There’s a waiter at Kerala Hotel, tallish, fair, thick of moustache, forever not so much rubbing as lovingly caressing his considerable belly.
Greets me with the broadest smile of acknowledgement, even if he’s in the middle of taking an order, almost as though he’s been expecting me.
Slows down ever so slightly on his way to place his order, rolls off the day’s specials, rounds them off with a “what will it be today?”, and he’s off.
Comes tearing back from the kitchen holding up four, sometimes five, fingers in the air- one for each day since my last visit. “Decided?” Almost a challenge.
I ask him what’s good. He chooses from a variety of digressions. “You smell like a bar!” “Should’ve seen the group of girls here for lunch!”
I say I’ll have dosa with prawn curry, or parotta and beef roast. “Good choice,” he says, “why do we make anything else?” Ambles away, hurt.
Mid-meal, he wants me to know there’s someone traveling to Kerala the next day. Do I need to send anything home?
There’s another gentleman making his way here from Kerala if I’d like anything sent this side? Pickle? Chips? One can never have too many chips.
He goes to great lengths to establish these friendly mules as men of great character, as though I might be in the business of gold or spices.
And if the Samaritan happens to be a woman: “do I need say anything else?” This is said with a pointed shrug of the shoulders; checkmate.
I brought this up one day –the hushed tones and the declarations of faith- and he told me, “you shouldn’t just let anybody into your home”.
I tell him today I’m having trouble finding a flatmate. “A Malayalee would be best,” he says, almost to himself, “I know just the guy.”
He affects one last roguish grin at a young woman sat across the room –“Used to be a nun. Now training to be a nurse.”- and turns to me.
“I’ll let you know about the boy,” he says, and hands me the bill, “you’re on Whatsapp?”
Nicest Nepalese man I know.