A Gastronomic Tour of Indore

Posted March 22, 2011 by Arnav
Categories: Food, General

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Indore is a city of many colours, many sights and many sounds. But the side I’ll miss the most is the many tastes it dishes out. Gastronomically, it is one of the best places I have been to, despite it being predominantly vegetarian in nature. Known primarily for breakfast and snacks meals, the sheer variety of options will ensure you do not get bored. The city also has a fair number of mid to high-end restaurants, which will ensure that the money you save from a cheap breakfast will end up getting spent anyhow! So on to the meaty stuff 🙂

For breakfast, Poha is one of the best things to have been made for mankind, second only to Idli and Dosa in my opinion. This dish is inexpensive, varying in price from 5 rupees to 10, depending on the cleanliness. The best part I like about Poha is that it is not oily, and the quality of it is universally good, which means you can literally close your eyes and have it anywhere. In most places, the Aloo Vada is also good, but it is rather oily for everyday consumption. Another long looking yellow fried item is Mirchi Vada, which is essentially a large, fleshy chilli fried in besan batter.

Evening snacks present an endless variety. The regular samosa is omnipresent, though in a spicier avatar. Chappan is a great place for snacks in Indore – the “patties” in the 2nd shop from the left, Johnny “Hot Dog”, are stuff Indoris will swear by. The patties I refer to here are not the puffs you would be used to, these are balls of dessicated coconut inside a wrapper of potato, deep fried – tastes awesome to say the least! The hot dogs are essentially bun tikkas – vegetarian and non-vegetarian. There’s also a good place to have egg and chicken rolls – Calcutta Roll Club – all the Bengalis and Calcutta folk would enjoy the stuff here. Chappan also offers a large number of sweets shops. Though I must say, I prefer the sweets of Calcutta and Bhubaneswar. The variety of sweets at Indore is there visually, but taste wise, I only prefer the boondi laddoos, kaju barfi and gulab jamuns – the rest is just mewa in different shapes, colors and sizes! Milk based sweets are not that good here – overpriced and oversweet rasgullas and other sweets.

Another place in Indore which is a favorite for lovers of street food is Sarafa  – jewellery market by day, and street food heaven by night. Bhutte ka kiss, saboodana khichdi, chole tikki, malpua, rabdi.. the variety here is amazing. We end up tasting everything everytime we go there, and finish off with a visit to Joshi Jee ka Dahi Vada, who is a legend in Sarafa. I’ll not spill the beans, one should visit the place to understand what it is about. Bhutte ka kiss and saboodana khichdi are dishes I have had at Sarafa only, though I have heard there are other places in Indore which dish them out too, but probably not of the same quality.

For the non-vegetarian species, Nafees holds the flag high for Indore. The Biriyani they make is pure magic, and I have lost count of the number of times I have had it. Other notable dishes are Barra kabab, and Raan – both mutton delicacies which melt in the mouth if made the right way. If you find that the quality of the food or the number of chicken/mutton pieces does not meet your expectations, do not hesitate to share it with the restaurant staff, they try to ensure you don’t leave with a bad taste. Yours truly got an additional piece of chicken on telling them that the 2 pieces of chicken they gave in the biriyani were smaller than usual, and boy did I love it! For lovers of Grilled and Barbecued chicken, there’s a place owned by my friend’s relatives, I do not know the name of the shop, because we used to refer to it as “Fazal ke mama ka dukaan”! Though I do remember it had the word “Chicken” in its name to emphasize its area of expertise!

Another place of special mention is Ghamandi Lassi, which makes a different, thick kind of Lassi, and juices of almost all fruits imaginable. I love the Lassi and the juices and shakes here, but do remember to mention “Small” in case you are not sure of your appetite – the first time that I went there I did not know there existed such an option! Celebrations and Simi’s fulfil the bakery needs of Indori junta, and Simi’s is particularly good with soft cakes and creamy pastries, though sinfully rich!

