We had dinner in Hyderabad at Our
Place. This restaurant features candle-lit tables on the
lawn in a courtyard under the
starlight, with geese waddling around honking, and a band
playing sithars and drums. Kids
run around the lawn,
laughing and chasing the geese.
Our waiter knew more than we did about what we should eat. When I ordered
screwdrivers with mango juice instead of orange juice,
he said, "Sir,
that's not a screwdriver. Screwdrivers are made with
I agreed, and told him I'd like to substitute mango
juice for the orange juice. "Sir, screwdrivers do not have mango
juice. I will bring you four screwdrivers with orange
"Tonight," I said, "I'd like four screwdrivers, all
made with mango juice". Finally he agreed, and he brought us the
Next we ordered the starters. I asked for two vegetarian platters. "Sir,
vegetarian platters have two of each item. Would you
like some paneer tikka instead?" I told him again that I'd like
two vegetarian platters. "Sir,
the vegetarian platters have too much variety. How
about some vegetable manchuria?"
I was getting frustrated. I asked him if it was okay if I did the ordering,
and he did the order taking. He gave in and brought
the vegetarian platters.
Time for the entrees. I wanted the paneer butter masala. "Sir,
that is too spicy for you. How about some chicken tikka?"
Alok started laughing. Arunabh told the waiter that I could handle spices.
But the waiter didn't get it. He recommended some curd rice, because
it would be "good for a foreign tongue not used to our strong spices."
That did it. I got mad and asked him if he was planning on eating dinner
with me. "No, sir." I asked him if all the dishes on the menu
were available. "Yes, sir." I asked him if he could just take
our order and bring us what we wanted. "Of course, sir. Very sorry,
"Great," I said. "Please bring the paneer butter masala".
All eyes were on the waiter. He looked at me, looked down at his paper,
then shook his head. "Sir, that is too spicy for you. I'll bring
some fish tikka instead".
I said, "paneer butter masala." He looked at Alok. "Paneer
butter masala." Our table started chanting, "Paneer butter
masala. Paneer butter masala. Paneer butter masala."
I got the paneer butter masala. And I wish I could say, "and we
won, and the waiter stopped trying so hard, and all
was well." But I can't - the over-waiting continued. Alok had
problems ordering ice for his drink, and Arunabh struggled
to get strawberry ice cream on
his mango shake.
No matter; we had a magical evening under the stars. Prashanth told
us how his parents helped him find his wife, and how
happy he is. Amit teased Kasi, who had just kicked
off his own wife search with his
parents. Alok checked out the "babes", and cursed the
fact that they all were bouncing toddlers on their
knees. Swarup tried to explain why the cows were
above humans on the Hindu heirarchy, and
Arunabh jokingly suggested that we all try hard to
be really good, so next life we could all be cows together
in the same herd.
The meal ended far too soon, and I had to leave for the airport. I asked
our waiter for the bill, and as I thought about the great time we all
had over the previous 10 days, I rewarded his over-waiting with an overweighted