The Staybridge suites <www.staybridge.com>have become a congregation point for all project hopping Indians visiting Lincolnshire, Chicago. Its true diversity and some part unity. Some experiences with desi guests leave much to be desired for it to be harmonious unity. These experiences leave you trying to confirm in no uncertain terms that you don’t identify with the perpetrators. But that’s another story for some other time.
It is the other bearable half, which makes our own kind endearing on foreign shores.
It all started with a plan. Hot prawn ( read shrimp) curry was the perfect solution to whet our spice hungry appetites. Jaydeep qualified hands down to be head chef. The guy owns a restaurant in Pune called Faso’s. He had to know how to wield a saucepan and tell the bland from the hot. And plan ahead. But as plans go, the end results are always too tantalizing to spend time over details such as the right ingredients. That being said, we found ourselves at the end of the day, nowhere near the curry which we could already smell. L
Guess we waited for all the groceries to safely shut for the day, before we realized that turmeric and onions were missing. Blame partly lay with the girls for being gullible enough to trust a man who said he would cook, and for expecting him to be prepared with the right ingredients, in the right quantity. Our chef looked miffed for not being given the ingredients and cooks can kill :P. So they gallantly took up the responsibility to procure the missing items.
Our hopes at this hour were resting on the Indians staying at the hotel. We knew a couple of girls staying across from our rooms. Calls to their quarters were in vain because we met the ubiquitous answering machines. “Don’t these girls have decent curfew times?? Did their mothers know they were out frolicking at this late hour? Tsk tsk!! Girls these days!” Grandmotherly talk over, we were now trying to remember other Indian faces. There was a quiet south Indian couple who stayed in a room overlooking the courtyard. We did not know the exact location and as a result a call was placed to the front desk. The woman’s name is Shridevi and they have a little son, we told the reception girl. Now suddenly rooms overlooking the courtyard had no one but Indians in all of them. The poor girl was tongue tied pronouncing the entire list of Indian last names for us. We did not recognize a single name and the search came to an abrupt halt. The front desk girl could not talk for some days after this episode, we later heard.
The mocking and teasing that would follow such failure was too agonizing to imagine. It had all the makings of a street brawl. The girls began the search with increased fervor.
It seems a middle aged gentleman has checked in on the second floor. His room was next to Shadab’s. Now, Shadab being a guy who minds his own affairs had not made friends. If nothing else, he did notice the unmistakable smells of Indian cooking emanating from his neighbor’s room. That was our clue. Shadab was selected for the scouting mission. A critical intro call was necessary before hand. Prajakta’s convincing skills came in handy. Ever notice how little effort it takes to convince lonely souls hearing pleas of help from a pleasant voice, especially damsels? Get the drift? Suffice to say, availability of the turmeric and onions was confirmed and off went Shadab.
We asked our chef to get on with his preparations for the ingredients were on the way. Yum! :D
Shadab came with the precious items and was moving towards the door again. Something wrong, we asked? Quiet uncle ji, in return for the desirables, had bargained half an hour of Shadab’s time to sit and chat with him. So he would be back in time for the meal. Well, you win some, you lose some.
The golden hour had arrived!! Plates ready, eyes sparkling with glee and stomachs growling, we could not stay away any longer. We soon were high on the curry and parathas Prajakta heated for us. Divine!!
Says Jaydeep towards the end of the meal, "A'rre yaar Prajkta, aur onions hote na to aur accha curry banta!!"