Tuesday 17 June 2008

Paradise Found

Paradise Café & Stores, Persis Heights, M G Road, Secunderabad.

Of course, if you ask for Paradise Cafe and Stores, no one will know what you're talking about. The upside to this is before you can follow the word 'paradise' with any other word, half of Hyderabad will have already taken you to the only paradise that matters, which is the aforementioned. It's a problem that's it's own solution. As if this biryani-crazy city's Achilles Heel has just fallen into Getafix's cauldron and become Obelix-like.

It is perhaps for this reason that John Milton is just a name in Hyderabad. Have you read John Milton's Paradise...(rush of shuffling feet, screeches, horns, crash-boom-bang...GOOORRRGE). You get the picture. I suppose in that sense, Paradise Restaurant is as much about the Fall of Man.

Paradise Restaurant has a rags-to-riches story which we of the middle class find so endearing and infuriating. It started off as a tiny one-room eatery. Today, many decades later, it boasts of many floors of biryani-eaters. There is a take-away counter, a ground floor area watched over by bouncers, security guards and beeping sensors, a large first floor full of sweaty biryani-eaters, two air-conditioned rooms on the second floor where people dress up to dine, and god knows what kind of stately splendid opulence in the executive room. We don’t know and we don’t care. Ek biryani, double spice. It doesn’t matter where you eat it, although, as an incentive, the second floor rooms have big ugly furniture, glass and crystal baubles, other hanging things and garish upholstery.

I must also admit that Paradise is merely the second-best biryani place in the city, the first being Bawarchi. But Paradise wins because of its proximity to my house. My sister, brother-in-law (Potato and Pink, respectively) and I have made it a weekly affair. And I write this today in the hope that tomorrow will be another day in Paradise.*

*Oh no. Phil Collins.