Best places for eating out in Jaipur

Getting married to someone from another state has a unique advantage – Great opportunity to explore a cuisine from another state, in detail! After getting married, besides finding a lovely wife, I also discovered another beauty worthy of (a lot of) love – Rajasthani food.

My discovery of food in Rajasthan has started in Jaipur but I have not restricted myself to Rajasthani cuisine only. This post will get updated as and when I keep discovering new places:

Chokhi Dhani – Your best bet at finding the most awesome Rajasthani food in Jaipur. The “Daal-Baati-Choorma” combination is what it is best known for. However, instead of daal, I enjoy the “Masala Baati” and “Gatte ki sabzi” more. There are plenty of other dishes served on the table and you can eat as much as you can. Try out everything, because, quite frankly, it’s unbeatable.

Anokhi – Like the name suggests, it’s a fascinating small cafe at Prithviraj Square, Jaipur. You will find fancy new dishes which you have never seen or tasted before. Definitely worth trying out!

Indian Spice – Average food but amazingly cheap, given that it’s a good fine dine restaurant. I went in a group of 11, ordered vegetarian food and ate to my heart’s content. The total bill? Rs. 2000.

Kanha sweets – Nice sweet shop near Gaurav Towers, where you can try chaat, snacks and a few bakery items like cakes and biscuits. The menu card design and dishes looks remarkably similar to Haldirams! Cheats!

Lassiwala – Very popular lassi outlet in this area. There are a few copy-cats nearby so make sure you go to the one with the black colored board. There’s a nice ice-cream parlor right across the road.

Lakshmi Misthan Bhandar (LMB) – The choice of tourists to buy “ghevar”, mawa-kachori and other sweets since many many years. Even though this place always remains jam packed, I have heard that it’s no longer as popular among locals as it used to be earlier.

Rawat Mishtan Bhandar – This is the new sweet shop the locals prefer. I have compared the “mawa-kachori” between Rawat and LMB and Rawat’s is definitely the winner.

Talk Of The Town – Seems to be a popular choice for economical non-vegetarian food.

Saras Milk Parlors – These are present all over Jaipur and seem to be a popular place to have a quick glass of cold coffee, flavored milk etc. in the hot weather of Jaipur.

Know any other good eating joints in Jaipur that I missed? Add them in the comments below.

Best places to eat at Amritsar

Amritsar is truly a foodie’s delight. Besides the holy visit to the Harmandir Sahib (a.k.a. the Golden Temple), you can spend an entire week exploring all the awesome food options this city has on offer! Here are some of the best eating out places I discovered at Amritsar:

Guru Ka Langar at Golden Temple – The Golden Temple has a large multi-level dining area which serves free “langar” to everyone. You are made to sit on the floor and you are served an unlimited helping of dal, a seasonal vegetable, roti, rice and water. The food is like your everyday meal but is quite well prepared. The plates, bowls and spoons are perfectly clean. After stepping out of the complex, you get to see the huge scale of operations that are required to keep the kitchen running almost 24 hours a day, including used plate disposal, cleaning, cutting, cooking etc. Thanks to the massive inflow of funds, nobody in Amritsar can ever complain of dying of hunger! Remarkable. It’s a must try for everyone visiting Amritsar.

Bharawan da Dhaba at Town Hall – This definitely seemed like the biggest and most popular dhaba in the city. I went there on a weekend night and it was packed right till the last table. However, to my disappointment, it turned out to be a pure vegetarian eating joint. It was actually surprising for me that in a supposedly hard-core chicken loving Punjabi community, a pure vegetarian restaurant is doing such solid business! Nevertheless, I tried out the chole and stuffed kulche, followed by a big glass of lassi and kheer. It was definitely the best chole-kulche-lassi I had ever tasted.

Kesar Da Dhaba (Shastri Market) – If you are willing to wade through the narrow lanes of Shastri Market, you won’t be disappointed with what awaits you at the other end. Kesar Dhaba’s chana, parantha’s, dal, lassi as well as phirni beats Bharawan’s preparations in all aspects hands-down. Pay special attention to the Dal fry – It is so generously topped with desi ghee that it’s hard to find the actual dal inside the bowl.

