Testing Reebok’s reversible running shorts

Late September & Delhi is at its worst.

Hot, humid, the fag-end of the monsoons – which explains all that heat and humidity.

So, of course, that is exactly when I decide to buy some new running trousers, and test drive them (as it were) in such an unforgiving climate.

Because I’d just bought some Reebok running shoes, I decided to try out their clothing range as well, and bought a pair of reversible running shorts –  well, more capri-length to be exact.

They are indeed reversible –  grey one side, black the other:

I have subsequently used these running shorts at least twice, if not thrice, a week since then, and 2 1/2 months on from humid September, I am every bit as pleased with them, and they show no sign of wear and tear.

They really do wick away the sweat, as advertised:

The only adjustment I made to the trousers when I bought them, was to cut off the care label, in order to make them truly reversible.  Like so:

 

It was stitched on in such a way that removing it was easy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My only cavil – I do wish there was a pocket.

I bought & paid for the trousers myself, and no-one in Reebok knows that I blog.

They cost Rs 2699 (in late September 2016).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want to buy these running shorts, you can get to Amazon very quickly, straight from this page.  Just click on either of the links below, and they’ll take you straight to their website…but, hey, you know all this stuff, right? 🙂

MYKONOS: a good Greek restaurant in New Delhi

Battling the summer heat and a long powercut in Shahpurjat, 3 of us had lunch the other day at Mykonos, a cute, refreshingly simple and natural Greek restaurant.  Sonam had eaten there once before, but Asha and I were first timers.

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The restaurant is run by a Greek lady called Anastasia, who hails from Thessalonika, and is the probably the happiest person you will meet on any given day.  She is chatty, friendly, explains the menu, cheerfully apologises for her English (the day I can speak Greek, Anastasia, then we can revisit the question) and greeted us all like long lost friends, with kisses and bearhugs.

The A/C wasn’t working for most of lunch, due to the massive powercut, so the door was propped open, and we gazed at the trees outside, and we all made a promise that we’ll be back in the winter, to eat out on the tiny balcony with a tree top vista.

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The decor is white and blue and has a refreshing seaside feel to it, which was oh-so-welcome on a hot Delhi day.

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On Anastasia’s advice, we opted for a mezze platter, and several small dishes, so we could see what we liked, and it was the correct decision.  Cool mezze were just what we needed :

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The tzakiki and humous were too delicious, and as for the pita bread…fabulous.

I enjoyed the vine leaves (below) but was less keen on the sauce which I felt overpowered them.  Next time, I’ll have just dolmades:

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The Greek salad was lovely:

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The feta has a completely delicious, different taste from locally sourced feta as do the tomatoes, which had a rich taste.

As a vegetarian, this kind of food is perfect and what I crave.

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I didn’t have the coffee, but Asha assured me it was good and strong.  Nor did I have the dessert, which my companions told me was excellent.

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We paid own bill and I did not mention that I write reviews.

Personally recommended.

And a return visit is planned.

Emerging from the by now deliciously cool European feel A/C restaurant to this view was a bit of a culture shock…but what a view.

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Weirdass Pajama Festival

At first I thought it was an age thing.

As in “I am SO old that clearly I don’t get the humour of youngsters today.”

But then I looked at my husband and another friend our age, and they looked as mystified as I did.

Then I thought, “Oh, it’s because I’m not Indian that I’m not getting the jokes.”

But then I looked at my (Indian) husband and another (Indian) friend our age, and they looked as mystified as I did.

And then I decided that the truth of the matter was the “The Weirdass Pajama Festival” at Delhi’s Siri Fort last night was, quite simply, not funny.

Crude.

Vulgar.

Scatalogical.

Expletive laden.

But not funny.

I tried my best, I really did, to “lighten up”, as my 24 year old daughter kept admonishing me to do, but whatever passed for humour onstage last night at the Siri Fort just didn’t do it for me.

The concept is as follows :

7 stand up comics take turns at insulting each other and the guest for the show, one Suhel Seth, who then gets to insult them back.

Mr. Seth sits in an armchair on a dais, while the 7 comedians lounge around on charpois, laughing uproariously at each other’s jokes.

