BOUTIQUE NESPRESSO rue du Bac PARIS

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, what can one say about this shop ?

Actually, to be fair, the shop is fine – great location on the rue du Bac. Artistic displays of coffee capsules.  Free tastings of their new products  – pity about the nasty plastic cups, though.  Surely they can run to proper cups and a good old-fashioned plongeur ?

But oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, the service…

Rarely have I seen such impersonal, unsmiling, condescending, off-hand service.  And these are from people selling coffee capsules, for goodness sake, not expensive jewellery or high-end cars.  You are selling coffee capsules, young lady at the door, remember that, coffee capsules.

On a hot afternoon in late April, we went, 2 of us, to buy refills.  The sullen-looking young woman at the door brusquely told us there would be at least a 12 minute wait, and ordered us to stand in a queue.  The only reason I stayed was because I was travelling the next day and needed to take said capsules with me, otherwise I would have joined the 6 others I saw, who turned right round and left the shop, when they were told to wait.

Someone should gently remind the staff that they are part of a service industry, and a little smile never did anyone any harm.

Parisians – take my advice. Don’t waste your time in the rue du Bac.  Rather shop online.

 

 

PADD Paris

The expression “a one stop shop” may be a tad clichéd, but for once it is an absolutely accurate description of PADD, an elegant shop on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris, where you can buy everything you could possibly need for horse riding.

Well, barring the horse.

Otherwise, just about everything equestrian you can think of is available – and it they don’t have it in stock, they will happily order it for you.

Attracted by a display of polo mallets in the window,  I went in and enquired about a polo saddle.  Only one in stock, but they would put me in touch with the manufacturer, pas de probleme.  The staff couldn’t have been nicer or more friendly, and the thick, glossy catalogue they happily gave me was a work of art on its own.

Prices seems competitive, too.

 

And the website is www.padd.fr

FUXIA restaurant PARIS

A popular, busy Italian restaurant on the rue des Martyrs in Paris’s 9th arrondissement, FUXIA offers classic Italian food at reasonable prices.  We were 3 for lunch, and eschewing starters, we ate well, with good food, and more than healthy portions.

Between us, we had a rigatoni siciliana for €12, a lasagne carne for €13.50 (very substantial and possibly overly generous on the tomato sauce) and a delicious risotto roquette for €15 which was far too copious to finish.

Rapid service, a friendly waiter eager to try out his English, though we suspected he was flirting with our youngest and prettiest diner, and a sort-of view of Sacré Coeur from our pavement table, if you craned your neck a bit.

All the elements you need for a brisk, no-nonsense summer lunch.

Total bill for 3, with 3 mains, 1 Orangina and 1 coffee =  €46

Fuxia

25 rue des Martyrs

75009 Paris

tel : 01 48 78 93 25

www.fuxia.fr

Delhi Airport

For those of us who have known Delhi for a goodly number of years, and endured the old airport, the new Indira Gandhi Airport is beyond a breath of fresh air.  It is Nirvana. Perfection. Relief.

Loads of check-in counters. Loads of immigration counters, though that particular make-over is strictly cosmetic.  The staff may well wear smart grey jackets, but they are just as surly and unsmiling as in the old days.

Once through formalities, you could be anywhere, though Heathrow springs to mind, with all the WH Smith bookshops and Body Shops and Early Learning Centres.  All rather unsettling.  There are some Indian shops, but not enough to make an impression.  You can buy Versace, Reebok, Mango should you wish, but it would have been nice to have more Indian merchandise to soak up all those departing tourist dollars.

One exception is a store tucked away at the end of the huge shopping area, called “India Explore” which, at least the morning this reviewer passed through the airport, had a musician playing the tabla, sitting in front of the marigold-strewn “Serenity pool”.  Apologies for thinking it was piped music.  This calming little bit of Indian mechandising is rather bizarrely located opposute Haagen Das and opposite the Delhi Daredevils sports café.

