Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Alfredo of Rome and Azad Hind Dhaba

The first weekend after returning from the Americas and there isn't any noticeable social, cultural or literary events for over a week now in Kolkata. All roads leading to Harish Mukherjee Street. 
The only event of some weight was Mrinal Sen's birthday at Nandan (file picture).
Saturday evening I went to Roxy at The Park, on Sunday I was at Tangerine's for lunch. This is the only restaurant that I like to visit apart from those in the 5 Star Hotels of Kolkata. I like the view of the water body as well as the food there.
On Friday I also had food from Azad Hind Dhaba which has a sketch by M F Hussain and it reminded me of my recent visit to the Italian restaurant, Alfredo of Rome, in New York which brags an Al Hirschfeld caricature. This 8000-square feet Italian restaurant, located on the 4th West 49th Street at the Rockefeller Centre is famed for its Italian food.
The Restaurant has six 16-feet portraits of Albert "Al" Hirschfeld, the American caricaturist born in 1903 who worked for the New York Times for over seven decades. His political cartoons and theatre joint became world famous and he had a huge fan following.
Hirschfeld is known for hiding the name of his daughter, Nina, in most of the drawings he produced since her birth in 1945. The name would appear in a sleeve, in a hairdo, or somewhere in the background. In 1956 Al appended a numeral after his signature to tell his fans how many Ninas he has hidden. Locating Nina's name became a sort of extremely popular game.
Hirschfeld liked the food at Alfredo and had drawn a caricature, with the Nina name hidden, in this restaurant. When my host, a journalist friend, told me about this I remembered our own Azad Hind Dhaba in Kolkata.
And on Friday, while at the dhaba, I remembered Alfredo. But, for me, Kolkata's Azad Hind Dhaba is still better than New York's Alfredo of Rome.
ess bee

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