Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cabbages & Condoms, Sukhumvit Soi12, Bangkok

Before your thoughts go astray ... Cabbages & Condoms is a restaurant ... and there is nothing sleazy about this place !!! 

For folks more trivia inclined ... the name was coined by owner Mechai Viravidya who envisioned condoms to become as ubiquitous as cabbages ( ! ) ... and they are, at least in this establishment. Apart from being on display all over ... you are also presented with free condoms along with your dinner bill instead of the usual mint :-)


The restaurant has a great ambience with both indoor and outdoor seating. The food is delectable and the calamari we ordered was not at all rubbery :-))

Dining here helps you contribute to a social cause ... all proceeds go to the Population and Community Development Association dedicated to AIDS prevention, promotion of safe-sex and family planning in Thailand. 

Directions : If you are taking the Sky Train get down at Asok and walk to Soi 12, Sukhumvit. The restaurant is about 500m into the lane to your right.

Would a concept like this work in India ( that is if our myriad fundamentalist groups allowed the restaurant to survive in the first place ) ??? What do you think ???

Thursday, December 25, 2008

26th Nov 2008 : A tale of two cities : Bangkok and Mumbai

26th Nov 2008 started off as a very normal day. Piya, Deep & I were vacationing in Thailand ... it was supposed to be our last day in Bangkok as we were scheduled to fly back to India on 27th early morning. Our agenda for the day was to see the Royal Palace and the temple of Emerald Buddha ...

Piya took this picture as I got the news from a colleague on my mobile ... 

At the temple we got the first shocking news for the day ... PAD Thailand ( not to be confused with Pad Thai which is a dish I rather enjoy !!! ) activists had taken over the Suvarnabhoomi International airport and it was now shut down indefinitely. We had no clue how and when we would be able to leave Thailand.

Back at the hotel in the evening we were watching BBC & CNN to get updates on the airport situation ... when we got the second shocker of the day ... terrorist attacks at multiple locations in Mumbai and scores shot dead.

While personally we were directly and immediately more impacted by the Bangkok situation our thoughts were obviously more focused on what was happening in Mumbai. Needless to say the Mumbai events were far more tragic and have had far reaching international repurcussions. However a comparison of how the two situations panned out throws a lot of light on the state of administration, governance and the "spirit" of these two cities.

In Mumbai the politicians, administrators, army, police and other support agencies worked in tandem. All the terrorists who were armed to the teeth were flushed out from their hideouts within 3 days. Daily life in Mumbai was restored to normalcy within a couple of days. Mumbai citizens saw to that and proved that it takes far more than a bunch of terrorists to make any dent on the spirit of Mumbai.

Bangkok was a study in contrast. The government first requested the police and then the army to move the unarmed PAD aka People's Alliance for Democracy activists out of the airport premises. Both simply refused ... so much for governance & administration !!! The citizens also could not be more lackadaisical about the developments ( I just could not comprehend why ... coming from a city where everyone has an opinion on policies & politics ... here was a city where the citizens who mould its character and "spirit" were stangely detached and just did not care - even though the country depends so heavily on tourism ). There was simply no pressure from the general public on the government to clear the airport ... and the situation simply dragged on for days with thousands of travellers stranded. 

PAD was demanding that the Prime Minister Somchai should resign, being the son-in-law of the infamous ex-PM Takshin Shinawatra he was nothing more than a puppet ( clearly dynasty driven politics is not unique to India ). While I suspect their demands were justified I'm sure there must be better ways of protesting than closing down the primary international airport of their own nation for weeks.

After an additional 5 days of unplanned stay, on 2nd Dec we managed to take a flight out of Utapao which is an airstrip 5 hrs drive south of Bangkok ...

Darkness outside and chaos inside the Utapao airstrip terminal ...

Ironically, there was a makeshift "Relax Zone" outside the Utapao terminal building to soothe the frayed nerves of passengers. And finally, our Jet Airways flight from Utapao to Kolkata is announced !!!