Is The Great Gatsby better in 3D?

This is an entirely loaded question, of course, simply because I cannot see things properly in 3D.  It’s a long story, but basically I have pretty weird eyesight and so all those jazzy effects of 3D are a complete waste of time and space as far as I am concerned.

Which begs the question as to why I booked tickets to see “The Great Gatsby” in 3D of course.  Actually, is it even showing in Delhi in 2D?

To answer your question – it was a mistake.

Anyway, there we were in the fabulously expensive Director’s Cut in PVR –  yes, I know, I know, adding insult to injury – when I discovered the horrid truth.  That those stained glasses (really Director’s Cut.  Really ?  Rs 700 a ticket and mucky 3D glasses) so, those (greasy) 3D glasses were going to be redundant.

The last movie I saw in 3D – also by mistake –  was “Avatar” and I was bitterly disappointed, because all the colours looked dull.  I later watched it normally, in 2D, and hey presto the colours were fab.

This time, I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything on the colour front, as the film didn’t look dark, and I kept taking off the glasses to compare, and it all looked jolly bright.  And I didn’t find the 3D effect as much of a spoil sport this time round.

I enjoyed the film, loved the clothes  – oh, the clothes –  loved Leonardo diCaprio, who is such a great actor, and so, no, I don’t think I missed too much.  Snowflakes and the great dancing by the pool scene, my girlfriend told me, were brilliant 3D moments, so if that’s all I missed, then it wasn’t too bad, then.

But I’ll definitely check the papers more carefully next time.

My favourite moments of The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I hadn’t read the book, though I know I should have.  Have to read it by next week for my Delhi book club, as it so happens, but this review is all about the film.

I loved it –  it is visually fabulous with photography to die for, and filmed with such compassion and open-mindedness, that you leave the cinema feeling moved and saddened at the alienation, yet fully understanding why.

There is little point spoiling your enjoyment of the film by telling you the plot, but suffice it to say it charts the reluctant transformation of an intelligent westernised Pakistani living the American dream who is singled out, questioned, and ultimately alienated by the country he loves, all in the tragic aftermath of 9/11.

So, my best moments ?

1)  Every single visual moment of the film.  The photography/videography is gorgeous, lush, sweeping – oh, every adjective you can summon up.  There is a slightly retro feel to it, and the air of genteel dilapidation that hangs over so many of our subcontinental monuments was brilliantly captured.

2) The music, especially the utterly, thrillingly fabulous “Kangna” which I have promptly downloaded and have been playing non-stop all morning.

I am trying this out for the first time –  giving you a link to an audio clip – so let’s hope this works.

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3) The warmth of Pakistan, which translates just as easily into the warmth of India, where I live.  I loved the moment when Changez goes for chai in the US.  Very moving.

4) The innate dignity and grace of the Pakistanis vs the brasher Americans.

5)  Om Puri, whose acting I have loved for years, asking about his son’s career.

6) Love love love the newcomer, Meesha Shafi.  OK OK, I stand corrected – Ms Shafi is terribly well-known but she is a newcomer to Hollywood, at least, and she dazzles and I wanted to see more of her.

(And, how thrilling –  I googled her, and found out that she will be in the soon to be released Bollywood film “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag”, in which I will be a blink and you miss extra)

And out of all of these fave moments, if I had to choose just one – oh, without a moment’s hesitation “Kangna”.  Too fabulous.

Where can I find a good vet in Delhi?

If you live in south Delhi and need a good vet (silly phrase, really – who would want an indifferent vet? but anyway, you take my point), so, if you need a good vet, rest assured that there is an excellent practice in Anand Niketan, run by the kind and indefatigable husband and wife team of Dr. Choudhary and Dr. Choudhary.

These two caring and gentle souls run a busy but always personal clinic.  They remember the name of each and every animal that crosses their threshold, and they are super efficient and proficient.

They also handle the shipping of pets, usually for expats who are being transferred, but they also are ardent carers of Delhi’s sadly burgeoning population of street dogs, and arrange for the adoption of these abandoned animals, often overseas.

