Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Weighing me down

A couple of months ago, my work place launched a wellness initiative. Basically, it was a program to encourage its employees to become more fit.

I thought this was a great idea. Since, at any given point in time, I am usually on a quest to lose weight (the last time I was too thin happened in 2007). This event seemed like a good excuse to kickstart my fitness plans with vigor.

You see, when you are heavier than you know you ought to be but still not heavy enough for others to notice it, the road to losing that extra weight is paved with good intentions. However, actually traversing the road requires a lot of willpower, determination and most importantly, a GOOD reason to lose weight.

The last time I was super motivated was during the months before my wedding. I was so determined to lose the extra weight and look all slim and fit in our wedding pictures that I actually managed to pull it off pretty decently.

Since then, I really haven't had good motivation (looking nice in sister's wedding - um yeah, but eating all the wedding-related goodies sounded better, looking nice in summer clothes - um yeah, but I already looked nice enough in skirts and it was not like I was going to frolic in a bikini).

Getting married again was not an option. So, while I exercised okay-regularly, I decided to view my higher-than-my-liking weight with an indulgent eye.

Still, when the work-place initiative rolled around, I was happy to join in. For, the higher-than-my-liking weight niggled in the back of my head and I now had a goal to work towards!

Thus started the regular exercising, walking and daily logging. To my delight, soon, my arms got leaner and my clothes fit better. Filled with hope, I stepped onto the weighing scale.

Noooooooooooooo! I weighed exactly the same as I had done earlier. To be sure, I weighed myself again the next day. Great! I weight 1 kg more than I had the previous day. Ugh.

At this point, I was quite sure the weighing machine had stopped working. So, in the time-tested Indian way of repairing stuff, I shook it, banged it a bit and stood on it again. Yeah - it still showed the same weight.

Maybe it was stuck. So I dragged S and made him stand on the weighing machine. He weighed *lesser* than his normal weight range. Grrr. S is a lucky fellow. The moment he starts any kind of cardio exercise, he drops weight like crazy. Thus, he is forever being greeted with "Oh you have lost weight" as soon as he decides to jog for like 3 minutes a day.

Anyway, it was obvious that it was not the weighing machine's fault. For some freaking reason, my weight refused to go down :-(. Yeah, I have heard that people usually gain weight after beginning regular expercise as muscle weighs more etc. etc. But by that logic, I must now look like a female Arnold Schwarznegger, which I don't.

I am now at my wit's end. I thought of throwing in the towel and replacing all my exercise and walking with uninterrupted net-surfing/book-reading while munching thattai and seedai from Grand Sweets.

But, upon introspection, I have decided to not let a mere weighing scale beat me. So I have now started a food dairy to keep track of what I am eating and see what I can do there. And if that does not work too, I am going to trash the weighing scale. Haha, take that, you sucker!

Any tips, gentle readers?

Monday, June 20, 2011

On a positive note - Azzuri Bay

Of late, this blog seems to have turned into a whine-fest. So, instead of writing about another horrible dining experience which followed yesterday's already bad experience (in case you are curious, don't worry, that will be written about too), I will write about a good dining experience I had.

Time: A couple of months ago. The occasion: S's birthday.

After considering and tossing several restaurant suggestions, S said, "Hey, why don't we go to the other restaurant in the Crimson Chakra complex?" That seemed like a good idea.

Crimson Chakra is a restaurant quite close to our home. However, it took my cousin A's recommendation before we finally paid it a visit. We had a good experience. We also noticed that the same complex housed two more eateries and decided that we would come back to visit those too some time. One of the two restaurants was what S was referring to.

We headed out to the Crimson Chakra complex. The other two restaurants were Cornucopia and Azzuri Bay. We picked Azzuri Bay which serves Mediterranean and Chinese cuisines. A lift whizzed us upstairs. We entered the dining area and were greeted with the sight of a pleasant and spacious arrangement of tables and chairs. But what took my breath away was the awesome wall which was entirely made of clear, glass windows. And from the windows, was a beautiful view of Adyar river and its surrounding areas. Whoo! Who knew Adyar river could look so beautiful!
Adyar River

We got a lovely table for two right beside the window-wall. I felt like I was seated on a tree-house. First, two iced popsicles were placed in front of us - what a cute summer treat! We then ordered our food. Food arrived promptly and was delicious. The portion sizes were quite big (S, as always, had the duty of finishing up all the stuff I transferred to his plate from mine. However, as I said, the food was delicious, so no complaints from S)!

Great ambiance, great food. But what impressed me most was the impeccable service. Our water glasses were never left unfilled. The waiter was patient with answering all the questions we had about the menu and even offered suggestions. The servers were attentive without being in in the way. All this service with a pleasant smile that did not falter.

We left a glowing recommendation in their guest book and a generous tip. What a lovely experience!

Thus, it was not very surprising that when sis visited about a month ago, I immediately suggested Azzuri Bay as a meeting place for lunch.

