Dec 28, 2006

Kanua - chateau by the Mediterranean

There are some places and people that totally surprise you. Places totally unanticipated that really gets one hooked... Or people who catch you by the neck and say "I exist" The Friday dinner at Kanua was one such otherworldy experience. A close friend had come down for a short visit. He was docked at Sarjapur Road which is like a trek to the moon from where I work and live in the notorious Blore traffic. After some time at his Sister's home, we started driving out of the city along Sarjapur road. The serendipity drive I thought would lead to the magical dhaba by the river. Suddenly my friend had a brainwave and thumped the mobile.

A right turn after the Fabmall in Sarjapur Road leads to a dirt track can give any rally freak an adrenalin rush . The road ends at a 3-storied building on the right with a vast expanse of grass in front of it. The dimly lit building has a slight gothic touch and the lovely Blore weather in December makes it chique. A wooden staircase that winds 2 floors leads to the hideaway.

I first had the notion entering into an old Goan home with the muted lighting and portuguese music. Then I imagined sitting in a chateau by the Mediterranean. The decor is definitely period with doors that open into two, large blocks of wood for railing and tiled roofing. The exquisite dining area is without walls and gives a sense of watching a play by nature on all three sides. There is small lounge area to cool off.

I started with an Iced tea. The menu is predominantly fish or atleast that is what my eyes could read. But there are ample doses of chicken and vegetables. If you have to absolutely tie it to a region, the Konkan which includes both the Mangalore and Goan streams suits best. A medium sized white pomphret was the first cold-blooded vertebrate on the table. I had long since stopped ordering food by their names. The fish was either baked or medium-fried with right amount of spice. There might have been a tinge of vinegar thrown in. The masala was not completely dried and tasted great. It sort of melted like chocolate in my mouth.

The main course was seer fish curry with rice. Kanua serves two varieties of rice - the standard Basmati type and boiled ( bee size according to a N Indian friend) predominant along the west coast. The gravy tasted like the coconut grated & fried variety, but it was not exactly the same though. There were some unrecognizable ingredients that made it quite unique with an appetizing aroma. Fish was fresh and the potions were enough for two.

Now for the wallet factor. Compared to other seafood places in B'lore like Harbour Market ( Mohanlal's) & Tiger Bay, the place is light on the pocket. The pricing is as honest as it can get for seafood out here. The chicken and vegetarian dishes were also decently priced. Kanua doesn't serve drinks. This was the only glitch in the otherwise superb experience. But diners can carry bottles which they serve out there. I would recommend this joint just for the ambience. The top-class food is an incentive. If you like the old-world charm like at Koshys, the place is for you. I would have shifted the weekend binge except for the variety and crowd at Koshys. It can also be ideal place for a heavy lunch with a siesta in a hammock.

Check this place. It is worth the trek.. ooops the drive.

Dec 14, 2006

Lesser Mortals

Woke up this morning thinking about conversations with a colleague generally about developmental and economic issues. Was reminded of how 2 neighboring states have a remarkably different way of dealing with certain tragedies that affect the poor. The first thing that hit me on today's newspaper was about the collapse of the scaffolding at a construction site in Infosys campus and resultant death of 5 migrant laborers. This was the exact same thing that I was thinking about 10 mins back. Such tragedies are commonplace as Banglore shapes into a technopolis.

2 weeks ago a storehouse collapsed at Biocon and killed 3. There has been atleast 7 such incidents since I starting counting them form 2005. Anywhere between 3-7 people are killed in each of these incidents. Near the place I used to stay at R.T. Nagar the scaffolding gave in on the day of concreting. 5 dead. At another site in MG road had the land give in when excavating for the basement. 3 dead.

The victims in most cases are migrant laborers from rural Karnataka or the BIMARU states . Political parties ignore them because they don't form a vote bank. The workers are never a part of any union. The media cold-shoulder them since such news don't appeal to their urban target. The TOI for example found it worthy of only a 2 column article in the second page. That is when they can waste reams and reams of paper on Shilpa Shetty's latest beau or on which girl appeared in what skimpy clothes at which all parties. The more socially obliged among them might have one follow-up article. Haven't heard about any NGO's who pursue such cases. And forget about anything coming up in the courts. Nobody seems to be bothered about those 5 hapless, poor souls who pay with their lives to create the pillars of 21st century India.

There are probably no villains in the story. But there is an institutional failure in letting such criminal negligence go unpunished. The building contractors are powerful enough to influence the civic authorities and the police. And even if charge sheeted the case would be so weak. The standard rebuttal by the contractors is that everything mandatory has been done. Don't know if the families of the dead are even compensated properly. In today's case the construction company Sobha Developers which is among the reputed here has announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 2,50,000 and that would be last. As an aside the CEO of Soba developers recently did a Thulabaram ( offering to the deity in ones weight) in Gold at Guruvayoor temple worth Rs 7 Crore.

The economic theory doing rounds lately is that India's population is the bouty that will propel it to the superpower league. Does it mean we have more lives to loose than others and we don't care. Does it mean that the rich can subsidize their lifestyles at the cost of the poor. The affluent and middle-class need to really think if violence like one after Rajkumar's death or the most recent Dalit angst in Maharastra are emotional outbursts of the marginilised majority.

I wish Infosys which has set global standards in giving back to the society make an example of this case. The least they could do is to ensure that the families are compensated and children's future protected. The best would be to pursue this case and bring the culprits to book. But that might be too much of a price to pay. The middle-ground could be to create some frameworks so that such accidents don't repeat.