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Pragati Maidan Makeover Plan Looks Amateurish January 30, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Delhi , add a comment

My first recall of Pragati Maidan is of Asia 72, I was barely 7 years old and I remember there was space pavilion and something about Man on moon. My creativity and story telling made me tell numerous stories about how I saw soil from moon and thus formed a relationship which kept on getting renewed year after year.

We have been hearing about a makeover of Pragati Maidan since ever, but now it looks like things are firming up. Am I loving it, no. And this is why?

A makeover of 126 acre Pragati Maidan would have an underground parking provision of 5,000 cars, something is wrong. Either someone doesn’t know Delhi, or Parking Issues or footfall in Pragati Maidan – maybe all the three. Planning anything less than an underground parking facility of over 50.000 cars would simply be too myopic a plan to execute. One hall absorbs more than 10,000 cars, someone is absolutely out of sync with what happens every year during trade fair (IITF)  and why Autoexpo had to be moved to Greater Noida.

Coming to space created, it would have only 1.2 Million Square feet of space, which translates to FAR of 1:.25, on such a large project it is a gross wastage of space. The project must plan over 5 Million Square Feet instead of 1.2 Million Square Feet being planned. They are planning one convention center to accommodate 7,000, why not three more for 5,000, 3,000 and 2,000 respectively. Very few international capitals have this huge exhibition space in the heart of the city, using it to its fullest has to be a priority with the government.

This project envisages bringing iconic architectural marvel like Hall of Nations down, what is the point. It has been a Pragati Maidan identifier and it has seen progress happen and enabled progress to happen. It is a great design and there is no need to raze it now. There is enough free space and you can always add, why destroy to add and build anew when space is not a constraint.

I hope better senses prevail and heritage is not destroyed just for the heck of it and a new form and shape is added for it to stand apart as one of the great exhibition grounds in the world.

 

 

 

Odd Even Plan – Delhi January 1, 2016

Posted by simarp in : Blogging, Delhi , add a comment

The city of Delhi has a problem of pollution. Most have criticized the Odd-Even plan introduced in Delhi, none have suggested alternate solutions with the same or similar strength as they have used to rubbish this plan

Yes, I voted for Aam Aadmi Party in elections 2015. Yes, I believe they are trying to make a difference. Yes, I believe that even-odd plan has its flaws. Yes, I believe it is too little and definitely too late. But I do believe that it is about doing whatever can be done to make a difference. I believe that Delhi has bigger problems of unregulated developments. These problems have compounded Delhi’s challenge. Almost 70% of Delhi’s actual population lives in what were created as unauthorized colonies with politicians, bureaucrats and police accepting amounts to look the other way.  I have been to a few unauthorized localities in Delhi. There is no planning, no parks, no open spaces, just rows of houses and factories together. Most have no sewage system. There is lot of burning of waste which happens and there is lot of recycling of plastic which happens too. Now this is something which would take a huge effort to contain. Controlling cars on the road looks easier. Even if it reduces number of cars on Delhi roads by 20%, we would be back at least two years immediately in terms of pollution.

I believe that we all need to support not only this odd-even but any initiative which is taken to make Delhi better. I believe that over next two years our metro system would add at least 30% more capacity of moving people. I believe that would help. It would change the things. Delhi needs more roads, it needs tough decisions, it needs roads to be widened and it needs aerial roads or roads over roads at many points. If no new traffic signals are installed and we eliminate 10% of the existing, we would have much better Delhi.

Delhi also needs to be rebooted, and restructured, many offices need to be moved away from congested parts of the city to newer development areas like Narela. These are easier solutions, and just need the will of the government to do it.

Let us make Delhi work, let us make Delhi succeed. Let us support odd and even and whatever new comes our way. Let us make Delhi breathe again.

 

Hindustan Times is insensitive December 23, 2012

Posted by simarprit in : Cities, Delhi, India, Is anyone listening, News, News Reaction , 1 comment so far

Hindustan Times by-line reads: “Cops use water cannons, teargas to stop mob from marching to President’s house.”

Hello? Mob? Are you sure?

