Halloween in New York City

Posted November 7th, 2009 by Deepa and filed in Food, Travel
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Photos: New York City Trip

Although Seejo & I have differing opinions on almost all things related to New York City ( I love the crowds, the noise, the buzz & Seejo dislikes them), we both agree on two things about the city: it has some of the best restaurants in US & it has some of the quirkiest people on the street.  This Saturday we got a chance to confirm our opinion of both these issues.

I had already made brunch reservations at Mesa Grill—a restaurant owned by Chef Bobby Flay.  Ever since we saw Bobby Flay in Iron Chef America, we have wanted to try his “bold flavoured South-west style” cuisine.  We were there with our friend Atha (meeting up with him was the real reason for this trip), who was on an official visit from India. We were seated immediately, served with a breadbasket with jalapeno spiced blue & yellow corn-muffins, some flaky cheese biscuits & fruit coffee cake served with a red pepper relish. Between the three of us , we polished off the whole basket & licked the relish dish clean in less than five minutes. (There are no photographs of the bread-basket, we were too hungry to wait!). Continue Reading »

How to Get Rid of Your Inlaws

Posted August 1st, 2005 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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First things first: Hindi films do not portray the truth. . If you were a Hindi film heroine who cautioned her diabetic father-in-law from having nuts and chocolates, you would be praised for taking care of in-laws. “Kitni sayani bahu mili hai”, they would beam, “sasurji ka kitni seva karti hai”. Those are films. In real life, you become a clutch-fisted daughter-in law who can’t spare a few dollars to buy a packet of nuts. In a Hindi film a daughter –in law who cooks and prepares delicacies is lauded as the ideal bahu and ghar ki lakshmi. In real life, you become a show-off and a know-it all.

Inspite of the food that is served to me everyday without entering the kitchen…sometimes you long for the time that there were no in-laws in the house…But….But then I have found a way to get rid of inlaws so all frustrated daughter in laws please pay attention…the secret is about to be revealed!!!

Last weekend we visited New York city . MIL looks shocked at the site of smoking females. “Do females smoke as much as males here”, she asks me. I am not sure how to respond to the question. Yes, I reply. She shakes her head but to my relief doesn’t ask me any more questions. She has already commented on the clothes (or lack of it) that the American women wear. “Not decent at all”, she says. “They look very ugly.” I try to explain that according to American ethics skin display is not bad. And just because they display skin doesn’t make them any less moral. But no chance….She is already shaking her head again.

We roam around NYC trying to “see” all the must see sights. Unfortunately, there is a parade down one of the main streets. There is music dance, people waving flags and lots of traffic commotions. We stop a bit by the roadside and watch the people walk ..some on elaborately decorated floats, some on stilts and some on foot holding banners. The first few banners contain innocuous signs such as “ Tunisia for equal housing” or “ Argentina for equality”. International parade for equality…nods my Father in law with a know-it –all look. We hope to get them out of there before they notice that all the floats have rainbows as the leitmotif. We did not realize that it was the Gay Pride week and this was the gay parade !!

Lets go lets go…Seejo starts hurrying us. We are trying to get to St. Patrick’s cathedral…supposedly the largest cathedral in USA . To Seejo’s dismay the parade passes right down the street. We had to wait by the sidelines watching the parade and waiting for the cops to allow us to cross the street. By this time, the international contingent is over and the nationals have taken over. Very colorful nationals. In all sorts of dresses and non-dresses. Men wearing the shortest of shorts,Tall women wearing shimmering two piece bikini like costumes ,with high heels and weird head gears with feathers and flowers, some others wearing peasant costumes.

“These women” comment my MIL. The country should stop these kind of women parading wearing almost nothing and thrusting their booties. I had to change her opinion about American women. So I casually mention that these are not women you see, they are actually men. She looks at me open mouthed. Men??? Why are they dressed this way then…Whats wrong with them… I look at Seejo for help. Seejo pretends not to notice me. I try to explain that some people like to dress as women. She cannot understand it. America !!!! she says.

The church is closed. Presumably due to the parade. We try to explain that its closed to visitors on all Sundays but they repeat….its due to the parade you see…We nod our heads not before noticing the next floats were from devout religious gays, advocating gay priests and gay gospel music.

We escape into a side street and spot an Indian restaurant. Any thing to get away from the new York heat we say. And the parade echoes everyone mentally. We eat a delicious buffet. Inlaws are finally getting something good to eat. We orders a special order of chillies for the table. Ah! They say….American food, uncooked meat and pieces of bread…no spice no taste …Poor americans.

