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oBelIX in america: Part V and Part VI

Part V: The worst chaat ever

Yes, this entire series does contain a lot of stuff about food. Yours truly did try a multitude of food stuffs in the USA. On one of the walks near the hotel, I found this Indian place. I go in, just to see what they have and there are indians there. Lots of Indians there. Anyway, they have sweets and dosas and idlis and the like. They also have chaat.

I decide to sample the papdi chaat. At 4$ it is by no means cheap. It is like 160 bucks (at that time I was still converting everything to INR in my head). Anyway, what’s the point of the annual bonus if you can’t spend it on food eh :). So, I order a plate. And that gentlemen and ladies [yes, I know, in all probability one lady will read this post but then, you’ve got to be politically correct haven’t you] was without the teensiest-weensiest shred of doubt, the worst chaat I’ve ever had. It was so bad that I would rather sample the one year old orange juice from here than eat that again.

“What’s that? It couldn’t have been that bad you say”. Well, it had no spice, it was totally bland [probably for the one American’s palate they get each month, in the forlorn hope that more will follow after he gives a stellar review]. It had those things instead of those other things which totally messed up the taste :).

Now, quickly describing other culinary experiences in Redmond. I had Malaysian which was quite nice. Spicy and soupy with vegetables in it. I had “Tandoori Chicken on a flatbread” for 6$ at a company cafeteria which was delicious. They were also very kind with the serving – I finished just half of it. I also ate mexican which is a rather safe food, tasty and not bad at all.

Part VI: Seattle proper

Yes. This is the last part about Redmond. I’m guessing you’re all so bored of it that it makes sense to not describe the awesomeness that happened at the Company Meeting.

The company meeting was when I went to Seattle. It finished at 2-ish leaving me time enough to roam around downtown. It was then I purchased the sweatshirt that I sport currently in the warm Hyderabadi winter [the excellent piece of clothing deserves a mention here: it has been brutally mistreated and is still holding out so well].

Seattle downtown is a nice place. Fun to walk around in. I spent the entire afternoon and evening walkabout. There was this Pike place market that I went to which was quite quaint [a little bit of alliteration there for the not so alert amongst you 🙂]. I had the most delicious cheese cake there. If you do goto seattle, do check out this shop – the approximate address being 1592 Pike Place.

From there, I went to Westlake center, took the monorail to the space needle – which is this big pointy tower like thing in Seattle. There are a couple of pictures of it here.

It was pretty late by the time I returned to Westlake center. Nearly dinner time. I headed up to the food court and there I was stymied. There was just so much choice. I walked around once, wondered what to eat and couldn’t decide.

The smartest thing then seemed to be, to goto the counter with the prettiest girl serving. That ruled the Indian place out. There was someone like Behen Mayawati at the counter looking like a red potato. The girl at the sushi counter was also kind of pretty, I remember because I took one look at her, then one look at the food and moved on.

The prettiest girl was at the French counter, where they seemed to have a wide variety of crepes on offer. So, I go up to the counter, and ask what their speciality is. “Crepes” she says. “Which one?”, I ask and she answers “My favourite is the vanilla one with sugar”. “One vanilla crepe with sugar it is then” and I take out my Amex.

She then says, “Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t take Amex”. “That’s quite alright”, I say, fumbling around in my wallet and managing to pull out a 10$ note while smiling like a jackass. Then she smiles. Now, she’s making the crepe, and there is no one else around [yeah, in hindsight, seeing no one else around should have been hit enough that the food sucks]. We continue chatting while she’s cooking, some chitter chatter, “Yeah, I’m from India. Yes we have buffaloes and cows on the streets. Oh you have a friend from India. Which part of India? Oh you don’t know? Just from India eh? Yeah, India is a big place etc etc etc”.

The crepe is done. She wraps it up, hands it over and says “Come back tomorrow” or something to that effect. I take a bite, turn around and wonder, “How in blazes do the French eat this?”. For those who haven’t eaten a crepe, its basically a thin roti like thing with sugar and vanilla on it. And it tastes like grass with Vanilla on it.

Anyway, the lesson was well learnt. Another 4-5$ wasted. I moved on, went to the Mexican place – they had something called a Mango Chicken thing with rice and bread around it. That was quite good.

That was pretty much the last interesting thing (or rather one of the most interesting things) that happened in Redmond. The next morning I took an early flight out to San Francisco. Stay tuned for more exciting stuff … [yeah, I know I exaggerate occasionally, stay tuned for more stuff is appropriate]

oBelIX in america: Part III and IV

Part III: Redmond – food

The first evening in Redmond, I’m wondering, what to do. I go ask the receptionist where’s the nearest place to buy electronics. She says, “Goto the best buy. Its a couple of miles, would you like me to get you a cab”. “Hah! I thought. A Cab. Pfft. I can walk”. Redmond’s a nice place to walk. So, I head in the general direction of this electronics store. I get there, buy a camera and what not. Now, I’m hungry. Fortunately, there’s a shopping center nearby: The Crossroad shopping center. There, I had my first taste of Greek. I had a sandwich of Pita bread which had hummus in it. Now, I don’t quite remember what hummus is but the whole thing tasted excellent. Quite refreshing and cool.

Now seems as good a time as any to talk about the differences in buses between India and the USA.

  1. In the USA, the buses will not stop if you put your arm out and wave about.
  2. In the USA, the bus driver will not open the door to let you off at an intersection even though the bus is at a complete standstill. Let me be quite clear here, when I say complete standstill, I mean that if it was any more stopped it would be going backwards. [That sounded a lot better in my head]
  3. In the USA, you have to have exact change. The driver won’t give back any change. Fortunately, I did not learn this the hard way. I put in a 2$ for a 1.5$ ticket, the mean driver pointed to a sign that said “Exact change only” and when I was seated a kind old lady gave me 50p saying she’d gotten it from the driver and asked me whether I was new here :).

Part IV: oBelIX jogs through shady sections of Redmond

One of my colleagues had suggested, goto Redmond Town Center, it is excellent for shopping and other such leisurely activities. It was late in the day, so I hopped onto a bus that went to RTC. This bus, as it turns out wasn’t going all the way. It dropped me off somewhere, and when I asked the driver, how far to Redmond Town Center, he said, “It’s quite near, a couple of blocks”.

Ab, herogiri to karni thi. It was dark out. I’m walking in what I think is the general direction to Redmond Town Center. The entire area I am walking through is deserted. Desolate. Run down shops and buildings. There are a set of weird looking guys, built like monster trucks, on the next intersection. I take the first turn away from them and start walking at a pace which most of the human populace uses when it wants to misplace the flab around the belly. I hit a railway line crossing the road. At this time, I am scared, lost and reminded oddly of a level in half-life 2. Anyway, I happen to find a shop selling painting supplies and so on, which in a different frame of mind I wouldn’t have minded looking through in more detail but at that time, all I can do is go to the owner, ask him where Redmond Town Center is and practically run there :).

For the record, Redmond Town Center is a waste of time. Absolutely nothing interesting there. There were no people. I had two absolutely crappy slices of pizza at a place called “Pizza Schmizza” [The exact address thanks to the interweb: 16552 NE 74th St, Redmond]