I walked into a Indian/Pakistani restaurant (I still can’t say the difference) a few hours ago ago, I asked for a menu card and they didn’t understand, none of them spoke any English. As I went in and sat down someone swayed his head about thirty degrees to either side of the vertical axis and said ‘Teekay’ (I think that’s what it was), I have been briefed just enough to say, ‘yes, thank you’. Not having a menu, I asked what types of chicken curry they had, the elderly man serving me told a whole string of varieties of which I couldn’t recognise or catch any, I heard the word Tandoori and I said okay Tandoori, ‘leggu’ ‘breshtu’ came the response, leg I replied, with an air of sophistication. The food got late to come, I enquired from another elderly waiter by gesticulating when the food will arrive, and he said something in Hindi/Urdu which I think was something along the lines of ‘on the way’.
The chicken curry came in a plate, with gravy in a bowl and a massive tandoori roti on another plate. I started eating, as one does. I tore the roti in half, not having room to place the other half anywhere I placed it in such a way that it covered the gravy bowl, and about an inch of it may have touched the clean table top.
By this time I had aroused the curiosity of all the waiters (who all were elderly men past their mid to late fifties). They kept looking at me furtively to see who this Indian-looking-non-hindi-speaking English speaking chap was. I occasionally heard pointed whispers.
I felt a bit like Ross from Friends, when all the doctors were looking at the mole on his back.
Some moments later, a third waiter came up to me, removed the roti that was covering my bowl of gravy, took it away and gave me a full fresh roti on a separate plate. A short moment later, yet another waiter arrived and offered me a cup of tea, I told him that I didn’t order one, unable to communicate he smiled endearingly and insisted that I take the cup of tea, I realised later that I hadn’t been charged.
For reasons unknown to me, they were so nice and generous that I am wondering if I came across as deserving sympathy in some way. Surely they didn’t know that I was tired and have a lot of writing work to finish.
I debated if I should leave a tip behind, I felt leaving a tip may come across as being disrespectful since their niceness towards me was most certainly genuine, and not some residual kindness stemming from capitalistic motives. I did leave a tip anyway. On a sub conscious level I was uttering prayers for them unconsciously, that their business should be profitable and that goodness blankets them, I can’t really say though, it wasn’t on a conscious plane.
Faith in humanity restored, partially.
Forgive the anti-climax.
Image from here.