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   In this morning's ‘Bombay Times'...... (April 17, 1996)

In this morning's ‘Bombay Times', Frank Simoes has taken Jeroo Mango for lunch at the President's Labrary. It is an intereest, thought not original, feature. The paper organises a lunch for two local celebrities, thye meet, eat and talk about food, people, life, in that order. Then one of the two writes out the encounter and it is published, along with a photograph.

That is in this series. In some others, a reporter accompanies them, sits discreetly in the backgrounds, takes notes, and writes about the encounter. That is probably more professional. Though in this case, Mr.Simoes being one of our outstanding writes and book writer), the services of a reporter were redundant. For that matter, Ms. Mango has set up a chain or readers-friendly bookshpos and is also a good writer.

I normally glance through these features, see and admire the picutre, and read the parts pertaining to food, skipping the rest. At 5.30 in the morning, which is when I read my papers, it is difficult to take in anything beyond hard news.

Rashmi Uday Singh, a three-career woman, also runs a similar feature in the same paper, though on a different day. She takes food-wise people out to lunch, and concentrates on food, not glamour. Of course, all her choices are nto foodwise. I for one, whom she once very kindly took out. I am a food reporter, not a food expert.

She let me decide the restaurant and I picked Trishna. Partly because I was in a mood to eat Manglorean fish curry and rice, but mainly because I felt I would be even more inadequate giving my opinions on food prepared by chefs trained in France.

It was an interesting though slightly embarrassing afternoon. Ms. Uday Singh ordered everything that was on the menu. "I want you to eat everything and give your opinions on everything," she said. "It is such a catch to get you for this column."

People at other tables started at me. They may have seen Imran Khan at Trishna, but they had not seen an alleged food expert sitting in front of every possible item in the place. To top it all, my interviewer was not eating, she had a bad stomach. "Just a Pepsi," she told the waiter.

I tried the squid. "Very good," I said, carefully rolling it on my tongue.

"Have more, I'll order more," she said, summoning the waiter. I pointed out I had to go through all the other dishes that were on the table.

Ms. Uday Singh was busying herself with a small camera that she had taken out of her bag. "You look like you are tasting the food," she directed me. "The film is in colour but they will make it in black-and-white."

The rest of the meal was spent on my tasting each dish and pronouncing it very good. The following week, all the "very goods" appeared in her feature. And Trishna raised its prices.

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