Friday, 26 September 2014

Circle of Deceit - Chapter 18

This is Chapter 18 of a mystery series in the “Game of Blogs”.  Our team “Kalakaar Colony” is a part of #CelebrateBlogging campaign by Blogadda. You can read the previous chapter here.

Chapter begins ..

Mr.Gupta consoled Tara by gently yet firmly patting her shoulders, even as he was busy on his phone, calling up the echelons of the police force.  

Tara was the apple of his eye, and Roohi, the sweet apple pie.  They defined his very existence.  He wanted to demonstrate to Tara that he shall leave no stone untouched.

In an admonishing tone, he instructed Tara, "Look, we have to branch out.  I am networking you with the Additional Director General of Police - I will text message you the address right away - my driver well knows the Police headquarters, hurry up Tara. Let me go to the newspaper offices and see if I can get a look-out for Roohi released".

That said, he led Tara to one of his chauffeur driven cars and instructed the driver to take her to the Police Headquarters.  



Barely had Tara's car gone past the street bend, disappearing from sight, Mr.Gupta barged into his compact sedan and drove himself out.  

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



Shekhar haphazardly parked his car in the hospital parking lot. "Why on Earth do hospitals not have valet parking?", he remarked to himself!

He ran into the hospital lobby and frantically pressed all the 4 elevator buttons. It felt an eternity waiting for the elevators, all the more, because his mood was low. He felt very low. He took to the flight of stairs.

Panting for breath, he barged into the room where he had left Jennifer .. 



Alas, the cleaners were changing the linen and Jennifer was nowhere.  He turned around searching for her .. and caught the eyes of a duty nurse.  "She got discharged", informed a puzzled nurse!

"WHAT?", yelled Shekhar, oblivious of hospital decorum and ignoring the customary courtesy due to a service employee.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
  

Mr.Gupta left the city roads behind .. almost humming, "country roads, take me home!"

Driving past lush fields underneath a clear blue sky, he arrived at the 'Sun & Sand' resort.

Valet parking to his rescue, he flipped his phone screen for a message that had a cottage number in it and headed to the reception; "186", he announced, searching the receptionist's eyes for directions.

The receptionist helpfully said, "Welcome to Sun & Sand Sir, that would be the fifth cottage to the left, enjoy your experience with us." 

"Knock, Knock" .. cottage 186 opened its doors.  Krishna peeped out cautiously through the partly opened door.  Seeing Mr.Gupta, he heaved a sigh of relief and opened the door widely to let Mr.Gupta in, locking the door behind them. "This way Sir", he gestured right.  Mr.Gupta gave a small carry bag he was holding to Krishna and followed the path.

Mr.Gupta entered the room, Krishna in tow, to see Roohi seated on the window sill, her eyes fixated on the distant horizon outside, her legs clasped by her hands .. in a not so comfortable embrace.



Overjoyed to see his apple pie, Mr.Gupta called out gently, "Roohi beta .."

Roohi turned around in a jiffy, as overjoyed herself and rushed into her grandpa's wide open arms.  She hugged him tight.

Mr.Gupta loosened her embrace, beckoned for the carry bag and gave it to Roohi.

A delighted Roohi opened the bag .. to find .. her favorite drawing kit .. a nice, blank sketch pad and colorful crayons. Her eyes lit up and she said "thank you."

A beaming Mr.Gupta said, "You are welcome beta, you go relax, grandpa is here .. nothing to worry."

Roohi flew to the window sill, now with spring in her feet and song in her heart.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



Tara stopped the driver .. "Any further & I will really be at the Police headquarters", she thought to herself.

She alighted from the car, asked the driver to get back to her father's place and stepped onto the promenade, walking to a corner.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



Jennifer arrived at Tara and Shekhar's locale, at long last, hopping and taking lifts along the way.

She sighed, "Now, how do I find Aryan Ahuja with just a pincode served up by the electoral rolls?"

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++



Mr.Gupta, gulped the refreshing cup Krishna served him in the living room, actually reflecting on and relishing what he deemed as a 'coup of sorts' they had served together.  He then got up to go check on Roohi, blissfully enjoying her drawing kit. Krishna dutifully followed him.

Roohi was deeply immersed in her drawing.  She did not even glance up to see an approaching Mr.Gupta, closely followed by Krishna.

Mr.Gupta and Krishna walked up to Roohi, taking a position on either side, with Roohi still head down & headlong into her drawing.

Then, their eyes caught Roohi's almost finished drawing ..

Roohi had sketched a young man's face .. no, it was not Krishna!

A triumphant Mr.Gupta shared an understanding glance with Krishna .. the smart man & intuitive grandfather he was, he knew he had Roohi answer his question without even posing her the question, "Who were you with?"




