I became a fan of outdoor dining in Italy where tables have views of tableaus both ancient and modern. From the still-standing gate of the Port of Octavia (several centuries BCE) to enthralled tourists meandering down cobblestone streets, the ambiance is further enhanced by gypsies selling roses and by haunting melodies from pan flutes and sweetly tuned violins. An occasional accordionist plays “Arreviderci Roma” while tears drip on my panna cotta. It is never easy to say good-bye to Roma.

Last night I dined at a roadside Chinese food establishment. The kitchen is a similar to an ice cream truck, but has a wood stove and two not-Chinese cooks who make their specialties to order. Four tables with plastic chairs line the sidewalk of a busy street. An old woman in a faded, filthy sari washed dishes in a pot of scummy water in the ditch. Chinese-Indian noodles, flavored with petrol fumes and city dust, are not bad. In fact, they taste better than Chinese-American noodles.

No gypsies strolled by, but Fred with his plastic, singing crickets (see BAZAAR) made a cameo appearance; and a few cows plodded into the eating area.  I shooed the cows away and whispered to Fred, “See you in Roma.”

It is always easy to say goodbye to Nagpur, so why do I keep coming back? Why does Fred?


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