Other than the profusion of British shops, another unsettling Heathrow-esque touch is the rather Essex girl voice that makes all the English-language flight announcements.  What on earth is wrong with a well-spoken Indian voice ?

The airport now has clean loos – by Indian standards – but the corridor leading to the bathrooms in the International departures section is old-style India- paan spit stains and broken tiles.

Expensive coffee, but it’s good.

Loads of comfortable seating, TVs with the latest news, plug points for laptops, people walking round cleaning.

Definitely world-class.

 

Back 2 Fitness physiotherapy, New Delhi

In desperation because of continuous post-arthroscopy knee pain, and in equal despair because I could not imagine a life without trekking and walking, I was advised by a friend who is a professional sportswoman, to try Back 2 Fitness physiotherapists in New Delhi’s Sheik Sarai district.

Run by the energetic Dr. Rajat Chauhan, a keen marathon runner and trekker himself, the first thing that struck me was the cheerfulness and frankness of both Dr. Chahan and all his dedicated staff.  I was briskly told that yes, my knees would improve, but no, they would never be a 100%.   Yes, I would be back to trekking, but probably not running marathons.

With that in mind, the treatment began.

Exercises, work on the machines, dry needling, manipulation –  all the tools and skills are available, and the physios regularly follow up on their patients.  If you are feeling unwell, you get a call to check up.  If you are travelling, they e-mail exercises and expect the completed exercise diary on your return.

The focus of the clinic is on sports injury and maintaining an active lifestyle, and you are regularly quizzed as to how much exercise you have done, and if not, why not.

Unflaggingly cheerful and highly competent staff, clean and well-equipped with an extensive range of machines, this professionally run set-up has given me hope.

Cost
•    Consultation: Rs.1000

•   B2F ‘A’ Sessions 3 week- Rs.10,200 (Includes Consultation)
•    B2F ‘A’ Sessions 6 week- Rs.19,300 (Includes Consultation)

B2F ‘A’ Sessions includes 2 sessions of Strengthening & Conditioning and 1 Session of
Manual Therapy.

Each Session is of 45-60 minutes.

•    B2F ‘B’ Sessions 3 week- Rs.13,500 (Includes Consultation)
•    B2F ‘B’ Sessions 6 week- Rs.25,850 (Includes Consultation)
B2F ‘B’ Sessions includes 2 sessions of Strengthening & Conditioning and 1 Session of Manual Therapy per week.

Each Session is of 75-90 minutes.

 

website : http://www.b2f.in

011-46560339

info@b2f.in

Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, Jaipur

In a state seemingly awash with heritage hotels and palaces, this centrally located hotel in Jaipur, in India’s Rajasthan state, ticks all the right boxes.  Approached through noisy congested streets in the city centre,  and located opposite a nondescript modern shopping complex, one’s heart initially sinks at the approach.  But the second you turn into the huge walled entrance to the Narain Niwas Palace Hotel, spirits lift again.  The noise from the street recedes, blocked by acres of garden and lawns, and all you hear is the splash of water from the fountain, and bird-song.

The hotel is a succession of  gardens and courtyards, with little staircases leading up and down to rooms and yet more rooms, and balconies and terraces.  No boring corridors with repetitive rooms here, thank goodness.

Our room was charming –  all shades of green and blue, and giving onto a beautiful large terrace, shared with a few other rooms.

The pretty little restaurant had friendly service, and when I told the waiters I wanted to try typical local Rajasthani cuisine, the cook came out for a chat, pleased at my interest.

The grounds were lovely, in a slightly charming, neglected way, with lawns and pavilions, and a pool scattered all over the large compound.

Service was friendly and relaxed.

Room rates, which include breakfast, are :

Standard Rs 4000 single/Rs 5500 double

Deluxe double Rs 7100

Kanota Suite Rs 8100

Garden suite Rs 12000

The charge for an extra person is Rs 2000

 

Narain Niwas Palace Hotel

Kanota Bagh

Narain Singh Road

Jaipur 302 004

Tel : +91 141 256 1291/256 3448

info@hotelnarainniwas.com

www.hotelnarainniwas.com

 

 

Pindi Restaurant, New Delhi

Pindi in New Delhi’s Pandara Road Market used to be an iconic “dhaba”, so I was told.  Simple but with fantastic food.

