchis. Ah, the Bengalis do eat well!

We spent an incredible evening at the imposing Red Fort and also caught the Son et Lumière show there.

After wandering around the extensive grounds admiring the remains and imagining the grandeur that once was, we were ready to head out for a good meal. Karim's was legendary and so we set forth. It was unbelievably crowded and we ended up sharing a table with a group of young boys. The seating was cramped, we were tired and the meal was rushed. Somehow, you cannot enjoy the finer things of life with people breathing down your neck waiting to grab your table. Maybe some other day, but this time Karim's was not worth its legendary name.

This trip was also about catching up with friends - friends I knew in the real world and some who were from the virtual world and some from Mumbai who happened to be there in Gurgaon at the same time. I also made new friends on a foodie group on Facebook and it these new friends who told me where to eat, what to order and what I simply should not miss. Thanks everyone at Chef at Large on Facebook :)

Rushina invited me to dinner one evening where I met a wonderful mix of bloggers, architects, businessmen, and home stay owners. There I met Purba Ray, a blogger, who told me about her experience with the local police when she went to report her stolen purse. The Gurgaon mall rape cases were fresh in everyone's minds and the attitude that the police have towards victims is unbelievable, and Purba was unfortunate enough to find out for herself just how badly the police treat a woman who has come in to ask for help.

I met Manjula, my friend from college, over coffee one morning. She lives in Gurgaon too and we also talked about men, attitudes, how safe a woman can feel in Gurgaon even in the daytime, and a whole lot of frivolous things too. The next day I read this wonderful piece that she wrote about a new product for women.

It's not just Gurgaon that suffers this malaise. My friend is looking for a swimming pool that she can use daily. She went to the YMCA pool in Belapur to find out their timings, rates, etc., and she was confronted with a big board displaying "appropriate dress for women using the pool". Why is a woman seen as an amoral creature for whom the law has to be laid down? There was no board showing "appropriate dress for men using the pool" there. So if a man wants to wear very brief swimming trunks a la John Abraham in Dostana, that is fine, but a woman has to wear a one piece bathing suit with sleeves and, hold your breath, bicycling shorts underneath! I'm sure the pool authorities do not guarantee a woman safety if she comes dressed as prescribed. If anything untoward were to happen, they would blame it on her wet clothes, I'm sure.

Where does this incredible attitude come from? And what are we doing to change it? If you have a son teach him.  It's not the daughters we need to stifle, it's the sons we need to teach.


Pratik Maheshwari said...

i think gurgaon will be a much better place 4-5 years down the line.. until then we have to live with it and make it a better place..

and regarding the attitude towards women, i feel that people have started questioning and explaining the "dress" funda and things will slowly change and yes proper education will also help a lot in this regard..

do come again and lets meet if you find some time :)

Unknown said...

yes, i agree..teach the boys to behave and not stifle the girls...i support this statement to the tee...

Kaajal P Lamba said...

Thumbs Up to a lovely post Rhea...wonderfully summed up and I can actually visualize your experience....and yes there is still so much more to explore so do plan your next trip asap ;p...It was a pleasure knowing you too and I'm sure my feelings are shared by one & all on the Chef at Large page :)

Unknown said...

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