Interesting Trivia

CAT Preparation

Wish all the readers of this blog a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year 2016 .

Hope you take the best of this new beginning with full fun and masti!!

Travel : Europe

Travel : United States

Series : Perks of PM



Recent Posts

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Asian Cuisine - Lunch Buffet @ Mamagoto

The leadership at our office has been generous lately and to satiate the hungry souls working within the glass walls of the 7 storied office, they have introduced a special budget component for team outings. I guess ours is the team which is more active in utilizing each of such budgetary provisions and hence is the most frequent one to have such outings. It was a similar plan and discussions on choosing the right restaurant took off. Within a few seconds we had more suggestions than what we could handle and hence we started eliminating things one by one. Some lost on location, while other were thrown after dismal reviews from those on the team who had tried them earlier. Within all the names came up an awkwardly sounding restaurant  - Mamagoto. What helped its case was the fact that one of the team members rose to the occasion to recommend it strongly giving rave reviews about it. Also, the fact that most of our earlier outings had been to the traditional North Indian food destinations and involved shahi paneer and butter naan, and everyone was not craving to try something different. Soon Mamagot0 was the word in the team and the destination of our lunch on October 21st.

On the day we hurled into cabs and proceeded to the hub of restaurants in this Millenium City - Sector 29. Mamagoto is a small restaurant nestled in one of the blocks by the Lemon Tree Hotel on one corner of the area. One may really need to leverage the maps on the smartphone to figure out its location if visiting for the first time. The outer area is similar to any other restaurant in town and has a colorful display of its name in bold yet smaller case letters. There is an external seating option which was anyway redundant for the time of the day and we moved into the restaurant and asked for our reservation. The place was largely empty at that point of time and we were ushered into one of the long tables reserved for us. We were amazed at the size of the place at it hardly had 5-6 tables and the indoor seating area was highly limited. We assumed that probably a niche cuisine was the culprit or people preferred the external seating more. There was a glass wall on the other end of restaurant separating the seating area from the kitchen. Interestingly the kitchen seemed to be of the same size as the main lounge.

As we discussed the size and chatted away on usual office banter, we were reminded of the primary purpose of us being there - food !! They had a buffet on offer at 649 plus taxes which seemed pretty good. They provided us with the menu of items in the buffet which included a complimentary mocktail. We started with an order of the drinks and requested them to begin the service. Out of the drinks, Virgin Mojito was refreshing but standard, a Kiwi based drink was apparently pretty good. As we sipped our drinks, the first item on the menu was served on the table. They started the service with freshly made dumplings. The sauce they served along with them was different from what we usually get but was yummy none the less. Next, they served a starter which involved fried corns along with some other things which gave it a rich texture and shape. The accompanying sauce was sour and flavored giving a unique tint to the tongue. There was a corresponding chicken based starter for those inclined. With starters came the chili sour and sweet vegetable soup. I am generally lesser inclined towards soups and hog onto the food but this was a different case and soup did involve me into it.

While we relished on the starting delicacies, someone amongst us reminded that it was an office lunch outing and we all had our work waiting for us back at the office desk. Everyone had deliverables pending by end of the day and it was then that we hurdled up a bit to get things through faster. We asked the attendants, to begin with, the main course. The first item they served was a roasted paneer stuck through sticks. Parallel to it, again there was a chicken dish. For the main dish, there was a choice of three types of sauce. Each was available with an option to have them with vegetables, chicken or shrimp. With the dish, one could choose from fried rice and plain rice. On Sundays, they provide an option of noodles as well. I chose the black bean sauce cooked with vegetables with instructions to keep it mildly spicy rather than sweet and fried rice. The sauce was great with thick gravy and boiled vegetables providing a good combination. Fried rice was decent and overall the meal was nicely filling.

