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Kochi Metro Flags Off

Ever since the construction of Kochi Metro began in June 7, 2013 the Kochi residents had a tough time commuting through the city. The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) barricaded roads and diverted traffic which resulted in traffic blocks and congestions. People had to travel long hours to reach their destinations. The dirt and dust from the construction sites made them sick. Often water and power supply were disrupted when underground pipelines and cables were damaged. There were people who lost their livelihood and businesses due to metro works. Some lost land as the government carried out land acquisition.

It was not easy living in a city which massive construction works took place. However, Kochi Metro Rail Limited is the country’s first government agency to hire transgender people. The PM commended the Kochi Metro’s ‘Make in India’ vision. He also spoke about the importance of a “people-centric approach” to infrastructure development. Nearly 1000 women and 23 transgenders are being selected to work in Kochi Metro rail system. It took 45 months to complete phase 1 – 13kms, 11 stations and the total time it takes from Aluva to Palarivattom is reduced from 45 minutes (in usual traffic) on road to 23.

The full plan for the Metro is to cover 25kms. Each station of the Kochi Metro will showcase a theme, such as maritime history, western ghats as well as the local history of the city, among others. Each station will also have solar panels, which will focus on producing 35 per cent of the total power usage. The construction of the Kochi Metro began in 2013 and was tasked to the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation. The DMRC which was once headed by Mr E Sreedharan, who also acted as an advisor in the new project. According to the Kochi Metro website, the project cost an estimated Rs. 5,180 crore. The fare will vary from a minimum of Rs. 15 to a maximum of Rs. 30.

Apart from the regular tickets, it has also adopted a single card, single timetable and a singular command and control. This debit card along with the Kochi One Mobile App will allow passengers to access all modes of public transportation as well as be utilized for mercantile and internet transactions and will introduce the ‘click and collect’ feature in the near future where goods ordered online can be collected in the metro stations. In November 2016, KMRL began the land acquisition process for an extension of the metro up to Infopark. KMRL will widen the Kakkanad-Infopark corridor to a 22-metre-wide stretch, and construct metro pillars in the centre of the stretch. Palarivattom Junction, Palarivattom Bypass Junction and Collectorate Junction will also be widened. The 11.2 km extension will link Jawaharlal Nehru International Stadium to Infopark via Kakkanad, and is estimated to cost ?2,024 crore (US$310 million).

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Slice Of Spice & Masala

One of the places that I really wanted to try was Slice of Spice near Saritha theatre. I had seen so many reviews of people praising their food that my taste buds were intrigued. Plus I live quite near them and not having been until today is something that I cannot find an excuse for. Today I wanted to go there for lunch before my usual weekend movie. I skipped breakfast and survived on only coffee and by 12:15 I was so hungry that my pangs made go to SoS and I ordered and sat waiting in anticipation. Things did not go as I planned.

After going through the menu I asked for al shrouf chicken and kubbos. After discussing with one of the servers, as he said that it would take some time, I asked him about what dishes can be brought quickly, and on his suggestion I ordered two pieces of al-fahm and I asked for kubbos. Another server asked me what I wanted to drink and I ordered a lemon iced tea off the menu. Something went wrong in the translation.

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They brought me a hot lemon tea which I said I didn’t want. He went back and 10 minutes later said that they didn’t have iced tea. So I ordered cold coffee. Then he brought me two chicken al-fam pieces and….naan. By now, I was too tired to disagree and being famished I started to dig in and my fingers expected juicy flesh of chicken …..and got a nice lathering of oily masala. The chicken was so coated in that masala that I could only taste the chicken in a few sections. Especially on the second piece, the masala was slapped on like — makeup on a clown or the makeup on a kathakali artist! I found it hard to swallow at one point.

I am sharing a pic take of the chicken and my plate at the end of the meal. If you took all that grease and liquefied it, you could lubricate the engines of a couple of cars. Saving grace was the cold coffee which was really good and the mayo that comes with the alfam.

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Even though I am so disappointed so many of you have raved about this place, I will go there other day and try something else. Who knows, maybe the chef was having an off day, broke up with his girlfriend and was listening to emo music in anguish as he cooked my meal. But I am not looking forward to tomorrow morning after coffee!

Till next time Slice of Spice.

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Cochin Is A Burger Town

I have posted about this before, in fact just over a year ago, and I still don’t get it. When did this sudden craze for burgers engulf my city? Ffor decades we had restaurants that served you a small cutlet type patty and called it a burger. Yes they would add some lettuce and onions and tomatoes but that was it. Now – it’s like you are spoiled for choices.