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Mr. Seth is one of those all-embracing figures thrown up occasionally by society –  an ad man, a columnist, a commentator, a staple of every gossip column –  and, it must be said, a man who sat there and laughed uproariously as each of the 7 young comedians was incredibly rude about him, while everyone laughed uproariously around him.  Both onstage and off stage.

There was a young woman sitting behind me who said at one point, “Oh God, my jaw is aching soooo much with all this laughing”.

If you took out the F word which was in continuous use all night, and if you took out every reference to vagina, penis, boobs, balls, foetus, abortion, sperm…you see where this is going, don’t you?

If you were to extract the swearing and the constant reference to body parts, and the pelvic thrusts, you would be left with…precious little.  One or two jokes, a coupe of witty one-liners, but not much else.

To be fair, the last performer, Suresh Menon, was good at accents which was funny, as he did a parody of a popular TV talk show, imitating a range of personalities.  Clever.

Otherwise, honestly, a total waste of time and money.  But everyone else was laughing uproariously, so don’t take my word for it.

And it is a concept that takes place across the country, to packed houses, apparently, so yes, actually, don’t take my word for it.

 

Parting shot, which is absolutely nothing to do with the Weirdass Pajama youngsters, I hasten to add.

Despite hosting President Obama last week and getting an expensive makeover, so we are told, the Siri Fort Auditorium is as awful as ever.  One whole section of the balcony ended up shouting in anger & disrupting the show, because they couldn’t hear a thing –  the sound system wasn’t working.

And as for the utter chaos of the entry: one small gate with hundreds of people pushing through.  An accident /stampede just waiting to happen.  WHAT is it with India and closed gates and forcing people to push & shove their way into venues ?

And the car park & the traffic were as horrid as I had remembered.

 

But as I said, that’s Siri Fort, and nothing to do with the show.

Starbucks, Connaught Place, New Delhi

It’s taken a while, but I finally visited a Starbucks in India.

The fact that I ended up in the wrong Starbucks for my first-time meeting with a well-known author is not especially relevant to this review, other than the fact that sitting alone (in the wrong place, you remember) gave me time to observe my surroundings.

And jolly impressive they were, too.  Now please don’t take this wrongly, all ye diehard “Mera Bharaat Mahaan” people, but sitting in Starbucks in Connaught Place, you could have been anywhere in the world.  Which is what you sort of expect in a Starbucks, right?

I knew I was in India, because of the very polite service and the “Ma’am” added to every sentence, but in case of doubt, here you go:

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But what was totally un-Indian (and y’all know I love India.  Live here, remember) is the feeling of space.  It’s lovely and restful, when you find it.  And it was quiet and the cappuccino was excellent.

So all round great experience.

Too bad I was in the wrong Starbucks for my meeting.

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India_Starbucks_8891Oh yes.

Price.

Rs 147 for a very generously sized cappuccino.  Not bad at all.

MOGAMBO, a classic Kolkata restaurant

It’s been a while since I was last in Kolkata, which was known as Calcutta then. That’s how long it has been, and then some.

On a fabulous journey of re-discovery last week, we checked out one of the old time classics of this great city –  Mogambo.  It has a delightfully retro feel to it –  just the way I remember the India of the early 80s, before the economy opened up and everything flooded in, good, bad & indifferent.  Mogambo has staff with turbans, and booths in which you sit, and little red reading lights, and it’s all fabulous, starting with the menu and its running commentary on the food:

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I had the Fish a la Diana as it so happened, and yes it was rich, with all that cream, but it was delicious.  And a huge serving too :

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Our friend Sue had the grilled fish which she also pronounced delicious :

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And hubby dearest, who is a bit of a steak-aholic, had the Irish Beef Steak.  Yet again, pronounced delicious and (for once) cooked exactly as ordered –  very rare.

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All in all, a good lunch, reasonable prices, good service.  Could’ve done with MRP for the water and Coke, but perhaps that’s not how it’s done in Bengal?

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bill Mogambo

 

Recommended, for the ambience and also for the food, which is good and hearty.  I didn’t tell anyone that I blog and write reviews, and we paid our bill.

Himalayan Trout House in Nagini Village, Himachal Pradesh

We have just returned from yet another delightful stay at the Himalayan Trout House, a cute lodge in Nagini village, run by Shefali & Christopher Mitra, who (in the interests of full disclosure) have now become friends, rather than simply lodge-owners.