The only danger you run in going to see the good Drs. Choudhary is being gently arm-twisted into adopting a street dog !

Seriously, they treat my menagerie, and when we recently had to put my old cat to sleep, they could not have been more gentle and caring.  When your vet cries with you, you know you are in good loving hands.

Totally, 100% personally recommended.

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All their various contact details are shown below.

 

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The fantastic Sanskriti Museums, New Delhi

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A visit to the Sanskriti Kendra on the outskirts of Delhi wasn’t quite on my bucket list, I have to be honest, but it was, nevertheless, something I had been intending to do for years.

So an organised, guided walk through the 3 museums that are housed in the Sanskriti Kendra was an opportunity not to be missed.  The location is absolutely gorgeous –  you turn off MG Road, under one of the metro pillars and enter a different world.  Greenery, gorgeous trees, watered lawns –  such a treat in a city that otherwise often resembles a noisy, permanently dusty building site.

There is a calmness and tranquility about the Sanskriti Kendra that is instantly relaxing.

This amazing place, the brainchild of Mr O.P. Jain, houses his personal collection, and contains 3 museums – the Museum of Everyday Art, the Museum of Indian textiles and the Museum of Indian Terracotta.

You can take photos in the latter but not the other two, so the illustrations below are all of the wonderful terracotta collection.

All 3 collections are fascinating, and are well displayed.  Exhibits are well lit, there are good explanatory panels, and the whole things was a joy.

And, can you believe it, it is free.

The terracotta collection is housed in rooms that are built like village huts, and you wander from state to state, as it were, seeing the different styles and traditions :

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Let me end with this adorable roof tile, below, from Orissa.  It’s their version of a scarecrow, meant to keep predators away from the grain stored in the loft.

Fabulous, right ?

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Check the website – www.sanskritifoundation.org –  for opening times, and a location map.

Kaya Kalp The Royal Spa, ITC Mughal Agra

I feel as though I am trying to reinvent the wheel somewhat here.

How does one review a spa that is already so fabulously awarded and praised and accoladed?

What can one say that is new or different ?

But my time in the Kaya Kalp Spa at the ITC’s gorgeous hotel ITC Mughal in Agra was so good, and the spa really is every bit as fabulous as one has been told, that praise is mandatory.

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These are just a few of their awards on display.

Their list is seriously impressive :

…Best City Spa…Best Resort Spa…Best Luxury Hotel Spa…Favourite Hotel Spa…and many, many more…

You can perhaps understand my dilemma in trying to say something new ?

Anyway, here goes.

A sort of disclaimer here, before I start : I was the guest of ITC at the ITC Mughal.

But that fact does not, in my book, alter the fact that the charming young Thai girl who massaged me for 90 blissful minutes was amazingly good, very competent, discreet, efficient and charming. Invitee or not, she would have been as good a masseuse to anyone, I am convinced.

And being an invited guest alters absolutely nothing as far as the beauty of the spa is concerned.

It truly is jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

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Kaya Kalp The Royal Spa is, first of all, huge.  As in huge. The spa alone covers more than 99,000 square feet, and includes a beautiful exclusive pool :

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It includes lovely sit outs :

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The treatment rooms are sumptuous.

Truly.  Trust me. They are gorgeous.

Actually, they are not rooms at all, but rather luxurious suites.

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Kaya Kalp the Royal Spa is the largest in India, but the personal touch is omnipresent. Debbie, the charming young British manager was as sweet and accommodating as one could wish, even though we were running late for our scheduled treatments. Every young lady we met was artlessly polite and – if it doesn’t sound silly – relaxing, They were all so gentle and soft spoken that you could not help but relax.

The striking decor in the spa, featuring a red pomegranate theme, is all part of the hotels’s tribute to the Mughals, who have so marked Agra. It was Babar, according to tradition, who brought the pomegranate with him to India, and this theme- plus the use of water channels running through the spa – is a delightful recreation of a past era.

I had a massage using ginger and lime which sounded almost good enough to eat. It is the spa’s signature massage and was amazing. I almost drifted off to sleep, and left the treatment room feeling refreshed and tingly and oh-so-relaxed.

