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Monday, December 17, 2007

Spicy Bean burger

I thought I'd risk it. In the last two weeks, other than popping out to the occasional cafe or restaurant, I've chosen to have room service rather than eat in the hotel restaurants.

But in India, I'm trying to be really careful about what I eat, so as nothing really appealed from the room service menu, I made a trip down to the cafe and ordered what I hoped was a fairly anodyne hamburger.

Service was slow, but the waiters were attentive, particularly one who looked like an Indian Mr Bean, complete with food stains down his suit. However, he was the only one wearing a suit, so I assumed he was the restaurant manager.

He asked me how I was. I said I was fine. He asked me how I was enjoying India. I said I'd just arrived. He asked me where I was from. I said London. He wandered off.

Ten minutes or so later, the Indian Mr Bean came back. "Can I ask you questions about London?" he asked.

"OK," I said.

"What is it like?"

"Well, that's a big question. How do you mean?"

"What is the lifestyle like?" asked Indian Mr Bean.

"Well, it's a very busy city. Lots going on. Expensive to live there, but good shops, great history."

"Would you mind moving to the other bar?" asked Indian Mr Bean, with his Restaurant Manager's hat on (not literally). I checked my food would follow. It would. I moved.

The bar was quiet. That's an understatement. I was the only person in it. Me and Indian Mr Bean. Trapped in a corner. Far away from other guests or even staff. Bollocks.

"Can I ask you more questions about London?" he asked, taking a seat opposite me.

"Erm, OK."

"How do you meet women in London?"

Oh, here we go.

"How do you meet women?" I clarified.

"No," said Indian Mr Bean. "How do you deal with women in London?"

"I don't understand," I said.

"I am in the right. But my wife doesn't trust me. How do you deal with that in London?"

"How would you deal with that in India?" I asked, my facilitation skills of answering every question with a question working to their maximum power.

"That is why I ask you. It is good to get opinions."

"Try a conversation?" I suggested. Indian Mr Bean clearly would rather I had suggested he slapped her round a bit.

"Are you married?" he asked. This was one of many questions I fudged. Including, "Can I have a business card? I collect them." and, "Do you need someone to show you round Delhi today?"

He then sat opposite me as my food arrived and watched me eat. Now, I hate eating in company at all. Anyone who knows me even slightly knows that unless I'm 100% at ease, even with close friends, I can struggle in restaurants - worst case is it can actually make me physically sick.

Now imagine the following situation:

- My flight was delayed by ten hours, meaning I didn't arrive here until 5 a.m.
- The plane itself had wires hanging out from under the seat and looked as if it was manufactured in 1945.
- It is 4 degrees in Delhi... and the hotel heating is broken. When I finally complained at 6 a.m., they brought a heater to my room. And acted as if I was a trouble maker.
- I finally got to sleep at about 7 a.m., to be woken (and I kid you not) straight away by the hotel alarm clock (which I hadn't set) playing "Happy birthday to you" - as if it was in a cheap greetings card. It confused me sufficiently to briefly wonder if it was my birthday.

Now let's juxtapose that with the Indian Mr Bean with food stains down his front hitting on me and watching me eat, and you can see why my appetite waned rather rapidly.

Still, it's nice to know I've still got it. Hardly anyone hit on me in Singapore or Hong Kong - just a slightly creepy French guy and a Canadian who was scared away by the furry gay caterpillar.

35 hours and I should be on my way home. With my new married passport name: Laura Indian Bean.


James said...

At least you weren't having those slightly suggestively shaped doughnut-type things for desert again - that could have been even more uncomfortable ;-)

I trust you're meeting him for dinner again tomorrow?

Anonymous said...

Poor Laura! Bet you can't wait to get home and hang around McDonalds..

Laura said...

I'd nearly forgotten those doughnuts! Yes, I think that may have been the one thing that could have made that situation worse!

And yes, McDonalds... well, you know how I love clowns. Right up there with black death and moths.

Anonymous said...

Hello! haven't read your blog for a while and LOVED this. It's all so true about weird conversations with Indian men. I guess you could've done your mime for toilet paper in this situation and seen how he reacted. that would have further weirded him out about western women! strange this is I love India so much (that sentence makes me sound like i'm in 'Jewel in the Crown') that even Indian Bean story makes me want to be there! Safe journey back.