Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rare books dealer and Lebanese joint


July 6, 2014, London: Its past midnight, I returned to my hotel late. In matter of few hours I have to get ready to leave for Canterbury.
The past few days were a mix of different activities and meetings. On July 31, I met John Randall, a collector and dealer or rare books on Asia and a very interesting man indeed. I got his reference from British writer Patrick French.
Mr Randall has an amazing collection of 125 works spanning the history of print in India and exemplifying the vast range of published material produced over 250 years. He has been collecting these antiquarian, rare and out-of-print books over 30 years. I also met Randall's partner, Graham Shaw.
On the evening of July 3, I went to the residence of kathak dancer and teacher, Shivani Sethia, for dinner. Lord Meghnad Desai and his wife Kishwar also joined in. It was nice of Shivani to organize a dinner for me and call over few of our friends.
On July 4, I again went to the Bombay Brasserie with few diplomats for dinner. On July 5 (yesterday), Lord Paul (Swraj) invited me to his country house estate for lunch which was an hour-and-half drive from London. It was nice of him to invite me for the third time. I am, as always charmed by his hospitality and warmth.
Later in the evening, around 7:30 pm, I went to the famous Victoria Theatre to see the play “Wicked”. It was housefull, but I wasn't impressed by it. I had liked Mama Mia and Singing in The Rain a lot more. By the time the play ended it was 10:30 pm.
I booked a table at Maroush, the famous Lebanese restaurant in London's on Edgware Road started by Marouf Abouzaki in 1981.
It took me nearly one-and-half hours to reach the restaurant due to a major snarl caused by annual British Summer Time open air concert at Hyde Park. I was the only person at the restaurant when I checked in around 11:45 pm. Surprisingly, the service was very bad, may be because of Ramzan the restaurant was short of staff. By the time I left the restaurant it was just short of 1 am.
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