It may be a little late for me to write this, but the feeling of meeting Anuradha Khandelwal is still very warm. I had actually gone to the Open House, one fine afternoon, having planned to walk out in sometime after meeting the birthday girl. But it was such a day that I just could not walk out for a long time eventually. Continue reading Open House by Anuradha Khandelwal
It does not happen always that you like everything at an event, feel like picking the whole lot and meet many enterprising people. I am fortunate that way, as I attended one such occasion – Collectors’ Affair – at the awesome Restro Bar Taksim, at Ansal Plaza in New Delhi. Continue reading Collectors’ Affair at Taksim
Way back in 1966 started a campaign called Taj Mahal Tea by Brooke Bond. Many a people endorsed it in those days – one of them being the beautiful Zeenat Aman who stood there with a cup of tea in her hand and wore a simple purple suit, bangles, sported a middle parting in her hair with two braids and told the world how the tea intoxicates her.
Then came many a brand ambassadors for Taj Mahal Tea. The first one being none other than Ustad Zakir Hussain who remained the Taj Mahal Tea ambassador for 10 years. With his tabla and curly hair, he made history, or have you forgotten ‘Wah Taj’ ! ‘Are huzoor wah Taj boliye’ ad campaign became iconic.
In the 90s, this ad was the highlight on television and all we remember is his hair bouncing and the tea whirling in the cup. Oh watta combo it was! Later he came in a jugalbandi with Aditya Kalayanpur.
Then came Chhote Nawab Saif Ali Khan, the Junior Pataudi Prince, who changed the whole look of the campaign bringing in some alag andaaz, great style and attitude. He has been the brand ambassador since 2006.
Now the latest entry to the Taj Mahal Tea Ambassador list is none other than the ever so beautiful Madhuri Dixit Nene.
She brings in glamour, sophistication and love in the new campaign – another jugalbandi of being an actor and a mom at the same time.
Brand ambassadors may come and go but whenever one thinks of Taj Mahal Chai the only name that pops up is of Ustad Zakir Hussain, playing his tabla and shaking his curly hair with his cute smile which said a million times, ‘Are Huzoor Wah Taj Boliye’.
He made that tea cup ‘hazaaron mein ek’ and immortally frozen in memory.
As we travelled with children this week passing from towns and small villages, I carried almost all that we needed in our travel kit but, don’t ask me how I just forgot my sanitizer. Gosh what a blunder!
Though I’m not very finicky about this but still in this trip I really missed my sanitizer. Everywhere we touched I saw dirt and unhygienic conditions.
I kept on screeching – don’t touch this, don’t touch that. Poor kids. We had our good moments too as the journey was a lot of fun but whenever we got off to eat hygiene remained a serious concern.
I don’t how much would you agree that even in good households and good hotels, basic hygiene levels are so low sadly.
To make you think and act, here are some findings based on lab tests conducted by a New York university according to which the 10 dirtiest things in a restaurant are:
- Menu cards
- Lemon wedges
- Salt and pepper shakers
- Rims of glasses
- Bathroom door knobs
- Bathroom faucets
- Ketchup bottles
- Salad bar tongs
…all these that I never imagined to be dirty or unhygienic. So unbelievable…
The lesser you fuss about all this the stronger you tend to become and the more you get into all these the weaker your system gets to be as time passes by.
There was a time when we all used to drink normal tap water and not worry about it at all and now we are asked everywhere if we would prefer regular or mineral water! [Is mineral water really good; what minerals the bottle contain?]
Well, if we go so deep then it’ll be difficult to eat outside… but a little precaution is good for us.
So take care and stay healthy.
The Rajma Chawal of Ramban
As the story goes…
More than a decade ago….
It’s 11pm and I board the train. The clashing of the metal rail grows stronger… and it makes the journey shorter…
As I see the sunrise, I step for the first time on to the Land of Jammu & Kashmir… I take a deep breath. Well to be frank there was no difference in the air… Seemed like any other place, so it got me thinking what’s so special about Kashmir…
Then we embarked on an 8 hour journey to a place called Kud about 30 kms before Patni top. The drive was comfy and we had a good time. The crew I was with was making a documentary series.
The cold wind at night was freezing…
The whistling Deodaar’s reminded of stories of the great Ruskin Bond.
The temperature in the room was freezing and the quilts could barely keep us warm… just that the weight of the quilt ensured that we stayed tucked in the bed. As the morning Sun came nothing was more memorable and welcoming than the hot cup of tea and Alu ka Paratha’s dripping with some hot ghee. Aaaahhhh….!!! (I can still taste them).
During the day the shooting carried on and I made some new friends in the Unit. The next day I was able to step out to the nearby roadside local market. It had the typical aroma of any hillside bakery.
After spending a few hours there, I turned back home…
At the next turn I spotted a Military Battalion and then nostalgia took over. I walked over to them and looked for their Commandant and Voila… Did I miss my father…!!!
So, I made a lifetime friend with their Commanding Officer, who in the coming days took real good care of us and took us around Kud to all memorable places… Some saffron and poppy fields I saw for the first time in my life… Some deodaar trees, standing tall and green… ever so beautiful wild flowers all over the hillside… mesmerised me.
In a week’s time we left Kud and drove down to another bustling town called Doda. This small town was full of lovely people who served Hindustani chai (Tea with milk) and Kashmiri chai (Tea without Milk, with salt) with equal pride. The night was spent at a small motel in the main market.
The next morning we left for an army camp in a lonely village away from the main town of Doda. It was the best experience of my life as the Colonel there really looked after us like we were State guests. I felt so proud seeing so much valour and bravery around me. The Battalion hosted an evening dinner for us pure Army style.
The next morning we drove along the bubbling Chenab river, ever so beautiful, gushing down through the mountains. The drive to Srinagar was a long one.
At Ramban we stopped on a roadside dhabha (eating joint) as we were famished… which was more like a makeshift tent…
As I entered a polite gentleman there offered me a seat on the wooden bench. I asked for the menu… I soon relalised my question was irrelevant and inconsequential as I had no choice of any kind but to have what he had to offer.
The next few minutes were going to make a mark in my memory for a long long time to come in my life… as I was going to have the best meal ever offered to me as on date.
I was given a big plate full of rice and piping hot Rajma (Kidney beans)… I got up from my seat immediately to request him to reduce the quantity in the plate. But the polite gentleman insisted on his generosity and with a smile he poured half a cup of pure hot ghee (oil) over it.
I was aghast… In total shock I started to eat the meal.
Next few moments were spent without a word being spoken.
Rejuvenation is the word… my soul was being rejuvenated and I was happy from within like never before. Soon without any shame I asked him to serve me some more and he again with a lovely smile served me the same quantity, with the same enthusiasm as before. And to my surprise I did finish the whole plate till the last morsel… So unbelievable.
As I write this today after almost 14 years I can still feel the taste and smell the aroma…
My taste buds … My brain… My soul… can still recall the lovely experience of a lifetime…
And I call It —
“The Rajma Chawal Of Ramban.”