The Pizza (Pondy #2)

I love sitting next to the window while travelling. I love watching the trees, the houses, the people pass by. I love the strangeness of it all.

While going to Pondy from Chennai, I did have a window seat but the blazing sun did not let me draw open the curtains. The next best thing to do was to do nap and I did nap but not for long. I was sitting by myself with no one to talk to so I decided on watching a movie recommended by someone who knows movies. My eyes were fixated on Brad Pitt knocking out a guy twice his size on my teeny-weeny screen when suddenly loud music in Tamil broke out from nowhere.

I paused my movie and looked up to see that they were screening a movie in the bus. Awesome. Wow. The only problem? I knew only a few words of Tamil (mostly swear words taught by my TamBram internet friend) so I could not understand anything happening in that Tamil movie. Nor could I watch Brad Pitt beat up any more guys because the Tamil movie was very loud.

Finally, after three to four hours in the bus, we landed in Pondy. I loved Pondy right from the very first glimpse of the endless blue ocean. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Poseidon.

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My face after looking at my beloved Poseidon

The place we were staying at was called Les Hibiscus and it was on Rue Suffren. If you ever happen to go to Pondy, I will highly recommend Les Hibiscus to you. You won’t meet a nicer person than the owner, Pascrane Uncle in the whole of Pondy.

Our room was a beautiful blend of Franco-Tamoul culture with colonial furniture and paintings of Hindu goddesses.

 

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Beds fit for princesses!

 

The weather was way hotter than what I had anticipated. I am a Mumbai girl, a summer child. I have never seen a winter that wasn’t mild. But the heat on the east coast was a real, living monster. My friends and I sought refuge in our cool air-conditioned room from this vile creature.

Too lazy to get out of the pyjamas we had put on, we decided against venturing out for dinner. We chose to order pizza from a place called Farm Fresh. Why pizza? Because pizza.

Dee is a vegetarian so she opted for a regular Farm Fresh pizza while Tash and I being the meat-lovers we were opted for something large and with chicken.

 

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The small pizza turned out to be the same size as a medium one from Domino’s and the large pizza turned out to be someone that could fill Joey’s stomach for sure.

Did we mind?

Nope. Not even a little bit. Screw weight gain. Screw dieting. We devoured the pizzas.

Farm fresh had enough vegetables for it to qualify for a vegetarian pizza. Every slice of the chicken pizza had more chunks of chicken than an entire Domino’s pizza. The pizzas also had proper cheese that made our vacation start on a cheesy note.

 

Dee's Farm Fresh pizza

Dee’s Farm Fresh pizza

Our chicken pizza!

Our chicken pizza!

 

Did I mention that the base was sourdough? Have you tried a sour dough pizza base? No? Then, you are missing out on something splendiferous.

When I visit Pondicherry again, I am definitely ordering a pizza from Farm Fresh. It was the second best pizza I have ever tasted and I have eaten a lot of pizza.

Our tummies were now bloated. Our senses satisfied with the gustatory pleasure they had received. The three of us now slithered into our beds and fell asleep.

It was the start of a week of the most sound sleep I would get in the 20 years of my life.

The Departure (Pondy #1)

It’s been two weeks but I still remember the day as if it all took place just yesterday. It was a day of firsts, it was a day of adulting and most of all it was a day of sweating profusely.

April 14th, 2016: The day Dee, Tash and I went on our first parentless trip together.

I had just escaped from the clutches of my end of the semester examinations. I had survived the ordeal. I had emerged victorious in the first battle but there was one other skirmish I had to win before I could put my guard down.

Packing my bags.

Damn son, the worst part about travelling is packing me bags. Do I have enough pants? Do I have enough underwear? I haven’t forgotten my toothbrush, have I? Are my clothes folded properly?

It’s stressful.

My suitcase was packed and ready by 1 am and the flight left at 9am. We had decided to reach the airport at 7.30 am which meant I would have to open my eyes to the world at 6.15 am which gave me just over five hours of sleep.

Now, five hours of sleep isn’t all that bad. But try telling that to the past me who had gotten through her exams solely by burning the midnight oil (as well as the dawn oil).

Weirdly enough, I ended up oversleeping. My uncle drove like a pro and we reached the glorious new terminal of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Airport in Mumbai half an hour later than we were supposed to.

A quick hi to my friends, a quicker good bye to our families and we were off.

We checked in our luggage, collected our boarding passes. Then came the endless security queue. We waited and waited for what seemed like an endless time but in reality was about fifteen minutes.

The airport staff declared us to not be mass murderers, crime lords or terrorists and we walked towards the gate until we spotted a loo and realised that we really really needed to pee.

So we did. We peed in peace at the sparkly clean airport loos, brushed our hair and contemplated grabbing some breakfast.

All was fine and perfect until Dee’s phone rang. It was her mother informing us that our flight had left without us and that we were to stay put in Mumbai for rest of our lives.

