Friday, May 02, 2003

universal evening

New Library Reads: Patrick McGrath (Spider, which I didn't do justice to the last time, and Asylum); Go West, Inspector Ghote (a great topic of specialization for Mastermind); Home from Nowhere, Kunstler's sequel to The Geography of Nowhere.

A slight spell of dark clouds and rain spray did little to dampen the spirits as we dined out at Universal Restaurant, formerly New Heera of India (the old management sold it to the people running Universal Groceries Ltd next door). Papads (some well done; some a tad soft) as appetizers. A main course of regular rice (which accompanied all orders) with chicken biryani (including an architecturally ambitious stellar-structured badi elaichi), paalak paneer and mixed vegetable curry. Paalak paneer when done right comprises a green palak soup where the paneers act as bread crumbs. Sadly, such was not the case here. It's probably the first time I noticed it, but the paalak (spinach) remained in the dish in the original filiform, serving more like gratuitous seasoning than a core component. The mixed vegetable curry chose different vegetables than I was used to (green peas, carrots, potatoes). Good food overall; could have been better. The most agonizing aspect of the evening were Rahman's compositions for Legend of Bhagat Singh. While Rahman's dedication to sounding north-entic must be applauded (but he's got enough plaudits already for similar efforts -- Taal), the music was tinny and repetitive and the lyrics really grew on you (i mean, really, like a fungus). Too late, as we were walking to the counter, did they switch to the much better Lagaan) (And as I thought of how Ghanan ghanan was picturised, I looked outside, and noticed the traces of the brief spell of rain we had. Poignant?)

A visit to the rewarding Universal Groceries Ltd. next door was very rewarding (yes, he has very few words to describe himself!). Grabbed the rather rare RD Burman 3-combo Balika Badhu/Daulat ke Dushman/Doosri Sita and two Yesudas compilations (with *no* songs in common: a feat rather difficult to achieve with HMV's fetish for heavily overlapping compilations!).

Step aside and ponder: Each of us has something we can do or something that can happen, which will leave us smiling or happy no matter what (or in my case, no matter how trivial or simplistic). For me it seems to be finding a rare R D Burman compilation or release, lying on the shelves, with few to no takers. I know I had an unbridled smile the moment I saw a blown-up photograph of his countenance smiling back at me, presenting me with three of his soundtracks, long forgotten (by most) and ill-marketed.

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