“All you vertically challenged people, you will have to work a lot harder.”

And the award for the most politically incorrect statement heard today goes to this military workout instructor who was unleashing hell at Greenwich park this morning! I can think of a number of ways to spend a Saturday morning but having the dickens insulted out of me when I am rolling around in mud doing a military crawl is probably not one amongst them.

Or perhaps, I am just being unkind. Perhaps, the man just had an epiphany – a dystopian future where the amount of work a person is required to do is inversely proportional to how far the tip of his head is from ground level. Quite like that idea actually. Provided of course, I don’t land in some Scandinavian country – that probably wouldn’t go down too well.

Clarence Darrow

As a general rule, I am not much of a gusher. At times though, I am reduced to a quivering blubber of awe-struck mess.

Mr Darrow

There is little I can say about Kevin Spacey as Clarence Darrow which has not been said before – a performance for the ages, cementing Spacey’s reputation as being one of the finest of all time, a one-man tour de force and all. When the Mayan, P and I entered Old Vic last summer we did so with more than a hint of trepidation. There is an inherent problem with having great expectations of anything – like that poor Pip, you are more than likely to have them all dashed to pieces! However, when we exited the theatre a couple of hours later we were unanimous on a few points: (a) our expectations were not only met, but also given a sound bollocking for having had any doubts in the first place; (b) this was the most reasonably priced show in the world – we would have gladly paid four or five times of what we paid; and (c) (this is where a far-away, wistful gleam came into our eyes), deep into the unseen future, we could tell folks we were there, we saw Kevin Spacey give the performance of a lifetime.

Spacey returns as Darrow to Old Vic this spring (http://www.oldvictheatre.com/whats-on/2015/clarence-darrow-2/). If you are in London and did not manage to catch the play last summer, I would recommend snapping up tickets as soon as they come on sale. And even if you are not, I would recommend you to consider traveling here and doing the above🙂

P.S. Aah, you scoff and say you have seen Spacey as Francis Underwood and surely nothing can top that. To which I would say, Spacey as the renegade, weather-beaten Darrow could chew up the Machievallian Underwood and spit him out before breakfast!

The best restaurant in Britain?

Gymkhana

A few months back, The Guardian ran an article on this Mayfair joint called Gymkhana, which somehow was interesting and infuriating in equal measure. For starters (no pun intended), the place supposedly served food family-style, the food itself being of a peculiarly gutsy variety. Firstly, the restaurant in question has as strong a Colonial hangover as any I have ever seen. Muted lighting, oak panels, stuffed animals, state-of-art daguerrotypes and dapper waiters (whose sartorial styles were at least a few notches above mine). Hardly my idea of a family-style dinner (but perhaps I am just being a pleb). Secondly, food ‘cannot’ be gutsy. A chef can be gutsy, say, if he serves up tripe (of the figurative variety), a customer can be gutsy if he partakes a course which plainly appears to be tripe, the whole tripe and nothing but the tripe. However, the tripe in itself cannot ever be gutsy, much in the same way as a murgh malai can never be morose or a seekh kabab of a studious temperament (or I can never be a food critic)! However, as usual, I digress. Coming back to Gymkhana, I just have have two words of advice if you are in London: go there. I have been to a fair number of Indian restaurants this neck of the woods, from Lahore Kebab House to Punjab to Dishoom. Gymkhana stands alone – I have frankly never had better Indian food outside of India (not even in good old Dubai). If you do go there, I would highly recommend its Muntjac Biryani and Ajwani Salmon Tikka. If you are veggie, fret not – it does a mean dal and paneer as well. My personal favourite though is the humble raita. With a sprig of mint, a few pomegranate seeds, a sprinkle of black salt, and curd beaten to just the right consistency, ’tis the stuff to compose culinary sonnets in the honour of! Also, if you one of those true-blue food aficionados / ranking fanatics / show-offs, these chaps were awarded a Michelin star, I think this October. For all that jazz though, the restaurant is quite reasonably priced – it has a brilliant early-evening four-course selection priced at around 25 quid and the quantity is almost enough for two reasonably-sized appetites! Best restaurant in Britain? At least amongst the ones I have been to. Tick.

Shanghai Postcard 1

The Oriental Pearl Tower is, easily, the most striking structure in the Pudong skyline.

Err, The Skyline

Some buildings are meant to be useful. Some others are meant to look good. Some though are meant to look like friggin’ spaceships liable to take off without a moment’s notice.

Now, as with most buildings of such type, there is no dearth of notable notables willing to grace such places with their august presences. The Oriental Pearl Tower is no different. There are signature panels of all the eminences, grise or otherwise, who have deemed it fit to visit the place. India, if I remember correctly, was represented my Messrs. Somnath Chatterjee and A.B. Vajpayee. SC’s panel was fine; ABV’s though, was slightly more interesting:

Signature(s) Panel

Seriously guys, Shreyas, Jaydeep and Ashvin, well well done! Must be an incredible feeling, really, to know that of all the panels in the place, the only one which has been defaced belongs to our country. And hey, we live in democracy, who is to say that you fellas are any less important than Vajpayee!

Nits.

On a completely unrelated note, total time spent at the UKBA queue at Heathrow this time was 97 minutes! I counted!! Swear that had I been made of less sterner stuff, I might have actually considered hot-footing it back to DXB on the next Emirates flight. Fortunately, composed as I am of a high-density titanium alloy, the thought briefly crossed my mind, took one look at what it was up against, and then ran screaming for its dear life!