So what does Indore miss in terms of food? To start off, there’s no half – decent place to have good Chinese food, which is sorely missed by yours truly. Pizzas and Pasta are stuff am not particularly fond of, and there are only a couple of good places for the same. There aren’t too many bars either, apart from the ones attached to Star Hotels. Sports Bar is quite a good place.

Since this post is getting rather long, I’ll end here. Await a detailed review of all the restaurants in Indore, courtesy the treats I have received and given! For now, go enjoy your food and please try not to waste any of it 🙂


The End of an Era…as I know it

Posted March 18, 2011 by Arnav
Categories: General, MBA

Tags: , ,

March 2009. Shortlists. Interviews. Exams. Uncertainty. Anxiety. Results. Celebrations.

March 2011. Peace.

2 years may not sound a lot when it comes to time, but taking a cue from the concept of relativity, these 2 years passed very differently when compared to another period of 2 years – eg. 1st 2 years of Engineering. It’s difficult to write about it since it is rather vague and experiential in nature. When someone asks me, “How has the MBA experience been”, or “How has the IIM experience been”, I answer nonchalantly “Its been good.” But it’s meant so much more than you can just pack in 3 words. So to do justice to those interested to hear, and my poor blog, I’ll pen it all down.

To start off, it is an opportunity not many get, especially if you consider the top 10-15 institutes in the country for an MBA. Many of us crib that placements and professors are better in the better institutes, but we fail to realise how bad the quality of education at other institutes can be and how relatively we are still better off. An opportunity is only as good as what one can make of it, so the onus lies on us to make the most of what we got and not crib about how things could have been better or how one’s friend at some other BSchool is doing so good.

An MBA education, according to me, has 2 components – the education, which I like to call the hard part, and the intangibles, which I like to call the soft part. The quality of education at a top Institute is definitely worth it, else the hype will cease to remain. But what many of us tend to ignore is the importance of the soft part, which in my opinion is very relevant to the MBA program. By the soft part, am referring to speaking, listening, making presentations, dealing with ambiguity, working with and managing people, motivating subordinates, taking initiative in group tasks, coming up with innovative solutions and so on. A lot of the terms I used are well abused in MBA jargon, but trust me, it is not pure hogwash. If you think – what’s the big deal about working in groups or taking initiative, you should do it to believe it. It does not come naturally to everyone, and the challenges you face will not be written about in textbooks or taught in classrooms. The hard part of the MBA is well documented, but it is the magnitude of the soft part which distinguishes the MBA program from other educational programs.

So as I look forward to joining the organization which recruited me, it is hard not to look back and ponder if all the time and effort was worth it. In my case, the answer is a resounding Yes. After Engineering, I had a mundane job offer, just like 150 others in a batch of 240. Today I have an offer which is more challenging, more interesting, better paying, and which only 2 in a batch of 240 have. I have learnt a lot in these 2 years, or rather 20 months to be precise. I was not very academically inclined these 2 years, but I did care to sit back and reflect on what I was learning, and look for the practical applications. I’m not shy anymore of taking initiative or of public speaking (though am still more confident of the former than the latter!). I have realised the difference between friends and professional acquaintances, which I had some difficulty with initially. I have understood the importance of having a few great friends, yet having good relations with everyone around. I have also understood it is impossible to keep everyone happy, so when difficult decisions have to be made, they have to be made, and no one can do anything about it. I have realised the importance of family and friends, and the importance of a stable personal life when it comes to difficulties in the professional space.

So, whether the MBA is right for you or not will depend on the other options you have got, and where you want your career to head. It is not for everyone, and despite the hype, it is not the only way to go up the corporate ladder. For the past 2 years, with the increase in fees across BSchools, there has been a rationalisation of expectations and number of applications. Even if you do decide to go for it, do choose a BSchool carefully, since What-You-See-is-definitely-not-What-You-Get. Talking to alumni and current students is the best way to get to know an Institute.

Lastly, I have become a staunch believer of the proverb – “As you sow, so shall you reap.” Whether it be your personal or professional life, this good old saying never fails to ring true. Cheers!!

