Babu Ji with WSP + Kenny
I just got home from a super satisfying night with Mom (WSP) and Kenny - in from Chicago for a trade show. I met them around 7 at Pouring Ribbons on Avenue B. I got off the F at 2nd Ave and trucked through the drizzle, my umbrella's little rickety arms buckling towards the heavens above, rendering itself totally useless. By the time I got to the bar my hair was 'windblown' (to put it mildly) and my Max Mara pants were caked with a layer of NY summer mud but I was so happy to see mom that I didn't really mind.
We had a few gin and tonics and regaled Kenny with stories from a recent trip to Vegas (for my grandfather's 85th!), where I basically poisoned myself on vodka shots after some truly exquisite lobster spaghetti at the Wynn. The rest of the Vegas weekend was a bang up job; my cousin blacked out and won $1,500 at the blackjack table and I found my spirit animal in the dressing room of Barney's - a Russian beauty with purple hair who informed me I had beautiful shoulders and breasts but needed to own my 'vomanhood' - working on that one everyday.
After a few cocktails we headed to dinner at Babu Ji which I'd been looking forward to all week. We had a nice bottle of Pinot Noir and the tasting menu which was quick, graceful and delish. We had barely ordered when the food started streaming out - paneer-ish fried yogurt in a flowery sauce, little raita balls, some kinda otherworldy cauliflower (which tasted like sweet n sour chinese, confusing in the best way), grilled chicken and a really beautiful thali plate with butter chicken, naan, rice, yogurt with radish, prawn, lentils, and a few miniature bowls of golden vegetables I couldn't identify.
One of the (many) things that I love about food and sharing food is that it kickstarts conversation; we fell into a back and forth about India and the differences between Northern and Southern delicacies and suddenly I was back in Jaipur circa 2010 (when I first ventured to and fell in love with India), sitting in the open garden of the haveli, monkeys and parrots and purple silver silk within eyesight.
The thali plate was trailed by a plate of kulfi - Indian ice cream (ish) pulled from beautiful silver molds. Kenny and I debated whether our waiter was on Grindr and he worked the popsicle as only a pro can (sorry Kenny, it had to be said).
When the din was done, we meandered towards the N/R, wandering into a pasticceria, quickly realized we were too full to even look at the cannollis, and then made a last minute decision to hit up the Strand. One of my favorite things about NY is that the bookstores are always full. And they're full at all hours. My boss (hi MW!) has tried to break me of this romantic notion, citing that it's really a 'density' thing but I don't buy it. People in NY are engaged with books and writers and ideas that I haven't seen in another city and it never fails to charm me. I scooped up some E.M Forester, Simone De Beauvoir and Roberto Bollano; mom and I also riffled through the reject photography manuals to see if there was anything interesting we could hack up for snail mail but it wasn't to be.
I grabbed mom's credit card (just for books, everybody chill) and gave WSP and Kenny a big hug and headed to the F, praying they'd find their way back to Times Square, half knowing they'd get lost and have a giggle in the process.
And now I'm here with ice water, listening to The Dells ("oh what a niiiiight") feeling a lil melancholy, wondering when I can get back to India. Maybe this fall?