back to the story:

We eat at the Devon House. Every day it is packed with people eating ‘short eats’ and rice and curry. It reminds me of an English tea room, though the only similarity is the teapots and tea. The decor is dreary and dated. The same music plays every time we go, including ‘we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun…’ bringing back my 1970s youth when we sang this often with our own made up words ignoring how sad the actual lyrics were. We dive in. We want to try everything – fish rolls, samosas, pastries, vadas, all dipped in masala ketchup. We order milk tea in a pot. It comes in fine, but cheap looking china decorated with purple flowers. The milk is hot. Young ladies in saris in the booth opposite smile at us indulgently. We are different, yet subsumed in the lunch time rush. A couple of tourists come in. They drink Coke and Sprite and eat French fries – fresh off the boat, I think, still worried about getting sick. By the end of the week we have been so many times no one stares anymore. We don’t get a waiter who speaks English, but one of the girls. We are brought a tray of short eats to choose from like the locals rather than selecting from the menu. I want to have lunch here every day. At the end of all meals, hand crafted toothpicks appear. Now I understand my dad’s love of toothpicks! Did he remember Ceylon every time he saw one with that little pattern at the top?

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