Tanveer Khan: Singing the Hymn of the Unsung Heroes

FB_IMG_1557515009794

He is the Jack of all trades and master of many. Tanveer Khan is one of those individuals who has not only been saturated with self-accomplishment, but has gone out of his way to reach out to those who have not been as privileged. In the times of the Corona epidemic, his helping hand has helped the poor and the under-privilege. However, this is no exception as Tanveer has always had this charitable side to him. He has often gone out of his way to provide with some relief and what’s more, his initiative of bringing into the public eye the unsung heroes of the city has also enjoyed positive results.

What a Man he is:

Tanveer Khan had a strong foundation to his career and being academically sound, he also attained an MBA degree. He started as a freelancer and soon he was managing events for various companies being the host for such programs. He later worked with many corporates and then shifted course to be in charge of ‘Gen Y’ as the head in Eastern India. He looks into CSR (Corporate Social Responsibilities), NGOs, and Volunteer Management as a part of his corporate partnerships. He has also been associated with numerous fashion walks and organizations that promote fashion. The uniqueness in Tanveer is how he goes on to succeed in all that he attempts. His Midas touch has served him well so far in his illustrious career.

20200207_192221

He has donned many hats in the course of his long career and his flawless managerial skills have allowed him to successfully execute his tasks. For instance, he has been the PR Advisor and founder of many prominent organizations who handled numerous Glam and Fashion events in eastern region and outside.

One could say that he has been helped by his street-smart personality and his well-versed vocabulary that allows him to steal the show at meetings. But personally, I feel his biggest asset is his cool head on a balanced shoulder, his kind-heartedness, never-say-no attitude and a philanthropic mindset.

Kolkata Heroes and its impact:

One of his most promising social endeavors would have to be the foundation of Kolkata Heroes where he acknowledges the contribution of the common man and those who make a difference. These people, who previously went unrecognized, now become a known face courtesy of his brilliant initiative. In these turbulent times of Corona, the organization has hailed the contribution of many. He himself has initiated the donation for relief and has provided 2330 families with dry ration. The organization donated bread and biscuits to the kids and elderly for seven days. Such contributions have been consistent and thousands have been benefitted.

Conclusion:

Desperate times call for desperate measures. In some cases they call for the special efforts from the likes of Tanveer Khan who make a difference with their contribution. Not just one. We need many Tanveer Khans to bring in a better tomorrow and design a glorious morning full of hope and sunshine.

Raju, The Humane Restaurateur with a Tag of ‘God’

20200304_17052120200304_182808

There is a very familiar face for the students of Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) outside their beloved Gate 3 and of course, who could that be but their very own Raju, a man from Bengal who has established his own eatery. But there is something that separates Raju from the other restaurants in the region and that is his equation with the students. He has been able to blend the professionalism of business with a personal touch and that makes him a popular figure among the students. He is the owner of Tripti Restaurant that provides the students with nutritious and pocket-friendly food.

The Journey Begins

Let us go back in time. The year is 1998, and the journey of this young man begins. He sets foot in Vellore to work alongside his brother Pradip at an eatery named Geetanjali Hotel which was located opposite to the Christian Medical College and Hospital in Vellore, with 20 paisa to his name. Nevertheless, this meager amount of money was coupled with an undaunted determination to make it large. Geetanjali Hotel used to provide home delivery services for the students of VIT and Raju used to deliver this food. Soon, the rapport between Raju and the students began to grow. After the initial years of struggle, his brother opened his own food-joint near VIT. This was named Tara Maa Restaurant and Raju started working with his brother.

20200304_183248

Soon, Raju discovered the prospect of having his own restaurant and this led to Tripti Restaurant being his brainchild. They started in the year 2015 and soon their popularity superseded their predecessors. They specialized in Bengali cuisine and given the large number of students from Bengal, their business prospered in no time. The economically viable delicious meals they offer meant that soon the restaurant had significant numbers of non-Bengali students coming in as well.

