Thursday night 1/30/14
One of the first things I did when I arrived here late this afternoon was hop into the shower. It felt so good to wash my hair and get it really, REALLY clean right to my scalp.
I put on one of my new salwar kameez outfits, and one of the hotel staff came up to show me how to get to the restaurant. I'll be able to get there on my own next time. The hotel actually has three restaurants, and I decided to go for their upscale seafood restaurant tonight. Sana-Di-ge has an excellent reputation.
I told the waiter I'd like to have him choose some traditional regional dishes for me, and when he said they were rather spicy dishes, I told him not to worry. "I've been teaching mosaics at the Mathru School for the Blind here in Bangalore for two months and eating the food there and lolling it." And then I ordered s cold beer, because that goes better with hot spicy food than wine does.
It was a Kingfisher, and so cold it almost had ice slivers in it. It made me remember my college summers driving tractors and chopping cotton in century-plus heat. I'd get home all hot and grimy, grab a beer from the fridge and take it into the shower with me. Ah, what bliss it was to get completely clean and cool, and sip on a frosty cold beer.
This beer was almost as blissful, and it was perfect for my meal. First the waiter brought me a bowl of some kind of fried chips, I think it might have been a light cheese, irresistible and way way better than any kind of Cheetos at home. I forced myself to savor each one very slowly so I wouldn't gobble up the whole basket. The main dish, fish and shrimp covered in a thick tangy curry, was so tasty I couldn't stop eating it, even though it was so hot. The fish meat was wonderfully tender and flaky. The waiter told me it was one of the traditional coconut-based curries of South India, and when he saw how I relished it, he said that there was a traditional sauce that went with it,"but it is very hot."
"Bring it on," I told him. It was bloody murder hot but delicious, creamy with a tangy undertone that I couldn't quite identify. "Does this have lemon or lime in it?" I asked.
"Tamarind." I recognized the flavor as soon as he mentioned it.
The naan was crispy on the outside and spongy on the inside. They served me rice, too, which I didn't order, "to soak up the sauce," And it was perfect for that job.
I finished the meal with a kheer -- a kind of thin custard -- made with coconut cream, toasted fresh coconut and other good things. It is their special recipe, the waiter told me, and it was rich and very good. I ate almost all of it, which was quite an accomplishment for me as well as a compliment to the cook because I was stuffed. Definitely one of my best meals in India, and I couldn't have asked for nicer, more attentive service.
I'll be meeting some friends of Larry Vrieling's for dinner while I an here, and if they like seafood I'll make another dinner reservation at the Sana-Di-ge here.
The wi-fi here is excellent, and it was lovely to have a good chat with Andy on Skype that ended because we were finished talking and not because the internet connection faded on us. He's been busy calling and negotiating with the travel agencies and airlines to get my flights changed.
It looks like everything is going to work out just fine. The Sri Lanka trip is still on, thanks to Mayu. She made a lot of changes on a dime, and instead of coming in tomorrow for the weekend, she'll be arriving next Thursday morning, Feb. 6, spend the day at Mathru with me, and that evening we'll take off for our Sri Lankan sojourn.
We'll be back in Bangalore late Monday night, Feb. 10, and stay here at the Goldfinch. We'll taxi over to MathruTuesday morning, Feb. 11, in time for the little good-bye party that Mukthla, Divya and the rest of the staff are planning for me.
Muktha said they are putting together a gift for me (something I can pack easily, I hope), and I'll be able to hand out all my gifts to them. Mayu will hang around until the next morning, Wed. Feb. 12, and then catcher her flight back to Mumbai.
February 12th was the original departure day for Linda and me; we were going to leave Bangalore that night for two nights in Hong Kong and then go to Manila on Feb. 15. Now I'm going to skip the Hong Kong layover and go straight to Manila from Bangalore. I'll probably leave Bangalore on Feb. 14 to arrive in Manila on Feb. 15 as originally planned. Prandy's stepping up to the plate and will meet me at the airport and make sure I'm OK while I'm in Manila. On Feb. 19 I'll take my originally-planned flight home, from Manila to Hong Kong, then San Francisco.
As I said, Andy's still working on the changes. Singapore Airlines is being reasonable and accommodating, but Andy's struggling with the Philippine Airlines Hong Kong-Manila connection that Linda and I booked through Expeida.com. The Expedia folks are being totally unreasonable. They're refusing to refund Linda's flights and they won't let me take the very next Philippine Airlines flight so that I can make the connection directly from Bangalore. Linda has a legitimate medical reason for canceling -- she had emergency surgery! -- and I am not being unreasonable to ask them to please let me just take the very next flight. I'm grateful Andy's taking care of this for me.
And now I'm off to dreamland.