India Journals

India on the Fly: On Book Tour

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An October 2009 trip to India by phileasfogg

Fortune Select JP Cosmos Photo, Bangalore, India More Photos
Quote: A book tour—promoting my debut novel, The Englishman’s Cameo, a detective story set in 17th century Delhi—may not be the best way to see India. But it certainly gives me a chance to check out hotels and places to eat in India’s biggest cities!

The Park Hotel Kolkata

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Hotel | "Stylish and Bursting with Facilities... but"

The Park Hotel Kolkata Photo, Kolkata, India
Quote:
The venue for my Kolkata book launch is the Oxford Bookstore. It’s a lovely, quiet bookstore, all dark wood and shelf upon shelf of books. There’s a tea room, called the Cha Bar, on the first floor, and there are large mural-size black and white photos of people, books, and tea. The Oxford Bookstore is nearly a hundred years old (it was set up in 1920), and it’s perfect for a book event.And The Park is perfect to stay in when in Kolkata. The hotel is right next door—literally, since you get out one door, turn right and get in at the next door—to the Oxford Bookstore. We don’t get much chance to see the exteri...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

The Park Hotel Kolkata
17 Park Street
Kolkata, India
+91 33 2249-3121

Bhojohori Manna

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Restaurant | "The Best Bengali Food in Town"

Bhojohori Manna Photo, Kolkata, India
Quote:
There are many things I love about Kolkata, and the fact that you can get to eat some really delectable food is one of them. Granted, the city may not offer the wide range of cuisines Delhi or Mumbai do, but what’s available is often topnotch and affordable.This time I was lucky enough to be in the company of a Bengali—Anurima, though brought up in north India, is in some ways, a typical Bengali (the sort for whom one could well say, "you can take a Bengali out of Bengal, but you can’t take Bengal out of the Bengali"). You get the idea. She knows exactly where to go for Kolkata’s best Bengali food, and when she discovers I’m a sucker for the cuisine too, she quickly makes plans to take me to...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Bhojohori Manna
18/1A, Hindustan Road
Calcutta, India
+91 033 24663941

Beijing Bar & Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Very Popular—but Not with Me"

Beijing Bar & Restaurant Photo, Kolkata, India
Quote:
My publisher’s sales rep in Kolkata is a friendly young man named Amit, and after my book launch event is over, he asks us where we’d like to eat. Much as we would love to go back to Bhojohori Manna, Anurima and I realise we should give other eateries a chance too, so we decide we’d like to try the other important cuisine in Kolkata: Chinese.The Chinese first arrived in West Bengal in the 18th century. By the mid 1900’s—when my mother was growing up in Kolkata (then Calcutta), Chinatown was a hip and happening place, just around the corner from my grandfather’s house in the Tangra neighbourhood. Chinatown was the home of some of Calcutta’s best shoemakers; and the most delicious sausages I have eve...Read More

Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Beijing Bar & Restaurant
77/1, Christopher Road, Tangra
Calcutta, India

Hotel Marine Plaza

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Hotel | "For Mumbai’s Most Panoramic View"

Hotel Marine Plaza Photo, Mumbai, India
Quote:
Marine Drive—a long curving strip of road that hugs a part of the seashore in Mumbai—is one of the city’s most celebrated neighbourhoods. It is right next door to Fort, an area of splendid colonial buildings; it’s a great promenade, and at even given time during the day, you’re sure to find dozens of couples sitting quietly and looking out over the sea, at the boats going out to sea. At night, Marine Drive comes alive in a twinkling, shimmering row of street lights that have earned it the name ‘Queen’s Necklace’. Yes, Marine Drive is the place to stay, and fortunately for me, the hotel where a room has been bo...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Hotel Marine Plaza
29, Marine Drive
Mumbai, India
+91 22 22851212

Indigo Restaurant

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Restaurant | "Food to Die For"

Quote:
According to Condé Nast Traveler, Indigo is one of the world’s 60 best restaurants. It’s been visited by everybody from Mumbai’s glitterati to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, the Clintons and Elizabeth Hurley. And my brother-in-law, who may not be a page 3 celebrity but certainly knows good food when he encounters it. His rave reviews for Indigo meant that when two friends of mine—who’ve attended the book launch in Mumbai—offer to take me out for dinner to Indigo, I leap gratefully at the idea.Indigo is, I learn later, housed in a refurbished and restored turn of the century colonial bungalow. Since we arrive at night and are ravenous, we aren’t really interested in the architecture of the pla...Read More