Krishna thought to himself, "No wonder they say grandparents are an ideal ground for grandchildren.  This ought to be a parenting and social lesson."


Chapter ends.

Eager to read the next Chapter? 

Here we go .. Chapter 19

If you want to catch up on all the Chapters of 'Circle of Deceit' in Level 1 (a total of 10 Chapters), here is a recap:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

Chapters in Level 2 (a total of 10):

Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

My team & I are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

Cheers :)

Circle of Deceit - Chapter 17

This is Chapter 17 of a mystery series in the “Game of Blogs”.  Our team “Kalakaar Colony” is a part of #CelebrateBlogging campaign by Blogadda. You can read the previous chapter here.

Chapter begins ..

If a person could look as haunted as property .. one glance at Jennifer, right then, was all it would have taken. In the hospital, she looked almost haunted .. by her thoughts, as she stared at her phone, still reeling under the impact & shock of Shekhar disconnecting her second consecutive call, made in quick succession. 

"What can I do to make him listen to me right now?", she agonized, "I have little time on hand!" After all, having a lead and waiting don't go together.  At least, not for those who care to make a difference .. to themselves and to those they care for. Jennifer had begun to care .. for Shekhar and as much for what he thought of her. Exactly like an empathetic human would, for someone who stands by them in an hour of need. Shekhar did.  It was her turn now.  "Would he trust me?", was the thought that haunted her.     



If there ever was a discovery as to the hottest proposition, it wouldn't have been the Sun's temperature.  No, it wouldn't have been the actresses either.  It would be 'torture inflicted by one's thoughts on oneself'.  

Jennifer's torturous thoughts ran over Cyrus's blog .. that single blog post .. narrating a spectacular investigation .. had caught not just her attention, but well, the attention of her, err .. soul!  

She thought to herself, "Was it destiny? Or, was it Nature utilizing her as a tool? If yes, for what end?"

Her mind raced the flashback:

She had read and re-read that blog post.  And, set off on a great trip on the Internet of things. Google for company, fueled by endless cups of coffee and an urge to find the man who was the hero of that investigation, whom, Cyrus's blog post had deified. Well, almost. 

She had utilized key word search drawing from that Cyrus' blog post narrative followed by a geographical location search for matching news snippets.  

And, in broadband speed, had landed on a past news item that reported how a certain Mr. Aryan Ahuja kept the most revered Private Investigators body, "The Chartered Private Investigators Association", in rapt attention, as he presented a case study (with names and places changed) of an offbeat and nearly impossible investigation, in their annual gala conference.   





A duty nurse, over at Jennifer's bed to routine check her blood pressure, interrupted Jennifer's flashback.  

"This is it", determined Jennifer.  "I can't wait anymore .. there isn't time enough to wait for Shekhar; he is not even in a frame of mind to understand.  I need to do this."

She got herself discharged .. whatever it took and popped out of the hospital .. well, hopped would have been more apt. 





Once on the road, Jennifer's thoughts raced .. in sharp contrast to her steps which were slow and painfully hopping.


The striking similarity she had found in the investigation narrative in Cyrus' blog post & the news item on Mr.Aryan Ahuja's case study presentation had intuitively led her to interpret, that, it was the same man.  "Is this what they call a Kismet Connection?", she wondered as she surveyed the road, for the direction she ought to take.  Oh yes, she knew where she had to go .. to Tara and Shekhar's locale and society.  

Why? 

Her interpretation that the man deified in Cyrus' blog post was indeed Aryan Ahuja, had led her, in the past, to do a complete online look-up for Aryan Ahuja.  That, most of all, led her to the electoral rolls pincode she had found for Aryan Ahuja.  It was indeed the same locale as Tara and Shekhar's, as Shekhar had shared their contact details with her prior to their hospital visit.  

Though, she had no idea if Aryan Ahuja was an investigator himself or what he did for a living or profession.

Jennifer began desperately waving at each passing taxi. 

Chapter ends.

Eager to read the next Chapter? 

Here we go .. Chapter 18

If you want to catch up on all the Chapters of 'Circle of Deceit' in Level 1 (a total of 10 Chapters), here is a recap:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

Chapters in Level 2 (a total of 10):

Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20

My team & I are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

Cheers :)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Circle of Deceit - Chapter 9

This is Chapter 9 of a mystery series in the “Game of Blogs”.  Our team “Kalakaar Colony” is a part of #CelebrateBlogging campaign by Blogadda. You can read the previous chapter here.

Chapter begins ..

Cyrus approached Roohi slowly and brought out the pocket knife, his eyes fixed on Roohi and her packet of chips, even as he was approaching.