Now the only thing left was to wrap up the meal with some desserts. The options this time were between homemade chocolate cake, sponge cake, and coconut ice cream. While most ordered the chocolate cake, which was really delicious, I ordered the sponge cake. It was one of the most mouth-watering desserts I had had for some time. I would agree if someone says that it wasn't something that was the best pleasure for eyes but still taste sometimes beats the look. It was fluffy marble cake served with toffee sauce and a scoop of coconut ice cream. I managed to gobble up the entire serving, which was relatively large sized, though I had a filled belly. As we wrapped the plates clear and paid the bill, we were all content with our choice of venue and the worthlessness of the banter we all enjoyed. We returned to our office desks with determined thoughts of arranging something similar again, soon.
Mamagoto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Party Village - Cyber Hub Social

Another of those lunch outings and movie sessions were on cards and this time, younger bro was joining us for the outings. We had a good show of Dhoni's untold story at PVR MGF but the movie was really long and it was almost about 3 by the time we were coming down the stairs of the movie theater. Though the duration of the movie had its share of snacks and nit-bits but those are never enough to satisfy hungry souls like us. So we decided to head out for a late lunch and the obvious choices led us to finalize our destination as Cyber Hub - the office district of Gurgaon which houses best of restaurants hustled between towers of offices on all its side. We had parked our vehicle and were entering the zone by about 3:30.

As we roamed around the concrete zone to put our fingers on the exact restaurant to be tried for that outing, we realized that we were really late for a lunch meal. A number of places had stopped service to prepare for next meal and a few others allowed only a last order after we enter. However, towards the other corner of the area, we saw a new offering which clad a rural look with all the dishes named in typical Hindi with a flavor of village look. There were huge drain pipes on one side which were designed to be outer seating space. We quickly realized that this was the place we would want to go for this lunch.

We entered through the "seemingly congested" corridors and confused interiors, we actually needed some guidance to enter into a long tunnel structure. The tunnels led us to a huge hall which had been themed in an interesting way. Through the tunnels, a few rooms were carved out which provide an option of a private meal for 4 to 10 people. The hall that we were in was the main restaurant. One part of the restaurant adapted the look of a railway coach with seats resembling bearths of Indian Railways. The look was completed with mirrors and electric sockets along with the leatherette cushions on the bench like seating. Another part resembled village "chaupal" or meeting place where elders gather for discussions. The roundtable showcased the structure of such meeting joints with a rustic look and seating. The dance floor donned the look of vast open spaces that villagers use for celebrating festivals.

The Chaupal Look
Seated on the Train Berths
As we settled in and looked at the table, the menu followed the culture that is some coming up in a big way at many themed restaurants. The menu is designed in form of a newspaper - one each for drinks and food. The staff carried a PDA to take order and soon we had settled in on what to eat. It was going to be a typical north Indian fare that day. The mocktails were decent and service was prompt. The quality of food was great too and service size were okayish. They served a naan or paratha with most of the main course items. The waiter warned us adequately about this and hence we saved a lot of food from being wasted.

In terms of overall experience, it was a nice ambiance with a unique theme and courteous staff. The food was good and not super expensive. If you wanna hang out with friends or have a private dinner with the special someone, it would be a good place if you choose your table carefully. We ended the outing with awesome Kulfi at a famous outlet in Cyber Hub.

Cooling it off to Wrap the Meal
Cyber Hub Social Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Kingdom of Dreams - Filling Entertainment !!

It was the time of the year when planning something special is imperative for every husband on earth and things were not different at my end. The birthday of the wife was approaching fast and I still was on a lookout for things to do to make this occasion special. While the usual chores (midnight cake delivery, flowers, gifts) were all set, the only thing left out was where to take her out. After much deliberations (with myself), I remembered that there is this place where she always wanted to go and we hadn't had a chance yet. This realization did make my life a bit easier and I went straight to their portal to book tickets for a show at the "Kingdom of Dreams".

There are two online channels to book tickets at KOD as it is popularly known as. While one is the Bookmyshow route where you could use any BMS specific vouchers or offers, another option is to book through KOD's own portal. The interface and look-and-feel are exactly same as when you book a movie and you can also select your seats based on the moolah you are ready to shell out. The prices for weekends are about Rs 500 higher compared to the weekdays. I was booking for a weekday and saw that the lowest two categories were somehow blocked for next 3-4 weeks so they were out of the picture. The weekday allowed me to go a level further up and I booked two seats in the silver zone towards the aisle.

