If you are new to this story, please read from the beginning.
We entered areas of bigger and more beautiful streets, crowded with people buying fruits and vegetables, snacks, nuts and again, clothing. The sun had officially set. DN was instructing the drivers in Hindi, as I just stared out the window. We made our way to a bigger city, I’m assuming was the metro area of Lucknow. It looked like the finer parts of Kansas City, with big shiny buildings and small shops lining the streets. I saw a Cafe Coffee Day. A place I’ve only read about, and a McDonald’s. I giggled a little. We made our way to a restaurant. When me and DN entered, I immediately found the bathroom.
When I returned, everyone was sitting down. I glanced around on my way to my seat. It looked pretty nice. Glowing white table cloths, dark walls and dim lighting. On the T.V. was a game of Cricket. I stared at it, curiously. I’ve seen pictures of Cricket, but I’ve never seen a match. DN asked, “Do you like it?” He looked around, and back at me. “Oh yes, it’s nice. Sorry, I’m just so tired…” I smiled a little. “We wanted to find some place more American for you.” I looked around and giggled to myself. I suppose I have seen some restaurants like this, back home… but it seemed more British than American. It was a comfortable setting, regardless. “It’s very nice,” I said, smiling and tugging at the sleeves of my jacket.
DN and I ordered coffee, while the other two ordered chai. When the server brought the drinks, he set my coffee down first. Which was interesting, because he had to go out of his way to do it. I can’t remember if I thanked him, or not. Perhaps I just nodded. People tell me I say “thank you” too much, here. He served everyone else. I looked to the side of my cup, where two sugar cubes were waiting, with a spoon. How cute. 😀 I looked at the coffee, which looked like instant coffee (the powdered cappuccino kind) – meaning it was probably already sweet. I scooped one cube onto my spoon and stirred it in. Everyone else was applying their sugar as well. I picked the cup up with my right hand, and barely touched the bottom of the cup with my left. This is how I drink coffee. I looked around, and everyone was watching me. DN’s cousin seemed to be following my lead, and not setting his cup back down on the saucer. I felt like everyone was making mental notes. Ahahaha 😀
When we finished our drinks, somebody paid, and we all got up to leave. The server was standing nearby, and as I passed him he said, “Thank you, madam.” I smiled, keeping my eyes to the floor and said, “Mhm.” He followed behind me, in attempts to hold the door open. DN seemed to beat him to that. We walked a short distance to the car, and another of the servers opened my door for me. ‘Uh… Thanks?’ I thought. This was getting pretty weird. I mean, it was very kind of them, but the special attention on just me seemed… Unfitting. Make no mistake, I did appreciate their kindness. It just felt strange.
It was dark. We drove to a local park. At this point, I was extremely tired. Walking around was going to be quite refreshing. We approached the counter. DN’s cousin lead me to the gate, and we waited for DN and the other man. They finally arrived and we went through the gate and into the park. We walked around for a while, before DN’s cousin and the other man went their separate way. Music was playing from speakers on the ground, and other couples were sitting together on benches, talking quietly with each other. DN and I walked alone together, aimlessly. Enjoying each other’s company. As we walked, I could see a beautiful pink fountain. I pointed in the distance. “That’s really pretty…” DN looked that way. “Target acquired.” I laughed and he went on. “We were walking without a target, but now we have one.” I laughed and then he laughed.
We talked as we walked together, mostly about random things. When we reached the fountain, we sat quietly, just gazing ahead.
After some time, DN called his cousin, in attempts to locate him. Meanwhile, we walked to the next fountain, which was mostly yellow. Still very pretty. When his cousin and the other man joined us, we took turns taking pictures of each other. I laughed and DN laughed, when his cousin and the other man wanted a picture with me. DN said, “Everyone wants a picture with you.” I laughed again. “I know…” He smiled. “It’s a humble request.” I don’t think he realized how much his words changed my entire perspective…
Afterwards we made our way to a giant monument. DN noted that it would be more enjoyable if it were evening time, or morning time. That the park wasn’t as beautiful when it was so dark. I agreed, but assured him it was still lovely. We started to walk back, as they began closing the park.
When we got back to the car, DN began instructing the driver again, and we started making our way through the city. We turned around a couple of times, but eventually made it out. 😀 After a while of driving through the smaller, more rural parts, DN leaned over and said, “We are going to stay at his relative’s house for the night.” He pointed toward the man in the passenger seat. “Oh, okay,” I replied.
“Is that okay? If not, we can change the plan.”
I shook my head. “No, that’s fine.” Truthfully, as long as I had a place to sleep, I didn’t care where. I was so tired. We started driving around again, all of them talking amongst each other. Suddenly, DN turned to me. “Do you want some pizza?” I giggled. My giggle evolved to laughter. I said, “Pizza? Yeah, sure. I guess.” I wasn’t very hungry, but I could entertain the idea of eating pizza with DN. DN returned to his google maps, and began instructing the driver again.
We eventually found a mall. The food court was still open, so DN and I got out of the car and practically ran inside. As soon as I stepped foot in the mall, I started slipping and sliding everywhere. What was with those floors? Poor DN had to hold my hand to keep me from meeting an untimely death as we walked each floor and climbed every escalator. Yes, the escalators were off. It would have been FINE if they were just stairs, but somehow I kept miscalculating the space between each step. I almost fell a dozen times. I laughed, embarrassed. “You must think I’m a walking disaster.” DN giggled. “Walking disaster?” We laughed together. We made our way to the top floor, where the food court was. By the way, this is the biggest mall I have seen, so far, in my life.
As we climbed the escalator, DN pointed ahead. “MD or KFC?” I laughed. I wasn’t that hungry, but I thought it would be amusing to see what was on the menu at McDonald’s. “McDonald’s.” I replied, and we headed that way. I saw a bench with Ronald McDonald sitting on it. I smiled to myself. You never see those anymore, in America.