Tripti Restaurant

The restaurant offers a great quality of Bengali food but also has other cuisines. They sell both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and the prices are well within the affordability range of the students. Tripti is open for business at 11 AM, all the way round the clock till 9 PM, which is the curfew for the hostellers at VIT. If someone is unable to manage time to come to the restaurant themselves, Raju also arranges for delivery to the college gates. His food items, from the snacks to the main course are a huge hit with the students who also love Tripti Restaurant for its student friendly ambiance. Students can be seen enjoying their leisure and having a chat and that adds to the college-canteen vibes of this place. There have been times when birthday celebrations also took place in the restaurant. I have personally observed Raju being a willing participant in the celebrations as one of their own and it is thus no wonder that he has earned the tag of ‘God’ for the students here.

Raju’s Equation with Students

The biggest highlight of the popularity and success of Tripti restaurant besides the quality of food, is that students also swear by the kind-natured and friendly behavior of Raju. He is their very own Raju-da (Raju brother) and acts as their friend, guide, and local guardian and often goes to the extent of offering them monetary help. I have been amazed by the efforts of Raju to ensure the well-being of students. In many cases, the parents are unable to send money in time and it is then Raju who comes to the rescue. Several students eat on credit and pay back only at the start of the next month. Sometimes the mere sight of some loitering faces around the restaurant is enough for Raju to understand that the students are hungry but do not have the money required. He allows them to enjoy their meals and pay back as per their convenience. Such rules often are detrimental for business. According to Raju, on several years he loses as much as 80-90 thousand INR for such lenient habits. Why he can’t stop then? The answer lies in the attachment that he has developed over the years for these students. In his words, the students have to stay away from home and away from their parents, and his support is a way to strengthen their morale. He simply cannot turn a blind eye to the plight of the students and his good-Samaritan nature also kicks in. There have been times when he has gone out of his way to book tickets for students leaving for home or arranged for a car to the airport in case of a problem faced by some parents.

Some unfortunate cases took place where he has been allowing a student to eat on credit for almost a year and the student passed away before clearing the dues. While such incidents are bad for his business he does not seem to tamper with his equation with the students which seems to be his priority. He may have lost a lot of money but has won a lot of hearts.

The team of Tripti Restaurant and their holidays

Raju manages the work of the restaurant along with six co-workers, all of whom hail from Bengal. The only time they get a break is during the months of May and June when the University is closed. They return to their native towns during this time. As for Raju, the only thing that draws him back to Kolkata is his parents who live here. He does not bat an eyelid when he says that Vellore is his city now. He is happy with the work-ethics of South India and the possibilities that await someone who is willing to work hard. He lives happily with his wife and his 2-year-old daughter.

The Helping Hand

They say that good acts never go unnoticed. The numerous acts of kindness all through the year have also earned some genuine admirers of his work. For instance, some of the ex-students of VIT who are now in prominent positions contribute in their own way. Siddhartha, who is currently based in RG Kar hospital in Kolkata after his completion of a course on Biotechnology from VIT, sends him his requirement of medicines. Mainak Basu, who is now involved with IIT also offers his helping hand. In fact, even before the restaurant became popular, Professor Ghosh from the department of Biotechnology promoted his food among the students.

Conclusion

Raju is beyond the owner of a popular restaurant. He is now an integral part of VIT. He has the deepest and darkest secrets of the college and is aware of the students as well. He has been making life easy for those in the hostels of VIT with his food and friendly ways. It is amazing how such individuals can have such an unassuming look about them and yet be a powerful presence. That is what describes Raju best for what he does. The students pass out each year but Raju da and his food remains etched in their memories, as a part of some of the best times spent in college. On my part, I can only admire this hard working soul and the kind gestures that form his reality.

 

The Sindhali Who Stole Hearts

Pic_1

A Sindhi guy, in his Prussian blue suit, started his note in English, satisfying all our expectations. But within seconds, he switched over to Bengali in proper accent, much better than a son of the soil in the truest sense of the term. Not just the language! You should’ve heard his voice brimming with confidence and passion, his love for the soil, his portrayal of the Bengali culture, his poise within, all in the form of a staccato. I was literally taken aback.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Sumit Vidhani – a fresh, young man in the block of Hospitality with distinct thoughts and discrete tastes. It was 21st Feb, 2020, the evening of the Grand Finale of TFBA 3.0, and also, International Mother Language Day. So, the moment Sumit decided to shift his address in Bengali from English, the famous words of Nelson Mandela probably started playing in his head. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. But if you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” And needless to say, this man steals the spotlight in no time.