Member Rating 5 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Indigo Restaurant
4, Mandlik Road, Colaba
Mumbai, India
+91 (22) 66368999

Gaylord

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Restaurant | "Sandwiches, Pies, Cakes and More"

Gaylord Photo, Mumbai, India
Quote:
At the book launch, I also get to meet a long-lost cousin, Joey (whom I last saw about 7 years ago) and his fiancée, Rukmini. After the event’s over, Joey and Rukmini have to be getting back home, but they promise to meet up with me the next day. "Come with us for brunch," says Joey, and I’m amenable to the idea.The next morning, Joey and Rukmini arrive at my hotel, and we take a cab to Gaylord (which is when I realise that it’s very close to the hotel—only about 10 minutes’ leisurely saunter. No need for a cab).Gaylord is an old and much-respected restaurant, for which I later hear much praise: according to a number of people, it serves excellent Indian food. But the three of us aren...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Gaylord
Veer Nariman Road, Churchgate
Mumbai, India
022-2821269

Residency Towers (The)

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Hotel | "Value for Money"

Residency Towers (The) Photo, Chennai, India
Quote:
If there’s one thing I don’t much like about a lot of the more upmarket Indian hotels, it’s their somewhat stiff politeness. I’m not advocating rudeness, but I’d love it if more receptionists and hotel staffers could be genuinely friendly.Entering the grand and glittery lobby of The Residency Towers, I feel my heart sink. The lobby is of the quintessential ‘grand Indian hotel’ variety: all gilt and marble and granite. Everything sparkles and I have the creepy feeling that the receptionist’s sparkly smile is as fake as the golden gleam on the chandelier.But no, it isn’t. This guy’s efficient, but he’s got a sense of humour too. "Your friend checked in earlier," he tells me. (Anurima, t...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Residency Towers (The)
115 Sir Thyagaraya Road
Chennai
+91 44 2815 6363

Kaaraikudi

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Restaurant | "Sumptuous Chettinad food "

Quote:
Well before we reached Chennai—in Kolkata, to put it on record—Anurima told me, "When we go to Chennai, I’ll take you to eat Chettinad food." This after she discovered that I am a fish fanatic and don’t mind spicy food. The Chettinad area is part of the state of Tamilnadu (of which Chennai is the capital). Most of Tamilnadu is known for its excellent food, much of it dominated by ingredients such as coconuts, rice, and lots of vegetables (a large section of the population of Tamilnadu consists of orthodox Brahmins who shun all non-vegetarian food). Chettinad too is famous for its superb cuisine, and while it follows many of the same culinary traditions as the rest of Tamilnadu, it also has its own sp...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Jennifer Fish Fry Stall

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Restaurant | "A Seafood Lover's Dream Come True"

At Besant Nagar Beach Photo, Chennai, India
Quote:
With the day beginning to wane and all three of us—Anurima, Mohan and I—exhausted after touring bookstores (to see if they’ve displayed my book suitably prominently) and publications (for me to give interviews), we’re thinking longingly of a break. A walk through cool sand, a long cold drink, and something to eat. "I want fried fish," says Anurima, and I agree happily. Fish, especially in a coastal town like Chennai, is invariably wonderful.Mohan, therefore, gets the driver to take us to Besant Nagar Beach. Named after Annie Besant, the Irish-British born Indian freedom-fighter, this is a much smaller, lesser-known beach than Chennai’s huge Marina Beach. When we arrive at Besant Nagar Beach, there ...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Fortune Select JP Cosmos

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Hotel | "Stylish and Comfortable, but Iffy Food"

Fortune Select JP Cosmos Photo, Bangalore, India
Quote:
By the time I arrive in Bangalore, I’m feeling like death warmed up. The past week has been one of constant stress, with early morning flights most days and the days themselves packed with interviews, visits to bookstores, and book launch events. All I want is a comfy hotel room where I can crash. Fortunately for me, the Fortune Select JP Cosmos Hotel is the most comfortable hotel I’ve stayed in on this trip.The hotel (let’s call it the JP Cosmos; the full name’s such a mouthful) is just off Cunningham Road, one of Bangalore’s main thoroughfares, crowded with swish malls like the Reliance TimeOut store, where my book launch event is being held—it’s a five-minute walk from the hotel. The hotel itsel...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on November 2, 2009

Fortune Select JP Cosmos
No. 49 Cunningham Crescent Road - Behind Sigma Mall
Bangalore, India
+91 (80) 42434243