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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.


Leela Kempinski Delhi – A Quick Review May 1, 2011

Posted by simarprit in : Uncategorized , 6comments

Date: April 29, 2011 (Friday)

Purpose: NASSCOM Social Media Summit

Time: 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Location: On roundabout after Sarojni Nagar Bus Depot, just before the under bridge, Chanakya Puri, New Delhi, India

Building: Built to last, I said “Thank God, it is not yet another glass house”

Comments: Great property, dead hotel. Would love if Leela hands over management to Oberoi, Taj or ITC. I have no hesitation in saying that the management even in the state run “The Ashok” on the end of Africa Avenue (Same Road) is more effective and responsive than what I experienced in “Leela Kempinski”

Some random thoughts which were scribbled while at the hotel:

  1. Wow – This looks good, grand and Capt Nair’s style all around.
  2. Hello, hello, hello – Acoustics, how have they managed it to forget about them altogether.
  3. Chairs, most private banquet halls in Delhi offer better than them. Less cushioning, less width. Conference chairs have to factor in that many “senior executives” wear suits in Delhi year through.
  4. Service: Service? Admire our property, what service, look at that vase, look at our elephants and please remember they are different than Mayawati’s elephants.
  5. Tea: Admire our tea cups as you stand in a tight queue for 15 minutes, don’t confuse our tea cups with corporate begging bowls though you may feel like you are begging for a cup of tea to remain participative despite having to strain to hear anything because of poor acoustics.
  6. Food: Look at our serving dishes,  they are finest in the world. What is the issue if have run out of food and we may take 20 minutes to replenish it, do discussions for which you have come and admire our cutlery.
  7. Staff: Admire their uniform, why do you have to hear them saying “BCs and MCs between themselves just an earshot away from our lady responsible for running the show.
  8. Food labels: You better not be a  vegetarian if you come to visit us. We focus on food not on label.

I would not try to balance this article as there is only one side to Leela Kempinski Delhi and that is “They just don’t get it”

Pizza Hut – Janakpuri – A review February 7, 2010

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Pizza Hut Janakpuri outlet is located inside Satyam Cinema Complex in District Center Janakpuri. The restaurant since it opened about three years back has expanded thrice. Now it is one of the largest restaurants in the complex.

Yesterday Harmeen and yours truly decided to go for a leisurely lunch and we thought we would eat at Pizza Hut what we have never had before. So here we go:

  1. Ambiance: 8/10 As it has been made in parts, it needs one serious makeover to reach 10/10
  2. Staff: 6/10 We reached at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon, the manager was busy on his laptop for all of one hour we were there. The other staff was also in a holiday mood
  3. Crockery & Cutlery: 7/10 Standard Pizza Hut variety- I felt that they must change it more frequently.
  4. Mushroom Soup: Rs 39.00 – 8/10 – Harmeen liked it a lot
  5. Masala Lemonade: Rs 49.00 – 9/10 Pizza Hut’s take on – We will do anything to succeed in India. It was good and they didn’t bill me for the refill.
  6. Cheese Tortillas: Rs 69.00 – 9/10 Great, the sauce could have been better.
  7. Pasta – Fusilli in Mushroom Sauce: Rs 139.00 – 8/10 It tasted good, but we would preferred little more sause and some more mushrooms in the sauce
  8. Pasta – Fusilli  in Spicy Tomato Sauce:   Rs 99.00 – 9/10 Cheery tomatoes and red chili almost always do the trick.
  9. Ebony & Ivory Dessert: Slice of Chocolate Cake, with Hot Chocolate Sauce and a Scoop of Vanilla Ice-cream: Rs 79.00 – 5/10 Looks like pushing it down to this price point is a tough compromise. They write it is adequate for two, which it may not be. The scoop of ice-cream is too small for sharing
  10. They charge you for service – Service Charges @10% and 15% Tax on post service charged amount add to about 27% extra

Still worth it. Best Value for Money – I would rate it overall 9/10

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”


