LIFE

Splurging during Christmas

THE CHRISTMAS_NEW YEAR season is here. X-mas stars of varying hues have found their seasonal place in front of shops. It is also the time for greeting card hunting. Almost every department store in the city now boasts a special section for Christmas and New Year greeting cards.

Also on offer are potted `real' Christmas trees and ones fabricated from synthetic material. Christmas tree decor and cribs are much in demand. The office-bearers of various parish councils in the city are among the big buyers of Christmas decor. "There has always been a silent competition among churches in the city when it comes to Christmas decorations," says the member of a parish council.

The competition is not limited to parish councils alone. Youth clubs, political organisations and resident associations actively compete with each other to make the `biggest' Christmas star. Giant stars are finding their place at junctions and residential areas in the city.

Chilly evenings and star-studded clear night skies offer a perfect backdrop for late night partying during the season. It is a time when many urbanites are in the mood to splurge on food and drink.

This mood has not been lost on the hotel industry, which is all set to cash in on the season. It is definitely not the time for indoor dining and many hotels are trying to make the best of the outdoors, terrace tops and lawns.

Rooftops are being spruced up to host elaborate food festivals and lawns manicured to hold grill and barbecue parties. Local bands, party musicians, dancing teams, magicians and jugglers are being booked to enliven the evenings as the hospitality industry starts the count-down for the New Year celebrations.

Rooftop barbecues have become the order of the evening in several upmarket hotels. The smoky haze and appetizing aroma from barbecues greets visitors as they are ushered onto rooftops for a taste of a range of sizzlers, steaks and grills.

Meat and fish stock soups, grilled jumbo prawns, barbecued chicken, lamb drumsticks and pork spare-ribs are winter specials served on rooftops. Continental grills which are served as sizzlers include barbecued spring chicken made of tender chicken, grilled fish, grilled spare-ribs and green pepper steak.

Indian grills that come out from the tandoori hearths are also much in demand. This is the right season to try all those kebabs, tandooris and tikkas, be it chicken, fish or lamb, says a chef. There has also been a significant increase in the demand for fish and sea-food dishes.

``Many seem to prefer fish over poultry and red meat even among the young party-going crowd. There are also not many takers for dishes such as Chicken 65, chilly chicken, fried rice and so on. Party-goers seem to be in the mood to experiment with exotic dishes,'' he says.

By Anand G.

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