Giving up on Palak

The cooks must have arrived (though apparently not our Board Chairman and his wife). When this Ibis could have been any Ibis anywhere in the world since I arrived, tonight it is Ibis in India. Furniture has been brought in, incense stick holders, inlaid wood products, posters and of course the music which was already with us. And then there are the women in sarees, a tombola (to win a trip to Incredible India! or a saree or an incense burner is not clear – put your business card here – a mailing list builder!).

I am sure the Palak Paneer has arrived but there was no a la carte. One would have to order room service for a la carte, this menu that always features a Palak Paneer that is never there. Tonight, no doubt, it will be in one of the many copper pots set out for the buffet, but you’d have to buy the whole buffet (50.000 Ariary for Indian Buffet -which is only 15 USD by the way).  I think I will forego my Palak as I already ate at the foodcourt 5 creole bouchons with pork and soy sauce. Bouchons is one of those very versatile words which can refer to anything that plugs: a cork, a top, a stopper or a traffic jam. They use that word a lot here (bouchon) but mostly to refer top traffic jams which are a fact of life.

Many notables were on hand to taste the ‘délices gustatives de l’Inde’ – and with them their security details; suddenly this mid-range hotel was surrounded by SUVs and armed guards. I slipped out to get some fresh mangos – it’s that season now – for my desert. I learned to ask for the export mangoes which are less fibrous and creamier. They sell (at least to a foreigner) for 30 cents apiece.

Another treat here is the rum. I was familiar with the Haitian rum which visitors cart away in suitcases. But here, on the recommendation to add a thimble of rum to one’s grog, tea, medicine, I bought a half a liter of the smoothest rum ever for 1 USD. It’s become a very nice after work treat – really the only alcohol I am drinking. It’s medicinal, I am told, so it’s good for me.

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