Wednesday, February 20, 2013

3 Feb 13 – Pune to Bangalore

We had scheduled a 4 am start. When I woke up in the morning, not knowing if Mathew will be able to start as appointed, he pranced into my room with a healthy morning greeting. I was happy to know that the rest had done him good and that he had recovered. We hit the road shortly after 4 am and, after the initial hiccups, we got on to the Satara road. As we hit the road to Satara after the Khandala ghats we stopped for tea and stretched our limbs. The road to Bangalore was superb. There were tolls aplenty but it was an 800 plus km drive with hardly any stress. We had late breakfast at a Kamat Upachar outlet in Dharwad (Mathew was shocked that such quantities could find space in my stomach) and lunch at the Kamat outlet in Sira, where we found groups of Harley Davidson bikers having a break.

Prior to hitting Bangalore I had a message from my cousin, Anita, and her husband, Joe, if we could meet up for dinner. I have always welcomed their company and readily agreed to the proposal. We reached the outskirts of Bangalore before 5 pm. It took us an hour to navigate to the Bangalore City railway station. By the time we reached the ORH Mathew started showing signs of fever, once again. He decided to rest and give the dinner engagement a miss. Ajay, my son who is a student of St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore, reached the ORH. Together we rearranged some of the luggage and got ready for dinner.

The Portland Steakhouse and Café is situated on Brunton Road, off MG Road. Factoring in that I would miss the right turnings at least a few times we left early, after fetching idlis for Mathew. As luck would have it, the wrong turnings were fewer and we reached the Steakhouse earlier than appointed. We sat and chatted in the car and went through the photographs I had taken during the expedition.

At 8 pm we walked into the restaurant. My jaws fell apart when I saw Lily Ammayi, my God Mother and Anita’s mother, with Anita and Joe. She was the surprise of the evening. The dinner orders were placed – the steward suggested a medium steak; a well done, he said, would taste a bit burnt. Table conversation effortlessly turned from the journey to children to food and Joe’s whisky tasting sessions. That was informative. The next time I have a single malt whisky I will try it with 10 drops of room temperature water. It was fascinating to hear the story of the Indian malt whisky, Amrut, which, according to some experts (noses), rank right up there with the best. Homegrown we don’t care; we crave for what is brought in from another land.

The food was excellent and so were the desserts (sizzling brownie and ice cream and cheesecake). Anita is an accepted authority on rating hotel and restaurant services. She pointed out some areas where service levels ought to improve at the Steakhouse. It was time to leave and goodbyes were quickly said. Ajay insisted on taking the public transport back to his hostel despite Anita offering him a lift. I took all the wrong turnings on the way back to the ORH and spent more time taking U-turns than driving straight! When I finally got back to the ORH I found Mathew still in some degree of discomfort. I decided that I would not rush the departure from Bangalore in the morning.

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