Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Innovative, Labnol-esque Calendar

Just received a most thoughtful and innovative New Year's gift from Amit (better known as Labnol) - a calendar!

Cover page of Amit's Calendar
As you can expect, unlike normal calendars, something from Amit (he personally designed every page of it) has to be innovative and it starts with the envelope which it came in - it has this QR code along with Amit's address. Use a QR/Bar Code scanner if you have one (easily available in the Android Marketplace, in case you're using an Android device) to read what it says:)

The QR code on the envelope
The most interesting part of the calendar is that it doesn't have any months, 'days' or year on it! Yes, it's just 16 pages with numbers 1-31 on either sides which makes it an eternal calendar! And there's more, every page has the 'Date' or number on it and along with that there's a couple of tech tips:) Each page has tips on any particular topic, e.g. RSS, Fax & Snail Mail, Wolfram Alpha etc.

Page 1, with tips on 'Connecting with your loved ones'

Page 8, with tips on  'Music Online'

Thank you very much for the wonderful gift Amit! And it is now enjoying pride of place on my office desk:)

P.S: The QR code says "Digital Inspiration wishes you a very happy and productive 2011."

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Movies Roundup 2010

It's time again for end of year stock taking and making meaningless lists. So, like last year, I am going to round up this year in terms of my favourite movies and also some useless statistics about movies watched and missed. You can use this as a meme and come up with your 'Movies Roundup 2010' posts, will be interesting to share notes. Here's my Hindi & English Top 5, in reverse order.


One of the best Indian dark comedies in a long, long time. Though other movies have been made in the past on the issue of sensationalistic journalism (e.g. Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani) Peepli Live had a certain edge over them because of the strong realistic, yet sarcastic overtones and also the extremely authentic rustic setting and backdrop. Each character had an honest, earthy feel to them. Personally the ending was very ironic as Natha was shown inconspicuously breaking stones along the same road where the mall was where we were watching the movie. It's a well deserved entry to the Oscars and here's wishing Anusha, Aamir and the gang all the very best!

This is a tie for the 5th spot as I just couldn't not mention both of these movies. Karthik Calling Karthik (KCK) is one of the most experimental movies I have come across of late. To be honest my expectations from this Farhan venture was slightly more than what it ended up being, but just for the sheer thrill, entertainment and the 'hatke' factor I had to include it in the list. Also, this movie changed my adverse attitude towards Deepika and converted me to a fan! Stylish, edgy and new-age, KCK joins Peepli Live for the 5th spot.

After the captivating 'Black' and the thoroughly depressing 'Saawariya' the audience wasn't sure what to expect from this Sanjay Leela Bhansali magnum opus. It's safe to say this Hrithik Roshan, Aishwariya Rai Bachchan starrer didn't leave too many people disappointed. With the usual SLB grandeur and extravagance Guzaarish is a treat for the eyes, more so with an absolutely stunning lead pair. Not a big Aishwariya fan, but must admit she looked gorgeous all through. The story in fact was quite thin and it's to the team's credit that they managed to put together something so captivating on this plot. The music was perhaps below SLB's usual, but hummable nevertheless. The lyrics of 'Sau Gram Zindagi' has to be some of the most innovative lines of the year. And finally, Suhel Seth provided some unintentional comic relief at the end of the movie.

3. Robot 

The truth in the now-famous description of Rajni "he is a force of nature. If a tiger had sex with a tornado and then their tiger-nado baby got married to an earthquake, their offspring would be Rajinikanth." from 'Slate' can be properly appreciated only after watching 'Robot'. All those Rajni jokes pale in comparison to what the man does on screen in this movie. The term 'suspension of disbelief' comes to life from Act 1, Scene 1. If a movie is to be solely judged on the amount of entertainment it provides there really is nothing that could come close to 'Robot' this year. I don't know who Chuck Norris is, never seen any of his movies, but I can safely say that he can't be more than a side character is a Rajni joke. Here's to many more of Rajni entertainers in the coming years. At 61, he's not getting any older.

From a purely objective movie review perspective have to keep this at No. 2. One of the high points of the year, and I am not restricting the scope of this statement to just movies. Enough said. God bless Sir.

