The Man in Striped Pyjamas

We had to be up early, so we decided to have breakfast at Woodlands. The sidewalk along the Marina was full of purposeful people taking their morning constitutionals. We arrived at 6:30 and entered the empty restaurant. I asked if it were open. The bearer, wearing a tan shirt and matching cap, smiled and said with enthusiasm, "Yes, open." I asked, "What do you have?" He said, "Coffee tea." I said, "Idli sambar? Wadai?" "No, idli in fifteen minutes. Now only coffee." So I drank good coffee and we kicked our heels, not for fifteen minutes, but until 7:00. We felt disgruntled because the bearer had misled us, but he smiled each time he passed, and finally brought idli for Ramesh and pongal for me. As we ate I began to feel better.

A man wearing striped pyjamas sat down at the next table. He called the bearer, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" When the man came, he said, "Don't you have the newspaper?" He ordered toast, asked for Nescafe, but the bearer said they only had filter coffee. He agreed, saying, "But make it strong, ah?" Then he turned to Ramesh with a smile and said, "We must become strong like America. That is heaven on earth." Ramesh said politely, "Have you stayed there for long?" The man said, "No, I am going next month." Then he asked Ramesh, "Is this lady related to you?" Ramesh said, "Yes, she's my wife." The man turned to me and said, "Oh, namaste." I said, "Namaste." Then he switched from English into Hindi of all things, and asked if I were American, and said that I must take his name and phone number in case I wanted his opinion on politics etc. He said that, like Nostradamus, he could predict the future.

As we left the restaurant the bearer looked at the man in pyjamas and at me and smirked. Reader, I smirked back.

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