The External Courtyard and Box Office
As planned, I dropped the news to the lady of my life at the last moment and asked her to be ready for the occasion. We reached well in time for the 7 PM show (on 27th of September 2016) as it isn't only about the show but the entire experience of visiting the place. You need to cherish each moment as memory and that only comes if you are careful enough to avoid last minute rush to the finish. We handed over the keys to the valet at about 6 and found ourselves in the outside courtyard of the venue. In case you are visiting for a late evening show and want to avoid the potential darkness of the parking lots, it makes sense to spend those 60 bucks to opt for the valet option. 

The outer courtyard is a vast open area which has the box office to book your tickets or get the tickets for the online bookings. Though there are numerous counters only couple of them were operations and hence there was a considerable line-up to get the tickets. On the opposite side of the box office, there is a set up for adventure sports for kids - including bungy jumping, roller coasters, and those high swings. The play area seemed to be a huge hit among small ones and parents lined up to purchase those tickets while the younger ones enjoyed. The place was definitely lively with activities. As we looked towards the entrance gates, we noticed the gang with huge drums, called nagadas, ready to welcome the guests with traditional style. We got our tickets checked and moved into the venue with drums beating in the background.

Once inside, we were in the forecourt of KOD which has a huge expanse of open space. A part of the space is used for live show and a stage-like area has been set up for the purpose. There are waterworks and fountains for the cascade effect. The gates and arches of various entrances have been beautifully decorated to give the place a royal look and allow a visitor to embrace the theme of a "kingdom". We spent a few minutes absorbing looks of the forecourt and various offshoots taking visitors to separate sections of the venue. One huge door with wide arches opened up into a world of dreams with food everywhere as far as you can see and this was where we headed to begin the evening.

Posing in The Forecourt

A View of the Cultural Gully
Delhi - Kingdom of Dreams Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The huge gates led us to a wide food street called "Cultural Gully". To start with you enter the hall which has a sky mirage roofing to give a feel of open space. The dim blue lighting strengthens the impact created by the roof. As you move towards the other end of the "gully" you pass through food stalls from each part of the country running from Kashmir to Tamil Nadu. You need to pick a prepaid card like the ones in a food court of a shopping mall. The quality of food and hygine is maintained but I felt that service could be improved. The lethargy and hesitancy in service is apparent specially if you are racing with time to feed your belly before a show. This could be a sample bias as I only tried two of the stalls but it is what it is. Also when I say lethargy, it is slowness of service and courtesy in communication is not comprmised. We tried the Maharastrian and the Rajasthani stall and enjoyed the food. As we finished the food, we were reminded of the upcoming show on the public address system which asked us to be seated soon for the show - scheduled to begin at 7 PM.

Out through the same huge gates, we proceeded to the forecourt and furthered to huge stairs which led to the artium of the famed Nautanki Mahal. This area again would remind you of movie theatre's waiting lounges with food stalls and coffee outlets. The difference is that instead of popcorns, these serve bhel puri. Once tickets were checked, we entered the auditorium and were ushered in to our seats. We were instructed that during some of the sequences through the show, the doors would be inoperational and entry/exit would be restricted. We later realized that this was because some of the dance sequences involved artists spreading throughout the area. The show began right on time at 7 and after initial credits and introduction of the key actors, a dance sequence marked the beginning of the performance. We were there for a show called "Zangoora" which revolved around the theme of a prince being thrown to grownup in a family of nomadic artists becuase his father, the king, was duped and killed by power hungary bureaucrats. Twenty years later, one of the loyal bureaucrat returns to remind the prince of his true originis and helps him gain his kingdom back from clutches of the evil. Amidst this, there is a love triangle that plays on to help keep the musical theme alive.

A look inside the Auditorium
The show is of two hours in duration with an added break of 20 mins in between to allow people stretch up and have refreshments. The theme is enticing and performance keeps you glued to the seats and stage. Artists would fly in from the roof, appear from the floor or run in through doors and this keeps people on toes to not miss any of the sequence. What I personally loved was the efficiency and effectivness with which the entire setting of stage changed from one scene to other. Layered screens created the 3-D effect and props came in went out in jiffy. I am sure a lot of preparation and planning would have gone through in arranging this apart from huge human resource pool coordinating and implementing each step.