1984 Anti Sikh Pogrom (Riots) and Twitter November 1, 2009

Posted by simarprit in : Sikhism, Twitter , add a comment

Twitter is a medium which shows everyone naked, instinctive statements taught a lesson to a host of thought leaders on eating crow. Shashi Tharoor, Barkha Dutt, Vikram Chandra, Pritish Nandy, Rajdeep Sardesai were all stopped in their tracks and requested/asked/ pushed to clarify their statements and use of words. Some like Pritish Nandy were extremely quick in clarifying their views and stating their position where as others like Barkha Dutt,  Rajdeep Sardesai and Shashi Tharoor took a circuitous route to reach the same place. Shashi Tharoor was quickly reminded of his “Cattle Class” misadventure on Twitter and decided to go absolutely silent on this question after making one simple clarifying statement.

The clarification seekers came from all geographies and belonged to all communities, however Sikhs from India, US, UK, Australia and Canada outnumbered everyone else due to obvious reasons. Sikh, Sikhs, Riots, 84 and 1984 remained critical words in all tweets. Rough estimate of number of tweets pertaining to 1984 Anti Sikh Pogrom puts the number close to 100,000. One could see instinctive collaborations happening simultaneously in putting across point and countering thought leaders, in some cases to a great  pounding effect.

A random check of  profile and age group of those who were actively countering or correcting the “thought leaders” talks a lot about the even spread of community across diverse verticals and 1984 atrocities hurting all age groups. An 80-year-old tweeted about re-living the partition mayhem and a 21-year-old talked about his being brought up listening to first hand stories from elders who faced it all and survived to talk about it.

On Twitter the Sikh community emerged as a Virtual Nation and grieved as one.

Pizza Marzano Delhi Review May 11, 2009

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Restaurant Name: Pizza Marzano

Date: May 10, 2009

Location & Address: Cg-02/03,Ansal Plaza, Khel Gaon Marg, Delhi – 011 26254891. Once you reach Ansal Plaza. If Shoppers Stop is at the beginning, Pizza Marzano is at the end of the Ground Floor

Cuisine: Contemporary Italian and Adapted Italian, they offer you Paneer Pizza

Covers: Over 100

Ambiance: Casual-Fine Dinning

Parking: Ansal Plaza has sufficient parking, how far or how close you get to park to the restaurant is not in your hands

Portion: Decent
Prices: Are just fine, I hope to that don’t increase it and make it unreasonable.

Food: We do this restaurant about once or twice in an year. We have had the whole menu. I would restrict myself to what we had today. The reason we went to Pizza Marzano was our daughter just wanted to have the Bruschetta from their.

1. Freh Lime Soda: Perfect, they never go wrong on this 10/10
2. Garlic Bread: Their Garlic is not visible so much. It is all in there kinds. The fact that it is made fresh for you makes it very exciting, oven fresh served on the table, right amount hot. What else you want 10/10
2. Bruschetta – We all love it, but my daughter was not in a mod to share. It is yummy. There portion of sauce is always good and so is the ratio of tomatoes to the sauce. They have a variety in bruschetta – but this one is called bruschetta only. 10/10
3. Giardiniera Pizza – We tell them to give us without leeks and with only button mushrooms. As this is a ery mild pizza, I would like you make sure that you wish to actually eat a very mild pizza. Harmeen did try to make it “better” with jalapeno and some red chillies in olive oil, i don’t think she actually succeeded. I am fine with the mild authentic taste, didn’t experiment much and just enjoyed it. 8/10
4. Sicilian Sticks – Light, good and they don’t last on your plates. 8/10

All in all a good light meal for three. Service is fine, knowledge of most of the staff about Italian food is zero, need to get hold of the right person.

