Thursday, February 28, 2013

Cafe Thulp!


Around the first week of February, me and my "movie-buff-friend" went to Cafe Thulp.

#Movie-buff-friend: noun: essentially denotes a friend on whom you can rely on to watch all the weird/ good/ non-sensical movies that releases in the city.

Anyway... so this movie-buff-friend's birthday was around January-end, and when he called me for his celebratory treat, I was standing on those Gokarna rocks, jutting half a km into the sea. No one around me had network signal, and out of nowhere, my phone rang...! People gave astonishing stares, as my friend on the other hand, invited me to join his party, which I sadly couldn't attend. (Anyway, Gokarna is another story and you can read that in full here.)

Since I missed his celebrations that evening, he and I decided to have a belated birthday brunch afterwards. He asked me if I had a place in mind and I eagerly mentioned 'Cafe Thulp'. I have heard people talk about this place; it's high-time I visited it.

So, with his hi-fi phone's GPS on, the 'GPS-lady' guided us to Koramangala and rightly to Cafe Thulp. I like the GPS lady, she's one lady who is almost always correct!

This place, this Cafe Thulp, turned out to be a colorful little eatery with Pokemon-type Japanese characters etched on the walls. What are these called? Emo-cartoons? Anime?

 I don't like anime so much, but they looked nice on Cafe Thulp's wall.

My face did a 180 degree rotation and the next thing it landed upon was this shelf, full of books and games. The books were a nice addition. There are not many eateries in Bangalore that provides books. I was already half-won.

The games were a nice addition too, but even before we picked up the Chinese checker board, my intuition told me that the pieces would be missing. It's a universal fact: Chinese checker pieces get lost  fast, real fast. I learnt that all throughout childhood and I was right this time too! In fact, only 10% of the pieces were inside the box.

So, we picked up a scrabble board. Now, I am terrible, real terrible at this oh-so-popular word game, and the fact that the letters were hardly legible made it even more difficult for me. I sighed with relief when after a couple of rounds, my friend concurred with the illegibility of the letters and surrendered. Phew! Such brainy games are not for me, no.

I, then, happily stared at my place-mat for a while; yea, it is fun staring when it looks like this:

The Flying Place-mats

And then I stared some more at the menu which looked like this:

Thulp, Our saviour

 I was taking in all the creativity of the menu, so it took me some time to order. The inside pages were also interesting to look at.


We ordered chicken and "moo" (as stated in the menu) starter. I liked the chicken starter (Buffalo Bill) and didn't share it much with him; and he, too, claimed that the beef starter (Bangkok Dangerous) was good.

After that came the burgers. Huge, cheesy, meaty ones! They are one of the better burgers I have had in the city; another place came to my mind while having this burger: Bistro Claytopia. Their burgers are a tad bit smaller. But both these places serve good burgers; at least, I cannot scream a winner in this.

Introducing you 'The Imposter' Burger

 I might look humongous, but I really have a small stomach (really!), that's why it took me a while to eat this burger. Chewing > swallowing > resting my stomach and starting the whole cycle again. I was determined to not leave the burger. However, that day, I had to loosen my belt and my determination. Finally, I separated the patty and the bun, ate the patty and had to leave the bun. I decided it was wiser to eat the patty and leave the bun out (Meat-lover, in other words!). I was too full to eat both.

Even thinking about the meal right now is giving me a slight tendency to burp.

Cafe Thulp is so lively and the food was good. If you ever have a mad-burger craving and you have been starving for a few days, then you should definitely give this place a visit. Probably next time, I shall starve myself and attack the burger. That would be an ideal way to finish that imposter of a burger!

(You can prepare yourself by checking the menu on their official page :

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kihim Beach (and the Bhootiya Awas Beach): Escaping the fast Mumbai life

I have heard about Alibaug from Neel many times. So, when I was planning to visit Mumbai this February, we decided to include Alibaug to our to-do list, and for good measure (the fun quotient), we threw in a couple of friends on the trip.

Well, the plan was to go to Alibaug beach, but instead, we deviated to Kihim beach. It was told that Kihim is much cleaner and quieter than Alibaug. Sounded good to me. We reserved our rooms at Ghanvatkar Bungalow. At first glance, on the internet, it looked ‘bhootiya big’, but it had relatively good reviews, so we decided to try it anyway.

So, Thursday noon, we boarded the PNP catamaran to Mandwa. The tickets are priced at Rs.135/-, and the cabin is air-conditioned; but I hardly liked the stuffed cabin and stood on the upper-deck during the entire 45mins ride. It’s breezy, open and you can see the greedy seagulls following the catamaran for cheese balls and chips. (We are not the only junk-food lovers) 

At Mandwa
By the way, PNP’s ticket includes a catamaran ride+bus ride to Alibaug.  We boarded that bus and opened our Google maps which showed Ghanvatkar Bungalow near Zirad. #Tip: Google is NOT always correct. It turned out that we had gone past Ghanvatkar Bungalow and rode 10kms further to reach Zirad. Next tip: Always ask locals, no matter how tiring an effort it seems to talk to them. Anyway, we had to ride all the way back in a tam-tam (the big brother of autos) to Ghanvatkar Bungalow. In my head, I thought we’d be ripped off… 10kms, non-locals… but the auto-wala charged Rs. 40 for a 10km ride for two persons. Waah!

Now that we were infront of Ghanvatkar Bungalow, it didn’t look so creepy. The swimming pool was tiny, I noticed, but there was a swing on the porch which was a merit and which was my favourite ‘hang’out for the next 48hours. The so-called reception had a certificate that announced that the Bungalow was recommended on a famous travel website for its food. I was intrigued!

