September 19, 2008
It worked. I woke up the next morning at 10, feeling optimistic. I puttered around my room for some time, and finally made it downstairs for lunch at noon. On my way downstairs, I stopped at the hotel’s general store. The clerk there greeted me warmly, but then chastised me for not coming in sooner.
“You’ve been here all week and you don’t come to my shop,” he said. “You don’t have to buy anything. That’s not a problem. But come in and make a friendship.” Just what I needed: guilt. I shrugged it off, bought some sunscreen and went down to the dining room.
I kept track of everything I ate, for your sake: tenderloin in Sichuan sauce, hot and sour soup (these two were from the Chinese section of the buffet), kadi murgh (a spicy chicken dish), dal maa, veggie kofta, aloo matta, baby corn jhalfrezi and paneer lawabdar (I think I had this the night before too). For dessert, I had badam poori, cham cham, anaar ki kheer (rice pudding with pomegranate in it instead of the usual raisins), and ginger and chocolate steamed pudding. Holy crap. And the amazing thing was that I didn’t feel overly full. I felt good. I drank a liter of water while I ate, eschewing tea and coffee.
After lunch, I sauntered out to the pool and grabbed a chaise. As I went to the little changing house to put on my suit, the pool attendant spread a beach towel over my chair, as if the two other people there might try to steal it. I came back out and dove into the pool. It was heated, but it wasn’t warm. I swam the length of it and returned. I then collapsed on my chaise to finish my book, Love is a Mix Tape (thanks, Serena). It’s a fantastic read. It made me cry. If you were a young person in the 90s or have ever lost someone, you should read it. I let my tears mix with the chlorinated water as I swam another couple laps in the pool before going in. By that time, it was nearly evening. I returned to my room, sipped some tea (just to avoid those blinding caffeine withdrawal headaches), watched the news (Delhi police had shot and killed two people believed to be involved in the Delhi and Ahmedabad bombings), checked in on work emails, packed up all my belongings in preparation for checkout, and then went downstairs for dinner.
One of the hotel’s many restaurants, Dakshin, has been repeatedly rated as one of the best South Indian spots in all of Bangalore, so even though I didn’t want a heavy meal, I felt I needed to try it. When I arrived, there were classical Indian musicians, making the traditional, seemingly improvised music of the region with tablas, flute and violin. It was absolutely beautiful. I ordered a glass of wine (an Indian chenin blanc that was tasty, but unremarkable) and tucked in to some crispy, fried, yummy things – the only one I recognized was the pappadum. I ordered mansaam koora, a very spicy lamb curry, along with some steamed rice and veechi paratha to mellow it out. Everything was a la carte, so the meal ended up being ridiculously expensive, and I couldn’t even eat two-thirds of it. It was absolutely fantastic, but my Tuesday night meal at Sahib Sindh Sultan was far better – and more reasonably priced.
Feeling somewhat ripped off and dirty (could have been the sunscreen, I suppose), I showered again, watched some episodes of “Friends” on my laptop, and repeated my Benadryl-and-essential-oils bedtime ritual. I lay down and closed my eyes, feeling good about my “dead day,” and looking forward to beginning phase two of my trip in the morning.