Not only the best movie of the year but by far the most under rated one as well! It's a matter of honour that I happen to share my last name with the director who after 'Khosla Ka Ghosla' and 'Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye' seems to be on the 'up and to the right' curve that sales people have come to worship! Three separate stories, each strong, dark and extremely poignant weaved together in a seamless fashion, LSD is not just experimental cinema for the heck of being different but is one of the best portrayals of today's society. It was not just the handheld camera style of photography but also the splendid performances which gave the movie a feel of watching real life events through the CCTV cameras set up in places unknown to the actors. Take a bow Mr. Banerjee.

And that's the Bollywood list for 2010. Although I have already listed 6 movies in my Top 5, there's one movie which deserves a special mention, having lost out narrowly but being the sweetest surprise element of the year, YRF's 'Band Baajaa Baraat'.


It's always a difficult task to select a Hollywood animation movie in the annual top 5 because almost all of them are impeccable in their production, story and presentation. However over the years they have reached stage where they can compete against the the 'normal' movies purely on the merit of their plots and stories, without the superb technical advantages to fall back on. So, starting off the English list will be this movie about a crook who wants to be the biggest criminal in the world and plans to steal the moon and how he ends up being a Superdad. Can make even the most macho among us go 'awww'.

First things first, Guy Ritchie's maverick, action hero Sherlock Holmes is very different from Conan Doyle's suave, intellectual resident of Baker Street. Far from suave, this Holmes is at times a bumbling sleuth. But when the time comes he keeps the reputation of the master detective intact. A gripping, fast paced movie based on a story not written by Doyle, this is pure edge-of-your-seat entertainment.  Very ably supported by a more conformist Dr. Watson, this movie gave a fantastic start to my tinsel year. Looking forward to more from this stable.

Claim to fame - the movie to have been on Twitter's 'Trending Topics' for the longest period of time in history. Albeit a short history. Inception falls under that category of films which are more of a cult than a cinematic production. The 'dream-within-dream-within-dream' concept took everyone by surprise and generated tremendous interest in the works of Freud and other dream merchants. However, since this came a good ten years after the Matrix trilogy you will be pardoned for having a faint sense of deja vu, though by no way does that indicate this was a work of plagiarism. A fantastic concept, presented in a lavish, riveting manner. Inception is one movie you don't want to miss, if for nothing else but to be a part of discussions when movies of 2010 are discussed, ever.

The  2nd animation movie to make it to the 'Top 5' and one that actually came quite close to being the 'Movie of the Year' for me. There's something about this franchise which tugs at your heartstrings and this one carried the tradition forward. If you have ever been a kid (he he) then there's no way you cannot connect with the movie and the characters. Plus the sinister angle brought in this third installment adds a different layer to the movie. You will be rooting for Woody and friends, cringing at the thought of them being victims to the evil toys and feeling nice and light at the end of it all. Just how films are supposed to be!

As I mentioned in my tweet review, I maybe a little biased towards the movie as it deals with a subject too close to my livelihood, one that I am discussing with friends and colleagues all the time and reading hundreds and thousands of news feeds on. I don't know the exact proportion of fact and fiction in the movie but am aware that the flavour of the birth of the greatest social network in the world has been retained and to say that it's fascinating is an understatement. I am a huge fan of the social medium and am proud to be one of the early adopters of most of these applications. The creativity, innovation, greed, ambition and vision shown in the movie makes for a most enriching watch. Brilliant performances by almost everyone and a superb, subtle ending makes it the Movie of the Year for me.

Finally, here's a look at all the movie I have watched this year, and some stats. Was a great year movie wise and looking forward to an even better 2011.

Being a bit statistically inclined, I have kept some notes of the movies that I have seen in theaters since 2007, and the summary would be as follows:

Year        Movies Seen      H:E              Top Rating (on 10)        Avg Rating

2007               32                     22:10                      9.0                                5.78
2008               30                    23:7                        8.5                                6.35
2009               24                    18:6                        9.0                                 6.85
2010               25                    16:9                         8.5                                6.62

Monday, December 27, 2010

Times Of Turncoat

One of my favourite sources of entertainment every day is going through the country's largest English daily - The Times of India. There are 2 ways this entertainment takes place - (a) stumbling across atrocious and frequent spelling, grammar and factual errors and (b) spotting the news articles from the midst of the paid pieces.

