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Netherlands flower festival set for 1992

QI understand there is a flower festival that occurs in the Netherlands every 10 years or so. When does it occur next?

A

The Floriade is a horticultural show that does indeed take place in the Netherlands every 10 years. The next Floriade will take place from April 10 to Oct. 11, 1992, in Zoetermeer, a town near The Hague.

Work is in progress on a 180-acre site, where there will be a number of halls and greenhouses, outdoor display areas, shops, restaurants, old streetcars, boats, a monorail and a 228-foot observation tower.

The Floriade displays will be grouped into seven themes: production, featuring cultivation methods and displaying a variety of bulbs, flowers, trees, plants and vegetables; consumer, with a variety of garden displays; environment, emphasizing water management; the future, emphasizing new breeding techniques and technology; world, with contributions from 20 countries, and recreation, with leisure activities for adults and children.

After the Floriade, the area will be converted to a new borough of Zoetermeer and will contain 9,200 homes by the year 2000.

Butter chicken in London

Q

We became aficionados of the specialty butter chicken in India. We have been told there are restaurants in London that offer butter chicken but have never found any. Can you help?

A

Butter chicken, popular in New Delhi, is first cooked in a clay tandoor oven and then cut into pieces and further cooked in tomato puree, thickened with cream and butter. The dish is commonly eaten with the hands along with one of several types of Indian bread.

Butter chicken is offered at many of the Indian restaurants in London, but you might not have found it because it generally has other names. Among them are murgh makhani, chicken makhani, chicken tikka makhani or chicken tikka masala.

The following restaurants serve butter chicken:

Bombay Brasserie, Courtfield Close, Courtfield Road, Kensington; telephone (071) 370 4040. Buttered chicken appears on the menu as chicken tikka makhani, $13.65.

Bhatti, 37 Great Queen Street, Holborn; (071) 831 0817. Buttered chicken is called chicken makhani, $10.45.

Last Days of the Raj, 22 Drury Lane, Covent Garden; (071) 836 5705. Murgh massalam, a whole baby chicken, is $15.45, and chicken tikka masala, chicken off the bone, is $10.80.

Taste of India, 25 Catherine Street, Covent Garden; (071) 836 2538. At this restaurant the dish is indeed called butter chicken and costs $12.65.

Red Fort, 77 Dean Street, Soho; (071) 437 2115. Murgh makhani is $11.80.

Ainu villages a treat to visit

Q

How can one visit the Ainu Indians of northern Hokkaido and the Kurile Islands of Japan?

A

The Ainu were the original inhabitants of Hokkaido and adjacent islands, including the Kurile Islands. Over the centuries the Ainu people have mixed with the Japanese, and there are very few full-blooded Ainu people living today.

On Hokkaido there are three re-created Ainu villages that teach visitors about Ainu history, crafts and customs. During the day, these villages are inhabited mainly by Ainu, but they do not live there full time.

The biggest such village is Shiraoi Ainu Kotan (kotan means village) in southern Hokkaido on the shore of Lake Poroto. Once the home of hundreds of Ainu, this village now contains an Ainu museum and re-creations of several thatched, rectangular Ainu houses. There are demonstrations of Ainu song, dance and crafts.

The village is open daily, except Dec. 30 to Jan. 4, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April to October and 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. the rest of the year. Admission is $3.70. Shiraoi is 30 minutes by train from the Noboribetsu hot springs area (an hour and a half from Sapporo, Hokkaido's capital) or 30 minutes by bus from Tomakomai. At the site, the Shiraoi Dosanko Tanabata Matsuri Festival, with Ainu folk dancing, a parade and fireworks, takes place on the second weekend in August.

The Chikabumi Ainu Kotan, in north central Hokkaido, has 70 Ainu houses where 300 people work, and an Ainu cemetery. There is no admission fee. The village is open Tuesday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is a 20-minute bus ride from the city of Asahigawa.

In the mountains of eastern Hokkaido near Lake Akan is the Lake Akan Ainu Kotan. The village has a number of shops demonstrating the making of such crafts as carved wooden bears and selling them. There is a 30-minute folk dance demonstration, admission $4.50, at the Ainu Tourist Center several times a day. The village is open daily. A festival Oct. 8-10 draws several hundred people of Ainu ancestry. The village is about a two-hour drive from each of the two main cities in eastern Hokkaido, Abashiri and Kushiro.

The Nifudani Ainu Cultural Museum, in the village of Nifudani along the Sarukawa River, is in an area said to be the cradle of Ainu culture, once containing many Ainu villages. The museum, telephone (0451) 2 2892, contains more than 1,000 Ainu tools and artifacts. It is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is $2.25.

Jogging in Paris

Q

Are there safe areas in Paris frequented by joggers? Are there health clubs or gyms one can use for a fee?

A

Any of the Parisian parks are safe for jogging during daylight. Parc Monceau (8th arrondissement), Parc Monsouris (14th), the Tuileries (1st), Parc des Buttes-Chaumont (19th) and the Luxembourg Garden (6th). The Bois de Vincennes, off the eastern edge of Paris and the Bois de Boulogne, on the west, are much bigger and largely safe, but during the week they are less frequented by joggers than the others. If you have any concerns, those two parks are much busier on the weekend. The path around the lake in the Bois de Boulogne, is especially popular for jogging then.

As for fitness clubs, the Gymnase Club is the largest organization in Paris, with 10 centers around the city. The central telephone number is 45.74.37.17. A $45 fee allows one to buy 10 tickets for $100, each good for one use of a club and valid for one year.

Send questions to Q&A, Travel Section, the New York Times, 229 W 43rd St., New York, N.Y. 10036. Questions may be answered only through the column, not by mail or telephone.

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