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Cricket diplomacy

Crispin Blunt of Lords and Commons Cricket is anxious to muster a strong team to play against Indian MPs, writes Vijay Dutt.

india Updated: Aug 31, 2005 19:03 IST

Lots of sunshine and England cricket team on verge of snatching the Ashes from Australia after 17 years have elated the spirit of the Londoner. Lord Tebbit would be happy, Indians have cheered England victories and some cricket buffs among them plan to throw a party if the Ashes really return to Lords. In fact, there is an air of bonhomie among Indians over the coming of Indian parliamentarians team, who are expected here to play a one-dayer with their British counterparts.

In Delhi, our Indian MPs had defeated the British MPs' team. Here too expectations are high. Many Indians are planning to watch the match, although it is being held about 15 miles from London. Crispin Blunt, MP, of the Lords and Commons Cricket is anxious to muster a strong team to play Indian MPs, "not in the least in order to take on the three former Test players elected to Indian Parliament".

Lord Tebbit, I am afraid, would not feel very nice at the match, for the Indian fans would buck up the Indian MPs. But he should feel happy that whatever be the outcome, the money collected would go to not only to Lord and Commons Cricket India Scholarship Fund, which would help promising young Indian cricketers stay in full-time education longer than their family circumstances allowed. Funds would also be provided for the 'Chance to Shine' campaign to bring cricket back to state schools in the UK. Lord Swraj Paul is one of the committee members for it.

Tikka masala and lager

The vindaloo, which I first tasted at the Bombay central railway station cafeteria years ago, may not be available here but most Indian curry houses have a version of it on their menu. The name is so popular among English diners that most are invariably tempted to order it, although for some reason the impression has developed that it is very hot. Based on that impression, some balti houses have truly made it hot, but then the chef at the Bombay central would have turned in his grave, if he tasted the vindaloo at eateries here.

There are exceptions, as well. Well-known restaurants in West End have the "English" version, which is suitable for the palate of the people here. One adventurous English gentleman, however, decided to hold a Vindaloo Challenge meal. Six of his friends went to a restaurant and ordered the curry. An ice bucket full of cold beer was placed on the table. The first person to reach for a sip of the chilled lager was to pay for the meal. Such challenges boost the Indian curry.

It would help further if curry houses kept a good selection of wines. Barring very good restaurants like in West End, most keep a very limited stock of wines, which are generally not popular among the English. I know a few which have now started keeping Indian wines and they told me the acceptability of those wines was going up and so was the number of English diners. Now in fact, we have Spanish wines called Viceroy White, Raja Rose and Rani Gold. There is also a range of wines made in Germany by an Indian called by several titillating names. Pat Chapman, an expert on Indian food has also published a guide listing, which wines go with which dishes. Chor Bizarre had in fact arranged an evening where recommended wines were served with different Indian dishes.

But the general consensus is that white wine suits hot curries. The French and GPs would not agree. They feel red wine is best for both heart and the digestion. So one has a choice, red wine before the meal and white along with it.