Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Bumper Blog for a Bombay Birthday

There aren’t too many people who have experienced a birthday without being wished ‘happy birthday’ face to face, so I am proud to join the exclusive club. I’m not sure how common parties are in that club and considering the entry requirements, it would be hard to imagine that those in it are an incredibly social bunch so perhaps I will have to be a member by badge only.

Its an exclusive club

After arriving in Mumbai last night, I was unsure if there were any plans for my day from Vision Rescue (the organisation I am helping with in Mumbai) and after waiting until 10.00am and seeing no gestures for my involvement in activities, I decided that my day was free to do with what I wanted. The tip from the Goregaon East locals at dinner last night was that the best shopping experience in the suburb was to be found at Oberoi Mall, so armed with that name and 15 Rupees for an auto rickshaw, my day began.

What a Mall it turned out to be. First time I have had to pass through security to pick up groceries in my life! I was frisked and scanned upon entry and despite the wand beeping about 5 times as it swiped across various metallic objects within my possession, the guard nonchalantly allowed me to enter.

The first sight that greeted the eye as I passed the entrance was the giant Christmas house decorated with images and signs advocating a ‘Mr Bean Christmas’ my thoughts flashed through to episode where Rowan Atkinson is stuffing a turkey into a microwave and my mind was left to ponder if having a ‘Mr Bean Christmas’ was indeed something to be desired or not. I decided to move on in order to avoid confusing myself with the contrast of BBC humour and an Indian shopping experience.

Scary isn’t it

A quick sit down in the Gloria Jeans lounge allowed me to check my emails and facebook for the first time in a while (my internet connectivity is proving to be like a Bollywood film plot. Most of the time it doesn’t exist and when it does, its very bad). I was greeted by a gmail inbox of 13 emails and a facebook list of 46 notifications. I guessed what most of those were about, and briefly scanned them (forgive me for not replying individually – but I was only permitted 30 minutes of free wifi and I had several internet reliant errands to run which are considerably more time consuming on a mobile phone). Thank you to all those who did wish me a happy birthday, and I did have an enjoyable day so I appreciate all the wishing that went on, just don’t tell all the other members of my new club lest they be jealous and that would be causing a brother to stumble.

After my internet time ran out, I moved onwards to find a restaurant suitable for my birthday lunch. Today was some form of public holiday in Mumbai, which from what I could work out meant little more than the fact that stores had to wait until 11am to open. These timings meant my dismay at seeing the food court closed at 10.30 had now swept over and passed me by as it was 11.30 and Subway was open for business.

If your wondering, the man’s shirt reads, it says ‘Did I suggest you a COKE?’ and for the record, no – he didn’t

If you’re not like me, you would have been frustrated by the lack of vegetarian options at Australian Subway restaurants where you’ve either got ‘vegie delight’ which is a glorified salad roll or a ‘vegie patty’ which is the same thing, just with something horribly brown and rectangular (its related to a ‘patty’ by name only) on top. Well, welcome to Subway Indian style. If you’re a vegan who likes your vegie delight then there is that for you, however you now have 3 other vegetarian options to choose from as well. Does Paneer Tikka tickle your fancy? Or would you like to say ‘Allo’ to an Aloo Patty on your sub? Perhaps you would look at a Veg Shammi with glee? Despite these vego favourites, I skipped that section of the menu boards. I briefly pondered ordering a Chicken Tikka, a Chicken Seekh or a Chicken Achari but the scrawny featherless animals (the Mumbai market men claimed these to be chickens – I have my doubts) being sold in the street put me off that particular flightless bird.

I decided instead on a Subway Club – in Australia that is turkey, roast beef & ham, and that’s what my friend on the other side of the counter was trying to make my sandwich appear to be containing, however I doubt very highly if there was in fact beef involved, so I’m unsure what the brown circles of processed meat were. Despite this, the lunch was stomachable which is more than can be said of some other dishes that I have tried whilst over here, so I was cheering.

A footlong sub with all salads (except for jalapeños, onion and pickles) and Honey Mustard dressing partnered by a coke and 3 cookies set me back 365 Rupees, approximately $8, very expensive by local standards, but a birthday treat for the day.

Throughout my facebook and email session that morn, I had become aware of some positive news from Perth regarding the plight of the Australian cricket team, hence my post lunch operation was to avail myself of a TV showing the game. I went to the mall’s ‘Café Coffee day’ which is a western style coffee house found all over India but they refused to change the TV from the Bollywood channel that nobody was watching, so I continued on…ground floor – nothing…first floor – nothing…second floor – nothing…third and final floor – SUCCESS!! A high end restaurant entitled ‘Cream Centre’ was showing Australia v England on both their wall TV and via a projected screen. I mean no sarcasm when I call it a high end restaurant, despite the name and the fact that they were showing cricket, it was very plush. I sat on a leather armchair and ordered a side of French fries, to which the waiter asked ‘that’s it?’ My response of a point to the screen and a wink seemed to make him realise why I was there. Perhaps my earlier request of a ‘seat where I can see the TV’ could have also eluded him to the fact that I was more interested in the visual offering than the edible.
An hour and a half into my viewing, the number of empty tables around me amounted to the number of wickets England had left (none) and I realised that it wouldn’t be too long before I was asked to vacate my seat. To this point I had consumed my side of fries and a bottle of water, needless to say my meagre contribution to the workload of the restaurant’s accountants would have seen me be the first patron requested to leave. In light of this, there was only one option available to me and I cried out ‘Waiter, dessert menu please’.

A look of victory crossed the waiter’s face as he handed me the dessert menu and when my eyes got a chance to gaze at it between overs, I began to see why. The cheapest dessert option was a ‘Double choc nut brownie Sundae’ for 179 Rupees (The fries were only 95!) hmmm, after a few minutes of thought (which doubled as another delaying tactic) I decided that it was a small price to pay if I was to see Australia give themselves a chance to regain the Ashes, so I reluctantly agreed to proceed with the order. The sundae was delicious and Watson’s decision to blast 14 runs off a Stephen Finn over further vindicated my purchase. The loss of Hughes soured my meal a little bit and when Ponting got out, the Maitre De decided that it was also time for my innings to come to a close. In summary, a handy innings from T Scoular left him with the following career statistics for RCW (Restaurant Cricket Watching).

Restaurants Attempted: 2
Succesful Viewings:1
Average: 0.5
Longest stay in chair: 2 hours and 13 minutes
Total expenditure: 368 Rupees
Viewing to Cost ratio: 22 Seconds/rupee

Prayer Points
Praise God for being so generous
Thank God for my safety during travel
Thank God for the comfort that he is when I have no idea whats going on
Thank God for the opportunity I have with Vision Rescue
Ask God that my work with Vision Rescue might be helpful to them
Ask God that I will rely on him through all times – especially when things are going according to my plans

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