Well, no. I’m exaggerating a tiny bit. Dee’s mum just asked to hurry after which we checked out watches, realised the airport was a silent one and that we were waiting for boarding announcements that would never come.

We ran. If you were at T2 that day and noticed three fat girls (well no, I’m the only proper fat one) run like the wind, then that was us. Hello!

Thankfully we boarded the plane just in time. It took off in another fifteen minutes.

Problem two. We hadn’t had any breakfast. We were starving. Plane food sucked too much to be consumed after paying 300 bucks. We shall starve till we reach chennai, we decided valiantly. No wasting our (parents’) money on yucky plane food.

What we had forgotten was that we were in an Air India flight. The airplane may or may not fly (mostly it will) but Air India always serves food (so I learned).

Hearing the cacophony of noises made by our tummies, the staff of this particular Air India plane proceeded to serve breakfast.

Dee and Tash opted for the vegetarian meal. Me? I’m a hardcore non vegetarian. Being a non vegetarian eater served my taste buds well this time.

The breakfast included this huge sweet bun along with a small packet of perfectly melty butter. The bun was delicious. It was sweet but subtly so and so soft that it dissolved in our mouths.

The vegetarians had idli sambar but me? I had an omelet. It was an egg omelet stuff with more eggs, cheese and mushrooms. It was served with a side of beans and potatoes. Bliss, I tell you.

I would’ve put up pictures but I ended up stuffing myself up with it before I managed to take pictures. It was too damn yum.

We landed in Chennai before time. It was hot. We felt scalded and burnt and uncomfortable. We took a taxi to the bus stand and then walked towards a nearby KFC for lunch.

The weird thing was, we were all of wearing jeans and t-shirts- nothing special. But everyone, and I mean everyone kept on staring at us. The rickshaw wallahs accosted us offering us rides (not free ones, mind you.)

We trudged towards KFC, struggling with our bags and dreaming of an air conditioned environment.

Entering that particular chain of KFC is the most relieved I’ve ever been. The sun had blazed mercilessly and we were starving again.

We ate burgers and fries. I had a Chicken Zinger, fries and SevenUp. My own version of heaven.

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The burger was huge and it had enough crunchy chicken to make me happy. The bread was fresh and soft. The fries were crispy. Kentucky Fried Chicken is bliss.

We took a ric back to the bus stand and hunted for our bus. After sitting in the heat for another fifteen minutes, the bus roared into the bus stop and we set off.

When the three of us became friends four years ago, we were learning french together and dreaming of visiting Paris together. Now, Paris was a tad too farfetched so we decided on Pondicherry. Why Pondy? Because Pondy was a French colony and now is a Franco-Tamil city.

Keep an eye here to read about all our adventures in Pondy!

Be a happy potato ^_^

I hate mashed potatoes

Yesterday, I did a thing I had never done before. I made mashed potatoes.

My exams are a few weeks away so I have my study leave going which basically means I have to eat at home. That’s a relief because me mam is a really good cook. Except she isn’t always at home. Throughout the day, she is at work being all busy and chemical (she works in a textile chemical laboratory.)

And I am left at home to fend for myself. Normally, my sister, cockroach, makes something for the two of us. She might be only 13 but boy, is she an excellent cook!

Sometimes, just to see me suffer, she refuses to cook. Then I have to enter the kitchen and do the thing I suck the most at-cook. Making chai or instant noodles is an art that I have mastered.

However, when it comes to cooking food that is even a little complicated, I suck.

Yesterday was another such day when I had to risk blowing up me mum’s beloved kitchen to satisfy my primary need for food. Instead of calling up mum for advice, I turned my mate, Sam. She used to be someone who wasn’t all the proficient at cooking either but now she manages and pretty well in fact.

Sam suggested I satisfy my potato cravings (GO POTATOES!) and try making mashed potatoes. She explained the recipe in detail. It seemed doable.I commence by selecting two of the prettiest potatoes you will ever see. I put them in a vessel filled with water and lit the gas. The poor little potatoes were now boiling.

Or so I thought.

Within ten minutes, I took them out, expecting the potatoes to be boiled and mashable. That minute, my granny entered the kitchen. Thank goodness for her wisdom or my mashed potatoes would have been even a bigger disaster. She pointed out that the poor petit pretty potatoes were still pretty raw.

I put them up for boiling again, this time with a duration given by aaji (my smart granny). In my excitement of the potatoes boiling, I had also put a cup of milk with way more butter than me mum would approve in a pan to warm. But only after what exactly Sam meant by ‘pan’. A panaroma shot? A frying pan? Pan, the Greek God?

Guess what she meant.

I hurriedly shut off the gas under the pan. This was becoming more and more complicated by the minute. There was a point when I confused whether I was cooking mashed potatoes or brewing a vial of Polyjuice Potion.

After a ridiculously long time full of false signals, the pretty petit potatoes finally boiled. I mashed them. I mashed them like I was mashing the faces of my sworn enemies. I was mashing the potatoes like The Mountain mashed Oberyn Martell’s head.

