Before we go on, let’s get one thing straight. There is nothing wrong with cheap Indian restaurants. For the most part, I love them from the top of their pre-cooked poppadom stack to bottom of their ultra-spicy lime pickle. The only slight issue I have revolves around hygiene – the sharing of spoons, the cook in a batch and display all day policy, the slightly dirty looking washing up basin, the state of the toilets etc etc.
So what the hell was I doing taking my wife and three-month old son to an establishment a distant cousin billed as ‘New York’s best desi canteen’? In hindsight, I have no idea. Maybe I was starstruck by the fact it was the place the Big Apple’s south east Asian cabbies hung out between fares? Perhaps I was trying to avoid paying another Manhattan restaurant’s 22% service charge? Or possibly I just wanted to eat some nihari. Whatever the reason, there we were. Wedged in between two parties of taxi drivers, desperately trying to clean the table with napkins and alcogel. The look on my wife’s face was priceless.
As expected, the service was chaotic, the food was good and the nappy change facility was non-existent. Thankfully, the little man’s insides played ball and we were able to make it through without finding a quiet corner, opening the changing mat, kneeling down and hoping for the best. As a result of this, and the very reasonably priced bill, I began the journey home feeling rather chipper.
Then, somewhere around 26th and 9th, it happened. Oh no. Not this. Not now. And why is my better half looking at me so anxiously? Oh God. Not her too. Yes, her too. The revenge of the reheated rice had begun. A dozen hours of sickness and diarrhoea followed. It was painful for us, but even worse for the bubster. Thankfully, he wasn’t affected, but given neither of us could make it more than 20 minutes without sprinting for a toilet, he was essentially confined to our hotel room. And, as most of you probably know, New York is not a city that’s renowned for having big hotel rooms.
We learned a lot about parenting over the course of that heinous half day. Stuff like even three-month-olds love that guy with the glasses on CNN and that interrupting a breastfeed so mummy can be sick doesn’t really go down too well. But the biggest lesson by far was that Everyone Loves Raymond is the baby-soothing gift that keeps on giving. Only joking, the wee man’s incessant tears suggested he hated the show as much as adults do. The biggest lesson by far was actually that parents on holiday with a young child probably shouldn’t risk their health for the sake of a $5 curry.