Beera Da Dhaba – I have heard nice things about this place, especially for it’s non-vegetarian cuisine, but I could not manage to go and check it out personally. I instead landed up in a place called Surjit Food Plaza, which was actually quite ordinary and should be avoided. I also tried out Makhan’s dhaba which is quite popular in that area for fish. The fish and all tandoori preparations (tandoori chicken, fish, paneer) were very good, but the curry dishes (ex. Butter chicken, paneer pasanda, daal makhani etc.) were awful. Come here only for the tandoori. Give everything else a pass.

Badiyan and Papad – Amritsar is known for it’s spicy Badiyan and Papad. Both are available in packed form to carry away at Bharawan da Dhaba. Both are super spicy, but very well prepared. They’re definitely not for the weak-hearted.

Popular Bakery on Queen’s Road – This happens to be quite a popular bakery in Amritsar. I got some “pinni” packed for my way back to Delhi. I was told by the hotel manager that the cakes and pastries are quite good as well. But I was told later that the most popular shop for sweets in Amritsar is Kanha Sweets (on Lawrence Road) and that’s where all the locals go.

Know any other good eating joints in Amritsar that I missed? Add them in the comments below.

Charge your phone with a USB port fitted inside your car

There are moments when you’re running out of battery on your smartphone and there is no charging socket in sight. I’ve finally found a way to charge all my portable gadgets in the car, without having to buy individual car chargers for each brand/model of products I buy.

The car charger is USB based. The one I’ve bought is from a brand called Capdase and cost me Rs. 399 through Flipkart.com. It’s incredibly small (less than 1.5 inches long and less than 1 inch wide) and fits neatly INSIDE the car’s cigarette lighter socket. A green LED on the device indicates that it is powered on and ready for use.

Now all you need to do is plug your regular USB charging cable from your device into the charging socket and you’re done. This charger derives power from the car’s battery and can supply upto 5V/1A of current, so almost all smartphones, digital camera’s, Kindle’s etc. should be compatible. I’ve tested the charger on my iPhone 3G and it works well. An iPad/tablet computer may need higher power to charge optimally so they may or may not be compatible (untested).

I think it’s a simple, cheap and extremely useful device for everyone to own.

P.S. Though I have no accurate numbers to prove this, my gut feeling is that car chargers should only be used as a backup and you should not rely on them for charging your devices everyday. The manufacturer’s original charger will feed the correct voltage/current required to condition the battery properly, which may not be true with car chargers.

Tata Sky Plus HD Review

Tata Sky has been offering 3 different kinds of set-top boxes since a while, which include Tata Sky+ (with recording but no HD), Tata Sky HD (with HD but no recording) and a bare bones (no recording, no HD) option as well. The reason I chose not to upgrade from my bare-bones box was because I was expecting a hybrid box (with both recording and HD) to launch pretty soon. Tata Sky Plus HD is finally here and I was among the first few customers to order it.

I have been using Tata Sky+ HD since a few days now and here are some of my observations, which will hopefully help you decide if you want to upgrade or not:

1. Pause Live TV- You can pause live TV and then resume from where you left. Very handy when your door bell rings or when you want to take a quick loo break. You can pause for up to 45 minutes. Once you return, you can resume from where you left or completely skip that section and return to live transmission.

2. HD content- You absolutely need to have a full HD TV to enjoy the complete experience. The Tata Sky Plus HD box will need to connect to your TV with an HDMI cable to enable HD viewing. The box can output both in 16:9 and 4:3, so the image doesn’t stretch on your widescreen TV. The HD transmission is in 1080i and spotless. It is definitely *the* best quality of TV transmission I have ever seen. Infact, it’s so good that your eyes will sometimes fail to perceive that you are watching a TV and feel as if you’re really inside what you are watching. For now, Discovery and National Geographic are the only two channels to be broadcasted in HD. The HD channel schedule is not the same as the regular schedule though. Tata Sky claims to have Star Plus in HD as well, but it doesn’t seem like that. The Cricket World Cup 2011 is also being transmitted in HD, without any ad breaks! A few showcase movies also have an HD option.

3. Recording- You can supposedly record upto 625 hours of SD (standard definition) content on the built-in 500 GB hard disk. If you are recording HD content, the recording time will be slightly lower. But you cannot copy the programs off the disk and into your computer etc. You can schedule specific programs for recording or all episodes in the series. However, the box can record only 2 shows in parallel. Moreover, if you are recording 2 shows simultaneously and watching TV at the same time, you must be tuned into either of those two channels which are being recorded. Showcase movies can be recorded too, but they cannot be played back after the 24 hour window in which you purchased it, making the feature effectively useless.

