Every single eye in the restaurant was on him as he returned to the table and his fried rice, but he was unaware of the rest of us silently entreating his wife— “are you going to tell him?”
Our family’s Saturday in South Asia was going as usual. Around eleven o’clock we strolled to the center of the community with our toddler to buy a bowl of seed for feeding the pigeons. She had an endearing habit of calling this time “eating” the birds instead of feeding them. Then we’d walk a little while longer, choosing fresh fruits and vegetables from the markets and talking with friends in a language that was starting to feel as natural to us as English.
Lunch was typically at our family’s favorite restaurant. It had become a familiar comfort—so much that our daughter never had to order. Normally, the waiters would raise their eyebrows toward us and we nodded in assent to indicate she would be having the same meal as usual.
On this Saturday after we’d ordered, we were sipping our masala tea and scanning the restaurant from our corner table when we spotted a middle aged couple, obviously tourists, eating enthusiastically and taking lots of pictures of their food. The husband excused himself and walked toward the restroom. While he was gone, the restaurant cat (every restaurant seemed to have a cat), leaped into his chair and helped himself to some of the husband’s fried rice. Apparently he liked the sauce because he licked the edges of the plate as well.
It was a small restaurant and the couple were seated in the center, so everyone noticed. The general chatter stopped. The wife giggled and made a video with her mobile phone. Others followed suit and stood up from their tables, phones in the air, to capture the moment. I watched in silence, wondering why the woman was not shooing the cat away; assuming she would tell her husband when he returned.
The jarring screech from the restroom door brought us all back to reality. That door aways got stuck and the locals knew it, so when we heard the noise we put our attention back on our own tables and waited for the husband to return to his food. The silence and curiosity were palpable. The sideways glances were obvious. As the husband reached for his fork, we all looked on in growing disbelief because his wife said nothing. Several people started making pictures again and it was easy to imagine the social media stories they would share.
As the husband finished his lunch, he did not notice the reactions of his fellow restaurant patrons. They ranged from wide-eyed stares of “unbelievable” to disgruntled looks cast at the wife. My husband and I raised our eyebrows slightly to each other, gently shook our heads, then returned to our own meals.
When the couple finished eating and headed toward the exit, all eyes were on them. Hands clasped, they seemed completely in love and appeared to be enjoying sweet conversation. Either the husband enjoyed sharing his food with cats, or his wife never told him what happened.
©2019 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
Thanks for reading,
❤ , Chrissy
Cross Cultural living tends to come with many funny and odd memories. There is a blog entry in my mind where I share the hilarious encounters of all the naked people I’ve seen running through the city—and all the reasons why this was happening—but I’m just not sure how to go about writing it 🙂 My friend Heather used to say that my spiritual gift was accidentally seeing naked people in public.
The cat story was easier to write, so thanks for letting me share it with you.
Here is a book of travel stories I haven’t read yet, but I’m considering adding it to my list. Let me know what you think if you’ve read it:
The Lonely Planet Travel Anthology: True Stories from the World’s Best Writers
edited by Don George