Sunday, March 02, 2008

In Cloud 9 or close to it...

87th floor of Jinmao towers isn't exactly the top of the world, but after 3 martinis it begins to feel like it. Perched on the window-sill of 'Cloud 9' - the bar at the top of the Grand Hyatt, touted as the highest 'bar' in the world - this 'no-JamesBond-me' kept ordering the Martini's as I waited for the Oriental Pearl Tower ( the Chinese answer to the Eiffel Tower ) in front to be lit up, while watching the illuminated tourist barges lazily sail past on the Huangpo with the lights in the restaurants on the bund and glowing neon-signs above them providing a distant back-drop. The young waitress ( Chinese, of course ) kept assuring, the lights would come on "anytime now", until I began to suspect that it was just a ploy to make gullible guests order more drinks. So, 250 RMBs down I began my descent on the 9.1 m/second elevator - rewinding my steps back to the river-front - only to be told later that after the terrible power crisis earlier in the month the government has put restriction on illumination .

So once more fishing out the 'LPG' from inside the over-coat, one sets out for another culinary conquest. If Sichuan is like fiery Chettinad - then "Shanghai-nese" is close to Gujrati - both sweet and savoury. But, the real gun-powder stuff is Hunan - hot and explosive, like an Andhra 'bombshell' (And, we are talking only of Food here - not any other drivers of culture and evolution as expounded at the Pudong Museum). The real find of the trip was the unpretentious 'Di Shui Dong' tucked away on the second-floor of a small shopping Centre on the junction of South Maoming Rd and Changie Road - diagonally across the Lyceum Theatre. The guide book says it's named after a cave in Mao's home village of Shaoshan. Like all such places which manage to worm their way into the LPG it's always packed to the gills ( except at lunch time - as I found on my second trip in 2 days ) with chattering firungs guzzling Tsing Tao to wash down the chillies. Ordering the food was easy since the menu is pictorial with Enghlish "sub-titles" ( the Mao's Quick Fried Chilli Crab, Duck in a Chilli-pot are to die for - or to die of, depending on the severity of your IBS, as were the pickled spicy pork ribs. Didn't try the broiled Bull-frogs or baby Turtles, 2 other specialities of the house. And, no they don't serve snake heads or monkey brains. But they had fried Donkey Meat on the menu !!). But ordering Soya sauce for the steamed rice was bit of a struggle. First, I got an extra plate, then extra chop-sticks and finally an extra wet-paper towell, when I finally decided to call it a day. Perhaps, they don't need any sauces to add on as the food is so good, anyway.

By the time I leave - I am actually walking on "Cloud 9" - what the Martinis couldn't do for me. And, I take a minor detour to the hotel via Lulu's massage parlour for a severe kneading of the body at the hands of her expert blind masseurs. By the time I hit bed - dreadfully anticipating the morning after in the loo - one defining image from the Pudong Sex Museum remains indelibly imprinted on the mind: that of the giant laughing Buddha tied up in chains except for one part sticking out into the skies and the caption reads - " some things can never be locked".