There’s also an iPhone app from Tata Sky which can show entire TV schedules on your phone and schedule specific ones, even if you’re not at home. Personally, I’m using this recording feature very heavily and recording all my favorite TV shows all round the clock. When I return home in the evening, I play them at my convenience. You’ll find yourself watching watching TV much more than you earlier used to.

4. The box, remote and installation- The box is significantly bigger than the simple bare-bones model and looks much better too. The remote control hasn’t changed much except for a few extra buttons to control recording and playback. The box has a USB and Ethernet port meant for “future use”. The box’s firmware is installed when you first switch on the device and auto-upgrades whenever Tata Sky publishes any new updates for it. When I first bought the box, the firmware was slightly buggy (the box used to hang while changing volume or deleting an existing recording), but that’s no longer the case.

5. VOD- A few movies are available as “video on demand”, which can be played any time you want and totally free of cost. Do not expect new movies in this section though. At the time of writing, “Bheja Fry”, “Apne”, “Bhoot”, “Jodha Akhbar” etc. were available for playback, all of which are roughly 1-2 years old.

6. Upgrade- The Tata Sky+ HD set top box costs Rs. 3999. If you already have a Tata Sky set top box, Tata Sky will not take the old one back in exchange of any discount. What’s worse is that you cannot pass it on to any other customer since the box is in a way “locked” to your account. You can either choose to use it in a multi-room setup with another TV (this will require a small change in your dish and complete change of wiring, both of which are done free of cost), or get it deactivated for the time being. If you don’t, Rs. 5 per day or so will be deducted from your account so ensure that this is done.

7. Cost- I am personally using the Annual Mega Pack (minus the South Indian channels) for Rs. 5500 per year, which includes ALL channels including HD and 12 Showcase movies. I think this is definitely the best option. I also removed the CAS connection from my other TV and setup the old Tata Sky box on that one, which costs about Rs. 150 per month and shows all channels, since I have the annual mega pack on the other TV. So 2 TV’s with all current and future channels + 12 movies effectively turn out to be Rs. 5500 + 150×12 = 7300 per year. That’s about Rs. 306 per TV per month. Not bad at all. If you don’t have the annual mega pack, I think the HD package has to be taken separately.

My overall recommendation- Tata Sky Plus HD is definitely a super-hit product from Tata Sky at a reasonable price. Buy it.

Consider 3G services when switching operators under MNP

Mobile Number Portability has been launched in India and it’ll give a lot of mobile subscribers the freedom to change their mobile operators while retaining their number. Most people have given reasons like “bad service”, “expensive” etc. for switching operators but one more important factor to consider is whether your new operator has a 3G license in your circle.

For example, in Delhi/NCR region, only Vodafone, Airtel and Reliance have 3G licenses. So if you move to an operator like Docomo, Idea Cellular etc. in Delhi, you will not be able to enable 3G services on your handset. So your high end iPhones and Androids will be stuck to the plain old GPRS

The complete list of which operators own 3G license in your circle is given here.

21 ways to order a book in India

I’m amazed by this mad rush of people trying to sell me books online in India. If you’re like me who reads a lot and probably hunts around for the best bargains before taking out the wallet now has more options than ever to consider.

Online:

Indiaplaza.in was my old favorite. However, their failiure to keep up with the times has forced me to migrate to Flipkart.com, which is probably the #1 company in this business right now. It’s amazing how they emerged and continue to maintain the #1 position in this business despite fierce competition from all around. a1books.co.in and books.rediff.com along with landmarkonthenet.com sell books too. iBibo is there to grab a slice of every pie so they have Tradus.in/books. And then there’s UpRack.com – A recent entry in this space. I met the founder recently at a startup event. He has an impressive track record so I’ll definitely keep a watch on this site. But someone please tell me why everyone I know who has worked at Amazon starts his own e-bookstore! If there is still any book which you could not find in any of these stores, there’s always the good old Amazon.com – They ship books to India but charge a hefty shipping fees.

E-Books:

Why order books when you can get them for free? Flazx stocks a comprehensive collection of almost every technical e-book you can think of. It’s illegal of course. Project Gutenberg continues to remain a popular source of free e-books.

e-Book readers:

e-Book readers are the latest craze, especially among the young and affluent crowd. Although I resisted the idea at first, I got one pretty soon. Amazon Kindle is my preffered device and you can read my full review of the Amazon Kindle if you are thinking of ordering one. Infibeam Pi has a decent collection of books to choose from plus huge catalog of books with expired copyrights. There’s also iBooks from Apple and Google Books but both are yet to gain popularity in India.

