Alright, I have been away for almost a month, guilty as charged! Except for hurriedly winding up the women chapter, I haven’t done much on iland. And what exactly have I been doing? Well, this is what..been traveling like crazy, slogging like an ass (what’s the female version?), sans rest, sans weekends, sans respite..
I remember packing up my bags in a hurry, unsure of the destinations I have to cover and the days I would be away. Since it is winter, it matters. I looked around and cleared my regular strolley of the clothes from my previous trip, peered into my wardrobe with the usual sigh ‘Gawd I hardly have anything to wear!‘ (most women would agree with this frequent and common feeling) Anyways, I had to pack in something, so with a deep breath, I quickly dug out a pair of black trousers, 2 pairs of jeans, a black churidar, 3 tees, 3 kurtas. ‘Bihar is still warm but what if I go to Delhi?‘ In go 2 black jackets, one formal, one casual. I call up a few friends in the capital to know how many layers are needed…3 people give 3 different responses.
‘Its hardly winter here, just bring in tees’.
‘Umm..I think a jacket would do’.
‘Better get 2-3 layers of clothing, and don’t forget a muffler or a scarf to cover your head and ears, and socks, and gloves and….‘ *click*
I throw in another sweater and a pair of socks. My polo sonnet is already choking by now, it can’t take anymore..neither can I.
And thus, with a handful of clothes and essentials and no particular itinerary in mind, I set out for this unknown journey. After a brief stint in Bihar, land myself in the capital eventually (thank God I packed in my socks). Apart from the slog factor, honestly I wasn’t too sad at being here. Coming after quite a few months, and I love the city in winters. Found out that winter hasn’t really set in, Thank God I did not overpack.
In my initial days during this trip, one place I frequented was one of the ministries. In the aftermath of the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attacks and the subsequent high alert in the capital, security was ‘beefed up’ at important locations. Every morning I got a first hand taste of the beefy security - too many police guards, long queue at the entrance, we are being asked for employee i-cards failing which we have to make an ‘entry’ into a register. Noone is checking other valid i-cards that are usually checked at airports, pan card/voters id/passport. I offered my bag for checking, was passed off. They just asked me to open my laptop bag and took a peek into it ‘Entry karwa dijiye madam’. Even the metal detectors wondered what they were doing there. On my third day, they allowed me in without even blinking an eye. Even my black and black outfit and gloomy frown that I purposely put up on my face could not elicit a reaction. I felt so wasted.
When I was not working, I was busy hogging out. Remember Delhi Belly? This time I had thought would try out newer places. In the brief chances I got, I managed to thoroughly explore 2 new places: Chi kitchen at SDA market, and Sushiya at saket. Chi is known for its authentic pan asian fare, wasn’t a disaster. Out of what I tried there, the phad thai is a safe and yumm option, the bak kut clay pot is a healthy meal in itself too. The laksa lemak claypot had glass noodles in coconut gravy and was kinda bland for my taste, and the prawn ramen passed as a soup, except for a smell I still can’t assign to anything I have ever smelt before. Now for Sushiya, I ordered sushi continuously for a couple of days and eventually was quite fed up…but they were nice. And affordable, yes. If you compare it to the usual prices at which you get to sample sushi, this place is a boon. I also did not forget to visit a favourite greek haunt near Safdarjung Deer Park, ‘Its Greek to Me’ (that’s the name of the joint, silly!). Now I must warn you, they have huge quantities, so do not go overboard with the orders. And most of their red meat dishes have very strong flavours, so go slightly easy on them when it comes to quantity. As I write all this, can’t help being reminded of my fav food critic, Sabina Sehgal Saikia, who died at the Taj attack. I used her Times Food Guide as a Bible, never missed her column in the TOI when I was in the city. Its strange how some people you hardly know become a part of your everyday life. And they never know they’ll be missed by more people than they imagined.
Anyways, moving on..I also realised I needed a hair treatment and a trim for quite some time. So one fine evening, after an exceptionally tiring day at work, I walked into a salon and asked for a hair spa. My stylist ran his fingers through my hair a couple of times and looked at me through the mirror with a dismayed face…I had seen that ex-pression umpteen times earlier…no matter what I am not getting any additional treatment done today, am not spending more than what I have decided to. I looked back and said ‘Kya hua bhaiya?’ As expected he suggested some ‘new’ treatment called ‘hair cleansing’. I told him I shampoo every alternate day, I just need a hair spa and a trim, that’s it. He then offered a demo on a few strands, reluctantly I agreed to volunteer. He got a blunt blade from somewhere and scraped up and down my hair and I saw this white fluff coming out of nowhere. ‘Kya kar rahe hain bhaiya? Baal ki khaal nikaal rahe hain?’ He explained its apparently dust that accumulates in the cuticles and is not removed by shampooing. And very reluctantly I had to agree that my hair felt smoother and lighter after whatever scraping job he had done. I could hear Mini-me screaming ‘Another one bites the dust!’ Ignoring her, I succumbed to temptation. The good part was, the guy supposed to give me only a head massage also gave me a back massage. On another day I would have snapped back at his intentions, especially after he looked so pleased after the massage, as if it were him who got it. But that day I badly needed it, even if it made the masseur happy, its a small price to pay for getting rid of the agonising backache. My haircut ended me up looking like one of the Japanese anime characters..and am not complaining..goes well with my street urchin looks!
Overall, I think I have managed to treat myself quite a bit so far this time. I have really not been able to catch up with most of you guys, haven’t been visiting blogs and leaving comments, bad girl yeah! Sincere apologies. So…what have you folks been upto? Keep me posted!