This morning (27-Dec-2010) has been particularly fulfilling on both fronts.

Yesterday (26-Dec-2010) TOI (Gurgaon edition) carried an article on the Tau Devi Lal Stadium being rented out for a New Years bash and how this is criminal on so many counts. With quotes such as "To use a cricket ground for a dance party is a matter of shame for the government. We suspect that money has played a role in such wrongdoing" from an INLD leader. Producing a scanned copy of the article below (please click on the photo for better viewing).

TOI article, 26-Dec-2010

This morning when I opened the paper I was amused to see another article, carrying the same picture as y'day proudly mentioning 'Tau Devi Lal to host Asia's largest New Year Party'. The tone all upbeat and positive. The article goes on mention how this will help Gurgaon's district administration's revenues and also make Gurgaon a popular destination for entertainment. It specifically mentions how "the necessary precautions have been taken to maintain the ground and specifically the pitch..." Again, producing a scanned image of the article below.

TOI article, 27-Dec-2010
Well done TOI, true to your style!

P.S: This was an example of type (b) entertainment as I mentioned early in the post. Here's a look at type (a), again from today's newspaper (27-Dec-2010). There's this article about 'German bakeries' in India. The summary paragraph at the beginning talks of, among other things, how "...a lot of people, including perhaps the terrorists who planted a bomb in the Pune cafe last week, think so...". It really is too trivial that the Pune blast at German bakery took place on 13-Feb-2010, or ~10 months back and not exactly 'last week'. Oh, the hazards of copying and then pasting old articles.

TOI article, 27-Dec-2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What Did You Search For In 2010?

For the past 5 years or so Google has come up with it's annual Zeitgeist, at a global and also national level for different countries (e.g India). The Zeitgeist is the list of the most searched terms of that year. Of late this has been getting a lot of media coverage as well with television channels having dedicated programs discussing what the country has been looking for

In fact this year Facebook & Twitter with their large repository of data also came up with the most commonly used words in status updates and tweets. All making for a most interesting read.

Earlier this year in February I had come up with a list of the most 'hatke' or 'different' keywords people have searched for to reach my blog. In fact the post became quite popular and encourage me to continue blogging a little more regularly than the 2-3 posts a year I was doing before that. So, at the end of the year I decided to announce my own little Zeitgeist results, in 2 categories - (a) most popular keywords searched to reach my blog and (b) most 'interesting' keywords search to reach my blog.

I must say there has been a large dip in the 'interesting' category since my February post, and most queries can more or less be tracked down to the post which triggered them and also the rationale behind those searched. However, I did manage to come up with the 10 'wackiest' queries that got some traffic to my blog. So, without much further ado, here are the 'Mind At Work' Zeitgeist results.

Top Queries for 'Mind At Work'

1. Kingdom of Dreams Gurgaon Review (related post)

2. Johari Window Test (related post)

3. Reverse Image Search Engine (related post)

4. May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss Review (related post)

6. Abbey Road Gurgaon (related post)

7. Android Market (related post)

8. Puzzles (related post 1, post 2)

9. Pista House Haleem Recipe (related post)

10. Biryani Gurgaon (related post 1, post 2)

And now coming to the more popular awards - the 'hatke' queries Zeitgeist.

These keywords brought me visitors to the blog, so a big thanks to whoever searched on them. And a quick note behind your thought process will be most appreciated:) [unedited, uncensored data. Could be NSFW]

'Hatke' 'Mind At Work' Awards

1. best fake nickname for a god

[Suhel speak: God's on an espionage mission, eh?]

2. bulging tummy in girls

[SS: Not a pretty sight. Stop searching, immediately]

3. how to deal with a 69 year old male that is not happy about being given a surprise birthday party

[SS: someone's gonna get hurt real bad]

4. night rate of a cheerleader in delhi or gurgaon

[SS: T20 or ODI?]

5. prabhu chawala character traits

[SS: After that Rajnikanth editorial should you really bother?]

6. should i be working at 69 years old

[SS: I for sure hope I will not]

7. software engineer tummy

[SS: Mostly empty. Or so I'm told]

8. things u can do with rs 100 in kolkata

[SS: A little more than what you can do with Rs. 5000 in Mumbai]

9. what is it like to work for guidebook?