I am a little unsure how many times we have stayed with Shef and Christopher – 6,7,8 times? – and we are the newbies in our fishing group, some of whom have been staying there for 14 years.  So this is a long, happy relationship.

The lodge, as the name implies, caters for trout fishermen, who are drawn to the lovely Tirthan Valley and its clean rushing waters, but there is no “requirement” to fish.  I have never touched a fishing rod in my life, but am still made to feel welcome and at home there.  And that is the key to the success and charm of this little hotel –  you never actually feel as though you are staying in a hotel, but rather as a very welcome guest in someone’s home.  The dogs flop, there is a fire in the chilly evenings, people drop by for a drink, for lunch, for a chat, and in the evening Christopher gets out his guitar and a sing-song inevitably follows.

When we arrived at the Trout House last week, after a beautiful drive up through the hills, there were 3 other groups staying there, 2 of whom we had met there last year, so it was more like a reunion than anything else.  Hugs all round.  Exclaim how the children have grown in a year.  Greet the gillies, all local boys. Admire the new kitchen extension.  And then sit round the fire with a glass of wine and catch up on the news.

For fishermen, there is all the infrastructure you need, including the possibility of lessons, of renting equipment, of buying any flies you need, and of course, there are the knowledgable gillies.  You need a licence to fish, but Christopher does all the paperwork for you.

For non-fisherfolk like me, there are long walks to be had, along the narrow road that connects the little villages, strung our along the valley.  Walking through the villages is a pleasure –  especially if you live in an aggressive city like Delhi, as I do.  People greet you, children wish you “namaste’ automatically, the local bus driver slows down and waves.  A delight.

Or you stretch out in the eating/general hang-out area and read the afternoon away, with only the sound of the river for company.

 

There is a range of accommodation (check their website for details), and we have stayed in almost all the rooms over the years, and they are uniformly cosy, spotlessly clean, and with great bathrooms.  On our first visit there (in 2007) we even stayed in a tent, with Ready the family dog barging his way in every night and sleeping with us, too…I swear Ready remembered me when we arrived last week.  As well he should.

The food is home cooked and delicious.  To be honest, I cannot tell you too much about the variety of the menu because I have the same thing for dinner every night, year in, year out –  trout.  Too delicious.

Even though the trout fishing season is drawing to a close for this year, the lodge stays open until December, and re-opens in March, when we fully intend to return.

Cannot praise this charming place, and the even more charming Shefali and Christopher, too highly.

Personally recommended, over many years.  (And in case you were wondering, no, the Mitras do not know I have written this review.  I know they read my personal blog, but the subject of this review blog has never arisen with them.)

And obviously we always pay our own bills.

Oh yes, there’s wifi too.

For rates, bookings, any further info, check their website.

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India. Himachal Pradesh state. Tirthan Valley.

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India. Himachal Pradesh state. Tirthan Valley.

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Re-visiting Bon Appetit, Leh, Ladakh

Last year, I ate at and enthusiastically reviewed a delightful restaurant called “Bon Appetit” in Leh, high up in the Indian Himalayas.

In Ladakh this year, once again acclimatising for a 6000m+ climb, I spent quite a lot of time alone in Leh, and inevitably found my way to “Bon Appetit” several days for lunch.  I know there are many new places to visit in Leh, but working on the if it’s not broke, then don’t fix it principle, I knew from last year that I could get a fabulous salad there, if nothing else.  Plus delicious al dente pasta.  Plus it’s quiet.  Plus the views are gorgeous.  Plus the loo is spotless.

And this year they have free wifi.

What’s not to love?

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Every day I had virtually the same thing, oh unadventurous soul that I am : either a tomato and rucola salad (same price as last year) or the mushroom and chive pasta (Rs 20 more than last year).

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One day I branched out and tried the spinach and ricotta gnocchi which was OK, but not rave-worthy.

Most days I ended up having delicious local seabuckthorn juice, and always served in a recycled beer bottle, for some reason.

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Frequent power cuts meant, sadly, that I didn’t get to have as many iced coffees as I would have liked.

