​The Runway Project – A Parallel World

There’s something about restaurants in malls that irks me–restaurants with missing walls. Let’s be honest, malls (especially during summer) can be very busy places getting immense footfalls. And eateries that lack walls irritate the heck out of me. A seemingly open air ambience in a mall restaurant gives me a food court-like vibe. And it’s not like I have anything against food courts, which seem a tad madhouse-ish, but that’s not the experience I had signed up for.
The entrance to the restaurant
​​On my recent visit to Select Citywalk with dear friend M, we stumbled upon The Runway Project. This too had a semi open appeal to it, although, one low rise wall was cleverly covered with bright baubles. That made it stand out in the crowd. A peek in and the ambience looked chic and quite elegant. But frankly what got our asses inside were the empty tables.

The Runway Project on the second floor with its corner location and entrance, offers an angled view of the space. The main seating area is lined by a glitzy bar on one side, with a low rise wall topped with books on the other. With bevelled mirrors, and muted shades of purple, sea green and a predominance of dated yellow, the restaurant looks beautiful. Similar to the decor on the outer wall, chandeliers composed of bright spheres and golden rods interlinking them, set the tone. Beyond the wall lined with books is a separate dining area, with the a projector showcasing a fluid motion on the sea green patterened wall, like colours dancing on water. We could have just as well been sitting in a restaurant in Europe or somewhere overseas.

A cursory glance at the menu showed ample options for vegetarians that were not relegated to the usual paneer or tofu. Of course I skipped the Salads section and hopped straight to the Small Plates.

The delumptious Tom Baker
M. initially wanted to try Cigar Club (INR 425), filo cigars of cottage cheese rolls and dressed with a sweet and spicy marination. But, we wanted to try something different. The Millefeuille le Jardin (INR 425) caught our eye. The thought of layers of French puff pastry with seasonal vegetables, mushroom and ragu, were too tempting. Alas, it wasn’t available. So we went with The Makeover (INR 425) which also had layers of vegetable sheets, compressed between grana padana (a type of cheese), ricotta and napoletana sugo. This was a no-pasta lasagne. Heavenly, and healthy! It was blissful. The second small plate we ordered was Tom Baker (INR 550), which had tomato, basil and burrata filo pie with baby rocket, olives and capers. We literally couldn’t stop attacking the plate from both ends. We were happy and excited. Two Small Plates down, our hunger wasn’t doused and we weren’t quite done with The Runway Project just yet. It piqued our appetite and taste buds.
For drinks, we decided to share a mocktail, Amore (INR 325) which had a lovely passion fruit base, ginger and topped with soda. Being low on sugar, this was quite a respite in the heat.
The menu was called for again.
With M. around, of course we had to try a pizza. Portion sizes are anyway on the lower side here, which helps us to try out more options. The pizzas here come in two options, the Calabrese section is inspired by Italy’s Calabria, while the other is Leggera, a kind of a salad pizza inspired by Naples’ fresella bread. We called for the traditional Calabrese pizza (INR 375) and a Homemade Gargenelli.
The pizza, which came in a rectangular shape, had wonderful flavours. It was topped with char grilled vegetables, bell peppers that have a toasty sweetness to it, red chillies, olives, jalapenos, emilgrana (a type of cheese) and our favourite, rocket pesto. We weren’t too happy with the garganelli that came with oblong shaped handmade pasta, grilled zucchini, Italian lemon and shaved walnuts. While I don’t remember the walnuts, we’re quite not used to citrus flavours in our pasta.
After this. The menu was called for again. I can be quite the dessert demon sometimes. When we noticed the lack of sugary goodness in the main menu, I’ll be honest, I was disappointed. But thankfully, the server told us about a separate dessert menu. Not quite sure why they needed a whole different hard back menu when it only had three options.
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Tie & Dye
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The dessert menu was something quite different. It gave off quite an uber luxe appeal. With lemon tarts being one of my favourite desserts, naturally I veered towards Tie & Dye (INR 450). It claimed that Italians love everything tart, and so The Runway Project’s version of a lemon meringue tart was topped with sprightly meringue peaks and garnished with edible flowers. The lemon curd was delicious, but I was really looking forward to a pastry tart and not dense bitter chocolate. This was a bit of a let down.