In the last few years many burger joints have popped up in the city and it’s crazy that we have so many choices for really good burgers. And more are coming up all the time. Ok, so let’s go with the fast food chains and the ones that don’t serve any beef products first. We have 3 McDonald’s, 2 Burger Kings (they have mutton instead of beef), 4 KFCs (yes they do serve burgers), 2 MarryBrown (a Malaysia based KFC style food chain that also serves burgers) & 7 Chickings (a Dubai based KFC styled fast food restaurant that also serves burgers). A few cafes like the now defunct Coffee Beanz, Coffee Cube & Fort Cafe serve decent beef & chicken burgers. But now – we have a plethora of burger joints and cafes that serve burgers.

2 x Burger Junction, Mash 24, The Grill Lab, Burger Lab, Burgeria, 3 x Burger Spot and 5 – yes make that 5 – Burger Huts. Really good cafes like Cafe Papaya, 2 x Cocoa Tree, Tonico Cafe etc. have excellent burgers in their menu. Even Cafe Coffee Day, the largest coffee shop chain / giant, who have fallen from grace since their heady days of being the biggest names in town, have resorted to tiny burgers (only chicken or paneer) in their menu but are far from good. So we do not have a lack of options when it comes to burgers beef, chicken or otherwise. But how and why did this phenomenon happen. And why couldn’t it have happened in the 90s?

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Kerala’s Burger Hut

I went to a Burger Hut for the first time yesterday afternoon. I had heard of this little chain of burger joints for a few months now. Apparently they have 4 outlets in Cochin if I am not mistaken. Kaloor stadium, Ayyappankavu, Padivattom & Kakkanad. That’s 4 outlets that have sprung up in quick time. How have they managed to open 4 outlets, granted that these are small places with minimal seating – the one I went to have 4 tables inside and a couple more outside in their patio.

I chose to go and check them out for a late lunch yesterday on my way to work. The prices are very good, down right cheap if you compare them to almost every place that serves burgers. I ordered the Jumbo cheesy beef, a medium fries and a Pepsi. The burger and fries came to less than Rs.200! Seriously? Ok, but the proof as they say is in the pudding. How will the burgers look and taste? The takeaway menu looks great but when have burgers looked like they way that they are shown in the ads and in paper menus?

15 minutes after I ordered a server brought my red tray with a Pepsi can, a styrofoam bowl filled with fries that came with a small cup of mayo. French fries and mayo? Why not and it was ok, fries were decent but nothing great and the mayo tasted a bit like butter. 2 minutes later came the burger which looked nothing like the menu one. I did not like the bun which was hard on the outside and the burger patties weren’t anything great. They looked a bit too overdone as well though there was plenty of cheese. Overall I’d say it was a 7 maybe a 7.5 outta 10. But wait! For that price? Jumbo cheesy beef is just Rs. 120 and a medium fries comes to Rs.55. Less than 200??? For that rate I will give it a 9. They have a variety of burgers and a few subs. And they deliver. I will frequent them and I hope they do well and their burgers improve in quality. Ignore the menu pics as you know….photoshopped and all that!

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First Visit To Gold Souk Mall

I went int Gold Souk Mall or Gold Souk Grande as it is officially called for the very first time last evening. I never was a mall kinda guy until last year and that’s mainly for the movies and in some cases the awesome food that some restaurants have in these malls. But Lulu and Center Mall have been the only ones I go to. Gold Souk was one that I had seen from outside but never gone into.

So last evening I took an Uber ride to the mall and went in. The place looked like a dump! There are some shops open but most of the upper floors look deserted. There is a Subway, a KFC and a Chick King. Ofcourse they have Q cinemas but I am not sure how good they are. There are a few small shops and some food/beverage/ice cream stalls. On one part of the first floor they have a huge furniture sale happening and it blocks most of the way. You can’t miss the chairs, sofas and stuff. Not all of them look cheap though; I myself wanted to check out the computer chairs but they didn’t have any of the type that I was looking for.

I could see into the Subway and it looked big and nice but the first floor of the KFC, though clean, looked a bit rundown. I ordered some food from there to take back home and drank a cold shake while I waited. There is a Big Bazaar grocery store on the ground floor which is the reason for a lot of people to visit the mall and that with the three major fast food chains and the Q cinemas should be reason enough for a good crowd but the rest of the place make it seem dumpy and sad. Oh well, I might visit them once in a while.

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Going For A Movie This Weekend?

Thinking of going for a movie this upcoming long weekend. I do watch quite a few movies at home every month as well as catch up on my currently showing tv series and I do have to find some time for rewatching stuff as well. So while my choice for a relaxing weekend will still be watching movies from home, I do like going to theatres. This is strange for me because from 2005 till earlier this year I never went to theatres at all. 11 years after being a guy who went for most English language movies that came out in Cochin, I just stopped going.

