Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Goddess in Autumn

A one-and-a-half-week spent in a daze of mellow wellness, not counting a minor throat infection afflicted by cold beer in Bong weather. Been to the Durgapujo in Kolkata after a gap of two years. Among many other things, a morning of pandalizing, an experimental cocktail, a dear friend paying for the whole crowd at Tangra at saptami lunch (his novel is out on a Pujabarshiki - his first step into big league, and a call for celebration) and rediscovering New Market.

Some photos. The first two at Badamtala Ashar Sangho, off Hazra road.

We gathered from the hoardings Prabhuji mithun-da is the brand ambassador for this Pujo. (Oh, yes, they all have brand ambassadors now.) Mithun-da would be proud. All in all, we liked the mood and ambiance of the setup. Very old-worldly and nostalgia.

See the old rajbari ( King's haveli) milieu on the sidelines? Update : An utube link for the pandal.

Ekdalia. Garish. I felt like calling it the moor's last sigh (at the moo-rals).

What with the recession, stock crash and all, the organizers at Selimpur Palli were of the grim view that it was the indeed the end of days, apocalypse, Armageddon, whatever. Why else would they think of putting the goddess on Noah's ark?

Rajib, the blackberry guy, was the host for ashtami evening. The inventory included a bottle of Stoli Vanil vanilla flavored vodka, one tequila (Pepe Lopez, not quite top of the line stuff, I hear), and also some VAT (but nobody was in the vatty mood). Rajib insisted that we do the Stoli first, and chase it down with Pepe shots. I suggested, on a whim, that we should try out some sort of a float with the vodka and some vanilla ice cream. Here goes.

1 1/2 oz vanilla flavored vodka

50 ml Ice cream soda/ Sprite

Two scoops vanilla ice cream

Mix the vodka, soda/sprite and ice cream into a smooth consistency. Pour in a highball glass and float a scoop of ice cream on top. Can be served with some strawberry or chocolate syrup topping. Suggested name: Stoli Scream.

The brand Tangra is now a pale shadow of what it used to be. At Kim Fa, the soup was passable, the noodle dishes (as famously put by J.A.P in recent times,) more Shyambazar than Sanghai, the less said about the Szechwan chicken the better. Maybe old man Kim was taking a nap. After all, it was afternoon during durgapujo time and the Bangali Bhadralok who wouldn't know their dim sums from their momos were all out in hordes.

Lately Rajib has developed this annoying habit of having a meal solely consisting of starters while eating out. After a coupla rounds of batter-fried chicken dumplings and babycorns, he sought to secure the kiddies' vote in his favor by announcing : All who want to eat starters only, say "aye", or something to that effect, which, sure enough, was getting some raised hands at the kids camp. Put down firmly by Subroto the mirthless girth with a gem of a statement : "Na. Ami food khabo." Which roughly translated to: "no i want to eat a proper meal", but easily became the best in hungry indignation since Major de Coverley's : "Gimme eat" in catch 22.

The Tangra Chinese are these days cheap neither. We paid 6000 bucks for a crowd of 20 not counting small kids. Sorry, Indranil the novelist payed. Not expensive really, but not dirt cheap by any standards. And the portions don't justify the rates.

The day before I was coming back, I needed to buy some red and green curry paste, lemongrass, nam pla, oyster sauce, bamboo shoots and other veggies I can't buy fresh at my small town marketplace. You can guess I'm trying to dabble in Thai cuisine. I was thinking maybe Spencer's but a friend suggested Hogg market. Hesitantly I went, probably after two-and-a half decades' hiatus. The place was a treasure trove, as ever. I got every item on my list, the way I'd wanted. Not only could I get lemongrass for Rs. 3 a stalk, (Spencer's charge 10, and sell stale stuff) every little shop at the back end alley was a revelation. I even ended up buying some Angostura bitters.

When we were little kids, people in Kolkata used to say that you could buy bat's wings and cheeta's milk at the New Market if you were paying the right price. Indeed. I perfectly see their point now.


Sud said...

Agree with the guys at selimpur palli, doesn't look like the world's going to be around for much longer

Partho said...

Hang on there, friend, don't commit harakiri yet. I was actually worried about you till I read your last post.

Sud said...

No harakiri, looks like the cavalry has finally arrived, came a little late for us though.