Looks like, they need to learn their lessons in sensitivity, English and journalism, in that order.  Yes, mob does mean crowd, but its usage here is incorrect, inappropriate and unacceptable.

Let me explain one by one.

Sensitivity: Next they would call Bhagat Singh a terrorist, 1857 a mutiny and Subhash Chandra Bose one of Hitler’s cronies.

English: This is what Dictionary.com has to say for defining “mob”

1. a disorderly or riotous crowd of people.
2. a crowd bent on or engaged in lawless violence.
3. any group or collection of persons or things.
4. the common people; the masses; populace or multitude.
5. a criminal gang, especially one involved in drug trafficking, extortion, etc.

They could have simply called it a crowd, if that was the intended meaning, why brand it as a mob? It hurts. Those who were protesting there were protesting for a cause, not a cause which would make them richer or was aimed at their sexual gratification, come on. Usage of this word is a heinous crime in itself.

Journalism: As per Wikipedia “Journalism is the activity or product of journalists or others engaged in the preparation of written, visual or audio material intended for dissemination as news, topical information and other contemporary fact, analysis and opinion. Journalism is directed at the consumers of media products, who may comprise nonspecific general audiences, or narrower market segments).

Not even a word of this by-line adheres to any of the operatives behind the word journalism. Who is this by-line aimed at? It looks like this by-line is aimed at scoring brownies with the Central Government. Hindustan Times doesn’t know what “by-line” stands for.

Gentleman and dignified ladies  behind Hindustan Times, by-line is an executive summary and editorial message rolled into one, right? We get the message Hindustan Times, your newspaper stands for insensitive, pseudo-journalism written in bad English aimed at protecting your business interests and pleasing your political bosses.

Zest Restaurant, Vasant Kunj – New Delhi. A Review January 2, 2010

Posted by simarprit in : Delhi, Food, Review , 1 comment so far

Zest has been covered by most of the magazines and all newspapers since it opened its door to New Delhi’s creme de la creme on July 10, 2009. We decided Zest as the restaurant for our first family dine out of  the year 2010, yes, I did think twice about it, read few blogs and concluded that it is likely to be somewhere between OK and awesome. Mini and Mishti were as excited as me as it would be a change from our half-dozen faves.

So here we go:

Location: DLF Emporio, No 4 Vasant Kunj Malls, Nelson Mandela Road, Vasant Kunj Phase -  II, New Delhi – 110 070, India – Tel (+ 91 11) 43119999  – Excellent 10/10 (Though approach roads currently are under re-routing, so be prepared to get lost and keep time to reach 15 minutes on the side of error of omission)

Interior: Bar format, wine cellar followed by semi formal sitting (formal = The Orient Express, casual = Coffee Shop at any decent hotel property). Decor is great, layout of the kitchens and food counters is a little more than a bit confusing – take time to understand before you get going   – 6/10

Reservations – Works, it is better to do a table booking well in advance maybe even a couple of days in advance. Give correct number, they would call back to confirm 10/10

Hostess: Busy, pretending to be busy, on the side of arrogant – all guests are never equal approach.  – 4/10

Staff: Senor staff fairly competent, on look out to identify regulars all others looked like on-the-job-trainees, evident lack of confidence and no long term goals. Restaurant manager couldn’t be identified, though one person looked and operated as one, but as he was sans “you may ask me smile” I concluded that he can’t be the one whose career depends on this restaurants success. Overall 6/10

Crockery: White, pure white. Fine bone china from Luxemburg – 8/10

Glasses: Wine glasses and other tumblers were all fine – 8/10

Cutlery: I was expecting much better cutlery – 6/10

Table and seating: Very cramped layout, no walkways (you have to move around all other dinners)  swill chair is an excellent idea. They couldn’t find us a table for three so they made us sit on a table for six. Overall table and seating rating 5/10.

Soups & Salads: Today they had only one soup in the buffet, an adaptation of  vegetarian Manchow Soup. I am calling it an adaptation as it was one, not authentic recipe, though it was excellent in taste . Soup -10/10.

