Saturday, May 24, 2014

Cheese Wadai aka cheese cake or cheese tikka

Talk about food inventions. This is a delicious snack I found at “The Manchester” an English Pub attached at the hip to Agra the Indian restaurant down Independence Avenue. And I guess the only English pub in the world which serves chicken tikka and other Indian food as part of its menu. I was having a drink with HF when he ordered this dish. I was quite perplexed when I heard him order cheese cake for a bite. Noticing the weird look I was giving him he said wait and see knowingly. What came to the table looked like a wadey and felt like a wadey. But when you bit into it thick melted cheese oozed out mixed with Indian flavors as they had added some of the ingredients which they put into wadey adding spicy highlight to the creaminess of the cheese. It was quite literally like magic on my tongue. And at this point I have run out of words to describe how lovely it felt even though I would have liked to wax eloquent about it for a couple more pages. Well if you have not tried it yet all I can say is go do it. It is well worth a visit. That’s all I can say.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Gymnastys – the battle of the fits.

Sometimes a plain piece of paper can set off a revolt. That is exactly what happened at the gym I have been frequenting for the past eight years. This piece of paper I am referring to took the form of a letter which was given to all the trainers who were working there. It said that effect from the following Monday all PT (Personal Training) would be canceled.
This action was a result of a problem which has been brewing for a long time. Of course the culprit was none other than PT itself.
You see all the trainers who worked at the gym were allowed to carry out PT sessions during their off times. With each hours session costing about a thousand rupees PT became the main mode of income of these trainers.
And therein lay the problem.
It was more profitable for the trainers to steer clients towards Personal Training instead of helping them to work out on their own with the assistance of the trainers that were on duty. It was a vicious cycle. If the trainers on duty did their job well then they would lose the larger income they made from Personal Training. The reality of life is that no one wanted to loose money. So most of the time people who came to the gym to work out on their own steam and did not have the luxury of a personal trainer found themselves left high and dry without anyone to show them the ropes or help them. This meant that they felt unhappy and marginalized. To add to the misery clients who used the trainers for lessons during their off times encouraged them to carry out Personal Training even when they were on duty.
Very soon the gym got a reputation as a place suitable only for those who can afford personal training.
The reality was that most members resorted to Personal Training as they had no alternative. I know this first hand because I too was one such member. The costs of fees add up to a significant amount over time and I know a lot of people who consider this expense grudgingly.
One would have expected most of the members to welcome the cancelling of PT with open arms.
But that was not what happened.
The news that PT was cancelled spread like wild fire. Since there had been no official announcement or dialogue between the members and the management - and with the interested parties adding fuel to the fire - everyone was outraged. They felt that their rights had been violated.
No one realized that this new rule would be beneficial to them in the long run.
The members were so outraged that they called the owner of the gym and complained. This resulted in the decision of the Management of the gym to cancel PT being over ruled by the owner.
Creating a huge embarrassment for the management. As well as a lot of unnecessary expenditure for the members.
I can’t help but think the outcome would have been different if this situation had been handled with a little more tact and more open communication between the management the staff and the members. Instead all that has happened is that have arrived at yet another new turn of the vicious cycle.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Texts from a dog...

You have to own a dog to truly appreciate how accurate these text from a dog are. I found these on the internet and HAD to post these on here so I could access them whenever I wanted to for a quick lift me up. I lift my hat up to whoever who had the creative wisdom to come up with such a unique thought.
There is also an interesting interview here with Dog the main character featured in these text messages. He has his own Tumblr page too.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Faulty towers dining experience… well worth the experience though not the dining experience.

