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We went inside and looked at the menu. Interesting. There were like… Eight choices. Including Chicken Sandwiches, a Veg Masala burger, and what looked like some sort of Egg sandwich too. I chuckled to myself while DN decided what he wanted. He looked at me.
“What would you like?” I wasn’t hungry, but he can be very insistent when it comes to food. 😀 I shrugged. “A chicken sandwich. Just a normal kind. I don’t know.” He nodded and I backed away from the counter, remembering Indian etiquette, having something to do with not being near the man (or person?) while he is paying. I stood there, looking around. ‘This is funny,’ I thought. One of the men working the counter suddenly approached me with gusto, ignoring everyone else. “Are you ready to place your order, ma’am?” He seemed overwhelmingly happy to be helping me. I smiled one of those polite smiles and said, “I’m with him,” pointing to DN. When I glanced back at DN he said, “Go find us a place to sit.” He walked towards the tables. “We could sit here, or…” He motion towards the booth. “We can sit there.” Apparently the distance wasn’t enough distance – but that was perfect! I was planning to sit in the booth anyway.
I sat down, DN soon to follow. He ordered the Veg Masala ‘Burger’. I looked at it as if it were an extra terrestrial being. He cracked half a smile. “What’s wrong?” He asked, amused. I slowly unwrapped my chicken sandwich still staring at his food. “I’ve just never seen anything like it,” I admitted. “We don’t have that on the menu at home.” He giggled, “Really?” Such a cute laugh. As I examined my sandwich, I notice an entire family behind DN, staring at me and my sandwich. “Shit,” I said, without thinking about it. DN looked at me curiously, but I distracted him. I was amused, but I was tired, and not in the mood to be the American sitting in a McDonald’s in another country. I started to take a bite. They were still staring. They were waiting to see if I enjoyed my bite. I give it a good chew, and grabbed a napkin, because the mayo I forgot to decline is abundant. I remembered that I wasn’t hungry, but knew I needed to eat something. I sighed and had another bite.
The family kept checking back with me. DN asked, “So… How is it? Does it taste the same? Or different from home?” I finished my bite thoughtfully, wiping my mouth with my napkin, and said, “It’s different. It tastes different. But it’s still good.” I smiled. It didn’t seem like the same quality of chicken, it seemed better, but the breading had a vegetable flavor to it. Probably because it was cooked with the veggie burgers. I took the time to wash it down with the coke he brought me. It was indeed refreshing after having been in the car all day and night. I slowly finished my chicken sandwich. Wow, it felt like I did not have room for that. The rice I had for lunch must have filled me up. I sat quietly while DN finished his fries. He offered me some. I thought, “I may as well see if these taste the same, while I’m at it.”
CRUNCH MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH…. Yep. Exactly the same. Slightly less salt. I ate a few more and hinted to him that I was too full to help him finish. He finished up and we were on our way. DN commented on the bench with Ronald McDonald sitting on it. “People used to come here and take a photo.” We both laughed. “It was the same, back home.
On the way back down to the main floor, our ride wasn’t there yet. So, DN suggested we walk around, even though the mall was closed. I smiled and agreed. It was semi-dark and I was walking around slowly, with him. He smiled… “Wow. You, an American girl. Me, and Indian boy. Alone together in India.” I smiled back. We talk a little while longer, and reminisced about how long we’ve known each other. Neither of us had really been able to grasp the fact that we were finally together. Suddenly I noticed the mall still had Christmas decorations up. I laughed, probably quite loudly. DN laughed too.
When we made our way around the bottom floor, the guard told us both that we had to wait outside. I sighed… Because even though I couldn’t understand him, I knew what he said. I followed DN outside, and we waited about 10 minutes in a sweet and comfortable silence. This city was visually beautiful… But the smell of burning trash made your stomach churn. I was a bit spaced out and looking around, when it started to sprinkle. I looked at DN, after he made a comment about it raining. Lightning struck in the distance. ‘Crap,’ I thought. A group of security guards stood near me and DN, and for some reason, it made me slightly uncomfortable. One of them must have been an officer or maybe military? He had a huge gun.
The guards started talking to DN. DN argued that we were waiting for a ride. Suddenly DN started walking around the building, so I followed. I stood near the edge of the building when it started POURING rain. I had shelter, but I was still getting sprayed from the mist. I took my glasses off and put them in my purse, flipping it over, so my passport wouldn’t get wet from the rain. A group of guys were standing near us, waiting out the rain. My stomach was flipping. I had this gut feeling that the sandwich didn’t agree with me.
The security guards followed us. I wondered how many of them I could take, in case things went wrong, and how strong DN is. I giggled to myself. Such a strange thought. They weren’t going to bother us, they were just doing their job. They stood there for a minute and most of them, left just as quickly. Except one. The one with the prominent mustache. He seemed aggressive. I didn’t dare look anyone in the eyes, and actually, I am pretty good at not doing that anyway. So it’s not so difficult for me, in India. My stomach started making me uncomfortable. I was wearing a light jacket, but I was still really cold. I silently mocked myself for being cold in India.
Suddenly, the security guard brought chair. “Madam, please sit,” he said. Feeling a bit uncomfortable, thanks to my stomach, I couldn’t force a smile. I mumbled a quick “thank you” because I couldn’t help myself, and sat down. Not even a few minutes following, it started raining even HARDER. DN scurried to the curve in the wall of the building. I got up to follow. We had to wait out the rain, even though our ride was there, because it was falling too hard to walk even that short distance. When the rain let up, DN guided me to the car, where two boys jumped out, that were seeking shelter until we arrived. ‘How sweet…’ I thought. ‘But where will they go now?’ I got in quickly, to allow DN to get in behind me. When I dried myself off, for the most part, I checked my passport. ‘Whew. It’s not damaged.’
The driver started driving in the rain, but it was difficult to see. Eventually, the rain let up and we were on our way. I was just trying to get home, at this point. My stomach started hurting.