Buoyed up with a nostalgic memory from his student days, my husband took me there in February 2011.  Gone was the dhaba  – which is basically an ultra-simple food joint – to be replaced with a large, but nondescript restaurant.  Patterned walls and alcove-type seating.  We were a party of four, two of whom remembered Pindi fondly.

The wall next to our table was filthy, so perhaps they had kept some of the old-style dhaba, after all.

Famous for its offal –  brain curry and brain fry were remembered specialities –  my 3 dinner companions chose brain, brain and brain.  I had tandoori prawns which turned out to be the wisest choice, and the mushroom masala was fine, though eye-wateringly spicy.

The brain curry was apparently not as good as remembered, the brain fry was good, and the “gurda kapura” (kidneys and testicles, another speciality remembered from yore) were a disaster.  No testicles, just kidney and liver.  The first plate was sent back, a replacement dish cheerfully supplied, but this too was deemed not to contain testicles (I didn’t taste any of this, just watched the proceedings) and – yet again cheerfully – removed from the bill.

Bread came long before the food did, so had to be sent back.

My prawn curry came long before the brain dishes, so also had to be sent back to be kept warm.

Morale of the story ?

Let good memories stay that way.

 

 

Bharat Mahal Palace, Jaipur

Although seemingly every hotel in India’s Rajasthan state is either a palace or a self-proclaimed heritage property, to describe the Bharat Mahal Palace as a “royal residence” (as their own brochure does) or a heritage hotel (as the sign in the garden does) is an exaggeration.  This poorly maintained, decidedly grubby hotel is nothing more than a large house overlooking the railway lines, and when we stayed there in January 2011, building work was in full swing.

Although the individual members of staff couldn’t have been sweeter and more obliging, goodness knows where management with a capital M was.  On checking in, our room was not ready, which meant that we were able to supervise the re-cleaning of the otherwise dirty bathroom, and get the unironed, stained sheets taken off one of the beds.

As I said, the staff couldn’t have been sweeter, which is just as well, since we asked them to change the coffee table, the glass top of which was smashed, with a gaping hole in it.  We also asked them to separate the beds, bring a bedside table, and finally bring a bedside light, all of which was cheerfully done.  The bedside light ended up working for one day, and then that was it, but we never managed to get it fixed.

There was, however, nothing the staff could do about the room’s light switches all being in the corridor outside our room.

This meant that the options early in the morning were, either crashing around in the dark or switching every single light in the room on, since we never figured out how to turn just one light on at a time.  All or nothing was the choice.

What else ?  Ridiculously small geyser, which meant 2 people couldn’t have consecutive bucket baths.  And the bucket baths were because the shower head was too clogged to give anything than the thinnest trickle of water.

The whole place was unkempt, and way beyond room-service trays left lying around in the corridors for hours : the litter left on the tiny front lawn after a wedding one night, stayed there for the remaining 2 nights of our stay.

In all fairness, the noisy location cannot be blamed on the owner of the “royal residence”, but it isn’t a nice one for all that.  Railway tracks, a level crossing and a public urinal are pretty soul-destroying.

The food was acceptable : regular buffet breakfast, and the 2 quick lunches we had there were, once again, acceptable.

The only good thing about the Bharat Mahal Palace ?  The sweet staff.

Address :

16 Parivahan Marg, near Civil Lines, “C” Scheme, Jaipur 302001

Phone : 0141-2365498, 2362627

bharatmahalpalace@rediffmail.com

Tariff as per the hotel’s own brochure (which had the old prices crossed out and new ones written in )

Deluxe Room Rs 2700 single/Rs 3000 double

Suite Rs 3800 single/Rs 4000 double

Taxes are extra

Parking in the street outside – the driveway is tiny and taken up by an old red vintage car.