Books on the phone:

Dial-a-Book, run by my ex-colleague Mayank Dhingra is one of my personal favorites right now. Just give them a call, get a quote and place the order. They deliver in 1-2 days and take the payment as cash. Om Bookstores also offers home delivery of books but take a delivery charge.

Real World Bookstores:

Crossword, Om Bookstore, Teksons, Landmark, Galgotia, Jain Books, Janta Books and Midland Bookshop, all seem to be doing brisk business.

I’m amazed how many options exist right now and everyone in the business is doing well. Someone I know compared this with a chai-wala business – you can put up a chai stall almost anywhere in India and it will sell!

But haven’t we been told that people are reading less and less these days and reading books are passe? It’s surprising that so many entrepreneurs still jumped into the book selling business and are successful too! My bet is that books are only a starting point (and a good one), but pretty soon they all will be forced to expand to other categories as well.

10 Useful Tips for Selling Used Stuff Online

If you are reading this article, you’re among the few people who actually realize how much stuff you’ve accumulated in your house over the years and are probably looking for a way to sell it off. Most people often ask friends and family whenever they are thinking of selling their used stuff. It’s not a bad idea at all but one usually ignored option is to put it up for sale online. You’ll be surprised how many people are looking and willing to buy second hand stuff on the Internet!

1. eBay.in is probably the best site to sell your second hand stuff. The “PaisaPay” escrow like feature is perhaps the best thing eBay has done so far which guarantees your payment as well as protects buyers from fraud. eBay has huge traffic by itself and item listings on eBay generally rank very high on Google.

2. Pricing is key. Always remember, when someone is buying your stuff online, there is a certain level of risk that person is taking, since he is going completely by trust and your description of the item. Offer him a price which accommodates for that risk factor, so that he doesn’t start browsing elsewhere for a better price. In other words, make the offer make him think – “Why not?” instead of “Why?”. A good way to determine a price is by asking yourself – “Will I buy the same item at that price is someone offered it to me?”

3. It’s easy to sell low item values online. Stuff with list price upto Rs. 1000 can be easily sold off since the stakes are not too high for the buyer. But relatively expensive items like old laptops etc. which you are probably selling in the Rs. 10-20k range are harder to get rid off. Describe the condition in detail. Mention how old it is and be honest with the specs and condition. Include a few original pictures to gain confidence of the buyer. If you stay honest, people will also rate you higher in the feedback ratings, which will make future selling easier!

4. Although there is no hard and fast rule for this, I usually sell my stuff after two new iterations of the product have come out in the market, but before the current product goes out of demand. A general thumb rule I follow for electronic gadgets is “2 years old – 50% price”.

5. Apart from eBay, also try classifieds websites like Sulekha.com. Sulekha has insane amounts of web traffic and is usually a good place to list relatively expensive items. All Sulekha.com does is that it connects the buyer directly with the seller, for free. Buyers can then contact you over email/phone and take the deal further. I once sold my Sony Vaio laptop within 3 days of listing it on Sulekha!

6. Don’t even try selling stuff if it’s not in working condition. You can safely assume that it wont sell to anyone except the junk dealer. You can get it repaired and make it sell though. Do some quick maths – if the junk dealer quotes rs. 1000 for an old item and a Rs. 500 repair can help you sell it for Rs. 4000, get it done!

7. Use social media to sell. When you list an item on eBay or Sulekha, post a link of that listing on your Twitter/Facebook profile. Quite often, you’ll find people you know pinging you back, sometimes even because other people they know are looking to buy! They may also retweet and help you spread the link with an even wider audience!

8. If you sell via Sulekha, make sure you do the paperwork right. Do not pass on the original bill. Take a photocopy instead. Moreover, take an identity proof of the person you are selling to (eg. copy of driving license) and clearly write down the date, time and place of the transaction and that the seller is not responsible for anything that goes wrong with the item post purchase. Make sure the terms and conditions are absolutely clear. Incase something goes wrong with the item later (even if it is because of the buyers own fault), he might blame you for fraudulently selling a damaged piece and can start asking for a refund or harass you. Moreover, avoid accepting payments via cash. Opt for Internet transfer since it’s quick and provides full proof of date and time of transaction in case a dispute arises later.