Back in February of this year I went for Deadpool with my buddy and I was hooked. Now I want to go for as many movies as I can. I plan to go for the big films, the action/scifi/superhero/horror stuff and some big budget other genre movies too. I was going for atleast 2 a month since March but last month I didn’t go for any at all. I missed a few films which I will catch on dvd or bluray later in the year. But I want to go for one this weekend. And I only go to either Cinepolis in Center Mall on MG Road or the PVR in Lulu Mall.

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Cinepolis is closer, much closer to me than Lulu PVR. It’s two stops away and also their VIP section is awesome. Sure the price is higher but they have recline seats and amazing comfort. Watching movies in recliners is awesome. I just love the VIP lounge area and waiting there is not tedious at all.

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Lulu’s PVR is a bit further away in Edapally and especially with the road work and Metro work going on it can be a task to get there; worse is coming back especially if it is in the evening after 6pm. They don’t recliners and they don’t have a VIP section but their theatres are good. Though the choice of seats is not as comfortable as Cinepolis and those cip holders are a disaster waiting to happen as it is so low on the arm of the seats.

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What about the popcorn? Head to head it is a tough choice. I will usually get a Pepsi (in PVR) or Coke (in Cinepolis), medium size always. The small / regular isn’t that big and the large is ridiculous – I will be peeing all the time if I drink that. And the one time I did order one, I couldn’t finish it even after the movie ended. But the popcorns are amazing – my pick is the Caramel popcorn in PVR & the Cheese in Cinepolis. Both are awesome but I do find that the caramel one is very light and easier to finish. Either way you can’t lose.

So where will I go this weekend? Wait and see!

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The Bad Boy Burger

Ladies & gentleman, you a reading the post of a doomed and defeated man. Let me give you my review of the Bad Boy Burger at Cafe 17 on Kaloor-Kadavanthara road. This is my very first visit to this cozy and cool looking place that needs to expand and have quite a few more tables. So having seen and read a few posts from a lot of guys in two foodie groups on Facebook, little ole innocent me went to Cafe 17, braving a traffic jam, after work finished. I went by Uber and should have been taken out of the Cafe by a hearse by the end of my meal.

I went in and chose the table right in the front of the tv, as I wanted to see Spain vs Czech Rep playing in the Euros. I went through the menu quickly and chose a mocha frappe and ordered the Bad Boy burger from their burger fest menu, which the manager recommended (just the menu as it a special that they have at the moment). Now, half looking at the tv I placed my order as I liked the name The Bad Boy (being one myself ) and did not notice what it was. My frappe came, filled & overflowing with whipped cream and I sipped it and a few minutes later my burger came. Now, I am not a small guy. I am not tall but I am a big and fat guy. Yet even I was not prepared for what appeared before me.

Imagine this – you are a local wrestler in your town and the WWE is coming to hold a show in your area. You are called as an invite to go and perform a match against a WWE wrestler. “Don’t worry, we will get you a small, decent sized new wrestler. You will do well against him!” And you stupidly say “Ok, sure”. Cause you love wrestling and the WWE. So you get into the ring and you wave to the crowd, they cheer and you smile and pose and the ring announcer says “And his opponent…” and you hear….

“WELL, IT”S THE BIG SHOW!!! IT’S A BIG BAD SHOW TONIGHT” Yes, you see the BIG SHOW (all 7.1 feet and 220 kg of him) coming into the ring to beat the living hell outta you!!! That is what it felt when I came to face to face with The Bad Boy burger!!!

With a side of batter fried rings and a bit of coleslaw, this monster of a burger towered over me. Two big juicy beef patties, chicken salami, 2 large cheese slices, onions, large pieces of lettuce and tomato. Heart-attack on a bun! Juices dripping on the side, it’s a mess of a burger. I needed 20 tissues to wipe up the juice

I fought valiantly and I stood my ground even though I was out muscled by this Amazon of a burger. The Big Show / The Bad Boy burger pulverized me and lifted me high into the air and tossed me down onto the mat. He went for the count and the referee went on the side and did the count! 1…2….3! And the winner is THE BAD BOY BURGER!
I gave it my all, but I fought the Beef and the Beef won!!

More seriously, I rate it a 9 outta 10, point deducted for the sloppy burger that made the bun moist and it slipped and slides all over my rectangular plate. It made it difficult to eat. Might not ever have it again, unless I haven’t eaten for a day atleast.

And now, I will skip dinner, tomorrows breakfast and lunch as I will be in recovery!!

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Cochin & Kerala Experiencing Heavy Rainfall

Annual monsoon rains arrived at the Kerala coast in southern India on Wednesday, a day later than forecast, a weather office source said, easing fears over farm and economic growth after two straight droughts hit rural income and agricultural output. The monsoon delivers nearly 70 percent of rains that India needs to water farms, and recharge reservoirs and aquifers. Nearly half of India’s farmlands, without any irrigation cover, depend on annual June-September rains to grow a number of crops.

