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shahi-gulz-pulz-e-sadhasdjk-dinner

Dinner at The Taj today. With Rajender uncle (n aunty) who had come from America. Not too much to say except the food was good as usual. We first had coffee in the lounge. I had a caremelocapechino, which was basically a normal caramel coffee except for the price, of course, at two hundred a cup. Then, we had dinner at the 'Haveli' as Taj likes to call their overpriced restaurant. I noticed that the men in suits took the order, and the men in sherwani served them. Dad and Mom had veg thalis, which I must say looked exceptionally tempting, served in an unusual silver plate. Uncle, Aunty n I had Lamb-Raan and Chicken. I fail to understand why hotels like these often love to complicate their menu, just to make dinner sound exotic. I mean instead of calling mixed vegetables as 'mixed-vegetables' they'll call it 'subz-e-gulastan' or some shitty half-urdu-half-hindi-no-english word. Note: the no-english part is important as it helps to confuse the foreigners. Then below the bombastic word will be an equally garbled explanation: 'cauliflower, beans and tomato tossed in robust garlic sauce'. It's not till you receive your order that you realize you basically have, well, mixed vegetables. So our golustian-kebabs turned out to be shami kebabs and our _________ (fill in with some sexy name) chicken was basically butter chicken. I guess these names are just to make it easier for your conscience to shed money on dishes which you might have otherwise avoided. I mean, come on, half-a-grand for baigan-aloo sounds a bit steep, but if you're talking about shahi-ringna-bataka-nu-shaak, well that's a different story.
But big names aside, the food was delicious. And as we feasted, a guy danced on a 3-meter-by-3-meter, 3-inch-high platform in one corner. Now this is the weird part. So we have a guy wearing a golden bird suit: a golden loongi on his lower half and a golden top which covered all except his nipples. Very unusual. Then from about waist length were tied wings with their other ends tied at the wrists, so when he spread his arms out wide, the golden wing spread like one of those Chinese paper fans. And he danced to some nutty tune which was interspersed with Ohm Shanti-hi, Shanti-hi, Shanti...
After the birdie performed his little dance, he was off, only to return fifteen minutes later now dressed as peacock. This time when he spread his hands, (you guessed it!) a peacock wing - complete with feathers - spread out. I managed to get a shot of peacock-man with my mobile phone camera. But as you can see, it's not a very good camera (VGA).
After our meal, we went upstairs to Uncle's room. The first thing I noticed was that Taj has replaced their usual CRT TVs in their rooms with 37 inch widescreen LG LCD televisions. Good idea, unfortunately, cable, here in India, is not designed for widescreen TVs. Conventional TVs (and normal computer monitors) have a length to breath ration of 4:3, for which cable shows are designed. When you view that on a widescreen (16:9 or 5.33:3) you either get a horizontally -stretched picture, or a picture with one inch of its top and bottom cut off. And sure enough, when I ran the TV, the pictures were stretched.Rest of the room pretty much was the same from the last time I entered a Taj room (a month ago, to meet another uncle) -- centralized control for lights, AC and power blinds; 4 phones (one at table, one bedside, one toilet, one fax machine - all connected to the same phone line); 3 inch matchsticks; candy bar, etc, etc. In fact they still hadn't fixed the fire plan: on backside of the main door in every room is a fire exit plan. Below the diagram is written "In case of fire, exit using the fire exits shown, or sound the alarms marked on the map". Unfortunately, though fire exits are clearly marked on the map, no alarms are marked.

So that's all folks, tonight's story, now its off to sleep for me.

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