This review is different, since it is a guest post by a Twitter friend?/acquaintance?/cyber-friend? –  well, anyway, someone with whom I chat and tweet online. His Twitter handle is @alltough, and last month, he tweeted a review of a Delhi restaurant, which caught my eye.

@alltough tweeted in a series of posts – for those of you who don’t tweet, you are limited to the numbers of characters per tweet.

This review, sentence by sentence and photo by photo, appealed to me enormously as it unfolded slowly in cyber-space, and so I asked @alltough if he would guest post for me.

Here is his review.


A pictorial tribute to an exquisite fusion dinner that was indulged in at the Indian Accent restaurant on March 28, 2012 based in the Manor Hotel in 77, New Friends Colony. The meal was prepared by the friendly Chef Manish Mehrotra that evening for a table of five. For their menu online, click here:

  1. Went to the Indian Accent at the Manor Hotel last evening. Had never heard of it before but now I won’t stop raving about it for a few days.
  2. Had the most delicious little parathas stuffed with blue cheese as an appetiser. I think, I can safely recommend, it is worth dying for it.
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    Too much naatak; too little to eat – a cheese ball hung over a slender cup filled with shorba. I couldn’t dunk it
  4. Items on menu have a slight Indian twist to it hence the name. the chef came to our table & explained the aesthetics of his presentation.
  5. most fine dining places can be quite snobbish but this one had the friendliest staff. They make you feel at home. not everything is priced.
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    The chef sent this to our table as a complimentary item:  enjoyed the tangy chilli strawberry dip but ignored liver
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    The famous Pao Bhaji at Indian Accent
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    veggies wrapped in thin paneer was ordered for a starter but I think I could order three more and make it a mains
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    It took time for us to touch this one because nobody had the heart to destroy the way it looked. Potato chaat
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    This was a strict no-no for me. I pretended it wasn’t there. some part of a goat’s ankle many will relish
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    crisp Mexican rotis stuffed with chicken gravy (naming whatever I like as I don’t remember menu) this was delish
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    I could have died & gone to heaven if I had eaten the whole thing. Prawns on a bed of thick Goan rice. Must have
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    Some very exotic fish whose name I can’t be bothered with. With fried lotus roots. Again, nice mellow flavour.
  14. The names on the menu were simple but long and without any added adjectives like ‘creamy’, ‘smooth’ and ‘spicy’, but staff use it liberally.
  15. dessert was strictly okay. Fancy names but I was too stuffed to change the way my palate felt. Order assorted stuff & share in a small group
  16. Indian Accent is in the Manor Hotel in New Friends Colony (West) at #77. Make a reservation. Good experimental food and great service. Go.
  17. We paid for our food. My hosts loved it so much they asked the unassuming celebrity chef to come to South Africa and open one there. #Delhi
  18. That was a restaurant review in 16 tweets. Must storify. Thank you, ladies & gentlemen. You may now resume with your work day. Bon appetit!

Where to stay in Varanasi

Arriving at the JUKASO GANGES HOTEL by boat, on a first time ever visit to Varansi was spectacular.

As we made our way downstream from Raj Ghat, the exciting panorama of life along the Ganges unfolding before our eyes, we slowed down in front of an elegant building, snugly fitting in between Ganesh Ghat and Bhosale Ghat, and set a little bit back from the river.

Our hotel.

The Hotel only opened in early 2012, and indeed not all of the planned 15 rooms were ready at the time of our visit (1-3 April 2012), but the hotel promises to be a little jewel when it is completed.

Our rooms were deliciously cool (a blessed relief from the 40C temperatures), well appointed, and those facing the river have views to die for.  Good bathrooms.

The staff couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful, staying up late and serving us dinner without a murmur when we returned after 10.30pm one evening, ladened with shopping after a long foray into the bazaars.

Any little glitches –  and they were only little ones –  were dealt with promptly.

The location of the hotel  –  quite a distance up river from the main Assi Ghat area –  means either walking or taking a boat to go down to the busier ghats.  It also means the hotel is quieter.  The walk along the river is fascinating, along a wide, well maintained walkway, and to go up and down the Ganges by boat is a total delight.  Just tell the hotel, and they will arrange a boat whenever you need it.

The only possible criticism –  though that is too strong a word – would be the location of the restaurant.

The restaurant is very small, and located on the top floor, involving a climb up 2 flights of stairs (the lift only goes up to the 3rd floor, so the occupants of the 2 rooms on the 4th floor always have an extra floor to climb).  I doubt the restuarant could hold all guests at the same time, once the hotel is running at full capacity, because that would ideally be 30 covers.

The chef told us that in the winter some guests will be able to eat on the outdoor terrace, which has an admittedly fabulous view.

But there are monkeys, so that issue will have to be tackled.

Despite air conditioning and a fan, the restaurant was very hot, mainly because the large picture windows have no curtains or blinds, so the summer sun was beating down remorselessly. Chick blinds are a must.

But this comment apart, our stay was an utter delight.

The proof of the pudding ?  We made reservations to return in the winter.


The  timing of my visit to the Hockney exhibition could not have been better. An early weekday morning, and the weather was grey, windy, piercingly cold, with a hint of snow. London at her most miserably winterish.

The contrast between the freezing grey outside and the explosion of colour inside the Royal Academy was electric. Just walking into the first gallery was like a dose of warmth and sunshine.

Today was my Road to Damascus moment as far as David Hockney is concerned.

I knew a little of his work – “A Bigger Splash”, obviously, and some of those extraordinary photo collages of the Grand Canyon, but, to my shame, not much else.

To my eternal shame, I didn’t even know know Mr. Hockney is a fellow Tyke.

But this morning, if a fairy godmother had waved her magic wand and given me enough money (and ginormous walls) I would have bought every single painting there, so bowled over was I by the work of this wonderful talent.