As the show ended at about 9:30 and we moved out, we were pretty impressed with the performance and were wondering how soon can we come back for the other show titled "Jhoomroo". We exited through the "Cultural Gully" and came out. We noticed that it was pitch dark outside but the food street still had essense of evening to offer. The valet was efficient and our car was brough out soon and we left the venue. I would definitely recommend people to try this out once. Also if you go for a show, get yourself registered for their "Royal Card" i.e. the loyalty membership which allows you to visit back just for the "Cultural Gully" for half the price.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Over the high stools - Factory by Sutra

Last week was tough on office and as the end of it approached, we decided to give life a break and wind up with some good food and nice ambiance. Now most of the obvious choices for such a retreat in Gurgaon are located in one fated corner of the town - Sector 29. We were headed in the same direction too. An early end to the office, thanks to acceptance of deliverable without further edits and merciful manager acknowledging the hard work. I was home by 5 in the evening and that was when we (you know what "we" means for a married profession who has been at work entire week) decided to head for the dinner. What followed next was an obvious look at Zomato to scan through the options. After weighing in on the ambiance, ratings, pictures and reviews we finally came up with two options. The choice was eased by availability, as Zomato could book us a table in only one of them. So, the destination for the evening was - Factory by Sutra.

So dressed neatly and looking forward to a relaxed evening we headed towards the venue. It was about 20 minutes drive from home and soon we passed alongside the Leisure Valley Park to be welcomed by the glitter of Sector 19 restaurant complex. The good thing with our restaurant was a small parking space in the rear of the restaurant. While it may not give you as glamorous an entrance but is much more convenient, away from the usual hue and cry of congested parking. We parked by the roadside parking and entered through the "alternate" entrance. The interior has been designed as a construction site for a power plant with dummy boilers and complex pipelines spread all over the place. We had to pass through to the front entrance to access the welcome desk and enquire about our booking. We had been given a table on the terrace and we were pretty happy about it. The glass bubble elevator takes you to the terrace. The usher guided us to our table.

It was a high table with bar stools which wasn't our first choice but was the only available option. We realized most of the tables for 2 had similar design and sofas were reserved for larger groups. This though was an early irritant, did not deter us from appreciating the ambiance. It was a dimly lit yet buzzing environment with a good crowd and courteous service. Interiors were designed to be rustic and rugged with unplastered bricks, lanterns, and bracket lights. The staff wore "men at work" prints to complete the construction site look. The staff also had led-illuminated name badges on them which was a different thing for me. To beat the humid warmth, ample fans mounted on walls ensured windy feel on the terrace.

We started with the order and asked for mocktails and starters. The service was pretty prompt and we were surprised as generally "mocktail" customers aren't the first priority. The nachos were crispy, the salsa sourly yummy and the cheese toppings was spicy enough to content us. The mocktails were bit high on flavor but that was not something we would complain about. Next, we ordered a pizza and their special burger for the main course. Again the service was relatively quick and all the while the attendant seemed to be attentive to our calls. In fact, the service was nonobtrusive yet accessible. The thin crust pizza was nicely done and the burger was big enough for a meal. The sauces dripped flavor and warmth and the condiments added adequate charm. We ended the meal with a brownie served with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice-cream and the lingering sweetness seemed to be a perfect wrap up.

They were quick to bring up the check and payment was smoother than some of the places we have been to. The staff bid us goodbye and we returned back to the warmth of our abode. It was time well spent and evening best utilized after the week of hectic activities.

Factory By Sutra Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

An un-Impromptu Date @ Impromptu

We had recently shifted cities and moved to Gurgaon. Times had been hectic and life turned upside down. Shifting is no joke in itself and last few weeks had seen an intense house hunt in this new city, negotiations with packers and movers and torturous movement of the household. To sum it up it was one of the worse few weeks. Finally, we settled down in our new abode and gradually started setting it up. One fine day amidst all this hustle, wife requests (you know what that means) to be home early and I oblige her as I am supposed to.