Salads were few and Cheese Platter was missing. With Red & White wine on the house – Cheese platter missing is not a good thing., there was fresh mozzarella cheese in one of the salads. I liked Smoked Salmon and Potato salad, though potatoes far outnumbered pieces of salmon. I am sure the salmon was farm raised and not wild, but good nevertheless. Total about 10 – 12 different  salads were there. Salad – 8/10. Mini who is 100% vegetarian found the selection very limited.

Starters: No separate section for starters, you have to go from kitchen to kitchen to fill your platter. My suggestion skip this course and enjoy seven distinct cuisines however we did. I took grilled Sea Bass (it was Asian Sea Bass and not the Black Sea Bass which I die for in San Jose). It was very tasty, well marinated and nicely grilled, it was accompanied with White Wine Sauce which was just perfect. 9/10  – Mini took Hing Aloo 6/10  & Hara Bhara Kababs 7/10 (her ratings) – Mishti skipped

Main course: Portion management on the counters is an issue. You never have all to choose from.

The following is the mix-n-match as courses were not separated by them, we had it all together so covering them in the main course:

Mix Veg Pizza (Mini/Mishti) 9/10 – Thin Italian hand tossed

Shell Pasta with Arrabiata Sauce 7/10 – I would have preferred little more drained pastas and some more ginger flakes

Chicken  Indian/ Arabic Kitchen (Mishti) – 10/10 She had 4 pieces, it was spicy and very tasty as per her

Veg dumplings – 7/10 (Mishti) they were bland for her

Noodles (Chilli, Tomato, Garlic): 9/10 (Mishti)

Shrimp dumplings: 9/10 They were good – I enjoyed them

Veg Pulao 6/10 – The rice was not the ideal rice for pulao and the full aroma which Dum Pukht Pulao can get was not there

Fish Curry – Indian Arabic Kitchen – 9/10 – very tasty though they said it was fresh river sole, which I am again sure it was not, it was King Fish and tasted like one. I have no issues with King Fish

Salmon Sushi – 3/10 It was nicely made but somehow I didn’t like the bonded taste of rice and salmon

Deserts: Fresh fruits, Cakes, Custards, Mousse, Rasmalai, Gulab Jamun. I loved Blueberry Mousse and Chocolate cake with Gold flake – Over all Deserts 10/10

Date: Jan 2, 2010 – Time: 1:30 – 3:30

Over all experience – 7/10

Price Rs 5,000/- or $ 110 – They include service charge @10% before Taxes. Base price is Rs 1,250.00 per person or $27 per person. Taxes and service charges account for about 25% and you invariably land up giving an additional 10% tip.

Valet Parking: Costs Rs 140.00 or $3

I recommend one visit, repeat is purely your call.

“Zest is now called Setz”

 

The Malls of Gurgaon – Shopping Destination of Asia July 5, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Cities, Delhi, Gurgaon, India, Shopping , 3comments

Every time I come tMallo Gurgaon from New Delhi I find myself asking the same question, would there be so many customers. Someone told me that on last count Gurgaon has over 125 Air-conditioned  Shopping Complexes under construction, popularly called Malls of Gurgaon, apart from over 30 which are already functioning. Quite a few for a city which had a population of just over 200,000 in 2001. The city has grown very rapidly, it is likely that the population as of now could be close to even a Million, even for a city of a Million 150 Air-conditioned Shopping Malls look too many. The spill over of Delhi is something everyone talks about, but Delhi in itself is getting a new mall at the rate of one every week, if not more. Where would the spill come from, even the catchment area of the spillover is reducing. East of Delhi would go to Ghaziabad, Fardiabad, Noida and Greater Noida; South would go to Noida, Greater Noida and Faridabad; South West would still go to Gurgaon but lot of South West would go to Dwarka; North would spill over to Wazirabad, Sonipat and Rohtak seriously damaging the catchment area left for Gurgaon, moreover Gurgaon would loose its own people to Manesar and New Gurgaon so how can the Malls of Gurgaon survive? This is literally a Billion $ question as put together the investment in Malls of Gurgaon would be in Billions of Dollars. 

In my assessment Gurgaon would become a Shopping Destination City not only only for NCR of Delhi or North India or India, but maybe for whole of Asia. There would be challenges, but then no destination is made without surmounting insurmountable challenges.

More to come…