Pic_2

Once the function was over, I couldn’t resist myself from going to meet him. “How come you speak Bengali so well?”, I asked him. The COO of a 4-star property in Bilaspur, Aananda Imperial (V.N. Inn Pvt Ltd.), turned to me and smiled softly. “I might be born in a Sindhi family, but I’m more a Bengali by heart than a Sindhi”, quips Sumit who had spent his entire student life in Chattisgarh. But amazingly, he gets goosebumps whenever something creative related to Bengal takes place.

The Aananda Imperial’s association, as a proud Trophy partner with TFBA 2020 and simultaneously, introducing The Aananda Imperial trophy for Best Bangla Blog Content in the 3rd edition, undoubtedly speak volumes about his passion for the City of Joy and its culture.

Pic_3

A strong believer in “Dream Big”, being instilled by the group Chairman Mr. Dula Ram Vidhani, Sumit is one of the front-runners to take their 10-year old legacy to the next level. The very next evening, on 22nd, all the finalists were invited at their newly owned Kolkata restaurant, Bongnese, in Salt Lake to celebrate an after-party. As the name suggests, the place is an amalgamation of two words- Bong, which is a colloquial term for Bengalis, and Chinese. Bongnese is a signature house to offer Authentic Bengali dishes from East and West Bengal along with some lost names of the great Colonial era. The restaurant has eighty seats. Traces of both Bengal and China have been infused into the decor. The furniture, the hue, props and lights all suggest the confluence of the two cultures.

Pic_4

The passionate hotelier greeted us along with his GM Confidant Rajib Roy Choudhury in traditional Bengali culture. And our good old friend Rajibda cracked some magic moments by presenting us with a brilliant ginger wine prepared by an Anglo Indian community in Bilaspur, under the initiative of Aananda Imperial. Goes without saying that there were innumerous other imported drinks available. But I decided to stick to the new and uncommon one with a soothing background score of a brilliant violinist, Ramanuj Chatterjee. “I think you like that drink a lot!”, Sumit whispered in my ears with his signature smile. I couldn’t help but nod. It was absolutely fantastic. Amidst all of this, a variety of starters including Haans’er Dim’er Devil & Chorbi’r Bora had created a tremendous amount of enthusiasm among the food bloggers and I was no exception.

A very down to earth, culturally sound Mr Sumit Vidhani, is a Chef by choice and has worked with the Taj Hotels after completing his Degree in Hotel Management from Bengaluru. Believe it or not, he can fluently speak in eight regional languages of Bengal, as surprising as that sounds. Isn’t that enough proof to understand his love for the language? He has been awarded with the coveted Young Hotelier of the Year Award at the recently concluded 5th Annual IMA Awards at Pune. His child, Aananda Imperial, has seen a new dawn in the Hotel & Hospitality industry of Bilaspur in Chattisgarh and has been awarded as the Best Wedding & MICE Hotel in Central India.

The dinner was elaborate with all traditional and extraordinaire Bengali cuisines. But who knew the surprise was still due? Sumit requested us to stay back for some more time as he calmly held our hands much alike in the form of a ‘merry-go-round’ and started singing Pratul Mukhopadhyay’s 26-year old, evergreen iconic number, Ami Banglay Gaan Gai. We all sang along, our eyes tearing up.

When Hart Quenches Heart

Pic_1

If it is dusk and you’re busy roaming around here and there in Vellore owing to some work or non-work, you’re actually wasting time!

Be there, just opposite to a roadside restaurant in between VIT (Vellore Institute of Technology) Main gate and Gate No.3. Take a deep breath and smell the heavenly Grilled Chicken or Chicken Tandoor. Yes, you’re correct!! You’ve bumped into one of the best food joints in Vellore, called Hart Lounge (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hart-Lounge/104874987644931). No need to know the address. Since, the smell itself gets you addicted.

Pic_2

The Ambience

A 12 x 7 ft long air conditioned sitting option, strategically decorated to provide some comfort and coziness to the VIT students after their classes are over, certainly brings respite to the young minds.  But when it adds to delicious non-veg food like the Mexican Shawarma, Arabian Alfaham or Grilled Chicken, the place becomes a regular visit.  The USP of the place is, they provide prompt service, quality taste, great quantity at a pocket-friendly, affordable price.

