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Thursday
Dec242009

Babutes Emporium

If I walked down to the end of the little street where my hotel was located, turned right, and down to the main road, the first place encountered was Babutes.

The Babutes Emporium

For the first couple of days I treated the place with some suspicion. When you are used to Tesco, Waitrose, et al, and you are a little white skinned, it looks a little shall we say, unsophisticated. Right, but also very wrong, wrong, wrong.

Babutes is split into three separate parts, the most important of which is the shop. This seems to sell everything that a visitor could possibly want. Obviously cigarettes and alcohol, also mosquito repellants, deoderants and day old British newspapers (check the date, they might be a week old). It tends to be frequented by Brit visitors with problems - which they do their utmost to sort out. It was here that visitors who had been sold a cheap SIM card came to get their problems sorted when the service was disconnected after a few days. "There is a photographic shop down the road, go and have some passport photos taken, and bring them here, we will issue a valid SIM." They really did their very best to be helpful, and in the best traditions of retail, they remembered their customers. The first time I went there I set up a stock of 100 cigarettes, bought an Indian paper, and a half bottle of Vodka (medicinal obviously). Each request was met by one of the younger Babutes dashing off to a different part of the shop to get what I wanted while Babute senior totted it all up on a hand calculator. The next time I went in, they recognised me, assumed that I wanted the same again, and the same order was put together again by Babute(s) junior while I advanced up the waiting queue. However, first impressions inside the store could be misleading:

Bring your own bag - or else!

At the back of the store, downstairs,was an excellent, good quality, restaurant serving first rate tandoori dishes together with other specialities including 'lobster'. It is not, in fact, lobster but Arabian Sea/Indian Ocean crayfish which is even nicer in my opinion. They call it 'lobster' because European tourists would not understand, or welcome, 'crayfish'.

 

A slightly more flattering view of Babutes!

On the first floor is a 'cocktail bar'. It's not really a cocktail bar, more a bar that does some food - King prawn butter/garlic for 240 rupees (£3) is recommended. It is an excellent place to sit and watch the world go by. Public smoking is not allowed in India, but as with everything else there are degrees of 'not allowed' I am not saying that Babutes permitted smoking, but during the day they provided a Coke can, with some water in the bottom. If you 'forgot' yourself and lit up, the Coke can naturally permitted an easy way to extinguish the illegal cigarette.

The Coke can is in case you forget that smoking is not allowed and to enable you to put out your cigarette when you remember!