Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Koranic scholar

S was shooting an Odissi dance performance in Connaught Place last night, so he unleashed me on the pavements on Janpath and we set a date for dinner at Hotel Saravana Bhawan once he finished.

Since leaving Kerala, I've been pining for good South Indian food; North khanna is delicious but the simple, coconutty curries are...yum. The best I usually do in the capital is a dosa or upma, always delicious, but never quite right --never so delicious as a fresh offering from Hotel Akshaya, complemented by piping sweet filter coffee.

So an HSB thali sounded like the perfect cure. And it was -- except for the fact that it's a popular tourist mecca, and S and I were treated to an exposition on jihad, the Third World, and the McDonaldization of culture.

"You know, I never really wanted to come to India. I just heard there was good whitewater rafting here."

The cockney lilt was incredulous, but forcefully carried across the room's divider.

"See, I never read any books before I came here. But now I'm reading something, and it's all about how the Americans support jihad, how their policies are making it necessary for Muslims to fight back."

Her male dining companion nodded, eyes glazed in the expectation of sex.

S leaned across the table. "I hope he gets some," I whispered. The man was displaying iron will, feigning interest in talk reminiscent of so many Introduction to International Relations courses.

"You know, I was talking to someone, and he told me in the Koran that the Prophet was really just jealous and didn't want anyone looking at his wife. He didn't mean for all Muslim women to be covered. It's just chauvinistic men, battles of egos..."

Such an educational, informative meal. By the time she started talking about how Americans are polluting the earth with their capitalism, S and I were openly mocking her. Too bad she was too self-involved to realize what an ass she was making of herself...

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