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by our experience, and I for one will be coming back to try more.

PS. By the time we left, the empty tables were not so empty anymore.

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​Terribly Tiny Tales – Writing workshops that knock on the heart

TTT – a tale of its beginning

It was a sickeningly hot summer afternoon when I had to pry myself away from the oasis of my home and travel in the deadly Delhi heat to give my friend K some company. She had invited me to a writing workshop conducted by the famed Terribly Tiny Tales (TTT), and I must say I was intrigued. All I knew about TTT were those short stories etched digitally on a black background that had won hearts on social media. No wonder TTT call themselves the ‘world’s most celebrated micro-fiction platform’.

The workshop had a huge attendance. People kept trooping in well past the scheduled time and everyone had to scooch over to make more space. It was held right next to the bar at Hyjack Restaurant & Bar. Such a heavenly concept. Not that I indulged in a bit of a tipple, but immensely enjoyed the notion that I could. Every time I’d get bored of host Joel Thatton’s face, I could turn and reboot myself. Which wasn’t often. The chief curator of the TTT app had us transfixed on his session.

Got a seat with the bar in my line of sight

One thing that made me very happy was that the workshop started on time. For a person who almost always ends up waiting for friends and family alike, witnessing an event start on time gave me goosebumps.

So many people!

The workshop kicked off with a brief introduction from Joel, who walked us through the art of writing–for TTT–really well that afternoon. He began by asking how many identified themselves as writers, and then proceeded to question those who said no. Everyone can write. With patience, dedication, practice, and skill. TTT, which encourages varied stories from all walks of life, covering a range of emotions and ideas, can truly be seen as an enabler of writing.

Joel, armed with a power point presentation, underscored the many facets of writing, of the necessity to be relatable to our readers, spinning stories with some craft and adding a surprise element somewhere. It always goes a long way to be remembered in the minds of readers. With the age being one of information overload, it’s not just necessary to know what to consume and what not to, but to promote the information in the right manner.

Writing Tips
One great tip Joel shared was to catch hold of writing prompts from everyday life. To be quiet and observe other people, notice their actions, their facial expressions, to try to eavesdrop on conversations in the metro, and most times one cannot help overhearing personal conversations between people.

Word associations also help a lot. This is true with me. Whenever I am stuck at a point, or suffering writer’s block, word associations or associating various words with one, take me off on a tangent and most times I nosedive into an inspiration. Take ‘rain’ for example. It’s not just about nature or a life process, but related to ecology or sadness or romance, or something completely imaginative. The choice is yours.

We were encouraged to work on some examples, and even submit on the TTT app. Here’s one of mine that I submitted. The prompt was ‘I finally opened the door’.

I finally opened the door.
But a strong invisible force swung it shut.
Your time has not yet come, a booming voice spoke.
Sometimes, some doors are not meant to be opened.

Of course it’s clichéd and nothing out of the ordinary, but the thing is, I don’t practice much when it comes to writing different formats. You’d be surprised what we can achieve with a little practice. The above example is a 140 format. Post this exercise, Joel explained two more – the ‘short story’ and ‘open letter’. While the short story was interesting, the ‘open letter’ got me thinking. I don’t know why I had never thought of trying my hand at this, and just this once, I want to give it a shot. Hopefully, I’ll have something to share with you by next month.

Workshop in progress

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Explore more often

While I may be in the age of the millenials, I still have a stubborn side to me, the old-school idiot. Growing up on a steady diet of novels, to witness micro-fiction become a rage, and not just that, turn into a profitable organisation is quite a feat. And taking it ten steps forward, TTT is creating a whole, new community around it. With their app, they intend to not just cultivate a growing audience, but encourage writing even from those who have stories to tell but are unable to put them into words.

