A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experiences at New Ganges. I relayed those experiences to PG and KW in Berkeley last weekend, so when it was time to decide where to eat today, New Ganges became the odds on favorite.
H and S, two of PG’s friends, joined in on the fun. And what fun there was to be had!
“How many of you today?” asked the owner.
“Five,” I responded.
“Six,” he said.
I rechecked my math. “No, just five.”
“You’re forgetting me!” he said. Number Six sat us at a table with six seats, and hovered over the empty one for the rest of the evening. He became upset when he saw S switching from her hand to a knife and fork, telling her that one must eat with all five senses: imagination, sight, smell, taste, and, of course, touch.
“She who eats with her hands does not burn her mouth,” offered Six. “Do you understand?” He then proceeded to offer S a job because of her clothing, made her try the pickle by shoveling food onto her plate, and gave a fresh batch of his homemade yogurt to take home because she preferred the culture to her own. Six clearly liked S, and all of us were laughing throughout.
Then it came time for dessert. We all declined, so a few minutes later, Six brought us two bowls of mango ice cream “on the house” and made us all sample from them. I told my friends I was full and that I’d only have one spoon, to which Six chided me. PG joined in on the chiding, and before I knew it, Six had brought back an entire bowl of mango ice cream just for me. He then stood by and watched as I took a spoon, all the while questioning me if there was anything wrong with the flavor. When I said there wasn’t, Six threatened to lock me up in the back and throw away the key if I didn’t finish. Some new customers came in, and I felt some relief. Six moved to seat them but was back in time to wait and watch me. I took another spoonful.
“He said one,” Six said in Hindi. “That’s three.” So I ended up finishing the ice cream, and Six proceeded to give me a mini-lecture about how he was twice my age, could eat more than me, and how I needed to learn to enjoy food more. He then made fun of me in front of everyone for saying I only wanted one spoon when I ended up finishing the entire bowl. I don’t think there was a moment in any of that in which I wasn’t laughing, or anyone else at the table, for that matter.