Friday, August 17, 2007

Five food scenes

1. "One tomato, please," I said to the boy selling vegetables. They were arranged on a large wooden cart in front of an abandoned storefront on the nameless lane we've dubbed Rubina Khan Street because of the political advertisement Khan has on the corner.

The boy put one tomato on his scale. Then another. Then another. I began waving my hands in protest.

"No, no!" I said. "One tomato."

I held up my index finger. I pointed to the pile of tomatoes. I held up my index finger and offered an exaggerated nod. The boy smiled knowingly. Then he continued piling tomatoes on the scale.

"No, no, no!" I said. "One tomato." I held up my index finger again. I pointed again to the pile of tomatoes. I held up my index finger and wagged it a bit. The boy nodded with understanding. Then he continued piling tomatoes on the scale.

An elderly man lounging nearby laughed. With a short Hindi sentence, he corrected the boy's mistake (it turned out the boy thought I wanted one kilogram of tomatoes).

The boy put my tomato in a bag and handed it to me. I pointed to the onions.

"One onion, please," I said, holding up one confident finger.

The boy put an onion on his scale. Then another. Then another.

2. "One medium pepperoni and cheese pizza, please," I said. "And what's the difference between Cheese Burst crust and Double Cheez Crunch crust?"

"Yes, Cheese Burst crust," said the heavily accented voice on the other end of the line.

"Yes, Cheese Burst crust," I echoed.

"Would you like extra cheese?" he said.


"Anything else?"

"Yes. One order of cheesy garlic toasties."

"Would you like cheesy jalapeno dipping sauce?"


"OK. Anything else?"

"No. See you soon."

I hung up and turned to Aliyah.

"Domino's will be here in thirty minutes."

3. "You don't drink beer?" I asked.

"No," said Sanjit the photographer. "I only drink wine and single malt scotch."

I nodded. Sanjit leaned forward.

"I only drink alcohol that comes from a barrel," he said.


Sanjit rolled his big shoulders and looked as if he knew he was about to say something clever.

"Because," he said, "alcohol that comes from a barrel, that is someone's blood and sweat."

He gave my beer a dismissive look and said, "Everything else is piss."

Sanjit turned toward the waiter.

"Now," he said proudly, "bring us a bottle of Zinfandel."

4. "I love the Om Hotel," I said, my mouth half full of a spicy chicken seekh kebab.

"Me too," Aliyah said. Those were the first words we had exchanged since our food arrived minutes earlier.

The chicken seekh kebabs at the Om Hotel are basically chicken sausages. I stabbed one with my fork and slapped it onto my plate. I grabbed a piece of buttered naan and set it beside the kebab. I stabbed the kebab again and dropped it onto the naan. Then I took two heaping spoonfuls of the green chili sauce that comes in a metal dish on a plate with peeled red onions and dumped it on my kebab. Then I rolled the saucy kebab in the naan like a crepe and took a huge bite.

I love Indian hot dogs.

5. "What do we do?" I asked.

Aliyah and I both looked at the metal bowls of water in front of us. A lonely slice of lemon floated in each dish.

"Do we drink it?"

I shrugged. We had just finished dinner, our first at a restaurant in Delhi, and asked for the bill. And then they brought us Lilliputian Jacuzzis.

"Try it," I prodded.

Aliyah stuck her pinkie finger in the water and lifted it to her mouth. She nodded and smiled.

It was only then that I noticed a family at another table washing their curry-covered fingers in their bowls.



Hamoodi said...

Really...who buys one tomatoe?

Just kidding. Sounds like you guys are living it up over there. I read your article Aliyah...very nice. Keep posting them.

Did you guys buy a house yet? i remember there was a little spat about apt or house?

Anyway...very jealous and excited to hear more.


Samantha said...

hahahahhaha, the water bowl was my favorite! That same thing happened to me there!