Well this was a post which was dying due to procrastination.
This event happened a long time ago and I never got down to writing anything about it just because I could not be bothered. Very soon it was way too late to write about it as it had lost its relevance.
But I heard that Mount Lavinia Hotel was bringing the Australian Theater company down once more to host the Faulty Towers Dining experience from the 05th to the 08th June. Hence the resurrection of this post nearly a month after Easter.
That was my first reaction when I saw a poster that a bunch of Aussies were trying to reenact the famous British Comedy “Fawlty Towers” in Colombo. How on earth would they manage the British accent was the first question which ran through my mind. Even though seeing an iconic British comedy done in an Australian accent does seem kind of funny – specially after a couple of drinks – it was not my cup of tea.
One should not judge a book by its cover. Or rather a theater production from the country of origin as is the case maybe in this instance.
This was the lesson I learnt when news started filtering in from various people what a wonderful time they had at this event. In fact they had two extra matinee shows as well. Which were all sold out by the time I rushed to the MLH to get my tickets. Fortunately for me TE managed to use her contacts and get two tickets for me.
All I can say is thank goodness that I did not miss it. It was absolutely wonderful and the spouse and myself had a lovely time.
Firstly it is not your conventional theater experience. There is no stage or set or lights. You just walk into a dining area where tables and chairs are set up. In fact at first we thought we were in the wrong place. You take your seats and the waiters come and start serving you various little snacks and drinks. Suddenly you see a familiar figure hobbling along. And you realize it is Manuel the waiter from the TV series. It is only then that it dawns on you the show has begun. Very soon Mr and Mrs Fawlty walk in and your are transported into a different world. To a different dining room to be honest. The dining room of the original Fawlty Towers to be precise. Here you will be served a meal by Mr and Mrs Fawlty and Manuel of course you get to experience all the accompanying drama just like the people in the TV Show.
After a few minutes you can’t help but believe you are in the real TV show. The Characters are amazingly realistic. There accents are pure British. And the cast interact with everyone in the audience and you are writhing in laughter at their antics. Only about one third of the show is scripted so the actors make things up on the way which makes everything absolutely unpredictable and an enormous amount of fun.
The reason why I am writing this review so late is that you might make the same assumptions I did when hearing of this event and miss it. It is well worth the money you spend. The only fly in the ointment? The food- which was absolutely pathetic.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Interesting Artwork by Prageeth Manohansa

I was fascinated by these bold confident strokes when I saw them at the Gallery Cafe. Of course these were taken night months ago though I am only sharing them on here only now. Kudos to Prageeth Manohansa for this work.


Imprisoned by freedom.

They stepped into another life

The moment they got out of the plane..

No prying eyes… no wagging tongues… no responsibilities….

Even if it was just for a limited time..

They were free…

Free to walk hand in hand…

Free to sit beside one another and enjoy a meal

Free to laugh together

…as only lovers would

And before they knew it

they had to return.

To reality

To responsibility

To the rigidity that life imposes

All they had to hold onto

Were the memories

So wonderful... so lovely

They were prisoners of it.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

There is a difference between “Buth” and “Rice”

The way the Sinhala language keeps evolving is amazing. How one word that means the same can have two completely different meaning at street level is something which never ceases to surpirse me. For instance if you walk into a road side food kiosk and ask for tea they give you tea made with milk and sugar but if you ask for “t(h)ey” – the Sinhalese word for tea – then it means a plain cup of tea without any milk.
Now it seems there is another new phenomenon. This time it is to do with our staple diet Rice.
If one goes to a roadside boutique and orders a “rice” then it means a fried rice while if they order a “buth” – Sinhalese word for rice – then it means the traditional rice and curry.
I can see you going huh!!! Yes that was my first response as well.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Sometimes it DOES take a Rocket Scientist!! (true story)..

Scientists at Rolls Royce in UK, built a gun specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners and military jets all travelling at maximum velocity.
The idea was to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.
American engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the Windshields of their new high speed trains.
Arrangements were made, and a gun was sent to the American engineers.
When the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken shot out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, blasted through the control console, snapped the engineer's back-rest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin like an arrow shot from a bow..
The horrified Yanks sent Rolls Royce the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield and begged the British scientists for suggestions.
You're going to love this......
Rolls Royce responded with a one-line memo:
"Defrost the chicken first."

Unexpected Disappointments and Delights in Arugam Bay…

Beautiful Arugam Bay from Gecko
It was a sudden decision. TE and me and her delightful son decided to just drive down to Arugam Bay to join some of our mutual friends because we had nothing better to do during that weekend. After a six hour drive across Sri Lanka we finally came to our destination which was Bay Vista Arugam Bay. A place we had found online on
And as we stepped into the property we realized that we had stumbled upon the best place to stay in Arugam Bay by a complete stroke of sheer luck. Amazingly it is not even officially open yet. They have just had the soft opening and it is still a work in progress with many more additions on the cards.
But as far as we were concerned the rooms were large and airy. The air conditioning worked well. The bed linen was soft, crisp and comfortable – like the kind you get at more upscale facilities - and the toilet was spacious, clean and spanking new. I believe that it had even have a pressure pump. Something unheard of in the more budget conscious digs around this area.
Who could ask for more?
But that is exactly what we got. And it came in the form of a delicious culinary experience.
This hotel is run by a charming mom and daughter - who have spent a long time in Italy - along with a very able hotel manager. Amanda the daughter manages the front desk while Kanthi the mother is in charge of the kitchen. The fact that Kanthi has spent many years in Italy means that her Italian Cooking is outstanding as much as her Sri Lankan food and we were lucky to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Our last night’s dinner consisted of grilled Lobster and Calamari. Along with Sea food Risotto, Seafood Pasta and spaghetti carbonara. All of these dishes were absolutely delicious.
Lobsters absolutely delicious what was nicer was the price just 2000 for two