After its April forecast of above average rains this year, the weather office on May 15 said the monsoon would arrive by June 7. Despite the slight delay, the monsoon would not set back crop sowing and rains are expected to make rapid progress after their arrival, India Meteorological Department chief Laxman Singh Rathore told Reuters last month. Farmers plant rice, cane, corn, cotton and oilseeds during the rainy months of June and July. Harvest starts from October. Of its 1.3 billion population, more than 60 percent of people in India depend on agriculture to eke out a living.

As monsoon set in over the city on Wednesday, there were reports of flooding from several areas. The heavy showers that the city received in the morning inundated M.G. Road, Banerji Road, Shanmugham Road and Broadway. Heavy flooding was reported from Providence Road (where I live), areas near KSRTC bus stand, Chakkaraparambu and Punchathodu. Complaints of inundation also reached the civic authorities from the P and T Colony near Karshaka Road.
Vehicular movement along the flooded roads was affected as rain battered the city. Pedestrians found it difficult to move along the flooded roads.

Yesterday and today, my day has has been filled with hiding indoors from the rain as it continues to lash on the city and fill the roads and side gutters with rainfall. It’s kinda cold (for us this is cold) yet it’s a huge respite from the terrible February-May that we have had with blazing heat and energy sapping humidity. Now, you don’t sweat and you stay mostly fresh (as long as you don’t get wet) but going out is a choice I have yet to make as I don’t want to get soaking wet in the rain. Hopefully things will calm down a bit and we get pleasant showers that keep things cool but not drown us.

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Sting : New Clothing Store on M.G.Road

Was cruising through Youtube videos when I happened to see this ad on the side of one of the videos I was watching. The add, catching with the red motif and with the white stylized lettering that stated that Kochi is getting a new clothing store right here on M.G.Road not far from where I live.

I have never heard of this brand or chain of store before. From first glance it looks like a men’s only clothing range. I see t-shirts, shirts, blazers, trousers/pants, jeans and shorts. Some accessories like belts, hats, socks and wallets. Nice! And even footwear with sneakers, shoes and canvas shoes.

They apparently started in the year 2002, a clothing brand created to inject dynamism into the dreary world of men’s wear and the brand was given an apt name STING, the brain child of Blaze Clothing (India) Pvt Ltd having its base in Chennai. I like the look of some of their stuff and especially their wallets look really good. They also have an online sales option and have a live chat support. Looks good.

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Fill My Shopping Cart

I like supermarkets and the hypermart / Big Bazaar stores that we have here in the city. Both are located in prime busy shopping malls though Hypermart in Lulu is much bigger and has way more variety of items than Big Bazaar has to offer. That’s also because Lulu Mall is much larger than Center Square mall which houses Big Bazaar.

I find it relaxing to have so many things you need in one big place. I like taking a shopping cart or trolley and walking around, looking at the aisles and checking out things I haven’t bought before or which aren’t available in the smaller stores that I usually go to to buy things. I like checking the prices and finding bargains or discounts or 3 or 5 of the same items which if you buy them together you get a really good deal. I even like the occasional talking with a stranger or helping an older couple with something. Finding good things to eat or stuff that you can easily cook up. That’s all part of the community of shopping in a large supermarket.

What I don’t like is the families who bring a bunch of kids, screaming babies and small kids who want to run around and dash into you. I also hate the lurkers and the idiots who aren’t there really for shopping and will buy a cold drink or two and waste your time and the cashiers’ as well. Women who bring three kids in place them in the shopping carts and only buy 3 to 4 items that they can easily get at a corner grocery store! These people ruin the whole experience for the rest of us.

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Providence Road

Street – One Word Prompt

I thought of writing a post about my street, Providence Road, the one I live on since even a lot of local people aren’t aware about it. I think the name Providence came from the small old age home care that is located near the entrance of the road from the main road (Banerjee Road in Kacheripady) which is also called Providence home for the elderly. at the entrance is a small hospital, not a really good one but for emergencies people who live in this area do go to it, as have I on a few occasions.

There is a nice hotel, called the Senate, with small business / corporate halls for meetings, buffet dinners, coffee shop and restaurant. There is a small, tiny shop near it, a pet supply store with fish and small aquariums, stationary stores, ice cream parlour, shoe store, an internet cafe or two (I think one closed down), a printing and press shop, DTP center, and some other smaller businesses on one section. A few houses too. There is also a small college on the same road as well as a law office and a bank’s small office branch and we reach a four way junction.

Beyond the four way junction we have more stores, a grocery store (not the kind you think of just a small hole in the wall), a large stationary/novelty etc etc store, a men’s clothing shop, a women’s clothing shop, a small photo studio, three tea shops and small restaurants, a panwala, a printing store, more houses, 3 apartment buildings, a wood work and carpentry store, a small soft drink store, an office building for a press company. Whew all that on a small road like ours.

Prompt from The Daily Post at WordPress.com