We are going to wash our hands after the meal. Several parade-ers are taking the opportunity of having a drink at the bar. My MIL crosses past them fast. I turn to look at a tall man in a Spanish costume arranging her lipstick near the entrance. “Pretty dress” I tell her. “Thanks she responds in a gruff voice. MIL is convinced that it is a man now. I move towards the rest-room . It is filled with men adjusting their makeups pulling up their bustiers and examining their panty hose.

MIL refuses to enter the rest-room. We go back and sit at the table waiting for the contingent to pass. She wants to go and wash her hands. Before that she wants to make sure I am not scared. “Are you scared of them?. No I reply. Seejo is laughing….why should she be scared….But MIL doesn’t bother. The next time she gets up to wash her hands she makes sure that there si nobody on the way and then she takes FIL with her….

Just for safety!!!

So the moral of the story….want to get rid of your inlaws….Take them to NYC and make sure they can see a gay parade!!!!

Reunion in NYC

Posted September 18th, 2004 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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Meeting old friends is always pleasant. This time five of my Engineering college friends from Bombay met at New York city for the weekend. It was almost 5 years since we had last met, all together. We were all working now, in different fields, some within the same branch of engineering and some in totally unrelated fields. Personal lives had changed too. I was married, two others were recently engaged and looking forward to a wedding next year, one was recovering from a failed relationship and another was a swinging single.

New York is a fun city even if you are alone but when you have a reunion, it really cannot “funner” than that. We walked around New York , stayed up late and chatted about old memories , created a few new ones , discussed our careers and our future options, talked about life in America . We watched each other surreptiously for changes, either outward changes or in attitude, mentally contrasted the present friend with memories that we carried in our heads.

It was a fun weekend. I am looking forward to some more reunions …sooner the better!!

Till then here are the memories of this one.

New York City!!

Posted November 27th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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I thought I’ll describe the BIG APPLE to you!! If I described Washington DC as Like Delhi, NYC was undoubtedly like Bombay…The ambience of the city was so much like Mumbai that I felt immediately at home….But I think I am putting the cart before the horse…. We started at 11 p.m. on Friday night… The van was a 15 seater van .By the time we picked up everybody it was almost 12 ..We were just about to say “NYC HERE WE COME” when some smart fellow reminded us that we needed our passports/driving license to enter any bar…”ofcourse how can you miss the swinging night life in NYC…and you say you want to got to NY?. Seemed like a valid point to me so Seejo had to turn all the way back home so that Neelima and I could collect our passports… The start itself was quite disappointing ..We were only half an hour on our way..The music still had not reached full blast and our singing had not yet peaked..but the the holiday mood seemed to have rattled Seejo’s normally calm composure…The van’s speedometer touched 80mph…and lo and behold there were the cops..It was really funny at first for me ‘cos this was the first time the guy was speeding in his life…there was nothing to do but pull over and wait for the cops..to emerge from their van..They were polite to begin with ..We wished each other a good day and exchanged how have you beens…Then very politely asked us whether we knew why we had been stopped. Seejo, unfortunately, was in no mood for guessing games so out came the answer at the first guess..”we were speeding a little ” ,he says blandly..The cop didn’t like the choice of the adjective..”A little Hmmmmm.?.his eyebrows are raised…? You were touching 86 mph? ,We did not think that that deserved any answer so we sat silent..The cop then decided to check on the rest of the occupants in the car..asked if there were any minors…and very sweetly asked Seejo to appear in court one day…Seejo was disappointed..”here goes my first parking ticket? he thought..No no he asked “whats the fine?” The cop decided it was the time for a few lessons on speeding and proceeded to give a fine homily on the effects of speeding in as he put it in “such a vehicle”..and he ended with a ” the fine depends on the judge .you might even get a few days in jail”.Stunned silence from all of us

Well that over we proceeded on our way…The talk then mainly revolved around cops and speeding tickets and jali laws..an hour or so later decided enough was enough and we started –what we play on all picnics–anthakshari…We slept a bit, chatted a little and before we knew it was New Jersey metro station at 5.30 in the morning.. It was cold and the temperature was around -2 ..After we spent some time freshening up…we boarded a train to New York Penn station..Had breakfast at Burger king …and caught another bus to NYC down town… Our first destination was NYC Liberty island…Believe it or not the place seemed to me like gateway of India..It had some kind of a fort or something overlooking the sea..from where you could catch a boat to go to the Liberty Island (like elephanta caves) Hawkers were there on the roadside selling imported watches and stuff…..and a few beggars too ( I swear seeing those beggars made me feel very nice…,America ke bhikari!!!!)The queues were long and it was almost an hour when we boarded the boat that took us to liberty island..The statue of Liberty is Green in color not white as you might have thought It is hollow on the inside ..The copper sheets were designed and shipped over from France and then reassembled in America..You can actually see that it was cut…and joint…From Liberty island we could see Ellis Island which was actually the immigration center for America..In the 1850’s -1890 ppl used to come to America by boat ,pass Statue of liberty and land at Ellis Island where they were given Citizenship or turned away. Just 2% of the entire ppl who came were turned away… From statue of Liberty our next destination was World Trade centre….We passed Wall Street ,Woolworth Building ,Macys ( it was an entire block!)and several other “known” buldings on our way…NYC by the way is so familiar!!!