Sis was delighted with the great view and enjoyed the food as well. This time round, I was smart and suggested that we share an appetizer and an entree - even this left us quite full. Needless to say, we had another pleasant dining experience.

If you are in the Adyar area, check out Azzuri Bay. Food is a little on the expensive side but the portion sizes are generous besides the entire experience making it well worth it.

p.s. See, I don't whine always :-).

p.s.1 Nopes, I am not affiliated in anyway with Azzuri Bay and they are not paying me to write this review!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

No Kumarakom for you!

There is this sit-down restaurant near my house in Adyar which serves Kerala cuisine. Kumarakom it is called. We once had food delivered from this place, with the result that neither of us cared for it much.

However, we read a couple of good reviews for the restaurant and it being near to our place (and thus, a potential can-take-guests-to place) and all, thought we should give it another chance.

Last Saturday was the day. We went to the restaurant and were shocked for find a crowd for more than 35 people waiting outside the rather small restaurant. No matter how much the restaurant host insisted that the wait time was 20 minutes (yeah right), it was quite obvious that we would not be seeing food for at least an hour. So we decided to eat elsewhere.

Today, we decided to be smart and call up Kumarakom in advance to make a reservation. Which was when we were told that the restaurant does not take reservations. Oh well. We then said we lived quite close to the restaurant and requested that our name be added to the waiting list. After all, the current wait time was 20 minutes (yeah right, again) and we would be there in 20 minutes.

Which was when we were told that our names would be added to the list. However, as soon as we showed up at the restaurant in person, our names would again be added to end of the list and we could wait as usual. Huh and double huh!?!

The husband sweetly asked why seeing our faces was very important to the process of adding us to that list and what pleasure the restaurant got out of making us stand and wait outside their restaurant when we could wait in the comfort of our own home. We only got a non-committal mumble in response.

Which is how, we are giving Kumarakom a miss today. No promise of tasty food can make up for such arrogant customer service.

No more Kumarakom for us. And, no regrets.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Health & Glow

When I was younger, I absolutely hated shopping. So much so that I sometimes had my sister select my clothes and other stuff because I did not want to go shopping. Of course, this choice came with inherent danger. For, my sister seemed to select my stuff depending on how our relationship was at some particular point. So, while sis has selected some beautiful churidhars and cute tops, I have also been saddled with green-colored jeans (I am NOT kidding you) and a post-box red school bag (gosh, my friends never let me live that down).

Now that I have grown older and wiser, I do enjoy shopping from time to time. But some places, I can *always* window-shop without getting bored. This list of places includes stores which sell cosmetics. Though I don't use much beauty stuff on a regular basis, I love looking at what's available. I will admit that I have a problem knowing when to stop when buying eye-stuff - especially since I hardly ever wear eye-makeup - but on the whole, simply browsing or spending on inexpensive bargains usually keeps me happy.

I had a few stores ear-marked for cosmetics-browsing back in the US. Over here, the obvious first choice was Health & Glow.

Or so I thought till I stepped into a Health & Glow. This was when I realized that the shop was lined end-to-end with sales-people. Really. Till date, I have never seen any other store where the sales-persons outnumber customers by a ratio of 5:1.

You would think that with so many sales-persons, the service would be outstanding. Again, no. First, any product you ask for is either a) Out of stock or b) Not arrived yet or c) not available in the size you need.

If at all the store does manage to carry the product, you will get to participate in the sales-person relay. This is the game where you tell the sales-person nearest the door what you want. This person relays the product name to the next sales-person in line. And on it goes till the sales-person nearest the shelf housing the product will randomly point towards the shelf and say "It is here". At this point, you can bend/ get down on your knees while you search and try to figure out which exact rack of the shelf has the product.

While you are thus hunting for what you actually need, the sales-persons will begin the let-me-try-to-sell-you-a-product carousel. This game consists of a different sales-person stopping by every 30 seconds to ask if you need "ABC conditioner" or "XYZ face cream" or "PQR body-scrub". If you get really annoyed and answer tersely, the carousel slows down to about 1 sales-speech a minute.

What if you just want to browse? Heh. Good luck making a trip around the store without tripping over at least five sales-persons.

Really - what exactly is Health & Glow's business strategy? Always show a full store by having a shop filled with sales-people? If that's the case, the sales-persons should at least not be wearing uniforms! Or if H&G is trying to prevent theft, won't it be cheaper to tag all the products with anti-theft devices instead of paying salaries to so many people?

All that H&G has achieved is to make me quit the store as soon as I buy what I actually need because I hate being hounded while shopping besides hating feeling claustrophobic. Thus, H&G misses out on any impulse purchase that I might have made had I been allowed to browse around the store in peace. While this is good news for my wallet, I doubt this is the kind of customer-reaction H&G was going for!

Thank you H&G, for curing me of my cosmetic-browsing tendencies!