Rose and I went to an Indian restaurant tonight and, as always, it made me think about my trips to my favorite country in the world. I’m not some Pollyanna, I know it’s got more problems than it’s got people, but I still love the place and, if all goes according to plans, one day we will live there.
I started with a Kingfisher Beer. I’m not really a beer guy (so you know I’m not the Canadian in this blog) but they didn’t have any of that no-name whiskey I found almost palatable so I made do. It’s a skunky beer that tastes like a Miller and it’s brewed in Saratoga Spring, NY, but it earned its $4 price tag by the memories it pulled up.
My Uncle Chuck was my traveling companion on my most recent trip to India. It was his first trip there and I have to give him credit for being so bold (others would say foolish) to trust me on setting it all up. Chuck’s first Indian meal – ever – was in New Delhi at the best restaurant I could afford. If you’ve been to Delhi, you know that there are restaurants that would make Bill Gates look for the specials, so we were not top of the line, but not eating at the yummy road-side stalls either. Chuck is a man of strong resolve and after one taste of absolutely delicious aloo matar, he resolved not to eat again until he returned to the States, fourteen days later. He came close. If it wasn’t for the case of peanut butter crackers he had in his suitcase (really), he might have made it. And he did wolf down a large pizza all by himself at the second floor Pizza Corner in Bangalore, the same one that I feature in a key scene in Out of Order (page 174 for those of you playing at home). When we arrived back in Rochester, Chuck’s daughter Marcy was at the airport to greet him. I’ll never forget the sad way she said, “Oh my God you look awful,” a condition, Chuck was quick to point out, that was totally the fault of Indian cuisine.
What would have made tonight’s meal well worth the inflated price would have been a cup (clay, hand-formed) of railway tea. Part of it has to be that whole ‘romance of travel’ thing, but there is no tea in the world quite as good as Indian railway tea and to go to India and not have a cup at every station is as ridiculous as seeing the whole country but passing up a chance to see the Taj Mahal.
Like I did on my first trip.
But that’s another story.