Dubai Postcard 1

At times, urban graffiti is called the purest form of art. Undertaken neither for acclaim nor for profit, this is Art which rises from the streets. Art which depicts the world around it, the world in its rawest and most visceral self. ‘Tis Art for Art’s sake alone.

What utter, infallible gunk! Defaced brick and mortar structures might hold their charms for the casual passerby, but its just a wee bit difficult to go gaga over stuff like this:

Graffiti - Turnstile - Dubai Style

Dubai arguably offers as much material in generating cutting edge visceral stuff as any other city on this planet! And, this is the best that our urban graffiti Yoda (who fortunately for him/her/it remains unnamed) could come up with!! At times, anonymity sure does have its virtues.

Or perhaps, I am just being a tad too unkind  here. Bet this must be the handiwork of some poor Transformers groupie, with a bit too much time and spray paint at his/her/its disposal, who:

  1. Does not quite appreciate Optimus Prime’s grandiloquent gyaan delivered in operatic baritone;
  2. But is still in awe of the dude’s awesome awesomeness🙂

Woohoo

Got drenched. In the middle of the friggin desert🙂

Funny thing is thunder seemed to be in mute mode (or perhaps it was just all that sand in my ears). And the rain drops were surprisingly big! You know the ones which just go splat, without any preliminary pitter-patter!

What is infinitely funnier is that I wasn’t even sure it was the real deal when the skyline started flashing up! Thought there were some slightly evolved versions of fireworks going off! See, that’s what the desert (especially, this version thereof) does to you!

“Dude, I Thought You Were a Friend of Mine!”

But before that, a couple of minor digressions:

Locked myself out of my apartment this morn. And The Hipster’s back in London! Good fun!

Currently clattering away at a cafe. Which probably has one of the cheesiest playlists I have heard. EVER. Sample this: Kelly Clarkson; Backstreet Boys, Leona Lewis. Well, to give credit where it is due, their hazelnut ice latte is pretty decent! And they did have a Don McLean thrown somewhere in that playlist mix!

Coming back, I was recently trawling through all the gunk I have saved away on my lappie. Given the rate at which the darned thing is crashing these days (and displaying a sense of foresight which I/you would have scarcely considered me capable of, woohoo!), thought it made sense to check if I had anything useful saved anywhere!

And I discovered what follows🙂

Little background first. Mooting is huge in Noojie-land! Has always been; shall always be! Which is good, mooting is one of the cooler things you can do in law school. Well, apart from of course, not doing anything at all! The only thing I never really liked about mooting was preparing those blasted memorials. Just too much opportunity cost, man!

In any case, once I was asked to help out with a memo, for a moot, I wasn’t even part of. You can imagine how thrilled I must have been!! Well, it wasn’t much, just drafting a Statement of Facts and the Body refused to leave my room till I said yes. And in a temporary bout of insanity, I agreed!

It wasn’t fun! At all! So being the nice, good-natured chap I am, decided to spice things up a wee bit🙂 You know, I thought to myself, poor Prats, slogging their guts out, why not bring a smile to their sorry, careworn faces! Exhibit 1 sets out the original facts, and Exhibit 2 is what I came up with.

Exhibit 1_Page 1

Exhibit 1_Page 2

Exhibit 2

Things of course got infinitely more interesting when these Prats submitted the bloody memorial with just a quick cut-paste job of my stuff! Imagine, not even looking at my handiwork, despite: (a) knowing me/the kind of stuff I was capable of; and (b) having bloody told them to check it because “I was sure they would find it enjoyable”.

Fortunately, the Skulker, privy as he was to these going-ons, discovered what these Prats had couriered across in the nick of time. And promptly fell off laughing whichever chair he was sitting on! I was away home that night but was given to understand that the Prats’ expressions at that moment were strongly suggestive of a collective coronary!

That, of course, was the moment when the Body gave me a call which began with these truly immortal lines: “Dude, I thought you were a friend of mine!”🙂

P.S. The courier was intercepted in transit. (I think someone was deputed to do a sit-in at the courier office till the Prats got their courier back!). Otherwise, Noojies might have again created mooting history, albeit of a slightly iffier variety🙂

Jab Main Chhotta Baccha Tha

We used to have this pretty zapped out version of a bicycle race! The basic idea was to pedal from Point A to Point B, as slowly as possible, and without letting your feet ever touch the ground. Absolutely bonkers stuff!

And I used to suck at this! Royally! The only way I had a shot at winning one of these things was to swerve, err accidentally of course🙂, into someone else’s path, and force him/her/it to dismount. That apart, I did not stand a chance.

When I walk home from office everyday, I usually have to pass through this covered, turnstile like thingie. Couple of days back, there were three women in front of me, who were doing their own little, slightly evolved version of the aforementioned bicycle race. From what I could make out, it probably entailed walking from Point A to Point B as slowly, and and moving their feet with as minimal a distance between them, as possible.

In other words, (and this is puting it kindly), wherever these three were headed to, it might have been faster for them to stand in one place, and let the continental drift/tectonic plates do the rest!   

Exchanged a decent number of high fives last night🙂 And, Yuvi and Raina, seriously well, well done! Bloody brilliant partnership. If any of these two had gone, no friggin way we were winning this match. Now of course, there is the big kahuna on Wed :)  

I like weekends. Even though, they might be conked out and begin on weekends🙂 The agenda for this week is pretty simple though: bum around and then finish This is Not That Dawn. Can’t believe the darned thing has taken me so long to finish. I think I might have actually even crossed the record set by Foucault’s Oscillating Little Thingie🙂

(Memo to self: Bit of an Adele overload at the moment!)