A petrified Roohi, her beautiful dark eyes emitting innocence and fear, in equal measure, started stepping back as Cyrus approached her. 

Staring at the pocket knife, a tearful Roohi dropped her chips packet, signaled an alarm in her raised voice, waved a no with both her hands and yelled, "Stop. Don't come near me."  

Cyrus halted in his steps, realizing he may be frightening the child inadvertently.  
He threw the pocket knife a hand's distance away. Then he looked at Roohi with a kind glance and said, "I am only going to open your packet of chips for you, don't worry."

Roohi was in no mood to take that and still in her yelling tone dictated, "Open my chips packet with your hands, as Mom does!"
Illustrations Courtesy: 12

A defeated Cyrus, his shoulders slouching, kneeled down, stretched to reach for the chips packet and ripped it open with his hands. 

Cyrus then stretched and held the opened packet out for Roohi to take it from him. Roohi, in a split second, went for the packet, plucked it out of Cyrus' outstretched hands and rushed to the back door, at the other end of the room, to seat herself. The sprawling Madh Island bungalow had that back door leading to a lush garden outside.



Cyrus watched Roohi helplessly when he heard footsteps outside the front door. "Oh My God! I hope her yelling did not alert the neighbors", he thought and rushed through the corridor connecting the room to the front door of the bungalow.

His heart thumping overtime, he glanced through the front door's view finder but could not see a soul.  Cyrus cautiously opened the front door wide open and stepped out to survey.


Meanwhile, Roohi's preoccupation with her chips packet, her dainty little lady's fingers coated with the cheesy masala, was disturbed by the shadow cast on her. She looked up to see a young man glancing, in turns, at her and at the back. Roohi stepped back intuitively.  Just as she was about to raise an alarm and shout, she noticed his shiny earring - a single shiny white metal earring in his right ear lobe.

Her mind rewound!    

Roohi eased up and with a cautiously familiar tone asked, "Krishna?"

The young man was delighted and said, "yes Roohi, I am Krishna."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

At the hospital, Jennifer was still tense after the Doctor had treated her, prescribed and left. She was still lying down on the hospital bed. Shekhar watched her tense eyes and the duty nurses going about their motions.

Gently, in an understanding overtone, shekhar reached out to Jennifer and asked her, "Do you want me to call someone in your home?"

Jen shook her head in the negative and stayed silent.



Shekhar fetched her a glass of water and struck a small conversation with her. "I was eleven years old and had my first cycle accident on the road .. i vividly remember it even today .. i had skid my cycle and was bleeding profusely from my legs, just below the knees."

Slowly as Shekhar narrated the childhood experience, Jen and Shekhar appeared to have struck a humane chord .. a moment of solace.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

A relieved Cyrus, convinced there wasn't, after all, anyone at the front door, rushed back in .. to an empty room and an open back door!

His whole body shaking in disbelief, he frantically searched through and yelled, "Roohi, Roohi .. where are you?"

Roohi was nowhere to be seen or heard.  Cyrus stared at the back door incredulously! 

His state of disbelief was shaken by his mobile phone ringing .. the "Badtameez Dil" ringtone belying the anti-climax, as it were.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Meanwhile, Mr.Gupta arrived home to see Tara waiting at the portico! 

Mr.Gupta was still on his mobile phone when he caught a glimpse of Tara staring in disbelief at her mobile screen, her face pale and drawn.  


Illustrations Courtesy: 12

When their eyes met, Tara stormed to her father, sobbing uncontrollably and crying desperately, "Save my daughter, please.."

Chapter ends.

Eager to read the next Chapter? 

Here we go .. Chapter 10!

If you want to catch up on all the Chapters of 'Circle of Deceit' in Level 1 (a total of 10 Chapters), here is a recap:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

My team & I are participating in ‘Game Of Blogs’ at BlogAdda.com. #CelebrateBlogging with us.

Cheers :)

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Review: Timescity Gourmet Week, September 1 to 7, 2014

Well, as they say, once a foodie, always a foodie.

And what better than Gourmet Food Festivals that celebrate food with class!

Timescity, known for celebrating lifestyle and known for exciting initiatives around food (remember Times Food Awards?) are here with Timescity Gourmet Week, 2014.

Timescity Gourmet Week 2014 - Highlights:

- A week long culinary celebration showcasing Times Food Award 2014 winning restaurants across 6-cities;
- Menus specially curated by critics to highlight the best offerings from participating restaurants.
- Significantly better prices than the original menu and I can, from my experience, tell you, a big fat menu than the original :)

I strongly recommend that you catch up with this Gourmet week, this weekend.

