Some conversations make you, well, speechless. Today, I went to the nearby food stall to buy lunch. This is not my first time in that stall. They cook nice oriental food. The food is reasonably priced too. A boy and a middle aged woman usually serve and pack the food from the buffet display. The boy is terrible at English. People can eat in a limited sitting space inside the stall if they wish. I wanted to make sure the boy understood that mine was a takeaway order.
The food stall always has a queue in front of its counter. Perhaps it enjoys its monopoly in the area. I was lucky to be the second in the line. The moment I queued up, the boy uttered, “Next!” I went towards his side of the counter and told him to pack me a takeaway lunch. He went towards the other side of the counter. I was waiting for him to ask me what food items I needed. However he called me from the other side and gave me a packet of red liquid (most probably black tea) in a poly pack. I didn’t understand what was going on. I asked, “What’s that?” He replied, “You say takeaway. This takeaway.” I didn’t know how to react. I said, “I need food to takeaway.” Now, he looked all confused. He forwarded the red hot liquid pack towards me. I said, “No, I don’t want that.” Then understanding the confusion, the lady came to help. She asked, “You don’t want this?” I said a firm and annoyed “No!” The boy murmured, “But you said takeaway.” I ignored him and told the lady that I want vegetarian food. She smiled and said, “Eh, vegetarian. Come on! Only Indians eat vegetarian food. Tell me what you want from the buffet.” For a moment I again didn’t know what to say. I just smiled back. I wanted to say, “Okay, first of all, that is not true! There are vegetarian people from other countries too! Second, I AM an Indian!” But I decided to keep quiet. I instead pointed at the dishes and said, “Give me this, that and this one.” She packed all to go. I thanked her. She asked me, “You are Malay (Malaysian), aren’t you?” I shrugged and smiled, letting her remain in that doubt and curiosity regarding my origin.