[SS: Much like an NGO I will assume]

10. wear glasses"" or ""wearing glasses"" or ""wearing my glasses"" or ""wear her glasses"" or ""wearing her glasses"" or ""wear contacts"" or ""wearing contacts"" or ""wearing my contacts"" or ""wearing her contacts"" or ""wearing contact"" or ""wearing my contact"" or ""wearing her contact""

[SS: Contact your ophthalmologist. If you could read that, that is]

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Fresh Outlook At Restaurant Advertising

Most Indian newspapers nowadays are thicker than a Vikarm Seth novel, and on weekends two Seth novels put together. And it's not as if a lot has started happening off late which never did in the past, it's the ad money. Ads are here, there, everywhere. And then there are the local leaflets and pamphlets that are added to the tomes. Usually these pamphlets die a lonely, isolated, inconspicuous death in the store rooms or below the almirahs but there are always exceptions. This post is about one such.

You'll find the two sides of one such pamphlet which caught my attention as it slipped from the main paper as I was heading for the washroom. It's one of smartest pieces of newspaper advertisements I have ever come across. And though I am yet to visit the restaurant (Kitchen Inbox), I will recommend it for the sheer creativity. (click on the pictures for a larger size image)


It's just slightly ironic that these guys haven't put a website or email address to find them on the net:)

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Rang De - Helps You Help

We often feel like 'doing our bit' every now and then, but don't know how to make an impact with our limited means. It's usually then that the urge to contribute dies a silent death not because of a lack of intent but limited means of causing an impact. For example, we all know that India is a country of a billion people and if all of us contribute Re. 1 there will be a Rs. 100,00,00,000 fund. The problem is that Re. 1 by itself won't do anything unless we can come up with a system of collecting all the coins, accumulating them in a central place and then deploying the funds to someone or some organisation with genuine needs.

This is the issue that Rang De has decided to solve.

The idea is exactly the same as the collecting Re. 1 coins from many and distributing it to the worthy. Or micro-credit in the truest sense of the term.

Here the minimum amount or denomination is Rs. 100 and all you require to get started is an email address, a bank account/credit card and a wish to make a difference, however small or big, to an entrepreneur. Once you've signed up there's a large number of small entrepreneurs to choose from a variety of sectors or categories. You get to see the following for every entrepreneur:

(1) Name, business, photo (2) Total requirement, loan raised, remaining requirement & (3) Investment required by date.

Usually these are in a few thousands, and is a great example of how small investments of even a few hundreds of rupees can help build someone's dream of setting up their own business.

I would like to thank my friend Abhishek Paul, who introduced me to this wonderful organisation, by sending me a gift voucher. I invested my voucher in a business close to my heart - Fish farming! I am glad to have made a difference to the life of Ghanashyam Behara of Orissa, and hope his fish business will get the rest of the required amount soon and he can start off his venture.

This is a sincere request to everyone to have a look at the site and maybe contribute to some venture they believe in. And please do spread the word, Rang De can do with any help we can bring!

Disclaimer: I am not associated with the organisation in any capacity besides having made a small contribution to a venture as mentioned in the article.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Inviting You To Our 1 Day Startup!

We've have decided to test the entrepreneurial waters with one of my passions - Food. Veni & I, along with my cousin & her husband, are putting up a food stall (Pasta, Soup and Chicken Flambe) in the Diwali mela which will be held in our apartment complex. 

Please treat this as a personal invite to come and grace our stall tomorrow evening. This is the first business venture of any sort for all of us and it goes without saying we are extremely excited and can do with all your encouragement and patronage! As far as the food is concerned, I can guarantee you won't be left disappointed as the brother-in-law is a trained cook from a Hotel Management school and ranks right up there with me in terms of passion for food. Beats me to a pulp as far as skills go!

Once again, here are the details:

Event: Diwali Mela

Location: Badminton Courts, Silveroak Apartments, DLF Phase 1, Gurgaon - 122002 (on Gurgaon-Faridabad Highway)

Date & Time: 4:00 PM - 9:30 PM, 4th November, 2010

Also, if Pasta & Flambe doesn't excite you that much there will be other stalls as well (read: competitors) selling Biriyani, Rolls, Kebabs, Chaat, Fish Curry and a host of other things. Plus there will be the usual fireworks, music, Mehendi stalls and other Mela things.

