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Flavoured popcorn,

Odeon Big Cinemas, New Delhi

Sampler: Rainbow pride colours on a tee; pick from 12 flavours for your popcorn; and try a bread bowl for lunch.

Hot and Sour: Tomato Chilli seasoning tops the list. Munching popcorn with tomato flavour as the top note did not leave my mouth dry. The Chilli Chutney seasoning has a curry-like taste and is most likely to appeal to Delhiites, according to Chakravarti. Avoid the Cheese and Jalapeno, and Sichuan flavours.

International: Though Chakravarti thinks the Wasabi seasoning will work only in Mumbai, I’m predicting it will be a crowd-puller. Yogurt and Onion is mild and creamy. Avoid Cajun, and Cheese and Pepper seasonings. The pepper component is too strong in the latter; I was coughing for nearly a minute after I sampled some.

Absolutely Indian: Butter Garlic wins hands down though it means no kissing is possible during the movie because of the strong garlic flavour. Still, Chakravarti is confident Delhi will love it. The Chatpata Masala, and Sweet and Tangy Lime seasonings are not tangy enough.

The good stuff

For Rs10 extra you can add unlimited seasoning in any combination of flavours you want. Each of the three paying counters at Odeon Big Cinemas, New Delhi, will be equipped with an individual, 12-flavour sprinkler rack so that you don’t get delayed during the intermission.

The not-so-good

It’s unlikely that you will know how much seasoning is enough the first time. You are likely to miss some part of the movie if you queue up for your cola and then flavour your own popcorn during the intermission. Though the management insists that the seasonings work equally well with cold popcorn, really hot popcorn seasoned with the Wasabi powder tasted better. Also, why aren’t there any sweet popcorn options?

Talk plastic

At Odeon Big Cinemas, New Delhi, a 60g (regular) bag costs Rs70. The seasoning is an extra Rs10.

Seema Chowdhry

Azaad Bazaar,

Bandra, Mumbai

If you didn’t know better, you’d walk in, browse, and walk out of Azaad Bazaar without realizing it is India’s first LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) pride store. You might wonder at the profusion of rainbow-coloured products and take a second look at some of the cheeky tees, but for shoppers, Azaad Bazaar is not very different from any other Bandra store.

Two members of the LGBT community who go by their first names Simran and Sabina have opened the store, which operates out of a garage opposite the Mini Punjab restaurant. The store is an extension of a travelling exhibition which started in February and was established as an online shop a fortnight before the Delhi high court’s 2 July verdict decriminalizing gay sex. Though Azaad Bazaar is all for the LGBT cause, the duo’s aim was to make their store all-inclusive, socially responsible and affordable. All in all, it’s a fun store to browse through and a great place to pick up quirky gifts.

The tees (most are for Rs399) with tongue-in-cheek Indian humour are brilliant. “Desimurgas do it best", says one. “Haan hoon, toh? (yes I am, so what?)" asks another. “Love is love" says the one showing three stick figures of lesbian, gay and hetro couples holding hands. The one proclaiming “Maa da laadla (mamma’s boy)" is snapped up by women for their husbands, Simran says.

There’s a range of funny mugs too, including one with a picture of Sholay’s Jai and Veeru, and one of an umpire with his arm raised and index finger up, which reads “Out in India".

The store stocks organic cotton Fairtrade shopping bags made by a unit which gives employment to youth from slums, as well as bags made by earthquake-affected women from Kutch.

The rainbow pride colours are on tees, mugs, disco balls, bags and flags. There’s also a party corner with wigs, feather boas, moustaches and funky sunglasses—some light up with disco lights, while others are supersized versions. Prices start from Rs20 for stickers and go up to Rs2,000 for a lamp.

Azaad Bazaar is situated at the junction of 16th and 33rd Road, Bandra, and opens at 2pm.

Parizaad Khan

Au Bon Pain,

MG Road, Bangalore

Spencer’s Retail Ltd, a unit of RPG Enterprises, is the India franchisee of Au Bon Pain, a US-based bakery-café chain that has over 200 outlets across the US, Thailand, South Korea and Taiwan.

Au Bon Pain offers both precooked and prepared meals. The wraps, sandwiches and rice bowls are made to order, while the soups, salads desserts, bakes and beverages can be picked off the shelves. You can ask to taste any of the six soups of the day (three vegetarian and three non-vegetarian) before pouring yourself a hot bowlful. The potato leek soup is especially creamy, and if it’s just soup for lunch, then you must have it in a bread bowl (the soup is poured into bowl-shaped sour dough bread with a hard crust).

The Mediterranean Hummus and Olive on a toasted Jalapeno Cheddar Bagel or the Chicken Tarragon on Country White Bread with herb mayonnaise is a good option for those who do not like spicy sandwiches.

We loved the pre-packed salads (Rs30-60) and muesli (Rs30 a cup), but the fruit juices were a disappointment. The grape juice and orange juice did not taste fresh and were excessively sweet. The seafood menu is limited to rice with prawns.

Sandwiches start at Rs44, soups at Rs50 for a bowl of vegetarian soup and Rs70 for non-vegetarian. The all-vegetarian salads are for Rs30-60 per serving, with an additional charge of Rs25 if you want to add chicken (no mutton) to the salad.

Pavitra Jayaraman

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