The last time I went there for lunch, the day I staggered back into Leh after 17 days camping and climbing, the charming waiter told me that they had had no power for 2 days –  so no iced coffee and no classical music piped quietly in the background.  But fresh salad…

Some trekkers I met told me they found “Bon Appetit” too expensive.  It’s not cheap, but the food is delicious, the service lovely and quiet and unhassle-y, and you can while away many calm hours there.

Enthusiastically re-recommended.

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Hotel Omasila – a delightful hotel in Leh, Ladakh

Having just returned from a pretty epic visit to Ladakh, including trekking, climbing, a debilitating bout of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and quite a lot of time on my own, acclimatising, I can safely say that the pretty, well-situated Hotel Omasila was a perfect base for all my adventures.

And for some weary downtime, too.

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What marked this hotel out from the other Leh hotels I have used over the years is its  genuine friendliness and warmth.  Every member of staff,  from the gentle Ladakhi owners, to the waiters and those dear strong ladies who heft bags up and down the stairs for exhausted climbers like yours truly – every single member of staff was kind, welcoming and considerate.

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Lovely chat one morning with the owner about flowers and politics and life in Leh and lots, lots more…

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Knocked pretty sideways by AMS, I returned to Leh alone, ahead of the rest of my climbing team, and the hotel staff couldn’t have been sweeter. They carried my luggage up to my room***, offered me tea, clucked over my sunburned face, and promised to hand over a padlock and key for the luggage I abandoned on the mountain for my teammates to bring down.
The single biggest plus that this hotel has – other than location – is an utterly gorgeous garden, with killer views. Shanti stupa. Stok Kangri. You name it, you can see it from the Omasila garden, and I spent many a happy afternoon there, reading and sipping tea in the shade of a tree.

 

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The rooms are OK size wise.

The bathrooms are also fine. Adequate but fine.

Food is copious.  I turned up late one day for lunch, having slept through my sickness, and yet they served me food, way after hours.

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But it is the kindness and the gentleness of the staff, and those views, that makes the Omasila hotel such a great place.

 

*** such a contrast with the hotel where I stayed last year…http://christinesreviews.com/2014/07/hotel-royal-ladakh-in-leh-ladakh/

These things really do count…

 

Personally recommended.  Contact the hotel (details below) for rates.

 

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And if you would like “my” view of Stok Kangri, ask for Room No.3…doesn’t get much better…

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Testing the Tata Zest

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Tata Motors is promoting its soon-to-be launched ZEST in a unique way, creating waves through social media.  50 bloggers were invited,via Blogadda.com. to test drive both the automatic and manual versions of this zippy, peppy car over a monsoon weekend in Goa, and I was one of these lucky folk.

 

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Let me state my credentials upfront.

I am not a car specialist at all, but I am a regular driver, and have been for many years.

I drive –  all the time, every day –  in Delhi where I live.

I drive myself, so safety and security will always be a consideration in looking at any car.

And obviously, fuel efficiency will always be a consideration.

 

After master classes and interaction with the designers and technicians from Tata, who were totally and enthusiastically passionate about this car to a woman/man, we were divided into groups of 3 bloggers and allocated 2 cars per group – the diesel automatic transmission Quadrajet 1.3 and the petrol manual transmission 1.2L Revotron 1.2T.

The idea was that we would all drive each car for 1/3 of the time, but as, essentially, the only driver in my test group, I was lucky enough to have the full 2 hour experience, and so got a pretty good feel for these 2 cars.

The impressive array of ZESTs waiting for us all to drive them away :

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Our first test drive was the ZEST diesel automatic transmission Quadrajet 1.3, and a very smooth easy drive it was, too.

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The car felt very peppy and handled the roads well. It had rained overnight, there were crowds in most villages, as people poured out of Sunday Mass, but braking and slowing down were seamless and smooth.  Overtaking was easy, and the car always felt firm.  Both versions of the ZEST held the road well, and all the time I felt completely safe in the the car (and that is a compliment to the car, I hasten to add, nothing to do with my driving.)

I had a bit of an issue starting both the cars, in as much as you need to depress the brake to start. There is nothing remotely rocket-science-y about this at all, simply a question of old habits die hard, and I kept forgetting.