The Calling

Posted April 22, 2010 by Arnav
Categories: Personal, Poetry

Things are always different from far away,

When they look nice and rosy,

Yet it is from proximity,

Do the flaws start to reveal.

Is everything not like the Moon,

Bathed in clear white light,

That effectively hides its hideous craters,

By blinding them from our sight.

But craters shall always remain,

B’coz nothing in this world is perfect,

Yet some craters are more liveable,

And that is what we need to check.

Here I am now,

Through with one whole year of studying management,

Another year stares at me in the face,

Then why do I look away in guilt?

Maybe I feel I am not doing justice,

My potential is not being fulfilled,

Or maybe I just try to look away,

From that which I do not wish to see.

My life’s true calling,

Is still oblivious to me,

I am yet to find something,

That satisfies the real Me.

I am hoping someday soon,

My true Calling presents itself to me,

To save me the discomfort,

Of wearing shoes which do not fit.

Or maybe I was born to be a wanderer,

Who can fit in many different shoes,

Who hops from place to place,

Never settling somewhere through.

Mumbai Diaries – Volume I

Posted April 19, 2010 by Arnav
Categories: General

Tags: , , , , ,

I’m at Mumbai for the 2 months of my summer internship. The moment I had come to know that I was to be posted here, I was happy because there is something about this city that attracts me to it. Maybe because of the picture portrayed in Bollywood movies, there is a charm about the city that is not easily described. Right from the moment the aircraft was descending to land at Mumbai, the sight of neat clumps of high rises that look so organized from above, the sight of the curvaceous bay, the sight of all the smart private jets at the airport hangar, gives you a feel good factor. Well, when you actually get started on the ground, you realise the ugly side of the city- searching for a house is a pain you-know-where, the sweat sticks to your skin all day long, the crowds will leave you flabbergasted wherever you go, and the lack of greenery means there is hardly any shade from the hot Sun. We got a decent accommodation that’s about a 15 minute walk from office, and slowly and steadily everything fell into place. So life is moving along at a nice and steady rhythm now.

So what were the high points of my stay that has lasted a fornight here? Let me enumerate them –

  • Theatre – I had never been exposed to the kind of theatre that prevails in Mumbai, but had heard loads about it. So the day we landed here, we checked out the theatre options. There are 2 major theatres here – The NCPA (National Center for Performing Arts), Nariman Point and Prithvi Theatre, Juhu. Both have a rich history behind them, being supported by the TATA group and the Kapoor families respectively. Waiting for Godot was on at the Prithvi Theatre, starring Nasseruddin Shah and Benjamin Gilani. We immediately called up the theatre and found it to be booked full. That clearly gave us an idea of the kind of crowds theatre in Mumbai attracts! Next weekend, we went over to the NCPA Experimental Theatre to watch a Hindi play, Lift Kara De. It was good fun, and was a novel experience for us. Next weekend we landed at Prithvi Theatre to watch One on One, a series of 10 short 10 minute plays, and Rajit Kapur was in the cast. This play turned out to be fabulous, and all the performances were mindblowing. The play had been running for the 5 weekdays, yet had been running to a full house on the weekend. Next weekend, we hope to watch Kuch Bhi Ho Sakta Hai, a play dramatising the life of Anupam Kher, which should be another great play to watch. Discovering theatre has definitely been one of the high points of our stay here till now.
  • Konkan food and sea fish – I had read a bit about places to visit on the Konkan coast, and there was something written about Konkan food too, describing its special nature.  Since there’s a nice little Konkan eating place near our home, we decided to give it a try one day.Tried out the Surmai fish, absolutely loved it. Its name turned out to be mackerel, or king fish. Also tried out the bangda fish, which is also a type of mackerel and very tasty. Konkan food has liberal use of coconut, and is generally quite spicy but very enjoyable. The fish and the style of cooking, both turned out to be delicious.
  • A meal at Oh Calcutta – I had heard a lot about Oh Calcutta, but never felt the need to go its Calcutta outlet since I would rather have food at home and not spend a fortune on something that can be easily had at home. However, in a strange city, there is nothing like the taste of familiar delicacies. So we decided to give the Andheri outlet of Oh Calcutta a try. So with bulging wallets and big hopes, I and my friend landed at the place, with adequate help from Google Maps. The place is nice and neatly done. Our order consisted of plain steamed rice, bhaaja (fried) mooger (moong) dal, chingri malai curry (prawn), bhekti shorshe bataa (bhekti fish in mustard sauce), and mishti doi(sweet curd). The dal was different from what we have at home, but I liked their rendition. The prawns were delicious. The fish could have been better done – there seemed to be too much mustard but thankfully wasn’t pungent. The curd was good, overall a very satisfying and sumptuous meal. We left the place with a happy heart, a satisfied tummy, and a significantly lighter wallet!!