Then after adding the now-mashed potatoes to the butter and milk (buttermilk?), I stirred the paste. And stirred. Stirred some more. Stirred till my brain felt like it was about to explode due to the lack of mental activity. Stirred till my hands gave up. I was left with something I thought was the ready version of mashed potatoes. It was a touch and go sort of situation honestly as I had never tasted mashed potatoes before.

Fortunately, I was right and these were mashed potatoes.

I served two servings- one for me and one for my sibling, the human cockroach. I took my bowl, sprinkled some pizza seasoning on the mashed potatoes because pizza seasoning makes everything better.

I took some of the weird-looking pasty stuff in a spoon and put the spoon in my mouth. It tasted good. Well, it tasted buttery and buttery is always good. A few spoonfuls later, however, I suddenly realised I was no longer enjoying the mashed potatoes and had actually abandoned the bowl involuntarily.

After a few more spoonfuls, I realised I kind of couldn’t stand the mashed potatoes.

The very same thing was repeated with my sister. First, cockroach praised my mashed potatoes a lot. Then she stopped eating them and promised to never not cook when it was just the two of us.

Just then me mum returned from work. I made her taste some and finally someone who genuinely felt that the dish was tasty. She couldn’t have a lot (the remains from my plate as I was feeling nauseated because of all the butter.) So we kept the bowl away.

For once in my life, I attempted cooking and god, I was so horrible that I am taking a vow of cooking chastity.

Okay, cutting myself some slack here. The mashed potatoes weren’t all that bad. They tasted just like mashed potatoes should. It seems like I just did not like the way mashed potatoes taste in general.

There’s no relief for me in this self-discovery. I prided myself on loving potatoes in all forms and now there is one dish of potato that I don’t like much.

Cue existential crisis of sorts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waffle Dreams

It’s a Sunday. We do lists on Sundays.

(Well no, we don’t. But let us assume that Sunday is the day of lists. C’mon, Play along.)

(Also, today isn’t a Sunday but let’s ignore that too.)

Weird things I do in my Freizeit (free-time but it sounds cooler in German)-

  • Read the entire plots of Hindi soaps on Wikipedia.

  • Read menus on Zomato.

Believe it or not, reading menus on Zomato is actually very fascinating and often fruitful. That’s where I learn about new restaurants where I can drag my mate, Geet. One day, I got very very lucky. I learnt about a place in Vile Parle that had an all-day breakfast menu.

Yes, I was won over by the mention of hash browns. But in my defence, hash browns are made from potatoes and potatoes are delicious.

After months of foiled plans, I ended up on a table at Tea Villa. The ambience was like a typical cafe with funky tea-themed décor.

My friends and I decided to avoid a main course and indulge in lighter snacks instead.

To begin with, we had a plate of nachos. The nachos were covered by a thick layer of creamy soft cheese. Tiny pieces of chopped bell peppers where sprinkled on the nachos. Now, for nachos, the dip matters just a little more than the actual nacho, in my opinion. The dip was exactly the thing needed to complete the dish. It was tangy- the opposite of the mild cheese. The contrasting flavours between the cheese-topped-nachos and the dip were beautiful.

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Then, we opted for the much-awaited hash-browns. They were accompanied by slices of bread with a thin layer of butter. These cold slices weren’t all that appealing. We ignored them and devoured the hash-browns. Potatoes make everything better.

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From the Starters section, I used a veto vote to order Sauteed herbs mushrooms. I have recently developed a mushroom obsession. I can assure you that, my obsessive self was wholeheartedly satisfied with this dish. The dish comprised of chopped mushrooms tossed in a sauce (that I couldn’t identify) with exotic vegetables like broccoli, bell peppers, onions and olives. The pandemonium of tastes was so pleasant that we finished all our veggies like good children.

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With our tummies nearly filled, it was time for dessert. When the establishment offers an all-day breakfast menu, what in the seven worlds do you order? Pancakes? Waffles? Pancakes? Or waffles? Tash flipped a coin and waffles it was. This time around, Dee and Tash used their veto power to order Oreo Waffle. “Loaded with Oreo cookie & melted chocolate” stated the description. Sounds delicious, right?

Well, here’s the thing, I can’t stand oreos. I love other brands of cream biscuits but not oreos, never oreos.

Also, good waffles are extremely difficult to get. Either they end up being too hard or too chewy or too soggy and no fun. I kept my fingers crossed.

The waffles that turned up at our table were beyond perfect. Not hard, not chewy and definitely not soggy even though the chef had been quite liberal in pouring milk chocolate over the waffle bases. Oreo crumbs were piled high on the layer of white chocolate. The waffles were served with a bowl of more white chocolate on the side. Overall, the meal ended with a chocolate induced foodgasm.

I am not lying when I tell you that the waffles have made multiple appearances in my dreams.

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If you ask me if Tea Villa was worth getting out of my pyjamas, I would tell you that you needed to go to the cafe right now. Albeit the service was a little slow, the food tasted good enough to make up for it.

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