Waiting for Palak

For days now the Ibis Hotel in Tana has been telling us that Incredible India! is coming to the hotel for a week long of Indian culinary delights for lunch and dinner. Cooks are being flown in with the complements of the Indian Embassy. In addition, huge curved screens (compliments of Samsung)  are set up all over the already very noisy restaurant to get the full benefit of Incredible India! coming to our doorstep.

The restaurant already has the acoustics of an indoor swimming pool. Add to that some mindless guests who put their mobile phones on speaker so everyone can hear their phone partner(s) on the other side of the line. On the days I was really sick I couldn’t stand it, being already in a highly irritable state.  But there’s more: I hate restaurants with large in-your-face TV screens flickering with sports and news, inescapable, no matter where you sit.  The new Samsung screens are curved and also large so that we can all enjoy Incredible India! to the hilt this week. Now, in addition to French sports and news there are Indian skits playing in the east, Bollywood dancing in the west and some other loud thumping Indian (what? why are these thinly-clad and anorexic ladies so European looking?) art style going on in the south of the restaurant, which is, by the way, not very large. It is a cacophony of impressions – something they also claim our palates will get once the food appears. One could get an epileptic fit from this.

Tonight, because of my massage, I arrived later than usual to an already crowded dining room. I had decided that I was going to have palak paneer, something that is on the usual menu but never available. I thought they couldn’t possibly tell me they didn’t have palak paneer on this first night of the India week. I expected a new menu with all my favorite Indian dishes. But no, I was told the start of the India week has been postponed.

I wondered whether that was because the cooks were booked on Air Malagasy (a company notorious for arbitrarily changing not only its departure time but also date, sometimes by days, and not just for domestic flights). Our Board Chairman and his wife had booked themselves, unbeknownst to people who would have counseled them otherwise, on an Air Malagasy wide body from Paris. They should have arrived on Friday or Saturday but are still not here. Maybe they are twiddling their thumbs with the Indian cooks at CDG airport.

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November 2015
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