Apart from the usual high points, there were the usual smaller joys. Standing on Marine Drive and take in the sight of the entire Queen’s necklace. Go around Fort and admire the old beautiful buildings, old buildings with the big financial names and modern retail outlets. Aboard a Fast local and watch it zoom past the stations it does not stop by. Look up at the high rises and wonder when you will have a house like that of your own. Watch the poor coexist with the stinking rich. Watch traffic weave its way, not bothering with what is in it’s way. Stand on Dadar Station’s overbridge, and watch 20 rows of commuters zip past you as if you didn’t exist. Take in the smell of the fish near a fishing village like a whiff of places far away. Watch the waves collide with the rocks and retreat, only to strike back the next moment with equal gutso. These experiences may be too trivial, too petty to write home about, yet they are a vital part of the fabric of the city, a part that adds as much to the fabric as much it subtracts from it. The sight of garbage, the stench near the creeks, the filth in certain places cannot be missed by a pair of dark glasses or a handkerchief on the nose. For every joy point, there are 5 equal pain points. This city reminds me of the movie Hurt Locker’s tagline “War is a drug”. At the end of the day, this city has a life, and whoever once settles in never wants to set foot elsewhere. It indeed is a drug.

Looking out, for you to come

Posted February 3, 2010 by Arnav
Categories: Poetry

There was a time,

Not too long ago,

When you were still pretty,

And I was still young.

Life then was so strange,

Time passed away leaving us unchanged,

Fools were we to think,

That this is how it shall always remain.

We thought it was for ever,

A lifetime is too short,

Funny where life has brought us now,

Even a lifetime seems too long.

Hours ceases to pass,

The Sun ceases to set,

Sitting on the rocking chair,

No longer feels the same.

I yearn for the days gone by,

And dread the days to come,

Life without you by my side,

I never thought would come.

Yet,  this is where I find myself now,

Lonely and forlorn,

Sitting by the same old rocking chair,

Looking out for you to come.

The Business of Social Networking

Posted December 7, 2009 by Arnav
Categories: Business

Tags: , , , , ,

The most recent bug to have hit our generation is that of “Social Networking”. It is talked of in tea-joints and corporate boardrooms alike. Orkut, Facebook, MySpace and a host of other sites have taken the entire world by storm. The concept is quite novel, and I admit I was an Orkut addict quite some time back, when I just used to sit and refresh my Orkut scrapbook in the hope of another scrap, and every 3 refreshes, a new scrap would indeed come in! MySpace was slightly complicated for my simple mind, so I left it alone, though I do recollect creating a profile there. Then came along Facebook, the darling of the Web. We were told by the who’s who of our generation that if you aren’t on Facebook, you haven’t arrived yet! My poor simple mind found Facebook complex too, and I failed to understand why would someone want to poke or slap someone, or grow farms and weeds, or go around buying guns and waging fights. Regular users would easily appreciate what am driving at! What I thought was, don’t computer multiplayer games give a greater adrenalin rush? I am there on Facebook too, but I get horribly bored of just updating status messages to let the world know what my dark devil mind is up to. Finally, I stumbled onto Twitter, just to see what all the hype is all about. I found it nice and non-intrusive, it doesn’t need me to fill up a gargantuan online form, and has a very simple interface. Tweeted regularly for a few days, replied to others’ tweets too, then one fine day got bored with it too! I do check it once in a while, try and act witty with it too, but found nothing really interesting on Twitter.

