Google Fame

At the weekend just gone I went shopping for some “mithiai” on my local High street. (Mithiai = Indian sweets, e.g. jalebi, gulab jamun, burfi, rass malai etc.) There’s four shops in my neighbourhood for this kind of stuff and although we prefer the Punjabi-style, Southall/Greenford is a bit too far from where I am in NW9, so instead of wasting time (and precious energy) driving to Southall in heavy Saturday-morning traffic we make do with the excellent quality Gujurati-style sweets and savouries just a few minutes walk away from home. We zeroed in on a shop called Supreme Sweets, which (along with Gayatri Sweet Mart) we go to quite a lot. Only this time I noticed a new sticker has appeared on the front door of the shop:

Supreme Sweets is famous: it’s on Google Maps
(Taken with my cameraphone as I was about to enter the shop.)

I’ve noticed that more and more shops are displaying these Google Maps stickers in their windows. It’s kind of weird to see something that normally dominates the experience in the “virtual world” to start to creep into the “real world”. At first it seems kind of cool, but the more I think about it the more “creepy” it feels. Is Google Maps aiming to become the next Yellow Pages? (Perhaps it already is.)

Anyway, since we’re on the subject of Google, what do you think happens if you paste any of the following statements into Google and hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button?

Mutter paneer, Kheema, Yellow daal, Lamb biryani, Punjabi chicken, Channa masala, Rogan josh, Stuffed parathas, Stuffed chillies, Tasty pakoras, Pilchard rice, Indian fish cakes, Indian KFC, Masala salmon, Prawn bhuna, Mint sauce chutney, Masala potato wedges, Spicy chicken niblets, Vegetable rice, Delicious aloo gobi


Al Fanouse

It’s Slough’s best kept secret. An informal Lebanese (kebab-shop-style) eatery on Slough’s High Street that does a house-special dish called “Lunch Box”, which is piles of Lebanese savoury rice, veg, salad, hummous, chicken and lamb shwarma (shredded grilled meat), and falafel all served on a plate with Mediterranean-style bread and condiments (oilves, pickled peppers etc.) on the side plus a can of soft drink of your choice. All for £5, and that includes unhurried, eat-in at really nice tables (with lovely chairs), but most of all with fantastically friendly service often from the ever-smiling proprietor himself (Hassan?), who will remember you next time you come along. Can you get any better than that? No wonder the place is packed with regulars at lunch times most days. The food is assembled on a plate on the counter and is laid out with attention to detail, right down to the well of olive oil in the hummous. And it tastes excellent. In my opinion far better than many formal restaurants in the same class of food. Which makes the taste-to-value ratio exceptionally high.

“Lunch Box” at Al Fanouse restaurant in Slough
(Taken with my cameraphone as it was served to me.)

A growing number of us in the office come here every couple of weeks at this place as it makes for quite a fulfilling lunch, and so I have built up a Flickr set of images over time. The last time we ate there the owner came to take our plates away when we were finished and asked us if we’d enjoyed the meal and then suddenly asked if we knew someone called “Route 9”. Immediately we knew he meant “Route 79” and that he had found my Flickr pics via Google. He was so chuffed I got my meal on the house! How good is that?

Now, you know I don’t do adverts on these pages, and this restaurant almost certainly built up its reputation by “word of mouth”, so if you ever do find yourself in Slough at lunchtime and you like East Mediterranean food (or even if you like Indian-style food), then you should seriously consider visiting Al Fanouse. It’s ace. We love it.

A40 Eastbound

If I’m travelling to and from work when I’m not using my beloved bus, I will almost certainly be using my car. A car journey to work will involve cruising up the West London arterial road called the A40. In my view the A40 highway is the best of London’s urban highways. I wrote ages ago about how exhilerating a drive Westbound on the A40 can be early in the mornings, and even uploaded a video of a portion of the journey a long time back. But what goes West must go East (I have to get back home I suppose), and the last time I mentioned the A40 Eastbound on these pages it was a couple of years back when I was singing along to Elvis round about Christmas time.

The journey Eastbound on the A40 is an acquired taste, and I think I’m beginning to appreciate it now. Except when there’s long traffic queues of course. Which is what happened yesterday. Why? Because of a significant chunk of the ninety-thousand people making their way to Wembley Stadium for an England football match against Croatia using the same road. It’s a real pain living close the nation’s main football stadium on match days when driving home from work. It’s even worse when we end up losing the match and failing to qualify for a major European football tournament:

I endured all that traffic just for us to lose?

Heavy traffic on the A40 Eastbound at RAF Northolt.
(Taken with my cameraphone as I patiently drove with the football traffic home.)

October contrasts

November already. I picked a handful of pics taken on my cameraphone last month. A handful of everyday London contrasts and a quirk or two. Click the green button below to load. Turn up the volume. For an interesting effect advance through the pics in a very slow “skanking” rhythm to the beat of the music, and keep cycling round, looking at the photos but focussing on infinity in an immersive trance, losing yourself in the multimedia of it all.

Music by a London reggae band called Black Slate formed in 1974. The sound is “old-skool” but represents the sound of reggae in Britian in the 1970s and much of the Steel-Pulse-like ’80s. This was probably their most famous track; Amigo, recorded in London 1980 for the album by the same name. Why oh why don’t we get new music like this any more?