Wandering round the galleries full of colour and happiness made me feel happy. I know I had a daft, dippy expression, smiling at people –  but then again, everyone else looked happy too, and smiled back, and chatted, so obviously I was not alone, in the feel-good stakes.

I have frequently been moved by seeing a particular masterpiece – the Madonna of the Rocks last week, for example at the Leonardo Exhibition at the National Gallery –  but never have I felt so incredibly happy at an exhibition.

And never have I felt so ridiculously proud of being a Yorkshire(wo)man.  There, I’ve said it.  True, I have never actually seen my native west Yorkshire looking as riotously colourful and vibrant as Mr. Hockney’s landscapes, but I have seen the hedgerows full of meadow sweet and hawthorn bushes that he so eloquently paints, in the countryside I remember as a child.

Favourites from amongst these amazing pictures ?

The effect of all those canvases in “The arrival of spring in Woldgate East Yorkshire in 2011 (twenty eleven)” was amazing – an array of fabulous little details of grass and flowers and shadows and leaves, all contributing to a stupendous whole.

And as for those films (digital video) –  utterly glorious and I laughed out loud during the dancing, as did my neighbours in the projection room, and when Mr. Hockney appeared, brandishing a mug, lots of people applauded.

The exhibition is a delight.  An utterly delightful treat for the senses and the soul.

I am cross with myself that I have wasted so many years of my life not knowing enough about David Hockney : today I became a total and utter adoring fan.

Mr. Hockney’s talent and exuberance and mastery of so many media is impressive.  Damn it, why can’t I do such amazing things with my iPad ?

Entry to the exhibition costs £14, and you really do need to book.  I was incredibly lucky, walking by yesterday afternoon and being told I could go straight in, or choose whatever time I wanted, but I understand that booking online isn’t quite as easy.

I opted for the first time slot, 10am, when the Royal Academy opens, and by the time I left, it was getting quite crowded, so I would advise the earlier the better.

There is more merchandise in the shop than you can shake a stick at, but if you buy only one thing, let it be the catalogue.  It’s heavy, and at £29.95 it’s expensive, but it is well, well worth it.

A safe, reliable choice for lunch in Delhi – Basil & Thyme

If you are looking for a safe, reliable, air-conditioned, relaxing place for lunch in Delhi (and come to think of it, who isn’t ?) then look no further than the little restaurant tucked into the far corner of the Santushti Shopping Complex.

Welcome to Basil & Thyme.

A favourite haunt of ladies who lunch and foreigners shopping at Santushti’s elegant shops, Basil & Thyme serves consistently good, Western food.

Lots of quiches, salads, pasta, crepes.   Divine olive pate.

No alcohol.

Good puddings.

OK coffee.

Delicious ginger fizz, which is a lurid bubble-gum pink, but refreshing.

It’s not that cheap, I warn you – well, I think Rs 125 (+ VAT) is a lot for a small coffee.

Having said that, it’s a relaxing place to eat in one of Delhi’s cutest and quietest shopping centres.


Here is our recent bill for 3 people :



Hauz Khas village, a popular arty enclave in New Delhi, India, is changing at the speed of light.

My first visit in 2 months, and lo and behold, I now have to pay for parking.  But to be fair, the muddy sidewalk is now paved over, so I suppose one mustn’t crib at paying Rs10 to park there.

I went with one of the city’s better known food writers and critics, for a casual getting-to-know-each-other lunch in Flipside, a new café, tucked away up a steep flight of stairs.

Simple food, relaxed service, wi-fi, and all very pleasant it was, too.

We opted for crepes, rather than pizzas.  My companion had a sweet one – a rather daunting sounding confection of peanut butter, chocolate and whipped cream, whereas I opted for savoury.  Cheese, mushroom, corn and lettuce –  the latter not really doing it for me as part of a crepe, to be honest.  I’d rather have had the salad on the side.

Nice cold coffee.

The puds looked good, and my companion proclaimed the sacher torte she ate as tasting home made.

I can see this place becoming popular with tourists and students, with its easy atmopshere and wifi.  Today, for example, there was a young lady on her laptop in one corner, nursing a coffee.  There were 2 rather bedraggled-looking French tourists, and later 2 American youngsters with their rucksacks propped against the wall.  I met another girlfriend having a quick lunch reading her paper.  All very casual and easy-going.

At Rs 90 ++ for a cold coffee, it ain’t cheap, but I can see myself calling in whenever I am wandering through Hauz Khas.

Flipside is open 10-10 every day except Tuesday, doesn’t have a liquor licence, takes credit cards – what else ?  Oh yes, seriously, nice clean loo.

7, Hauz Khas Village

New Delhi 110016


Tel : 011 2651 6341

Gondola lift in Gulmarg, Kashmir

The pretty hill station of Gulmarg in India’s Kashmir state, is already high enough for many people who fly into Srinagar.  The first day can leave you a little breathless from the altitude  – 2699.6 m/8856.9 ft.

So wait a day or two before taking the gondola up to Apharwat.  This French-built lift takes you up to 3,979m, just below the summit of Apharwat, making it the world’s highest ski lift. The latter is a fact we were told many times.  The locals are very proud of their gondolas.

The system is in 2 stages, and you buy separate tickets, so if you only want to experience one stage, you can do so.

Gulmarg-Kongdori is the first stage and costs Rs 300 per ticket, while the second stage, Kongdori-Apharwat, costs Rs 500, so the trip isn’t cheap by Indian standards.  But it is well worth it. (These are round trip tickets, obviously)

The views are lovely, as you climb ever higher, the gondolas are clean, perhaps thanks to the cute sign inside each cabin :

We went in the summer, and the queues were long, but surprisingly orderly (this is India, after all) and move pretty quickly.



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.