As I reach home, she is dressed for an apparent occasion and I am trying hard to remember the occasion that I have missed out from the calendar of things I am supposed to keep track of. Befuzzled, I enter the house and drop my bag and prepare myself for a round of "thrashings". However, surprisingly, Gods were in generous mode and wifey asked me to get ready for an outing. Now, unaware of the purpose or reason, all I knew was to be ready decently so that am not under-dressed for a place or overdressed for it. Well, I managed to be set in another 15 minutes and still wondered what was on. I am instructed to proceed and fire up the engine of the car and proceed as asked. The navigation was taken over by wifey and I was a clueless driver dancing to her directions.

Soon we pulled into Vatika Towers, which seemed to be an office complex at the outside but there is a central area in the front courtyard where this nice restaurant has been put up. While the lawns are used for outdoor seating, there are aesthetically decorated interiors for those who prefer to avoid the humidity of a hot day. We were one of those few and apparently it was all planned out. We were ushered to our seats in a nicely cozy corner, seats which had already been reserved on the request of the "organizer". As we settled into large sofas behind the table, we observed the carefully crafted interiors with a raw yet contemporary look.

Impromptu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It was a special date and we started with mocktails (of course if you have been reading the blog, you know about it), While the Virgin Mojito was great, the other turned out to be a pinkish devil. As the service started, the waiter brought a creamy tempting chocolate truffle cake, which had been ordered in advance by the "one who planned the event". We had a nice cake cutting ritual before we pounded on the innocent cake who suffered owing to being too tasty to wait. Later we ordered the platter for starters which had a nice variety, with most of the items decent. Next, we ordered pasta for the main course which was great by any standards. The food was tasteful - both in terms of ingredients and presentation and we were full until the throat by the time it came to the ordering of desserts and we deferred the idea for then.

We asked for the check and this was when an infinite wait started. At one point in time, we wondered if they had considered us to be "valued guest" in the literal sense and were hesitant to provide a bill. After 2 reminders and over 20 minutes of wait, the check finally came in. As we left the place, all we had in mind was a lovely evening spent in a wonderful environment.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Kanyakumari - The Southern Tip : South India X

Have you looked around yourself and ever wondered – where does this ever expanding piece of land of our country ends, that is if it ever does. Is there a point beyond which we are no longer there in India. There is an end to everything and it stands true for a country too. There is a point beyond which India- being such a massive and beautiful country – ceases to exist and give ways to oceans spreading far and wide. While the country as a whole has a bottom most tip in the Andaman Islands, the mainland has this tip in Kanyakumari.

We reached the outskirts of this city by about 7:30 in the evening and as the first day of the year 2016 came to end we visited our last spot of the day which was incidentally the first spot of the city. In the suburbs of the city, there is a town, Nagarcoil, which has its own strategic significance. This town lies on main trunk routes and Kanyakumari itself is a small shoot away from mainline. Hence this town has become a major rail head and roadway. It was here that we visited the famed Nagaraj Temple which is an important place of worship for Hindus. There is a huge statue of Lord Hanuman which is believed to be the savior of many when in a problem. Again as we had come to know about South India, temple administrations are very particular about dressing and we had to shed our clothes in favor of traditional “dhoti-gamcha” before we could enter the temple premises. While there was some laxity in the rule, apparently there was a high court order which gave legitimacy to the practice and hence was gradually being implemented strictly. We entered the temple after costuming up and went around the premises. The reverence of devotion was evident in every nook and corner and the one and a half hour we spent there for darshan were full of solace and peace. After spending some time sitting in the realm of the god, we proceeded to the guest house to set our camp. After dinner, we took a walk around the station area to absorb the cool breeze and look of this new city.

Tourists Flocking the Beach for Sunrise
First Rays of the Sun
Next morning had a pretty early start as the plan was to capture the views of sunrise from beyond the oceans. We were all up by 5 in the morning and were driving down to the beach in next 30 minutes to be there in time. We had chosen a designated sunrise point in Vivekanandpuram, a campus of Vivekanand Trust and reached the venue in time to have the glimpses of rising sun across the horizons donned by three large water bodies at once. However, as luck would have it the effort only paid off partially. It usually happens at this place that the clouds play spoilsport to the views for tourists, who had thronged the place in decent numbers. By about 6:15 we had seen the first rays of the sun and acknowledged that it was the best view we would get there and decided to head back. We did stroll on the crisp clean beach under the calm breeze of the morning sea before we got in the car. We readied after breakfast and set forth on our site seeing tour of the city.