However, the world of Silicon Valley and its Venture Capitalists seem to think otherwise. Rupert Murdoch owned News Corp. bought out MySpace for $ 580 million in 2005. Facebook has been getting funding at every stage, with Microsoft investing $ 240 million in 2007, valuing the company at a whopping $ 15 billion! The catch is that its revenues were only $ 150 million at the time of this funding. Same goes for Twitter, which has already received $ 155 million in funding so far. Its valuation has quadrupled from $ 250 million to $ 1 billion in a year, without Twitter coming up with a concrete revenue model or bringing in any significant revenues. Apparently, both Facebook and Twitter are planning to net in a billion users in the near future. In terms of Internet Traffic attracted, Facebook ranks in 2nd, behind only Google, while Twitter is ranked 14th. What’s clear in all this talk is that, a lot of speculation goes around in the valuations of social networking sites, without a clear idea of how these businesses will bring in the promised revenues.

Another interesting facet is how these biggies have spawned off an entire ecosystem of developers who make games/apps and make good money on them. Zynga, the developers of Farmville – by far the most popular game on Facebook with 65 million active monthly users – raised $ 15 million in VC funding, in addition to $ 40 million it had raised earlier. Whether Facebook/Twitter decide to charge these developers a royalty fee is there to see. What is more important is how the networking sites will make revenues from their increasing user base, and whether they can sustain the hype. Or maybe they will fade into oblivion in the future and act as a stepping-stone for the next big thing on the Web. My hunch is that the networking space is getting quite crowded, and only the largest will survive. Top VC firms are already moving into newer areas like alternative energy,  waste management etc. where they see their investments appreciating to a greater extent.

So irrespective of whether it makes sense for me to hang around Facebook or Tweet away to glory, social networking sites make perfect business sense. At least for now.

IIM Indore and Social Sensitivity

Posted December 6, 2009 by Arnav
Categories: MBA

Tags: , , ,

This is the first post from my side from IIM Indore about IIM Indore. Funny, considering that I thought I would become a more active blogger after joining an MBA program, since I would have so much to write about. But 2 poems in 5 months is all I churned out. Whatever else I could write of- sleepless nights, Maggi at 3am, academic rigor, lack of the fairer sex, relative grading, summer placements- had all been written of in some form somewhere. And sameness is what I run away from. But some events recently have triggered off some thoughts in my mind.

Firstly, why is it that IIM Indore always portrays itself as a business school with a social sensitivity? Why is it that every other guest speaker of repute talks of society building and giving back? Why is that there is so much of social leaning in a business school, which is supposed to be the altar of capitalism, where I-bankers and Consultants in their grey suits are considered Gods, where your pay package is your identity, where business is all about making profits? Well, as they say, the answers are always hidden in plain sight. IIM Indore is located in an impoverished locality called Rau, surrounded by agricultural land and poor people. The irony of this location manifests itself in many different ways. A cab (Indica) ride to the “City” costs 400 bucks, which none of us ever flinch while shelling out. A bus ride from the city for the same distance costs Rs. 9, measly by our standards. There is also a metre-gauge train service, which has a station at Rau, which costs just Rs.3 from Indore, which is about 18km away. Such is the extent of subsidization. We waste our food in the mess when we don’t like it, and even when we do like it, we waste it ‘coz we would have taken too much of it, while there are people outside our campus who would consider a meal of rice-dal, twice a day, a luxury. There are people in campus fretting over a salary of Rs.12 lakhs which they consider low, while people outside sustain a large family all by a monthly income of Rs. 3000 without ever raising a voice. Such is the setting of our institute. To add to our conditioning, we have a unique course called “Society and Business Management”, which forces us to look at society in ways we didn’t before. Ironical are the ways of life, you come out of a business school with a socially sensitive mind, and that for me is one of the biggest takeaways from this MBA program.

And as for the questions I raised above, I already have their answers.