9. Since second hand product prices are not fixed, people will always negotiate. The problem is that you cannot price the item high initially (because then it will not generate enough interest) and neither can you price it too low (since people will almost always negotiate). However, it’s also important to understand that even though buyers are plenty, the right ones are difficult to find. If you find someone offering a price which is not ideal but still acceptable, hang on to it and close the deal. If you don’t, and you’re lucky, you just might find a better deal next day. If not, nobody will contact you for the next 3 months and by then, the expected price would have already fallen to the price you rejected earlier.

10. Do not ignore the junk dealer. Even though he deals in junk, these guys have a life of their own too. They are often willing to buy items in working condition and can pay a decent price since they can use the item at their own house. You cannot compare the price with what you can ideally expect, but if you are looking to sell it and make some cash quickly, the junk dealer is a good place to go.

What I have sold so far on eBay + Sulekha.com:

2 laptops (5 year old IBM and 2.5 years old Vaio), 2 iPod Shuffle, 2 PS3 games, 1 Network adapter, 1 Sony Handycam, 1 Mobile Handsfree kit, 1 Nokia Communicator, 1 Samsung phone, 1 DVD player

Impressive?

Download movies from the Internet and play them on your TV

First off, a confession – I consider myself gadget savvy but I had absolutely *no* idea that playing movies downloaded from the Internet on a television was even possible. Thanks to an equally techie colleague who mentioned he’d been doing this since years that I realized how foolish I’d been. What makes me feel less guilty though is how few people know about it, which is why I thought about writing this blogpost.

The general name for this class of gadgets is “Media Players”. Simply put, it’s like a small box similar to your set top box which connects to your TV. The media player has a USB port using which you can attach any portable hard disk or thumb drive containing your movies in any damn format (AVI, DivX, XVid, VOB, MKV, MP4, MOV, WMV, h.264, MPG – you name it!) and it will play them right on your TV. Some even support full 1080p HD content. Yeah!

A lot of companies manufacture media players, the most prominent ones being Western Digital and Seagate. Then there are others like Iomega, Amkette etc. which also deserve a mention. The one that I specifically bought was the WD TV Live HD Media Player.

What I love about my WD:

1. Much smaller and cheaper compared to Seagate models. Also has the best price/performance ratio. The MRP is close to Rs. 9000 in India and most vendors will be selling it for Rs. 8000 or so. It’s available on eBay.in as well. I brought it for Rs. 7200 from Nehru Place but I bet a good bargainer can easily bring down the price to about Rs. 7000 or so.

2. Supports full 1080p HD. All you need to do is to connect the media player to your HDTV via an HDMI cable. The HDMI cable is not included in the pack. The usual composite cable (Red-White-Yellow) cable is bundled.

3. Upgradeable firmware so that your player never gets out of date as and when new movie formats come on the Internet. WD releases these firmware updates pretty often.

4. Most of us usually have our best AV hardware connected to our TV. You can literally download movies for free (via Torrents etc.) and play it on the best display and audio you’ve got.

5. No storage limitations since you can connect any external disk you like. The WD model infact has 2 USB ports.

6. No WiFi but connects via the Ethernet cable. You can even stream media from connected media servers and transfer movies to your connected USB drive wirelessly!

7. Definitely much better video quality compared to connecting your laptop directly to the TV. Moreover, your laptop does not get blocked while the movie is on.

8. It can even show pictures (from a USB disc or Flickr) and play music too. But really, let’s not talk about it. That’s not what I bought it for!

9. Very simple UI – even your mom can operate it.

10. It has a remote! You can pause, fast forward and rewind etc. just like a DVD player.

I highly recommend buying a media player even if you have one of those modern TV’s which boasts of a “USB port”. The inbuilt TV hardware is generally not that powerful and you’ll often find yourself limited to the small subset of movie formats it can support. Even if you have a gaming console like a PS3, the same limitations still apply.

I you have any specific questions or comments, please add them below. I’ll be happy to reply.

Update 1: A lot of people have asked me the details of where I got it from. I got the player from AVS Informatics Private Limited, 208, Second Floor, Siddhartha Building, 96, Nehru Place for Rs. 7200. You can get their phone number from Justdial.com

Update 2: If you are planning to buy this media player, I would recommend that you also checkout the newer “WD TV Live Hub”. It has an internal hard drive and HDMI 1.4 (which can support 3D movies in future). For more details, click here. The MRP of this new model is Rs. 9999 but the actual retail price should be much lower.