Here is my review of the Timescity Gourmet Week 2014 Menu at the Royal Indianaa,  The Accord Metropolitan, G N Chetty Road, Chennai:



Accessibility:

Right at the center of the city, on G N Chetty Road (which is a much better traffic proposition than the rest of T Nagar, as any Chennai resident will tell you), ample parking space and valet parking, its just very smooth sauntering in.

The 'Timescity Gourmet Week' Menu:

First things first, this is as attractive as it begins (well, by the time you have relished the meal, you will forgive the typos you find here, trust me):


The Food:

The Welcome Dish:


Mini Masala Papads:


The Soup:
Dal-Mattar Shorba, a thin soup of boiled and strained lentils and peas, as healthy and easy to partake as it gets.  Loved it.


The Starters:
If there is a reason why this menu is a NOT to be missed foodie indulgence, to start with, its the starters course.  


A mind-boggling diverse course of 10 different starters, and, you get 2 pieces of each starter in the standard menu! 

Come, partake:

Angoori Mewa Mawa Galouti:

The star of the starters course, this has a mini-paratha layer topped with a melt-in-your mouth preparation of khoa, dry grapes and mashed potatoes. Subtle fragrance and excellent fusion of flavors. I am head over heels in love with this. MUST TRY!

Crumbed Patties Burger:


A juicy mini-burger!

Sizzling BBQ Paneer Tikka:


Sadhana Tandoori Hara Gobi (Cauliflower):


Coriander Adai:


Kale Moti ki Tikki:


An unusual tikki made of black channa. 

Szechwan Vegetable Frankie:


Karuvepilai Podi Mini Idli:


Mini idlis coated and sauteed in curry leaves ground powder.

Suyyam:


A Chettinad delicacy, any foodie would now be friends with this. Usually comes in sweet & spicy avatars; this menu includes the sweet one - jaggery filled. Yummy!

The Beverage:

The standard menu includes a beverage; you get to choose from a range of fresh juices, canned juices and soft drinks.
We chose fresh pineapple & canned orange.

hmm.. after two each of those, if at all you ever have tummy space for the main course, here we go:

Salads and Chaat:



A variety of Indian breads with an awesome Dal Tadka:


We tried the butter naan, tandoori paratha and the humble phulka - all succulent and finely done.

I am putting up my curated selection of photos from the main course - it is a much larger spread:

This is my veggie feast:


Pickled Paneer Sandwich in Palak:


Unusual; paneer sandwich with a pickled middle layer in a spinach gravy. 

Broccoli & Beans Usli:


I love broccoli and this one is again, a rare combo - broccoli and beans fried in lentils with mustard seasoning.

Dum Aloo Kashmiri:


Chow Chow Kootu:


Lasagna:


Panchkuta Rajasthani Subzi:


Five veggies cooked in a traditional Rajasthani recipe! Must try, this!

Sambar and Kaara Kulambu:


Gravy accompaniments, based on lentils and tamarind, respectively.

For rice enthusiasts, there's a selection that includes dum biriyani, steamed rice.  The biriyani is a must try!

The Desserts:
Yes, my favorite part of the menu .. any day, any place.  In fact, my  main course, blessed as I am with 32 sweet teeth! so, all of the course is a must try.

A range of International Desserts:



Fantastic Strawberry Gateaux: this is the star of the course:


Gulab Jamun & Adai Prathaman (a kerala staple dessert with flattened rice flakes and milk):


 Frozen Desserts: 3 flavors: Vanilla, Strawberry & Pineapple:



A fitting finale with vanilla ice cream & gulab jamun:


If you thought, the delight culminated there, oh wait, this is how condiments and mouth fresheners got served, with Jasmine flower strands: so true to Madras!



The Ambience:

Its a warm, welcoming and homely ambience with stately Chettinad pillars made of wood and stone. These are prized architecture from South Tamil Nadu:





We went for lunch and loved the ghazals (predominantly Jagjit Singh ji's gems); should you choose to go for dinner, you will be treated to live classical music: 



Loved this floral arrangement right at the reception of the hotel:


The Service:
Very good. Meet Saheb, who gave us excellent hospitality and service through our lunch:


Foodies, they say a picture speaks a thousand words, so i have almost made this a photo review.

Synopsis:

Accessibility: 4 / 5 Stars
Food: 4.5 /5 stars
Ambience: 4 / 5 stars
Service: 4.5 /5 stars

So, indulge in Timescity Gourmet Week, this weekend.

Book here.  The Gourmet Week is applicable across a range of restaurants in 6 cities.  Just choose your city from the drop down on the top left and choose the menu/restaurant of your choice. Amex cards entitle an additional 10% discount.

Bon Appetit!

Cheers :)