Would I recommend this spa to a friend ?

Absolutely.

Would I return there, on a future visit to Agra?

Absolutely.

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How is the resumed helicopter service in Arunachal Pradesh?

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After 2 fatal accidents in 2011, Pawan Hans’ chopper services in India’s north eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh were suspended.

Services were resumed on 24 January 2013 when a spanking new helicopter was inaugurated, and I was lucky enough to fly from Naharlagun to Guwahati on just the 2nd day of operations.  I believe it was only the second flight, too, so all in all, very exciting.

The flight was fabulous, the views were amazing, the service was charming and –  the ultimate –  at Rs3000 each, it cost 2 of us less than the Rs7k we had paid for our taxi from Guwahati to Naharlagun the previous week.  (Perhaps we were rooked on the cab fare, but that’s another issue.)

You save so much time by taking the chopper – and in our particular case, we more importantly avoided the risk of a bandh in Assam, which was the real motivator for flying.

Wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Obviously on the second day of ops, the chopper was shiny new and spotlessly clean.

Great experience.

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For flight schedules, check online.  Currently one day a week is off for maintenance.

A sneak peek at the soon-to-be launched Tata Vista D90

I was one of the lucky ones, asked to drive and report back on the yet-to-be-launched Tata Vista D90, and so for the last 3 days, I have had my hands on a pristine, brick red, brand new, shiny new car, mine to drive around Delhi as I wish.  All that was asked of me was my feed-back, which is easily done.

It’s a super little car, zippy, roomy and perfect for city driving.

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Now despite having driven for aeons, I am not especially technically knowledgeable about cars beyond the basic essentials, so I decided to test the Vista D90 by subjecting it to 3 days of my normal Delhi routine.  Lots of quick trips here and there.  Far too many long, noisy, ill-tempered traffic jams.  And the eternal quest for a parking slot.  And in all these 3 areas, the car scored a perfect 10.

The Vista D90 handles well, accelerates brilliantly and moves with speed, all the time feeling safe and secure.  I was able to zoom ahead when the traffic lights changed, overtake quickly and safely, and sudden braking (tested while we were later filming) was easy and without ever making me feel the car was anything but stable. In 3 days of test-driving, I didn’t actually need to brake suddenly, thank goodness, so the braking was admittedly deliberately tested.  I was filmed driving today, some of which involved my coming to a screeching halt just in front of the (brave) cameraman, and so I know how smoothly and swiftly the car brakes.  Equally, the pick up is fantastic.

So, the Vista D90 passed the Delhi driving tests, as far as I am concerned.

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Next, the traffic jams. How did the car perform in them ? The Vista D90 is comfortable inside, has a great sound system, has an integrated Bluetooth phone on the dashboard, which meant that during the long jams on the BRT I could catch up on calls –  and since everything is hands free, it is 100% safe.

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There are controls for the phone and the music system on the steering wheel, which makes complete safety sense.  You can pair up to 5 mobiles, there is a USB port, there are cup holders, so there is everything you need to entertain you while (hopefully) driving but also while you are stuck in traffic.

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My 3rd testing criterion ?  Parking.  Since the car is neat and compact, finding parking was not an issue.  I was, however, terrified that someone would scratch my on-loan car.  No one did, though I did encounter one man who stared so long and hard at the car that he nearly toppled off his bike.  We also encountered an elephant on our first trip, but since I was driving I couldn’t take a photo to prove it.

There are some useful touches and features :

a pen holder in the glove compartment, which means you don’t have to scrabble to find one.

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the heated rear window, which really came into its own in the bitter Delhi cold.

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the alarm that sounds if you try to close the door with the ignition key still in.

the alarm that sounds if the driver doesn’t belt up within a few seconds.

immediate automatic locking

I very much liked the fact that the Vista D90 is quite high off the ground, with good wide visibility. I felt more elevated than many other cars on the road, and there was no blind-spot.

Conclusion ?

The car is nice looking, comfortable to drive, feels very safe, and is roomy inside.

I have only one teensy quibble.  There is literally no space at all to the left of the clutch, which means you tend to leave your foot on the clutch by default.

But that’s it.