Best Restaurants in Delhi – My Top 50

Though Delhi is known for it’s food (and foodies), there are hardly any good websites for finding out what the most popular and famous restaurants in Delhi are. Here is my list of recommendations (in no particular order). All of them are totally worth it.

1. Yum Yum Tree – Located at NFC and has a beautiful ambiance as well.

2. Big Chill – Extremely popular fast food joint in Khan Market

3. Haldirams – The first “branded” mithai shop. Famous for chat, snacks and sweets. Infact, just pickup anything from the menu and you won’t be disappointed.

4. Great Kebab Factory – Unlimited Kebab’s followed by main course.

5. Bukhara – Rated one of the best restaurants in Asia

6. Punjabi by Nature – Amazing butter chicken, kebabs and vodka golgappas. Watch out for the super sized paranthas. They are HUGE!

7. Wengers – Located in CP, best known for it’s cakes and pastries. Even the patties and biscuits are amazing.

8. Varq

9. Nizam’s Kathi Kebab – Located at CP. Usually packed, so need to wait before getting seated.

10. Khan Chacha

11. Kwality – Popular among tourists and foreigners, especially for it’s chole bhature.

12. Pind Baluchi – Great food in a typical village setting but small helpings.

13. Sagar Ratna – Good south Indian food. Don’t miss the Basundi in desserts followed by filter coffee!

14. Saravana Bhawan – Die hard south Indian fans prefer this one over Sagar Ratna.

15. Barbeque Nation – Awesome buffet at amazingly low rates. Includes unlimited starters, main course and desserts. Unbeatable service. One of my all time personal favorites.

16. All American Diner – Located at IHC. Tries to recreate that ambiance of an “American” cafe, typically seen in Hollywood movies, and does it quite well. The prices are on the higher side, though.

17. Al Bake – Famous for Shawarma rolls. Best served with mayonnaise. They even home deliver to nearby areas.

18. Indian Accent – Tiny dishes at exorbitant prices. If you’re planning to eat a stomach full, you may end up applying for a personal loan.

19. Moti Mahal – One of the oldest restaurants in Delhi, located at Daryaganj.

20. Moti Mahal Deluxe – Originally at GK, but now has several franchisee outlets all over Delhi.

21. Swagath – Probably the only fine dine restaurant serving south Indian non-veg cuisine in Delhi. Some love it. Some hate it.

22. Mainland China – Perhaps the best chinese food I have ever tasted.

23. Pebble Street

24. Masala Art – Located in Taj Palace. Great food.

25. Park Baluchi – Located in the middle of Deer Park. Best visited in lunch hours.

26. Gulati’s – Offers buffet lunch. The Kulfi shop just outside the restaurant is a must have.

27. TGIF – Offbeat menu offerings in a dimly lit environment.

28. Nathu Sweets – An old restaurant and sweet shop in India.

29. Colonel Kebabz – Carry out kebabs or have it in your car.

30. Bengali sweet house, Bengali Market

31. Bercos – Good chinese food.

32. Chor Bizarre – Awesome buffet which includes chat with an interesting style of serving.

33. BTW – Bittoo Tikki Wala Private Ltd. Best known for it’s tikki chat.

34. United Coffee House – One of the oldest restaurants located in CP. Known for it’s Cona Coffee.

35. Parikrama – The revolving restaurant. Serves good kebabs and butter chicken.

36. Not Just Paranthas – A “high end” paranthe wali gali. I love the pocket parantha’s there.

38. Vedas – Superb ambiance, especially during dinner to enjoy a good candle light dinner.

39. Mochas – Great place to hang out and smoke hookah.

40. Kake Da Hotel – Hyped and hence leads a lot of people disappointed. Before you pay a visit, do keep in mind that it’s a “dhaba” after all!

41. Nirulas – Nirula’s gave dilli walla’s their first taste of Pizza. Love their ice cream too, especially Zafrani Badaam Pista and Banana Split.

42. Paranthe wali Gali – Fried parantha’s with every stuffing you can imagine. Don’t miss the “Daulat Ki Chat” served just outside and the nearby “Ghantewala” sweet shop.