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Since I was doing the driving, I let my co-bloggers do all the testing of the sound system, the air conditioning, and all the other features, especially the flagship Connectnext system. Their feedback was largely favourable, though to be brutally honest, we battled with the voice commands. You are supposed to be able to control the infotainment system through voice controls, which is a brilliant concept, but we couldn’t figure out how to get it going, which was a disappointment.  I was so looking forward to issuing orders to an on-board “gofer” but sadly it didn’t happen.  Perhaps it was us, the good folk of group D3 who were at fault, but we just couldn’t get the voice controls to work.

I found the diesel automatic transmission Quadrajet 1.3 to be a restful drive, but perhaps not as zippy as the manual version, and there is, of course, also the diesel vs petrol aspect.

When I switched, an hour later, to the petrol manual transmission 1.2L Revotron 1.2T, there was unquestionably more zip under the bonnet.

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We fairly flew along the pretty lanes and through the colourful villages, and the manual version has the amazing feature of being able to switch modes, while driving, simply by pressing a button. From city to eco to sport, we experimented with transiting these modes, and there was a definite difference.

Starting out in city mode, when I switched to sport, there was a noticeable thrust, and for a fleeting moment, as I barrelled along a gorgeous tree-shaded Goan lane, I felt like Narain Karthikeyan, who had made an exciting guest appearance at our masterclass the previous evening. OK, I exaggerate a tad, but all the same, the car fairly flew down the road.

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When we tested the Eco programme, the car felt a little more sluggish, but what I obviously do not know is the fuel economy involved, but it was no doubt considerable, and I’m sure this feature will be a definite selling point.

Most of the time, though, we drove in city mode, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, the petrol manual transmission 1.2L Revotron 1.2T handled well, felt very smooth, and –  well, quite simply, nice and easy to drive.  This is probably not a very “techy” type description, but both cars felt safe and reliable.

Overall, great car, and I had a positive feeing about both versions.

Niggles ?

All little ones :

1) The horn in the manual was way harder to depress than in the automatic model.  Sadly, in the current Indian driving context, one needs to use the horn…

2) After one pit stop, my passenger forgot to put his seat belt on, and there was no warning sound/light.

3)  The buttons to change from city->eco->sport are down low, to the left of the steering wheel, and since it is only the driver who will use these controls, I would have preferred them to be at driver-eye-height, not necessitating taking one’s eyes off the road to access them.

Good car.

Looking forward it seeing how this nice-looking car does once it is released.

For more information, check out the ZEST website.

Our first car was fitted with a GoPro camera, which was fun, and (I have to be honest here) we all enjoyed chatting (and perhaps hamming it up a wee bit) for the camera.

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Total bead heaven in Delhi

As I fossicked through the hundreds of necklaces and beads and yet more necklaces in Lall’s in Delhi’s Sunder Nagar, I remarked to Catriona, my fellow fossicker, that the shop reminded me of Lurgan Sahib’s antique shop in “Kim” –  only with electricity. Remove the lighting from Lall’s, and without too much imagination you could be in Lurgan Sahib’s amazing treasure house, sifting through mounds of objects and statues and jewellery from all over India.

Catriona had taken me to Lall’s especially to look at their Naga jewellery, and that was to be the beginning of an afternoon spent looking longingly through amazing necklaces, literally trunks loads of them, and we never even got started on the fabrics and the statues and the bronzes….

A true modern day treasure house, worthy of Rudyard Kipling.  Except it’s air-conditioned.

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The tribal jewellery from the North East –  especially Nagaland – is what fascinated me, and there are some truly lovely things on offer.  And, oh joy of joys, they mostly have price tags, which makes a poor haggler like me feel instantly more relaxed :

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See, I told you, price tags (below).

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And when I said there are trunks full of treasures, I bet you didn’t believe me…

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There are statues and fabrics and brass objects and…and…and…

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The staff were polite and (another joy of joys) totally un-pushy.  I can’t abide shops where the salesmen try and entice you in, and then follow you round the shop, stuck to you like iron filings to a magnet.  Nothing like that here.

I didn’t tell them that I blog and write reviews.

Obviously we shopped.  And obviously we paid our own bills.

A good find.  To be re-fossicked.

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They take credit cards but, like so many shops in Delhi, charge you an extra % for using them.