Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
Some of our friends had told us about a place called Literati near Baga at North Goa. We were told that it was a cafe and a bookshop.
K and I went to the beach on our second day at Goa. I was carrying a stomach bug. Couldn't take the sun. So we decided to check out Literati the next day and have breakfast there.
I must confess that I was a bit underwhelmed when we reached there. We had the image of a Lila Cafe sort of place in our heads. What we saw was a pretty house in a lovely garden. Three rooms of books and a veranda which looked on to the garden. The 'cafe' part seemed limited. Creatures of urban comfort that we are, we missed our cappuccinos or having straws to sip the nice cold coffee on offer. The 'cheese sandwich' was just as your granny would make it. Cheese in two slices of bread, toasted in a griller. The food tasted tasted and smelt of the summer vacation trips to one's grandparents place.
As you have probably realised by now, Literati was a fairly rustic and simple operation. There were Irani cafe- like rules. 'No taking food inside.' 'No taking books outside'. 'No taking first hand books into the second hand section.'
So you had to sit quietly in the veranda and look into the green Eden like garden as you munched on the sandwich that granny made. 'Eden-like garden'? Was the place growing on us? Read on to find out more.
Fuelled by coffee and cheese we set off to check out the books. My first discovery was the 'Lost Diary Of Adrian Mole'. This set the tone for the rest of the morning. For Literati was not an assembly line of CD cum books cum mags cum fridge magnet cum Barbie shop. Literati represents the last of a rare, fast breed called 'bookshops'. They had the usual Pamuks, Harukamis and Balduccis. But if you looked around you would find books popping out and calling out to you. Books which would met your interests. Or of those whom you were fond of. There is nothing like the joy of discovering the perfect book when you least expect it.
The first room had the new/ first hand books. Then there are two more rooms which have second hand books. There are comfy sofas to sink in. Well worn. Ceiling fans to cool you. The mood is balmy and lazy thanks to the trees outside. The staff are very sweet and helpful. Don't expect any supermarket speed and efficiencies though.
To take the grandma metaphor further, the place did remind me of my visits to my grandparent's house when I was a kid. And the joys of discovering great books in my grandpa's collection. Literati is not a steel and chrome air conditioned functional shop. You should go there if you want to unwind, laze, step off from the treadmill and discover some great books. The place invites you to walk around, feel at home and takeaway memories. Don't go there if you want to pick a book on the go.
I suddenly heard Bengali being spoken while I was roaming around the shop. To be expected in a book shop I guess. They turned out to be a Bengali father and daughter couple. A Bengali lady called Mita, who had married a Dutch gentleman and had settled in Goa, and her father Mr Das who had come from Delhi. So we ended up having a Bengali association meet in the heart of Goa! Like my grandpa, Mr Das too felt that I should have joined the IAS!
Literati left us underwhelmed. And then overwhelmed. It grew on us. As K put it, it was the discovery of the trip. I can't tell you how good it felt be in a 'real' bookshop after ages. And in such an awesome setting. Looked after by such good natured people. Literati has shot up our 'must visit' list at Goa.
We picked loads of books for ourselves and our friends. Just about manged to dodge the excess budget limits.
For me the high point was meeting my old friend Aidy Mole again. And what better time for that than on my birthday trip? Hang on Aidy, the world will hear of your Newt Tales someday.
- Literati is at a place called Ice Factory near Calangute at North Goa. Here's their web site for more details
- They are shut on Sunday
- The shop closes at 6 PM
- The kitchen shuts at 2.30 PM. Because "she (the cook I assume) leaves"
- They don't serve aerated soft drinks. But they serve wine and beer. That's Goa
- If you see a lab who looks like Marley then you are likely to have met Frieda. Do say hi to her from me. Poor thing had to be dragged away as K squealed in fright when Frieda scampered in
Friday, February 5, 2010
I visited KL in 2006. I was mighty unimpressed. Wrote about the same here.
Now one could always argue that this was a superficial outsiders un-researched take. But then that's what this blog is meant to be. A sum up of first impressions. I was actually at KL for more than a week. First for a conference. And then with Kainaz when she joined me. We did the touristy bits. Saw the Twin Towers. Climbed the other tower. Went to the Batik factories. The Museum and the Malls. Scoured the streets for food. Went to a highly recommended disc. Zouk. Which was shut. We were happy and relived to move onto Langkawi.
Three years down the line I discovered that the best way to see KL is to skip the Twin Towers!
If you look at KL from the surface then it is hard to find anything which distinguishes it from other Asian Tiger cities. What you need is someone who loves the city. And shares common interests with you to give you a real peek into the city.
Folks like Arindam and Sasha. Bengalis who moved into KL from Calcutta then Delhi and finally Mumbai. Arindam was earlier upset when he read that I was not impressed by KL. And was incensed that I had called Singapore the food capital of the world. He was bent on proving me wrong. Soon the opportunity came and I landed at their place at KL one Friday. What followed was a culinary romp through buttered pork, suckling pigs, chilly pan mee, siew yoke, fried frogs and lots lots more with a bit of touristy shopping thrown in at Ikea, Watsons and Carrefour.
We didn't see the Twin Towers. And I had a whale of a time.
Moral of the story. It pays to connect with someone who knows the city before you land up there. Ideally someone who has common interests with you. This will not always be possible. But you will be surprised what a little bit of blog searching or Facebook questioning could throw up. I learnt this from the expert. Sasha actually reads up travel sites and enters into discussions there before she plans Arindam and her vacations. Individuals tend to give less exhaustive but more intense and useful information. You are likely to gain much more than just going to impersonal travel directories, books or agents. I am going to do that the next time.
Anyone interested in Mumbai, Calcutta (slightly dated info), Baga Goa feel free to ask me questions. Especially if they are to do with food.
And you can go to my food blog, Finely Chopped, to see what we were up to in KL this time. Check this for live updates from KL and some more posts after I returned.
Here are some pictures to tempt you ...
Sasha and Arindam... the two people who can really bring KL alive for you
My first bite of frog
Roast suckling pork