Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Take my fish, please

I took the fish even though I didn't want to.

I was standing with Aliyah and a handful of her colleagues on an artificial lawn at the Delhi Flying Club, where her friend and coworker Souveek was getting married. The venue was lavishly decorated with colorful floral arrangements and abundantly staffed with bow-tie-wearing waiters. One came up to us holding a silver tray piled with fried fish.

"Fish, sir?" he asked me.

"No thank you," I said, shaking my palm at him. I try to avoid seafood in New Delhi, this being a landlocked city in India.

The waiter ignored me. He stuck two toothpicks into a crunchy piece of fish. Then he drizzled it with white sauce. Then he pushed it toward me.

"No thanks," I said.

The waiter opened his eyes wider and thrust the fish closer to me.

"No thanks," I said again.

"Take the fish," the waiter said.

"Ummm, no thank you," I tried.

"Take the fish," the waiter said again.

I took the fish. And ate it. It was pretty good.

Over the course of the evening, this same waiter followed Aliyah and I everywhere. I was munching on naan near the chicken tikka station when he tapped me on the shoulder.

"Chicken seekh kebab?" he asked.

"No thanks," I said.

"Orange juice?"

"No thanks."

"Coke? Water? Tea?"

"No."

Fifteen minutes passed. We were eating syrupy desserts. The waiter's head popped up behind Aliyah's shoulder.

"Roti?"

"No," Aliyah said. "We're eating dessert."

Two minutes later the waiter came back with a plate of roti, which we declined.

Later, we were watching the end of the hours-long marriage ceremony. I was squeezed behind several video-camera-wielding Indians in a tight space next to the seated couple. About ten feet away, I saw our waiter elbowing his way passed grandmothers in saris and climbing over a number of small children. He finally clawed his way through the crowd to me.

"Coffee?" he said breathlessly.

"No," I said.

"OK," the waiter said. Then he added hopefully, "Tip?"

3 comments:

Leslie said...

Here's my tip:

No means no, thank you!

Kris said...

Too funny.

Jared said...

nice google ads.....