Please feel free to get in touch with me if you need any help regarding directions. Will be looking forward to seeing you tomorrow. Don't hesitate to bring friends or family, the more the merrier.


P.S: The passion for food can be found here and here.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

God Bless You

Thank you.

For being an elder brother and a friend to an apprehensive eighteen year old on his first day in the college hostel.

For switching off the fan that we shared between rooms 265 and 266 when I was down with cold.

For defending the greatness of SRK against a mob of his detractors.

For yapping from the other side of the wall during my chatty moods in the middle of the nights.

For organizing the little gathering on my first birthday away from home.

For the early morning calls for breakfast while I slept through my classes.

For being who you were.

I wish I said all of this yesterday, or last week, month or year. Maybe it wouldn't have changed anything. Maybe you would have realized how much you were really worth. I don't know what made you take the extreme step, but if there's Internet access on the other side and if you're reading this then please know you were often discussed in our Hostel conversations, even after you distanced yourself. Not the best time to judge you, but do remember you were very precious to a lot of people, and in spite of being a sharp and intelligent man this was not the smartest decision you took. Who will take care of the utensil shop in North Bengal now?

Anyway, next time we meet remind me to do one of my SRK acts, it's long overdue.

God bless you.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Mobile Blogging Test

Just wanted to check out this mobile blogging application for Android so please treat this as a test post.

Not sure if I'll be using this much as I haven't figured out a reason to do so. If it's some urgent news I want to publicly share I'll use Twitter or Facebook, if it's a funny incident that just happened I will jot down the notes in an email and write down a detailed post, with formatting etc. at leisure from my laptop later. The only one-off instance that comes to my mind where this could be utilized is if a big news is breaking somewhere, say the Ayodhya verdict, and I have lot of opinions that I want to share while the topic is hot and don't have access to a desktop/laptop with internet, I may resort to this.

On the whole not yet completely convinced. Will remain agnostic to mobile blogging for the time being.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


My day job requires me to speak about the magic of the world wide web, it's reach, scale and powers. This post is a personal testimonial to the same without any professional or commercial angle attached.

Long story short, 2 days back Volkwagen brought out an audio ad in the Times Of India (and The Hindu) which started playing once you opened the paper. This innovative advertising idea got a lot of attention and was a topic of much discussion. Some even got so scared by it that they called the local police station. Like many others I too found the idea very interesting and shot a quick video (using my mobile phone) and uploaded it on YouTube.

It's been madness since then.

The video became what is known as 'viral' in the Internet circle. Lots of users spread the link via social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook and blogs. Amit (, India's most popular tech blogger also found it interesting and embedded it in his site. This started off a chain reaction with the video being picked up by blogs and news agencies from across the globe. Perhaps the biggest boost came from this post on, a super popular global tech blog.

It's been a little over 48 hours since I uploaded the video and it has received over 30,000 views and is increasing by hundreds by the hour. The link to my blog post was the top result in Google 'latest results'.

The video also got the YouTube 'honour' of being one of the most viewed videos in the 'Auto' category in India

and I was just told that it is featuring under the 'Most Popular' category on YouTube India's homepage.

All I can say is I am thrilled with the reach of YouTube and if I required anymore convincing of the power of the Internet (after working with an Internet company for over 5 years!), there's no need anymore.

Go ahead and tap into the magic of the net.

Thanks Parag, Anomita, Manan and Pavan for the tips and screenshots.

Update: The video reached 100,000 views in around 5 months with 0 investments!

P.S: If you haven't checked the video yet, you should:)

Kingdom Of Dreams - Much Larger Than Life!

Opulent. Extravagant. Gorgeous.

If you're in or around Gurgaon and in the mood for the above mentioned adjectives do drop in at the newly opened 'Indian Culture' themed destination - Kingdom Of Dreams. Just keep in mind that the keys to the Kingdom lie in your pocket, so be prepared before you venture that way.

