While I’m in India, I almost always wear Indian clothes or at the least an Indian top and jeans. This means that I have to go get cloth for salwar kameez (Indian tops and loose pants) and get it stitched. Earlier in the week I had gone to pick out my cloth, haggle for a while and then take my chosen material to get stitched. There is a tailor nearby that I frequent, and they always do a good job. So they tell me that it will be ready on Sunday at 6. I show up Sunday at 6:30, just to give them a little extra time, and of course, my salwar kameezes weren’t ready. As I’ve mentioned before, nothing in India is easy, and deadlines here mean next to nothing. If there is one thing that living in India teaches you, it’s patience. Without it, the country will swallow you alive.
To fill this time gap and nurture my patience, I headed to a nearby restaurant that serves South Indian snacks, and after 5 in the evening perhaps my favorite thing to eat in India, SPDP (Sev Potato Dahi Puri). There is no way to really explain this roadside delicacy, but needless to say, I needed a table for one. This place is always bustling, and getting a table almost always requires a wait of some sort, but not for a table for one. There weren’t any tables available when I came in, but there was a middle-aged, sari-clad woman sitting by herself. So the waiter asked her if she minded seating me at her table and she nodded her head in the typical Indian fashion. (Does it mean yes, does it mean no? I have no idea.) So I was seated across from her.
Not a word was uttered between the two of us. We just sat across from each other as we enjoyed our snacks and I sipped on my coffee. There weren’t really any words to be said. One would think that such a situation would be awkward, but there was something very calm and comforting about the situation, sitting with someone I knew nothing about and most likely had nothing in common with. And it was at that moment that it dawned on me, in a city of just over 5 million, a table for one isn’t so lonely after all.