The first destination was the Vivekanand Memorial built on an island rock away from the mainland shores by the Vivekanand Trust. Vivekanand is believed to have visited this rock before departing for his famous Chicago’s World Congress on Religion speech. He apparently had to swim to this rock in high waters for a three-day meditation from 25th to 27th December 1982. Today, one has to board the special motor boats run by the city corporation which maneuver through rough seas to reach the memorial. We boarded a boat from the jetty and tied up the jackets as required. Once the boat left the shores, soon we realized that the sea was really wild and navigating through the high waves was a real challenge for the driver. After some adept maneuvering, we docked at the island and disembarked on the makeshift pier. What welcomed us were winds - strong winds, chilling winds - which only grew stronger as we climbed up the stairs to reach the memorial. The strength of the winds was capable enough to sweep anyone off the feet and we could witness tourists crawling to avoid being caught in the sweep-away. The trust has put up a 6.5 feet panchdhatu (5 metal alloy) statue at the meditation place. Though Vivekananda was 5.5 feet in height the extra 1 feet was given to the statue to have its eye have a line of sight to the imaginary legs of Parvati, drawn at a point where she is believed to have prayed on a single foot for want of a groom. The statue is situated in the Bay of Bengal and stands tall in the face of strong with and rough weather. There is also a sunrise calendar which is a topic of interest among astronomical curios. Another feature of the memorial is a meditation room to spend some silent moments amidst peace. Before leaving, we sat on the rock for about half an hour enjoying the wind and the water around and had a great experience at the location. Another important point built next to this memorial is the statue of Saint Thiruvalluvar, a great Tamil poet. This is built on another island rock close to the Vivekanand Memorial. While the memorial is built and maintained by the trust, the statue is a government initiative.

The next destination was the Triveni Sangam where the three mighty water bodies – Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and the Arabian Sea - come together. This celebrated confluence of water bodies is a place or worship to a lot of Indians. Further tourist enjoys a quick dangling of feet in water over snacks and tender coconut. One can easily differentiate between the three colors of water and sand to realize how the three varied elements come together. We did what other tourists do and spent about half an hour playing in the water as a sign of touching the lowest point. Then we proceeded to the Kanyakumari Temple. The temple is built as devotion to an incarnation of Devi Parvati who prayed for her marriage to lord Shiva. Then we took a break for lunch at the Sparsha Resorts. The place served decent North Indian food for the region with a good spread of options.

Kanyakumari Temple
Vivekanand Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue
Triveni Sangam - Confluence of 3 Seas
Later we proceeded to Baywatch, a theme park in this city with limited population and avenues of enjoyment. For a city which is a tourist hub yet lacks the scale it deserves, this theme park is a welcome addition. It provides a destination for children and grown-ups to unwind and spend quality time. The newly opened park had a scale that was good enough for a city like this and offers over 20 rides and slides. We went to the park and took some dry rides and enjoyed the 9D show which too was of decent quality compared to many other we had seen earlier.

Next stop for us was the wax museum, a copy like of Madam Tussauds Wax Museum. It is touted to be the first wax museum in the country and attraction for many. Though we found the wax work falling short of expectations and the ticket price too high for the offering. However, we were definitely impressed by the quality of 3-D paintings by a local artist – Rajendra. Various creations on walls and floors were brought to life when we posed in a guided way to create real impressions of objects and situations. The staff at the museum was really cordial and cooperative. They made the experience a notch higher by relentlessly encouraging us to pose for pictures and explaining significance and effect of each of the 3-D art.

This was the last location we toured in the city and returned to the guesthouse in time to pack and leave for the railway station – Nagarcoil. The trained rolled off the Nagarcoil Station at about 6 in the evening and reached Chennai Egmore by 6 in the morning. With the end of the trip to Kanyakumari came the end to a fortnight of exploration and relaxation – our trip to South India. Looking forward to the next opportunity to visit the area. Till then keep experiencing cities across India and abroad through my eyes and lens.

Featured Posts

Don't miss new posts

Subscribe here to get our newsletter in your inbox, it is safe and EASY!

Expressions by KT : Tarun's Blog © 2014 - Designed by, Plugins By