Anokhi

You cannot fault the design and style aesthetics of the hugely successful “Anokhi” stores, purveyors of upmarket, rather pricey sort-of-Indian-but-also-sort-of-Westernised clothing to many thousands of women in India.

Beautiful, instantly recognisable prints. Good designs, that are regularly updated.  What’s not to like ?

Well, to be honest, their exchange policy and their staff.

Wildly successful though brand Anokhi may well be, the staff across many of the stores visited seem to be united in their inability to smile.  Perhaps they feel success doesn’t require pleasantness.

The male employees are marginally better.  The female staff, sad to say, are by and large indifferent, bordering on surly.

Which leads this reviewer to their exchange policy.

No refunds.  Ever.

No exchange from one state to another, which means visitors buying, for example, in the flagship Jaipur store cannot exchange at a store in Delhi : from personal experience, this has happened several times to overseas visitors.

And even when you go to do a routine exchange, within the 14 days, with the bill, as this reviewer did just a day ago, there is always a hint of suspicion.

“Why are you exchanging ?” was the unsmiling enquiry.

“Because I don’t like the colour”

“Why is the corner with the price torn off the label ?”

“Because it was a gift”

Whatever happened to the customer is right ?

 

 

Where can I find a good homeopath in Delhi ?

The softly-spoken, utterly charming Dr. Nandini Sharma is a no-nonsense Delhi-based homeopath.  She gently questions you in great detail, remembers every little thing you have told her on previous consultations, and her medicines really do seem to work.  Even for initial sceptics.

Dr. Sharma’s no-frills practice is in Geetanjali Enclave, in south Delhi :

E-14, Geetanjali Enclave

New Delhi 110017

email : nandinisharma2@hotmail.com

 

Personally recommended.

LAL BEHARI TANDON in DELHI

When it’s hot in Delhi, the only thing to wear is cool, “chikan” work clothing.

And the classic place to buy these light, summery clothes is at Lal Behari Tandon, an unassuming, low-key shop in Aurobindo Place market, to which shoppers have been beating a path for years.

Selling only Lucknowi chikan, and only classic designs, the prices are more than reasonable, the service unfailingly polite, as they open kurta after kurta after kurta for you to choose exactly which embroidered design you wish to buy.

Nothing fancy about the interior.  Nor the prices, which suits most shoppers just fine.

The Aurobindo Place shop, below

Helpful sign in the changing room :

4 Aurobindo Place market

Hauz Khas

New Delhi 110016

 

Phone :011-26986552

I have never told the staff, over the years I have been shopping there, that I write and blog, and obviously I buy my own clothing.

 

Personally recommended. 

 

NAIVEDYAM RESTAURANT in DELHI

This unassuming South Indian restaurant in Delhi’s Hauz Khas village is always busy at lunch-time, testimony to the delicious food, quick service and all-round nice feel.

3 of us went to Naivedyam on a boiling hot May lunch-time, relishing the cool interior and (paradoxically) the complementary glasses of piping hot, spicy rasam.  Service was friendly and prompt, the food was as delicious as it has been on every previous visit and the bill for 3 of us, who were too full to finish the crispy dosas, was less than Rs 600.

What more can you ask ?

 

 

The full 9 yards – a paper dosa.

Great address, too : 1, Hauz Khas village.  Phone numbers to reserve are on the bill (above)

ANAND PRAKASH’S PAPER PRODUCTS in DELHI

For anyone who loves paper in all its avatars – irresistible notebooks, gorgeous stationery, greetings cards, gift bags, fabulous wrapping paper – the clever, low-key, diffident Anand Prakash is your man.

Selling from his studio in Shahpurjat, Anand has everything a paper lover’s heart could desire, and then some, and all at reasonable prices.

A selection of his paper and brass products can also be found in Delhi’s Full Circle bookshops, and you can browse online at www.anandprakash.com

Particular personal favourites are cards with a design of detachable brass ear-rings, and his pretty book-marks, which make perfect presents, and which can be ordered online.

 

Anand’s studio address is :

32, First Floor, Shahpur Jat

Near Asian Games Village

New Delhi 110049

 

phone : +91 9911886677.

 

DIVA at ICC Delhi

Tucked away in the gardens of the Italian Cultural Centre in Delhi’s Chanakyapuri district, is the delightful Diva restaurant, where they serve their signature good food, as well as pizzas cooked in the outside pizza oven, and have a small, good (though pricey) wine list.

The charm of this branch of Diva is its garden setting – there is also an indoor restuarant, but the diplomats and cognoscenti who patronise the Italian Cultural Centre restaurant do so for the garden.  Sitting out under the shady trees on a summer evening, with lanterns twinkling and candles glowing, and the resident sleek cats curled up at your feet, you feel more as though you are dining at a friend’s home than in a restaurant.

A recent visit, though, revealed that the lawn has been paved over.  Undoubtedly more practical, but not half as pretty as sitting on the grass.

We had a mousse di formaggio to start with – 4 smallish pieces of toasted bread with a rather industrial-tasting mousse –  for  Rs 210.  Not to be repeated.  The excellent grilled fish with mashed potatoes will, however, be repeated – Rs 330.

Rs 1900 for a bottle of chianti classico was expensive, and the wine was fine but not breathtaking.

With taxes and service, the bill for 2 for the items described above came to Rs 3,536.

Be sure to have photo ID with you, for a serious but polite security check as you enter the ICC.

The entrance to Diva is on Chandragupta Marg.

Phone : 011-2467 4575

BUNDELKHAND RIVERSIDE ORCHHA

Revisiting Orchha, a charming medieval town in India’s Madhya Pradesh state, after a gap of 20 years, was an eye-opener.  From a sleepy one-street little village where we could only find aloo parathas to eat for lunch and no where to stay for the night, Orchha now boasts internet cafés, signs in a multitude of foreign languages, and restaurants serving espressos and pizzas.

Progress.

Where good and tangible progress has been made is in the range of accommodation now available, and it was with great pleasure that we stayed at the charming, beautifully located Bundelkhand Riverside, a short walk along the main road out of the village.

Built by the Maharajah of Orchha on land that was originally part of his hunting lodge, the hotel is prettily situated on the banks of the Betwa river. There are 27 air-conditioned rooms, many of which have small balconies overlooking the river.  A small but perfectly adequate swimming pool centred around an ancient chattri (memorial).  Good food, served on the lawn amidst spectacularly lush gardens.  Pretty little sit-outs, under ingenious tents made out of old parachutes. Amazing views from the roof terrace. Delightfully friendly and attentive service.

What is not to like in this unpretentious but very welcoming hotel ?

The entrance, above, and the pool below.

Parachutes doubling up as a shady tent.

Terrace

 

Rates are currently as below :

Contact details as below :

Personally recommended.

We stayed anonymously at the hotel, and paid our bills (just in case you were wondering).

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