President Patil sticks to veggie fare at Chinese banquet

Beijing, May 27 (IANS) A sumptuous state banquet was presented in honour of visiting Indian President Pratibha Patil by Chinese President Hu Jintao, as a military band played Hindi film melodies in the backdrop here Thursday evening. But the strictly vegetarian Patil bypassed the non-veggie delights and tucked into a meal, which included a special dish of white gourd.

The hosts laid out a varied menu for Patil, which included a touch of India at the state banquet in the Great Hall of People, which stands beside the massive Tiananmen Square.

The Indian president is here on a six-day visit.

The dinner menu began with chicken soup with bean curd flakes and coconut milk, while the main course consisted of cod fish with tomato sauce. The Indian touch was a dish of roast mutton chop with curry.

But the Indian president was served a vegetarian fare.

The desert section included walnut paste with sweet sago cream, selection of delicious pastries and fresh fruits. Red wine, produced at wineries near the Great Wall, was also there.

As the leaders chatted during the dinner, a Chinese military band struck up melodies. In a gesture to their Indian guests, the band played four popular tunes from Hindi films.

Interestingly, one of the Hindi songs chosen, ‘Mera naam Chin Chin Choo’ was from the 1958 movie, ‘Howrah Bridge’. The number was an instant hit.

Another Indian melody was ‘Baar Baar Dekho’, from a film called ‘China Town’ (1962). Another golden tune played was ‘Goray Goray banke chore’ from ‘Samadhi’. The only gesture towards contemporary Hindi film music was ‘Roja Jaaneman’ composed by Oscar winner, A.R. Rahman.