Sea Food Rissoto

Seafood pasta
Spaghetti Carbonara

The most delicious grilled calamari I have had
To my delight the next day we were served String hoppers, bread along with accompaniments which included a pol sambol which could only be described as pure dynamite.
Yummy Polsambol
I believe to find a place which can do both Western and Eastern food very well is an absolute Treasure. But what makes this find so valuable and delightful is the disappointing experience we had at gecko.
As you know Gecko is the default destination of almost everyone in Colombo who ventures into Arugam Bay. And the first thing we did after we put our bags down was to walk into Gecko which is three doors down.
Yes the place was nice and comfortably laid out but that’s all that one could say about it. The attitude of the waiters – if you can call them that in the first place as these are mostly boys from the area without any proper training - can only be described as nonchalant. In fact the conversation was more about what they could NOT give us rather than what they could. Worse of all none of them spoke Sinhalese only Tamil. A few I believe could understand English when spoken with a Western Accent. All this combined made ordering food a night mare experience. And sadly the food was not good at all. It was less than average and to add insult to injury highly overpriced. You were paying the kind of charges one would pay at a restaurant like German Restaurant for something which was two thirds less than the value and the service you would get there.
on the other hand this grilled calamari from Gecko was putrid
Our disillusionment was further strengthened when we ordered the rice and curry lunch the next day. Firstly rice and vegetables was 950 and an additional 950 was charged if you wanted prawns or crabs. It took two hours to prepare as well. What we got for a 2000 rupee lunch was white rice, mellung, beet root Parippu and papadams along with a prawn curry consisting of tiny prawns. Cheated was how we felt after this experience. The only silver lining in this dark experience at Gecko is that they had excellent homemade ice cream made out of buffalo curd. I tried the arrack and the banana ice cream which was delicious. Specially the arrack ice cream had raisins which had been soaked in arrack which were like flavor bombs that exploded in your mouth.
It seems that Gecko may have been the definitive place to be in Arugam bay sometime ago. But it seems success along with an equally large portion of greed has made them slovenly and lose their edge these days.
Fortunately for us all Bay Vista is there to take the slack.
An interesting sign

Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Avalanche of excellent service at the Grand Hyatt Singapore

 I am not exaggerating when I say so.
Being hit by an Avalanche of excellent service is exactly how I would summarize my recent experience at the Grand Hyatt Singapore. It made me feel so glad that I chose this property over the others in spite of a few negative reviews that appeared on Trip Advisor.
The entire hotel abuzz with energy and professionalism.
I was greeted by a smart young lady with an ipad who started my check in process the moment I stepped out of my taxi. Nice touch by the way. What truly amazed me was that this level of excellence was visible at all levels of staff I encountered. From the people behind the reception counter to the people who were serving in the restaurants; even the bellboys and the staff that clean the room was full of exuberance and enthusiasm. Being in the service industry myself I know how difficult it is to maintain such standards and I raise my hat in respect for those responsible for making this possible.
I found the rooms absolutely comfortable and spacious. What I really appreciated were the strategically placed power sockets –both square pin and round pin - near the bed as well as on the desk ensuring that I could plug my laptop as well as charge my phone without a problem. Trust me when I say it can be a huge problem sometimes.
The bath room was delightful. Firstly it was large and roomy with separate bath AND a separate rain shower cubicle with excellent water pressure making your shower experience absolutely relaxing. The amenities provided were of good quality as well.
Also I found the food at the Grand Hyatt Singapore excellent. The spread at the breakfast buffet was breathtaking. There is Western Chinese and Indian plus a fresh fruit and vege juice section as well. I also loved the fact that they served proper espresso coffee instead of the filter coffee which is served in most of the other hotels I have been to. What’s more they are also nice enough to give you a take away cup of coffee if you want it. In fact the food was so good most of my meals were ordered via room service as I thought it was a wiser option than going out to eat. 
I also spent a lot of time in 10 Scots which is a lovely and cozy meeting place combining the warmth and atmosphere of a coffee shop and a wine bar. The best news of all is that the wine was excellent – in fact it was the best that I had ever had. I am not a wine connoisseur all I did was order a glass of the cheapest that was available.  
In addition to all the comforts of the hotel an additional plus is its location. It is in the heart of Orchard Street and just minutes away from the better known malls.
My entire stay at the hotel was excellent however there was one inconvenience I faced which was that they were not flexible in giving me an early check in. Even though I was willing to pay for the privilege. Which meant I had to pay for one full extra day to be able to check in to the room 4 hours earlier which is an absolute waste of money. Oops and I forgot to mention I looked all over but could not find the thermostat to control the air conditioner. :)
This is a review which I did on tripadvisor which I am putting up on here so it is not exactly a blog post propper :)