Pic_6

Pic_5I tried couple of their signature dishes, and I wonder how do they profit out of it? Their half plate chicken tandoor (named BBQ chicken here) comes with 4 big pieces of meat. Isn’t that outrageous at Rs.250?! 5 pieces of Chicken Lollipop come at Rs.100. Their best bait Shawarma plate (spicy or white) with loads of slow cooked chicken served with Kuboos (pita bread) comes at a mind-boggling Rs.140. Each Kuboo will cost you just 10 bucks separately. And I swear, you’ve to order more Kuboos as that plate of Shawarma won’t be over even if you take 3 kuboos. The place is student friendly and hands down delicious on anyday. Weekends are a bit crowded where people indulge in lot of take-aways from the front counter as they’ve the 9 PM in-time pressure at the main gate.

The Man Behind

Pic_4

But who is the man behind such brilliant initiative? Meet Dinesh. G, a local guy who in spite of doing his B.Tech in Electrical & Electronics Engineering from Priyadarshini Engineering College in Vanayambadi, some 80 kilometres away from Vellore, decided to pursue a food business the moment he discovered that he is a foodie and passionate about cooking and treating new items. In pursuit to his dream, he worked one year each in Bangalore and Chennai before he joined hands with one of his friends to start a Shawarma counter nearby VIT, called QT50. But very soon, he realized that he wanted to be the owner of a popular food joint rather than sharing hands to make the food. Immediately, he did a one year Diploma in Hotel Management. “This formal degree on the food industry had actually given me the edge over others to take bigger initiative, “quips Dinesh. He went on to start his own venture Hart Lounge in 2015. Today Hart Lounge sells 200 plates of Shawarma and 50-60 rolls apart from a host of non-veg items on any weekday. On weekends, it becomes double.

I was speaking to few students of VIT who are a regular customer of Hart Lounge. And the consensus is, “this is the best restaurant near VIT. Because, the food is always hygienic and the service is really good.”

With both my stomach and heart are filled with satisfaction, I could now realize why they come back to this place again and again every evening.

My recommendation:

  1. Mexican Chicken Shawarma
  2. All the Barbecues
  3. All the Alfahams
  4. The blue Mojito

Official Address: Hart Lounge, No.568/2, Chennai Salai, Opposite to VIT, Vellore – 14

Tulumba: The Macedonian Jalebi

Tulumba_2

No meal, however good it might be, is incomplete without a delicious dessert after the sumptuous meal. In different parts of the world different desserts are prevalent however one thing is common to all. In almost all parts of the world people prefer completing their meals with a sweet aftertaste.

Speaking of desserts, Tulumba is an extremely popular dessert in Central Europe and Eastern Europe. Turkey in particular is famous for putting out one of the most delicious forms of Tulumba that you might taste. In most parts of Turkey it remains a very popular dessert with people consuming this after a heavy meal. Here however we will concern ourselves with the Tulumba of Macedonia.

In terms of taste and texture it is very different from the ones you will find in Turkey. They both however are unique in their own way and it would be unfair to opt for a comparison between the two. The Tulumba was once upon a time exclusive to the Ottoman empire which had Turkey as its center and was ruled by the Caliph. It came to Macedonia from Turkey and during this transition a lot changed about the fine dessert and several new characteristics can be observed in the Macedonian version of the Tulumba.

Tulumba_3

If you are an Indian and are accustomed with the idea of the famous dessert jalebi then this dessert would be fairly easy for you to comprehend in your mind’s eye. It is very similar to the jalebi and Tulumba is also deep fried in oil. Once the process is complete it is then left to soak in lemon syrup to give it the flavor and texture. The main taste is dependent on the consistency of the syrup and the quality of frying them.

The pieces of Tulumba are usually small. You can easily have one in a mouthful which makes it a very convenient dessert to munch on when you are craving for something sweet after a sumptuous meal. The Balkan region in particular has a lot of popularity for this sweet dish. Although the other parts of Turkey and Macedonia also consume this dessert, the craze is unparalleled for in this particular region.

If you ever have the time and the scope to munch on these delicacies do not miss out on such a fine opportunity. The taste is truly blissful and desserts seldom taste better than a finely prepared Tulumba.