Sagar Ratna at Janakpuri West April 12, 2009

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Restaurant Name: Sagar Ratna

Date: April 10 and April 11, 2009

Location: Just before Janakpuri West Metro Station (vikaspuri side) – Locality Krishnapark – Yes it is that simple and that confusing

Cuisine: Known for South Indian but now offers everything which may be South Indians or Indian eat. The new menu includes Chinese and North Indian – French and Italian would soon be added ;)

Covers: Over 100

Ambiance: Something between fast food joint and fine dining

Parking: Major issue on Saturday and Sunday Nights – Go at your own risk

Portion: Regular
Prices: Could have been about 20% lower

Food: I have had the following at this joint (over two visits of course)

  1. Rasam: Excellent Right amount of tamarind – (Tell them to serve in Steel Tumbler – It doesn’t taste half as good in a Glass Glass – whatever.  9/10
  2. Papad: Excellent as if a machine makes it, no issues – 10/10
  3. Mysore Dosa: Like all dosas must be had quickly. Very quickly. Ask for Gun Powder with separate desi ghee on the side. Take with all chutnies on offer – Tomato, Coconut, Green Chili and Mint 10/10
  4. Idli – Not happy at all. The idlis thoughfresh were nowhere the best I  have ever had. They were not soft – 3/10
  5. Dahi Vara – Wow, it was awesome. 10/10 – Slightly on the sweeter side – 100% south Indian Style
  6. Upma – Regular upma, nothing great to talk home about – nothing to crib about 6/10
  7. Sambar Vada  – Good, could be better – I find their sambar inconsitent. I had it twice – Once sambar was so thick that it couldn’t seep into Vada and Vada remained tight – 7/10
  8. Masala Dosa – I am not agreat fan of Masala of Masala Dosa, but their masala is fine I like the lemonish yellow color of the potatop based masala stuffing 8/10

Ano Tai Chinese Restaurant Review January 8, 2009

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Name: Ano Tai

Country: India
City: New Delhi
Location Basant Lok Shopping Complex
Neighbourhood: Vasant Vihar
Located inside: Vasant Continental Hotel
How many of  us: 3
Cuisine: Chinese Speaciality
Overall Experience: 9/10
Staff Grooming and Training:6/10
Menu Completeness: 10/10
Presentation of food: 9/10
Quality of raw materials used: 9/10
Taste of food: 9/10
Do I recommend: Yes
Did we leave any food unfinished: No
Ambiance: 10/10 – You must look around and wait for the best seat, they offer you “Passer by” seats.
Prices: $30 – 40 per head without drinks
Soup: Lemon Coriander Prawns – 8/10
Soup: Lemon Coriander Veg – 10/10
Starters: Veg Pepper & Salt – 10/10 we asked for a repeat starter
Starters: Mushroom Chili – 8/10 – Must tell to make it less Chili and more Mushrooms
Main-course: Haka Veg noodles: Good, but must tell them to make less oily. 8/10
Main-course: Mix veg on Sizzler with Garlic Cloves: 10/10

Fujiya Chinese and Japanese Restaurant – Review May 20, 2008

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February 26,  1985 was my first time at Fujiya and yesterday was the last.

Date: May 19, 2008

Time: 8:45 pm to 10:20 pm

City: New Delhi

Address: Community Centre, Malcha Marg, Chanakyapuri

Country: India

Restaurant: Fujiya Chinese & Japanese

Occasion: Invite from a cousin

Location: Next to Carmel Convent School, Malcha Marg, New Delhi 110026

Drinks: Coke – No Issues; Fresh Lime Soda – You just can’t make it better.

Format – Comfortable sitting, table service.

Starters: Golden Fried Jumbo Prawns – Their Jumbos are really Jumbos, served four pieces, thy are just superb; Chicken Drum Sticks – 8 pieces 2 kids, nothing left, one didn’t have to tell the kids to clean the bones, all done all set; Button Mushrooms – very good. Dry Chili Chicken – They don’t have it as menu item in starters, but they provide on request – very good.

Main Course: Veg Hakka Noodles – They are Chinese and not Punjabi in taste; American Chopsuey – It is crispy with right portion of vegetables and sauce which doesn’t make it soggy till very end. Portions are good; Whole Red Snapper – Red Snapper is one of my favorites and the way serve with thick gravy and vegetables, it is just awesome.