Otherwise I loved driving “my” Vista D90 and felt a real pang when, filming over, I had to hand it back.

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Where to get coloured cables for Apple products in India

It’s not rocket science, but the first time I saw a display of coloured iPhone/iPad/iPod cables, it was something of a revelation.

Move over classic same-as-everyone-else’s white cables and chargers, and enter a range of bright, jolly, indivdual colours.

There is the added incentive that these might well mark the end of one of the many little squabbles that dog a home full of dedicated Apple users.

Trying to mark my territory over my chargers and cables, I had taken to sticking on labels with my initials (confusingly CAP), but different colours makes much better sense.

So for Christmas that’s what my son did.  From ebay India he bought us all different colours.

I am red, fyi.

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Cheap AND cheerful.
Thoroughly recommended.

Where to buy jewellery in Old Delhi

Shopping in the crowded tiny lanes in India’s Old Delhi is amazing fun but can be a tad overwhelming.

There are so many people, it is so noisy and crowded, and you are spoiled for choice.

If you are shopping for trinkets or buttons or beads or ribbons or gift bags or any other of the wonderful things you can find in Old Delhi, then the worst that you risk is paying a couple of rupees more in one tiny shop than you would have done in another.

If you are in the market for jewellery or for gem stones, however, then the stakes (and the risks) are more substantial.

And that is why the cognoscenti beat a path to the following address in Old Delhi :

Ask for the Jain Temple, and the shop is in an old haveli in the same tiny little lane where the temple is.

This lane is famous for its row of prettily painted old houses, and is an oasis of quiet.  The temple is also delightful, so the whole trip is well worth your while.
Ashish Nahar and his father are courteous, welcoming, and have a huge range of jewellery and loose stones.

The latter are a particular favourite of mine – bags of topaz and amethyst are offered for you to select the stones you want, and their quality is excellent, their prices good, and their reputation impeccable.

A real find.

Personally recommended.

Where to eat good Polish food in London ?

Our London based friends were already great fans of GESSLER AT DAQUISE, a Polish restaurant in South Ken, and so at their suggestion,  off we headed, the 4 of us, on a lovely summer evening.

The restaurant has been in London since the 1940s, and the slightly faded, old-fashioned decor pays hommage to that fact – in the nicest possible way.  There is what one imagines to be an authentic whiff of old Warsaw what with the bistro setting, the large wooden table for serving, the mirrors – I loved the ambience.

The service was attentive and kind, and actually rather stylish, which is not a word one uses much these days for waiters, is it?  Again, a a slightly old-fashioned feel to it, which is very welcoming.

The young Indian sous-chef who served our food at the table was thrilled to talk about India and speak Hindi with us, and couldn’t have been more charming.

And now to the food, where I have to say up front that I wasn’t as thrilled by the food as my 3 carnivorous companions, simply because I am not a carnivore.  I am essentially a vegetarian although I do eat fish, which left me with Hobson’s choice on the solidly meat-based menu.  There was one cold fish starter, one warm fish starter and one main dish.  Not one single vegetarian offering.

As I said, Hobson’s choice.

I had the cod (below), because there was nothing else, and though the accompaniments were delicious the fish was very cod-y.  Rather heavy and rather dull and I left most of it. (And no-one asked me why, which was a little odd, given the otherwise attentive service)

I did try the herring (below) from my friend Eden’s tasting menu (and the staff kindly gave me an extra piece) and that  – on the contrary –  was absolutely delicious.  Thick and tasty and served with all kinds of lovely stuff on the side – fab thick cream, for example.

The duck was declared delicious, and it looked pretty good, even to a non meat-eater.

The tasting menu and the beef were both also declared to be a triumph.

I also had a taste of Eden’s beetroot & dumpling soup, (above) from the tasting menu : very good, and such a new, interesting taste.  And such a fab colour.

Moral of the story ?

Head to GESSLER AT DAQUISE if you love meat, and what I can only call authentic-looking food, served in generous portions.

I found £150 for 4 a tad pricey, but I am way out of touch with London prices, so who knows ?

 

 

 

gessleratdaquise.co.uk