43. Cafe Morisson

44. Rajdhani thali – It’s like a race of you eating and them serving.

45. Aka Saka

46. Deez Biryani – Best delivered at home. They deliver throughout Delhi.

47. Eatopia – Located at IHC, it is one of the most popular food courts in Delhi. Nominal rates and good quality food at all food stalls.

48. Suruchi – The best Gujrati you can have in Delhi. Even the South Indian tastes way better than dedicated South Indian restaurants like Sagar Ratna. Be prepared to be amazed when the waiter gets you the bill – Amazing value for money restaurant.

49. Moet’s curry leaf – Good food and peaceful ambiance. Do not miss the Kulfi served just outside Moet’s.

50. Karnataka food centre

51. Cha Bar – Awkwardly located inside a bookstore, but serves good tea and muffins.

52. Govinda’s – Located inside ISKCON temple. Good vegetarian food in a religious setting.

53. Coffee bean and tea leaf – Similar to Barista, Cafe Coffee Day and Costa’s, but definitely much better.

54. Ruby Tuesdays

55. Yo China – Budget chinese food.

56. Geoffrey’s

57. Kaventer’s – Best known for it’s flavoured milk. You will need to stand in a queue before you are served.

58. The Hosts – Good Indian and tandoori cuisine. Good place to relax with friends and colleagues after a hard day at work.

59. Bennigans – Amazing food. They serve liquor too, so a great place to hang out with friends.

60. Udupi – Very popular, especially because of it’s attractive rates.

61. Country Inn and Suites, Ghaziabad – The most comprehensive pure vegetarian buffet you can find. But expensive too.

62. Bengal Sweets, South Extension – Awesome chat and probably the best chole bhature you can find.

If you know any other good places worth going to, add them as a comment!

Update: I am no longer maintaining this list. To see the most up-to-date list of the best restaurants in Delhi, see Delhi Delights.

Ordering the latest 6 inch Kindle 3 from Amazon to India

This just might be your “definitive” guide to ordering the new Kindle Wi-Fi, 6″ Display, Graphite – Latest Generation (also known as Kindle 3) from India. If you are planning to order one or simply curious to know how the process of ordering the Kindle in India from Amazon.com is like, this blogpost should cover most of your queries.

I woke up one day and decided that I wanted to buy a Kindle. No plans, no prior thoughts. I just wanted one. May it something that was brewing in my subconscious mind since a while. Every year I indulge myself in an expensive gift on my birthday. Not that I don’t buy gadgets all around the year, but buying it near my birthday just makes me feel less guilty!

One thing that was keeping me from ordering it there and then was whether to go for an iPad or the Kindle. I read a few blogs, consulted a few friends and finally decided that Apple was in a different game altogether and not directly competing with the Kindle. The iPad was a “multi purpose” entertainment and computing device, whereas the Kindle was a dedicated e-book reader which did only one thing – display eBooks. Having both a Macbook Pro and an iPhone, I was certain I didn’t need an iPad to carry with me all the time. Besides, the iPad was heavy, tad heavy. It was hard to hold it as elegantly as Steve Jobs did in his demo. That must have taken weeks of practice!

Like a true Indian, I began my quest for finding out where and how I can get the Kindle the cheapest. I was told that ordering it from Amazon.com would cost in excess of Rs. 10000. Since I was aiming for the $139 model (without 3G), paying a generous Rs. 3000 (Rs. 10000 – 139*50) towards shipping and customs was hard to digest.

Amazon charges a hefty import duty on electronic items being shipped from abroad. The same is not true for other countries. I had a friend who happened to be in Germany at that time and I planned to get the item shipped to his house to save on that duty. However, things didn’t work out for some reasons. I was also informed about websites like http://www.shopyourworld.com which supposedly do a good job of shipping the Kindle to India.

Nevertheless I decided to go ahead with the order. The ordering process was simple and Amazon showed me an estimate of how much the total order will cost (including shipping and customs) before I actually placed the order. The breakup was something like this-

Subtotal: $139.00
Shipping and Handling: $20.98
Customs: $56.34
Order total: $216.32

The order was placed on October 4 2010. The initial estimates for shipping and arrival were the following:

Estimated shipping: October 12 – October 15
Estimated delivery: October 18 – October 25

As it turned out, it was way off course. On 12 October, I got an email that my Kindle has been shipped and my credit card was charged. (Amazon.com does not charge your card till they are on the verge of shipping your item. You may even cancel your order before it gets shipped.). In rupees, I was charged Rs. 9966 by my bank.