Water: Buying bottled water recommended, they have Catch Brand, which is among the best.

Locational Access: Very good.

Parking: Ample parking available bang outside the door, lunch time parking could be tough.

Ambiance: Simple and functional.

Interior: Just fine for this price range, could be better.

Tables: Functional, Clean hot plates.

Cooling: Excellent

Acoustics:  Very good acoustics, doesn’t become noisy. 

Staff Attitude: Caring and excellent to regulars.

Service: Quick and courteous.

Washroom: Not up-to the mark, but clean nevertheless.

Rates: About Rs 600.00/ $15 per-head. 

Why Go: Food, Reputation, Rates, Central Delhi Location, Authentic

Why Think Twice: Interiors

Barbeque Nation Restaurant – A Review May 18, 2008

Posted by simarprit in : Barbecue, City, Food, Review , 5comments

Date: May 18, 2008

Time: 8:30 pm to 10:00 pm

City: New Delhi (Janak Puri Outlet)

Address: B-1/ 623 Janakpuri, (Near District Center)

Country: India

Restaurant: Barbeque Nation; Owners: Barbeque Nation Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.

Occasion: Sunday evening Family Dinner

Location: Bang opposite District Center Janakpuri on Shivaji Marg/ Najafgarh Road.

Map: http://www.mapsofindia.com/delhi/block-b-jankpuri.html

Drinks: Masala Cola – No issues ; Pistachio Twirl – No issues

Format – One Price buffet spread, no drinks included. Barbecue on the table.

Starters: 5 Veg and 5 Non Veg Starters – Served on the table – Directly to plates or on skewers kept on Charcoal Grill placed in the hollow center of the table:

Vegetarian Starters: Hara Seekh Kabab - totally avoidable; Mushrooms on skewers – OK; Thai Grilled Vegetables – very good; Uncut Sauteed Potatoes on skewers - very good;  Paneer Tikka - trash, poor quality of Cottage Cheese followed up with extremely poor marination. 

Non Vegetarian Starters: Chicken Kabab on skewers – OK; Mutton Seekh Kabab – all chilli no taste; Chicken Boneless tandori – Good; Fish Fry – very good; Prawns on skewers- very good.

Salads: Standard unexciting spread with an exception of Corn Salad. 

Main Course Buffet (Non Veg Menu) Spread: Standard Upper Middle Class North Indian Shaadi Spread, looks like a roll call. 1 chicken dish (Chicken Tikka Masala) – Good; Mutton Biryani – Good; 1 mutton dish (Rogan Josh) – Good, 1 fish (Lemon Sauce) – Rubbish and hopeless and above all it was stale and real bad – had to be vomited out instantly and still live with chances of food poisoning for several hours. 

Main Course Buffet (Vegetarian Menu) Spread: Dum Daal – Regular OK; Veg Manchurian – OK; Paneer Dish – Horrible, they have a problem with their quality of Paneer; Mushroom dish – Good. Veg Biryani – Very Good; Roti & Naan – Good.

Deserts: Fresh Fruits – OK, Gulab Jamun – good; Ice cream with sauces very good.

Water: Kinley bottled water served as part of the buffet.

Locational Access: Very good.

Parking: Valet support.

Ambiance: Very good.

Interior: Excellent for this price range.

Tables: Very Good, Plates need to be wiped once brought on the table.

Cooling: Not correct tonnage. Becomes too hot, with live grill.

Acoustics & Music: Acoustics bad, becomes very noisy, Music could be far better. 

Staff Attitude: Indifferent

Service: Very Fast but totally Unpersonalized

Washroom: Insufficient numbers and not very clean

Rates: Reasonable (at 500 + drinks in May 2008 )

Why Go: Ambiance; Location; Concept; Starters

Why Think Twice: Main Course unexciting menu; Indifferent staff and unpersonalized service; Process flawed – stale fish landed on the table, I noticed – Fish was withdrawn from the buffet for rest of our stay. Thank God.

More to come…