In bloom at Ghanvatkar Bungalow
Our room was nothing fancy, but it was H-U-G-E! It had a double bed + a single bed + mattresses on the upper shelf incase I plan to throw a wild party. The sliding doors opened up to the small terrace lawn and overlooked the garden and pool downstairs. Most importantly, the bathroom was clean.

That day, i.e. Thursday, we didn’t do much. We walked a bit to Prashant COOL drinks (we were told by the house-keeper that when asked discreetly, HARD drinks were also available at Prashant’s), had cornettos and came back. We lounged around on the porch the entire evening. The house-keeper tried to make us feel at home by playing Himesh Reshammiya but we thanked him and told him to turn it down. I found the house-keeper very accommodative and pleasing.

Simple, Happy
Anyway, the highlight of Thursday was the prawn curry they served at dinner. Truly, Ghanvatkar deserves to announce that their food is recommended. I recommend it too.

Meals at Ghanvatkar are simple. They’ll ask you whether you want pohaa or bread and omelette, tea or coffee, chicken or fish. Lunches and dinners are usually a simple affair with rice, rotis, daal, papad, salad and whatever non-veg curry you opt for. The chicken curry is also very delicious. Actually, by the third meal, I couldn’t decide whether to order prawn or chicken because both dishes were equally well prepared. Kudos to the bai who cooks there.


Next morning, i.e. Friday, we took a tam-tam+auto ride to Kihim Beach. It was 10AM, there was hardly a crowd and the beach is relatively much cleaner than average Indian beaches. The beach has similar rock formations like Gokarna (read on Gokarna here), but the rocks are smaller in size. Kihim Beach is full of colorful shells, I picked up a few zebra printed ones; you know, animal prints are in fashion!

Sea and shells
By noon, we moved from the Beach since our friends were about to arrive at the bungalow. By now, people were playing beach-crickets, stalls were opened and the weekend crowd was coming in. Anyway, our friends arrived by afternoon, and the rest of the evening is a blur. I remember eating scrumptious pomfrets prepared by the honourable Ghanvatkar cook and I remember a point of time when three cameras were being passed around to shoot four of us! Well, in short, we had a good time. The plates were licked clean; the one who slept without food was not missed.

Funeral Pyre and a sexy ghost
The next morning, after breakfast, we headed for Awas beach, again in a tam-tam. Now, this beach is situated near a funeral ground. We passed a pyre. The beach was across the woods. The woods were little creepy. Hehehe… just fooling around… yes, all that is true but it wasn’t like a Ram Gopal Verma set. The beach was really empty though. Not a soul around. It was a flat beach and the sand was too soft to tread on comfortably. Quick-sand-type sand + lonely beach + woods + barks of trees scratched to reveal blood-coloured tree-marks + funeral pyre. This can be a perfect site for a RGV movie. Bhootiya Awas-hawas beach.

The Silence of the Lambs

Awas Beach

Anyway, we planned to return to Mumbai that day, so after lunch (‘course we couldn’t possibly miss lunch at Ghanvatkar), we headed to Mandwa to catch the ride. 

This was a two-night trip and going on Thursday and Friday made us escape the weekend-crazy-crowd. But I can well imagine why this coastal stretch is so famous for Mumbai weekenders. Just an hour’s ride from the most cosmopolitan city in India and you land in a place with tiny lanes for highways, tam-tam rides, cleaner beaches and absolutely laid-back pace of life. We had fun, and Neel says, he shall visit Ghanvatkar again in a few weeks’ time to have some more of their delicious prawns curry! Jai ho, Ghanvatkar chef/bai!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Indian Coffee House : stepping into a bygone era

I am sure everyone has been to an Indian Coffee House once in their life; if you haven't, then at least you would have heard of the lovely coffee they serve there. Haven't heard a thing? Well, thank you for waking up.

Indian Coffee House is as old as free India itself, and it has branches in so many towns and cities that it is difficult not to have heard of it. The Bangalore branch of it must be at least 50 years old.

Five years ago, I had come here for breakfast with my law school batch mates. The branch was then situated at M.G.Road. Later on, I heard that it shifted to somewhere nearby M.G. Road but I didn't really put my head to figure out. So, this Saturday when my friend asked if I'd like to go for breakfast at the Coffee House, I readily agreed. I wanted to visit the place before I leave Bangalore.

It turns out, the place is now on Church Street, diagonally opposite to Queen's (for dearth of a better landmark). And of course, like it is in all Coffee Houses, the waiters are still dressed in their trademarked uniform, with their famous turban and red belts in place.

Prices of a different century

Mutton Cutlet

Coffee with scrambled eggs on toast

Since it's been a while I last visited this place, I had quite forgotten the taste of its coffee. When the brew finally made its appearance, I couldn't help but ask for one more cup!

We had mutton cutlets and their famous scrambled eggs on toast. My friend confessed that she tried all ways of making these soft, fluffy scrambled eggs and are still trying to attain such fluffy, heavenly perfection. I mused that it must be the same chef or his family preparing scrambled eggs for 50 years at this place. Yea, it's quite possible. The coffee house has waiters of a different era: the era where services was courteous, polite and with a smile.

Rendering friendly services

The look and feel of the place is also of a different era. The poster of the Coffee ad still hangs on the wall, old-world fans whir over our heads, and people talk hours on endless cups of coffee.

The reason for my charming smile 

We filled our cups with coffee and emptied our heavy minds. When, after an hour, we came outside, the world's rush suddenly hit me on my face! That's what the Coffee House does; it makes you linger, be at your own pace, no rush...It takes you in a time-warp.

 Jai Ho Indian Coffee House! May your cooks always make such great scrambled eggs and coffee and may you always be old and wise!

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