Right in the heart of the Millennium City you will come across this palatial installation, replete with golden glitter and elephants. The entry barrier is very steep compared to it's conceptual counterpart - Dilli Haat, at Rs. 750 versus Rs. 20. However, the good news is Rs. 600 of this can actually be used o food, drinks, gift items etc. in the shops inside the place and Rs. 50 is refundable at the time of exit. So effectively it's a Rs. 100 entry fee with compulsory spends of at least Rs. 600. Be prepared you may well go over budget once you're inside the Kingdom.

View Larger Map

This larger than all life put together 'theme park' is promoted by Wizkraft Entertainment. The main draw as of now is the 'Culture Gully' where you can go to eat, drink and buy things specific to the various states of India. The decor is mind boggling, with an artificial sky to boot. So at any point during the day when you enter this place it has a 'daylight' like feel, with clouds in the sky.  The shops have the feel of the states whose fare they're serving. So you can sample a full Bengali meal for Rs. 400, Prawn Chops from Assam for Rs. 200, Crab Meat and Rice from Goa for Rs. 525, Appam and Mutton Stew from Kerala for Rs. 250 and so on.

They've also recently launched their 'Nautanki Mahal', inaugurated by none other than India's greatest superstar - Shahrukh Khan. This is going to be India's answer to the Broadway musicals, however the tickets are again priced a little steeply between Rs. 1000 - Rs. 6000. Those who have seen the first few performances are raving about the grandeur, opulence and Bollywood-theme of the shows.

The written prose will not do much justice to the place, so attaching some pictures (taken from my mobile camera) of KoD from one of our team outings recently. If you're feeling a bit well off and want to have a good time one evening do give it a shot!
The entry to the 'Culture Gully'

The Goddess Kali entrance to the Bengal pavillion

Punjab and it's mascot the ubiquitous truck!

Meeting of two great exponents of the Kathakali danceform

The temples of Chennai

The House Boat of Kerala

The uber popular local train of Mumbai/Bombay

Mud Crab curry with Brown Rice  from the Goa Pavilion

A little violence in Goa:)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Volkswagen Ad - Talks For Itself

If your social media is abuzz with one topic of discussion early in the morning, it's most probably a breaking news such as the death of a celebrity, Pakistan accused of not fixing a match or someone finding a stretch of road in Gurgaon without any potholes. However this morning has been different. My timeline is clogged with awe and aww about an automobile ad. Having been in the advertising business for over 5 years now I can assure you that's a first. So, take a bow Volkswagen India. And here's why.

In case the video doesn't play for you here's the 'guide book'.

When you open the Newspaper supplement, Volkswagen has brought out a full page (last page) ad. And the 'innovation' is that it's like one of those talking cards. As soon as you open it the ad starts playing itself, a voice over. This goes on in an endless loop till you close the paper. Every paper has a small speaker attached to it. See picture attached below.

And to add the 'social media' angle to the story, here's a screenshot of Google search results for 'Volkswagen ad':) [Tip: Pavan Varma]

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Japanese Puzzle

My dad, the biggest mental calisthenics aficionado I know, sent this across to me. Was fun solving it:) Over to you guys now. Leave your answers as comments, and if you want the solution please leave your email ID.

Rules as follow:

This is a new take on the familiar puzzle of crossing the river with a chicken, a fox and a bag of grain – but harder!
The test comes from Japan where it is used as an IQ test for jobs and university entrance, mainly related to IT. It should take you less than 15 minutes to complete:
The rules are as follows:
Aim - Get everyone - Father, Mother, 2 Boys, 2 Girls, Policeman and the red haired arrested girl in striped uniform to the other end of the river. You have the boat to ferry them across and the conditions are as follow:

1.  Only two people can travel at once
2.  Dad can not stay with the girls without the presence of the mother
3. Mum can’t stay with the boys without the presence of the father
4. The arrested red-hair girl in stripy outfit cannot stay with any of the family members, unless accompanied by the police officer.
5. Only the Police officer and the parents can drive the boat across the river

Click on the people you want to transport
To use the boat click on the red dots next to the boat
Press the large blue button to start. 
At any point you can right click and press 'Rewind' to restart. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Delhi 6 & Karim's

After spending more than 4 years in Delhi, NCR/Gurgaon to be politically precise, I hadn't had the opportunity to visit the famed Chandni Chowk or Delhi 6 (pincode 110006) area. Unless you're absolutely unacquainted with the Indian capital you will know that Chandni Chowk is the typical bustling, crowded, 'original' heart of the city. Located not far from the posh & centrally located Connaught Place, Chandni Chowk is brings you to a completely different city within the City. It's a bit like Alibaba's magic words which opened the cave, you are suddenly welcomed by lanes narrower than the width of your bedroom and lined on both sides with cars, trucks, rickshaws and other assorted modes of transportation. It's lined with shops selling everything under the scorching sun, and of course every scrap of road not occupied by the the aforementioned vehicles, doubles up as a cricket pitch or generally sitting around space.