Tantalizing Terrati Breakfast @ Bazar Kolkata

Terati_1

A chilly, winter morning and Terrati Bazar breakfast!! Have you ever thought of this combination? Those who know, I’m sure, it’s a matter of a tickling on your taste buds. But those who do not, pls go through this piece in no time.

It happens to be an amazing breakfast place where one can feast upon some home-made Chinese delicacies which have unique taste and flavors. There is a significant Chinese population residing in this region and the Tyangra region of Kolkata. Let us undertake a journey to trace the origin of these Chinese people who brought in their culture and habits and infused it with the Indian-Bengali culture over the years.

Terati_5It probably dates back to the times after the Battle of Plassey where a decisive victory made Bengal a British stronghold. They started to establish trade relations with several nations and Kolkata being the port-city was being modernized fast for their benefits. The Chinese were then under the Manchu dynasty after the end of the Ming dynasty. One of the main items of trade with China was opium and more and more people in China were getting addicted to Opium. During these times, several Chinese ships came to Kolkata with products and people and not all of these people went back. Some stayed back to try their luck in their new endeavors here in Kolkata and most of these people belonged to the lower sections of the economy and were laborers or farmers.

As they started staying, they retained their cultures and religion and of course their cuisine. There was this Chinese gentleman by the name Tong Achio, who came to Kolkata in the year 1778. He brought in a large number of Chinese laborers and started working on sugar factories as was instructed by Warren Hastings who granted him the land in the first place. Apart from his business endeavors, Tong Achio was also the pioneer to introduce the system of hand drawn carts to ferry people from one part of the city to another. It started as a cheap mode of transport and somehow after all these years, the practice has remained in Kolkata.

Terati_2

Tong Achio died shortly after establishing his factory but the Chinese presence had already become significant in Bengal and later on they settled in Kolkata. They settled near the Esplanade region and also along the Tyangra region where they set up tanneries. A lot of people started working as dentists and others set up restaurants.Terati_4

Even today, if one wants to enjoy the most authentic Chinese food, he ought to visit the China-town region in Tyangra or Terrati Bazar. They sell several variants of our known delicacies such as Momos. From momos to dumplings to sui mai, the variety on offer is sure to tickle your taste buds. One of the most appealing things about this place is that the condiments used are authentic Chinese products. This affects the taste and makes it unique which you will not find anywhere else. So, a visit to this part of the town is a must for those who would like to discover the ancient links of the city and also enjoy a great meal.

If You’re in NZ, Do not Miss Out Tasting Pavlova

Pavlova_1

A complete meal is seldom said to be complete till the finishing touch is provided by a fine dessert. The sweet aftertaste lingers on and reminds you of the wonderful meal you just had. When I visit a place, I make it a point to not only experience the place but also the cuisine. The cuisine after all is as much a part of the culture and heritage of the place as anything else. So missing out on the best of dishes will mean that you will end up missing out on a part of the place and not be able to experience the complete essence.

During my visit to Wellington in New Zealand I experienced one such dish, the taste of which I can still feel with my eyes closed. This lip smacking dessert is called Pavlova and is one of the delicacies of New Zealand. While the New Zealanders claim that it is ethnic to their land, a similar claim is also led out by the Australians. Wherever you go on these two island nations, people will claim that the Pavlova is their very own invention. While this debate cannot be settled one thing has no two opinions about it. The Pavlova is going to be one of the best dessert experiences you would have ever had and in both Australia and New Zealand it is extremely popular among the people.

Pavlova_2

To make this unique dessert you need to take some egg whites in a bowl. Whisk it well and make it smooth. There after slowly add some sugar to the egg whites. To get the exact ratio of sugar and the egg whites, make sure to use one cup of sugar for every three egg whites. Make sure that while you are whisking the egg whites in the bowl you are adding the sugar simultaneously. Now pour this mixture in a pan on the oven. Once poured sprinkle some meringue properly over the mixture. Make sure that the meringue is at least a quarter inch thick. Now is the time to bake the entire thing. Bake for about an hour and then it will be ready. Add some whipped cream on top and you can even add some fruit cuttings for the garnish. Fruits like cherry or strawberry are ideal for the garnish. Your wonderful and exquisite dessert is now ready and you can enjoy the experience.