The Ahuja Residency stay includes a breakfast, so after my salvation-bringing shower on Tuesday morning, I walked downstairs to find the actual common room and the cook's kitchen. A plump woman in a sari was in the kitchen and her husband was sitting in the adjacent vestibule.
"Breakfast," I said, trying to use as little potentially perplexing English as possible.
"Yes," the man said, "Omelette, fruit, toast and tea. Sit," and he motioned towards a six-person dining room table.
I walked toward the table regarding the magazines and newspapers on the shelves and tables in the room. The big headline was an attack on the Indian embassy in Afghanistan. 40 people dead.
There was a western-looking Indian man on the computer station I noticed in the room. I wanted to speak to him, but he was engrossed in Googling.
The man who'd told me the menu came in and served me a glass of juice, a cut up mango, a banana and toast. I thought back to my guidebooks and the Book of Dread I'd received from the University travel clinic: "Do" drink bottled water. Was there a "Don't" for fruit juice? Was there also a "Don't" for all fruit? There might have been, I thought, as I ate and drank. The mango turned into sweet juice with every bite. I thought if it made me sick it was worth it, and ate the whole thing.
Then the man brought out an omelette filled with dehydrated onions. "Were these rumble tumble eggs?" I wondered, as I also ate them in an effort not to be rude. Only time would tell.
Just then, the gentleman on the computer greeted me. Turned out he was the owner of all of the Ahuja Residencies. He asked how my stay was so far. I said "Lovely," (mostly thinking about the mangos) but mentioned that I couldn't plug anything in because none of my adapters work. He said he had a power strip that he would have brought right up to my room. I mentioned that I couldn't call out of my room using the instructions that I found on the desk. He said to try hitting "9" instead of "0" to dial out, and that he would send up someone from the staff to make sure that worked for me. He said if I ever needed anything, that I should just ask the people I'd met that morning. He asked if this was my first time in India. "Is this your first time in a third world country?" he wondered, and I saw empathy in his eyes. I thought I was exuding confidence, but this last question betrayed my transparent trepidation. We talked some more. He said his son is going to school in Kansas and that he's from Dehra Dunn, which is the same town my friend Anup is originally from. He said he's staying here for the week to get some Visa arrangements made, so he'll be around to help with anything should I need it.
As soon as I got back to my room, the man from the kitchen appeared with a power strip and to make sure I could use the phone.
After the trauma of my rebirth in India, a good shower and an edifying breakfast almost had my head back to its original shape.