Veni & I reached here on a Saturday afternoon, and being not very conversant with the place we landed at Chawri Bazaar metro station. If you've already formed an image of Chandni Chowk in your head, just multiply the crowds by 2 and divide the width of the roads by half. Yes, and now put us in our Santro in the middle of this picture. Yes, that's about just perfect! However, contrary to the image, the warmth and friendliness of the people forced us to loosen our guards. Seeing us, sunglass wearing, bewildered "city dwellers" in a bit of a spot, the shopkeepers and rickshaw drivers actually gave us specific directions to the exact place we wanted to go to, and halted the traffic for us to reverse the car and get going. Yes, this is the India we hear so often about that sometimes we forget it's reality. Nobody honked, swore of glared at us bumbling our way through the market streets. On the contrary, they were happy to hand over the World Cup of cricket to us, for a princely sum of 200 INR (~$4.5)

After that it was the remarkable GPS on our Nexus Ones to our rescue and we reached the clothes section of the bazaar where my in-laws were waiting for us. After going through half a dozen shops and many a dozen sarees, the ladies picked up one. Yes, O N E. I silently saluted the patience of the shopkeepers and took leadership of the situation. Lunch situation that is.

If you had any doubts about the secular nature of India they can be safely put to rest here. There's a large Gurudwara, temple and the famous Jama Masjid.  However in terms of food I have to admit I am very biased and bigoted, and completely overlooked the jalebi, samosa, parathe wale galis and herded the entire group straight to the mecca of Mughlai food in Delhi - Karim's.

Established almost a 100 years back, this institution has grown in stature with every passing year and has found mention in Asia's 'Best Places to Eat' directories many a times. Located right next to the Jama Masjid in a narrow gully, you'll initially be a little underwhelmed with the place after having heard to death about it. However, the long queue outside the satisfied look on the faces of the customers (a lot of foreigners included) leaving the restaurant will leave you assured.

The brand has grown so much that it is now run by many different family members in different parts of the city, with 3 separate restaurants running out of the same premises. After 5 minutes of waiting, we managed to get a table for five. That included my mother-in-law and brother-in-law's fiance, the former a vegetarian as staunch as they come, the latter off meat during that time of the year. 

Just so that you understand, this place smells of meat, differently cooked, various kinds, but meat. Skewered, grilled, chargrilled, stewed, curried, marinated meat! This is where Veni, Rahul (Veni's brother) and I showed the selfish side of human nature and disassociated ourselves from the remaining two and dived into the not-so-elaborate menu card. There's meat and meat items everywhere and I will vouch for the following: Chicken/Mutton Biriyani, Mutton Qorma and the Mutton Burra Kebabs. Suffice to say that the meat was tender, succulent, juicy and perfect! The Biriyani, different from the Hyderabadi, Lucknawi, Bengali or Malabari ones have a charm of their own and have the gumption to take on the rest if push comes to shove. The food is oily, no two ways about it. So if you're particularly conscious of your calorie intake you may be left disappointed. Also, a word of caution for the vegetarians, the food sucks. Yes, it's as simple as that. But then you can't complain much about the milk shake they serve you in pubs, can you?

The Mutton Burra Kebab

Chicken Biriyani

Mutton Qorma

The Phirni that you must try

After a most satisfying and damaging meal we got on the rickshaws (had to park the car far, far away) and weaned our way through the meandering streets and back to 'the City'.

If you're in Delhi and have the stomach for a slice of the real Delhi and lip smacking food, you must pay Delhi 6 a visit.

P.S: If you've seen Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra's Delhi-6, you will relate to this 'Kala Bandar' we found there:)