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REVIEW


including HRH Prince Charles and HRH Princess Alexandra. On the day of my visit however, entering the foyer, the only form of life seemed to be the two young men behind the reception desk whose heads were barely visible over the counter. Two rather more visible marble heads mounted on plinths, those of the founder KT Paul and the former General Secretary, Dr SD Malaiperuman, formed a stern welcoming committee from behind their cordoned off shrine. Overall, there was a feeling of calm and wellbeing in the sunlit entrance that made me feel quite at home. In the adjoining room, lunch time and dinner, served within a strict time scale, offered a very different scenario. The


canteen-like restaurant suddenly fills up with people from all walks of life: Indian students, business people, Fitzrovians, bewildered visitors, and seasoned regulars, eating, chatting, discussing politics, food, literature, or maybe just last night’s TV, mopping up hearty curries with home-made Indian bread under fluorescent lights. Cooked fresh by local chefs, the daily menu offers the kind of authentic food found on the Indian subcontinent in roadside cafes, universities, coffee houses or public buildings. Warming meat curries are cooked on the bone with tasty fish curries, freshly rolled chappatis, homely daals, bhajis, and fresh fruit lassi drinks. You just queue up and select what you want before bagging a place at


formica communal tables. As in restaurants in India, hands are washed before and after eating in the sinks behind screens. Dishes range from £1.50 to £3.50. Lunch is a la carte whilst the evening meal is a set price buffet. Short term stays are available from £55 a night, or even £30 if you’re willing to share a dormitory. Long term stays can be arranged for Indian students and trainees who are looking for a taste of home in the UK. Visit the website www.indianymca.org to find out more. Indian YMCA 41 Fitzroy Square, London W1T 6AQ


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