The email contained the AWB (Airway Bill) number for DHL, which did an amazing job of tracking my shipment at each step through the DHL.com website. I could literally track my Kindle being shipped from country to country as it moved towards India. By the second day, it had reached New Delhi and cleared from customs. On the evening of the third day (15 October), the Kindle was delivered to my address.

The Kindle arrived perfectly wrapped in a neat box made of recycled cardboard paper and easy to tear “frustration free” packaging. See a few YouTube videos on Kindle unboxing to see what I mean.

Before writing this blog post, I put the Kindle to the ultimate test. I ordered one full e-book on Amazon.com and read it non-stop in 8 hours straight. The whole experience was absolutely mind boggling. The “electronic ink” display appears just like paper and to the brain and the eye, it’s exactly the same sensation as reading from a physical book. There was absolutely no strain on the eyes, since the display was not backlit. However, unlike other displays, it needed a source of light nearby to keep the Kindle’s display visible.

The page flip buttons were also an absolute pleasure. The buttons depressed with just the right amount of pressure, hard enough to not get pressed accidentally and soft enough to not hurt your fingers during repeated use. The keyboard keys were really hard though. It took a real push to punch in keystrokes while entering passwords or titles to search on the Amazon store.

Few positive surprises:

1. There are a few Indian newspapers and magazines you can subscribe to. They include Hindustan Times, Indian Express, Financial Express and Mint. The costs are hefty though. One month of HT will cost $9.99 and you can download a single issue for $0.50. That’s more than 5 times the price of the printed version. India Today is the only Indian magazine available on the Kindle.

2. The device can be password protected.

3. You can download a free sample of all books (which generally contains about 1 chapter of the book) before you go ahead and buy the full book. All newspapers and magazines also have a free 14 day trial.

4. The Kindle can store and play songs while you read.

5. Amazon has an amazing and very responsive customer support. You can ask them any questions you have before placing your order and they’ll reply within a few hours. I emailed them atleast twice for different concerns before placing the order. They were extremely quick and helpful. Amazon also has a section called “warehouse deals” where refurbished Kindles are sold on Amazon.com for very high discounts.

6. I have heard a few people saying that there may be a small refund due to me since the custom duty collected during my order is the maximum it can probably be charged but it is generally cleared for much less. The refund takes a good 3 months to arrive though. Amazon’s customer care will not comment on this issue incase you inquire.

There are a few downsides too:

1. The screen initially feels very primitive compared to the super bright and high resolution displays found in TV’s and laptops. You’ll get used to it very soon though. It’s not a touch screen too.

2. Even though you can grab the Kindle with one hand, if you hold it by the edges you are bound to press the page flip buttons thereby losing the page you were on. You can however lock the screen and keypad to avoid this.

3. A sense of monotonicity starts to set in after a while. When you buy a physical book, each book has a new cover, a new font and a new feel to it. With the Kindle, each book will look the same, exactly the same.

4. A true book lover loves the process of buying books as much as he enjoys reading it. With Amazon, each book is a click away. Very soon, you’ll start missing your trips to the book store.

5. Not all books are available in Kindle format. If you are looking for a specific title, there is a good chance it will not be available.

6. Most books are completely text. Most images or photos in the book are not included in the Kindle version.

7. The e-book format is not as expensive as the print format but it’s not cheap either. Remember, Amazon’s primary motive of selling the Kindle this cheap is so that it can make solid profits selling books.

8. The Kindle supports a landscape mode for reading as well. But the page flip buttons don’t suit that page layout.

9. The Kindle cover is necessary if you plan to carry it around with you without having other objects in your bag damage the screen. Some people have suggested that I can use a laptop sleeve or a simple cloth bag to carry it. Sure I can, but the original Amazon cover looks very tempting. It’s very expensive though, costing about $35, adding significantly to the total cost of ownership. If you do plan to buy it however, book it in the same order since shipping it later separately will turn out to be more expensive by about $20.

Overall, I think the Kindle is an amazing piece of technology and an absolute “must have” for any avid book reader. Incase I left out anything or you have any specific questions about the ordering process or about the Kindle itself, please add it as a comment.

Update: I got a refund of $16.83 from Amazon on 15 December 2010 stating the reason as “Export fee reduced” and the same was charged back to my credit card. Hence the net cost of owning the Kindle turns out to be Rs. 9966 – 727 = Rs. 9239.