My favorite breakfast is oatmeal. Preferably with fruit, but fine without. When I travel, I carry packets of instant oatmeal to eat for breakfast. Lunch and dinner I’ll go completely local – street food, restaurants, snacks – but for breakfast I crave a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of green tea.
Day one in Delhi – I call room service.
“I’d like a kettle of boiling water, a bowl, a…” I’m cut off.
“No, not toast. A bowl.”
I think. Is there another word I can use for bowl? Not really. “No. No food. A bowl and spoon.”
I listen to his pronunciation. Sounds the same as what I said. “And a cup.”
“Cup of tea?”
“No, no tea, just a cup.”
“No, just a cup.”
I wonder what will arrive. I get an ice bucket filled with boiling water, a tin bowl, and a spoon. I ask for a cup (pantomiming). He returns with a cup of black tea.
This happens each morning, with varying success. Today, day 5, I call room service. “Good morning, I’d like hot water…” He cuts me off. “Okay, ma’am.” And brings up exactly what I was expecting. Oh, India, I’m beginning to love you.