In Defense of Street Food – Mumbai, India, Asia

Who says chivalry is dead? In Mumbai, India, I found myself frustrated with the service at Hotel Milan’s adjoining restaurant, but not for the usual reasons.

“Good morning, sir.” (Waiter presents menu)

“Good morning.” (I accept menu. Look at menu. Waiter looks at me look at menu. I nod to show I’m ready.)

“Ready, sir?”

“Yes. I’ll have the American breakfast.”

“American breakfast, sir?”


“Okay, sir.”

“And I’ll have orange juice with that.” (pointing at juice option on menu)

“Juice, sir, yes. Orange, pineapple, apple, mango.”

“You have orange?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Orange juice, please.” (I attempt to hand back menu.)

“Toast, sir?”

“Yes, toast.”

“Plain toast, sir?”


“Plain toast, toast with butter, toast with jam, toast with butter and jam, sir?”

“Wait, doesn’t toast usually come with butter?”

“Toast with butter, yes, sir.” (Waiter begins scribbling on notepad.)

“No no no. I’m asking, Is the butter extra charge?" (I rub middle and index finger against thumb to symbolize money.)

“Yes, extra, sir.”

“Plain toast is fine.”

“Plain toast?” (as if he can’t believe it)

“Yes. PLAIN.” (Attempt number two to hand back menu rejected.)

“Cornflakes, sir?”

“Yes. It says, cornflakes right here.” (Pointing at the word "cornflakes" under the "American breakfast" option.)

“Toast and cornflakes, sir?”

“Well, yes. It says it comes with both, right?”


“Yes, cornflakes.” (Voice rising, elbows on table, palms on forehead, fingers tightly clenching hair.)

“Milk with cornflakes, sir?”

“Yes. Please. Milk.”

“Hot milk or cold milk?” Is he serious?

“Call me crazy, but I’ll try cold milk.”

“Okay. And coffee or tea, sir?”

“Tea, please.”

“Hot tea or cold tea, sir?”

“Hot … tea … please.”

“Milk with tea, sir?”

“Milk. Sure. Why not? Milk. Yes.”

“Oh. Egg, sir?”

“Yeeessss. Egg.” (exasperated)

“Omelet? Scrambled? Fried? Poached?”

“Fried egg.” (mumbled in resigned monotone, eyes staring straight ahead at nothing)

“Okay. Is that all, sir?”

(I pause.) “Actually, no. Could I get a To Go box? I think I might miss my flight.”

"To Go box, sir?”

“Never mind.”

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