Thursday, 26 March 2009

evening at the palace

Hi and welcome back. For some reason I have been unable to log onto my blog the last few days. If any of you have been similarly -- I was going to say afflicted but that puts this page too high -- surely it's no affliction to be unable to read my random musings -- then I apologize.
Today's musing is a moment from a couple of weeks ago when I was in Winnipeg. Late-ish in the evening, and the India Palace restaurant was winding down. Like every Indian restaurant I have ever visited, the food was good (actually, at the Palace the food is quite good) and the decor was no nonsense. Tables and chairs from someone's rec room, an adding machine on the front counter, a TV set perched high in a back corner, medium lighting, Indian music (I'm afraid I can not tell good from bad, or start from finish. As far as my ear can discern, there is only one piece of Indian music) playing quietly. It seemed to be a neighborhood crowd. I could not understand the conversation, but it sounded casual and familiar. Small children ran from tabled to table, being indulged. In the course of the meal I noticed that no one was leaving the restaurant. There were a dozen customers when we arrived, and the same dozen as we finished off our vindaloo and Rogan Josh. A table at the front filled gradually with white-uniformed staff.
Every now and then a hush fell over the place, so that conversation at our table seemed suddenly too loud. After a few of these hushes I looked around, and realized that everyone -- everyone but us -- was intent on the TV. And what was playing? you ask. Why, curling, of course. This was the week of The Brier, and the game was between Manitoba and Alberta. The hushes happened at the moment when key rocks were being thrown. I do not follow the sport, but from the knowledgeable headshakes and mutterings around me, I figured that the hometown rink was doing those things which they ought not to have done and leaving undone those things which they ought to have done.
I really enjoyed the moment -- a very Canadian one, I thought. I am fascinated by enthusiasm. What turns someone on is an important part of them. I will listen for a long time to someone telling me about their last fishing trip, even though I have not caught a fish since I was six years old.
After the last end, there was a soft general sigh. The lights came up. The staff disappeared into the kitchen. The customers rose and made for the door, stopping by the front counter to pay the woman with the adding machine. The evening at the India Palace was over.

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