On top of the world is what they call the ride to the top of the WTC ..and it really is amazing..From the 108 floor we could see the entire view of NYC..and it was spectacular..I could see the Manhattan bridge ,the Brooklyn Bridge ,Bronx,Brooklyn …I really wanted to go to Brooklyn but the moment I voiced this idea,, the responses ranges from ” are you crazy?,”do you want to be killed?…to blank stares.. PPL I must say have no sense of adventure…!!! By the time we finished the WTC it was past 4 and we were all hungry and cold and tired..What to do next was the question ? An Indian restaurant topped the list of choices…so we headed to a place called Jackson heights…If I told you NYC was like India then Jackson heights was -India,,The moment we came out of the suburban railway station the sights and smells seemed so familiar ..there was the familiar stench of urine at the railway platform, pan stalls ,all the ppl around seemed Indians…(may have been Pakistanis and Bangladeshis ) there were rows and rows of stores selling sarees, salwar kameezes were on display, Indian jewelry stores, sabji mandi…restaurants even a computer training center..Those in India may not really understand what we felt but all those who are here will surely guess how excited we were….All of us was like wow…ppl honking ,talking hindi..for 2 delicious minutes we were all back home…. Anyway we went to an restaurant ..the waiters spoke Hindi!!! I immedietly thought of apna shagun ka waiters!! They had the same uniform…!!!Stuffed ourself with food,,,Amazingly each item tasted different …It was buffet with atlest 12 different kinds of bhajis (veg and non veg) lassi, mangoes(!!!) gulab jamun,raita chutneys…(drool drool drool)..

After which we al l had pan and were too tired to walk… Anyway back to Times Square, NYC to see the dazzling New York at night.it was just 6.30 but it was already so dark that it seemed way into the night. Times square is exactly how they picturize New York …Tons of dazzling neon signs, ppl rushing about…cabs honking …wow!! We walked through Broadway street. it is this big street which has a lot of theatres ..There was Les miserables going on in one…Kiss me Kate in another, Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde in yet another, I was staring open mouthed. Another funny thing I felt about Broadway was there were to types of cars in front of any theatre, either ordinary yellow New York cabs or streeeetttcccch limos…!!! New York streets are so much like Bombay ..Incredibly there were roadside hawkers selling chana,(only they also had cashewnuts to sell too), candyfloss, etc…Of course I bought some.. Siddharth and I kept muttering to each other so much like bbay..When we passed times square ( it was oh! Dadar) ,near Liberty Island( it was this is Gateway) and near the WTC it was (..FORT!!) We then went to the Rockefeller centre and saw the open air ice skating rink…Took a look around the nearby Chrysler building, St.Peters( I think) cathedral…and would you believe it there was a tangawala asking whether we wanted a ride (Nariman point Siddharth and I chorused!!!!) center is a incredibly huge building since most of the city was already in the festive season and decorated for Christmas it all looked very pretty…

During this time a few adventurous guys among us decided seeing such places are not enough ..it was time for action !! So they sped away to see a strip bar..before you ask”why didn?t you go?? The answer is I didn?t know they were going…or try keep me away!!!!… Our last stop for the day was the empire state building. It has this golden top, which looked marvelous at night..I think what I ?ll always like of NYC is the way the Empire State building looked… By this time we were all tired and those who had to drive ( Avneesh and Seejo were already looking askance at any new plans ..kept reminding us that they had to drive ) totally vetoed a night club( Blow all our pass port collection in vain!!)…So we headed back…back to New York Penn station and then to New Jersey. A lot of amusing things happened on the way like ,,,Ppl kept losing themselves in he train ,got off the wrong platforms, the cold winds that made us chilly ,static electricity due to the cold weather and lots of small things…We started back at 1 in the night ,the drive was rather uneventful because most of us slept peacefully…Reached back home at 7.45!! All in all it was really good…Kept thinking of the fact ?Oh I have been to New York!!? Now its time to put my head down and study…don’t plan to lift my head or sleep for the next 15 days….