​Also, with their app, on chic black background, TTT through their workshops are nurturing a community that shares numerous stories, and with due consistency in submission and garnering traction on the app from other members, they curate it on their feed. It’s a smart way to not just nudge people into writing, but also share stories from all over the world for over twelve million readers.

Sushi eating competition – What was I thinking?

​We’ve all seen at least one episode of Man Vs Food, where Adam can be seen taking on insane challenges to wipe his plate clean in a very short window of time. I always wondered what I’d do if I were ever in his place. Would I win?
Of course I wouldn’t. It’s now crystal clear. My first ever tryst in a food competition, well, let’s just say I lost royally. My good friend R told me about the sushi eating competition at Guppy in Lodhi Colony. Naïve as I was, I thought why ever not? Guppy was the restaurant where my initiation into Japanese cuisine took place, where I had tasted my first sushi, nibbled on enoki mushrooms for the first time, and sipped sake like I knew I wanted to the rest of my life. I love Guppy. And so, on International Sushi Day, over fifteen people came together, ranging from primary school kids to parents, partaking in this celebration of the traditional Japanese meal.

The competition was simple. An assorted platter of sushi had to be completed by each participant, and the one who did it in the least amount of time was named the winner. IF I had known the winner was to get a bottle of sake, I would have swallowed the entire plate whole. Alas, I lost my way, and instead started to pig out on the delicious rolls in a dream-like haze. I particularly remember one with slivers of mango. So refreshing. Also, getting to enjoy a plate full of sushi at just 500 rupees seemed like a steal.

Among the various types of sushi was the uramaki sushi, the ‘inside out’ maki roll. One was with mango. The ‘Battera sushi’ was also included, and the diced cubed versions were pressed into perfection. Alas, I was so stuffed I had to leave behind the nigiri. While it broke my heart to do that, I just couldn’t finish them.

I just love the play of colours at Guppy

The best part of the competition was its participants. Of course the platter was delicious, and the chefs had taken immense pains to put this together. Each and every piece had to be created minutes before the competition began. It’s not something that can be cooked hours beforehand, but has to be prepared just before serving. All hands must’ve been on deck. Most of the participants weren’t connoisseurs of sushi, but now they would appreciate it better. Such events bring us closer to interesting experiences and help us broaden our palates, minds, and our horizons.

All in all I’m glad I went for the competition and did not stick my lazy ass at home to watch The X-Files. I may not have won the first prize, or the runner-up, but I surely enjoyed myself to the hilt.
PS: Apologies for the dingy pictures. I wish I had a fancier smartphone.

​Palestine – A medley of emotions

This book is going to be the highlight read of 2018. Period.
The book cover
​​Palestine by Joe Sacco has been an intense and difficult read. You’d think a comic book would be easy to read and completed in a couple of days. Not this one. Not for me at least. Joe, with his mix of graphics and text, gives the reader a comprehensive insight into the life and times of Occupied Territories in the early 90s. The text not only spells out the atrocities meted out to the Palestinians, but forms a broken yet hard-hitting style of narrative. With ample context and snippets, intense conversations and monologues, Joe managed to transport me to the world he witnessed, a world wrought with gunfire and uncertainty, of being denied basic human rights and land expropriated.

Continue reading “​Palestine – A medley of emotions”

Black Water Lilies – An artist’s wet dream

​This book had been eyeing me since all of last year. At the airport, on my Instagram feed, lists of must-read books and at every bookstore I waltzed into – which were many and quite often. It was everywhere. Late last year, I finally gave in and got myself a copy.
A gripping read
Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi is based in the French village of Giverny where Impressionist painter Claude Monet had lived and worked, from 1883 to 1926. He created a magnificent garden that was the subject of his paintings, and went on to make numerous renditions of the water lilies that graced the pond. This garden is exceptionally beautiful, with its azaleas and pines, wisterias and even a Japanese bridge. I was quite unaware about the existence of the water garden, but this book made me look it up, and it is beyond words. It left me stumped. Those who love working with colours would have a field day here. No wonder Monet said he was in raptures when in his garden. It looks breathtaking.

Continue reading “Black Water Lilies – An artist’s wet dream”