Pain and Suffering in the Middle East Part II – A strange lunch

My arse was red-raw. Those delicate flange-like bits that protrude (which I always imagine probably look like a little octopus) were sore from the sheer amount of faecal matter that had raced through them that morning and I was feelin none too stable on my feet.

Then Chairs reminded me that we were due another bargain meal on the other side of town, a thought that repelled me more utterly than any bargain had ever repelled me before. My stomach let out a small but audible whimper and I ran to the toilet to clear myself out one more time.

The Metropolitan is a four star hotel on the outskirts of the main town at the end of skyscraper street and will never appear on a postcard. Initial impressions weren’t good as we pulled in in our cab for an anonymous review. As we walked into the nondescript lobby no signs of strangeness were yet evident, nothing striking or noteworthy whatsoever. It was beginning to look like we would really have to pull out the stops to write something about this place.

Chairs went to find the reception desk to ask where the hell the new brunch was, as the hotel had only been running brunch for 4 weeks up til that point. When he finally found it it turned out that brunch at this place was held over 3 levels of the hotel and had a far eastern theme, covering Chinese, Japanese and Thai. Why the hell no-one ever covers Vietnam in their coverage of the Far East is a mystery to me but this is not really the time to get sidetracked.

Our tour was to start at Japan in the basement and we paid the little man standing at the basement entrance our fee. Now only Chris would now what I mean when I say that this little man, in all his mannerisms reminded me exactly of that woman outside the boot fair in Peckham that collects the 20 pence entry fee and gets a bit pissed off if you give her anything larger.

As we handed over our money, a very miserable clown emerged from the basement where we were going to take our first course.

“…and if you would like to go downstairs” said our host, “you can start off with Japanese”

We scratched our heads and decided that the clown was a hallucination. Bad move. Little did we realise that the clown was a harbinger of doom!

*ahem* sorry

We went into the basement, expecting it to be every bit as dull and featureless as upstairs. As we turned the corner at the bottom of the stairs, we half expected to see a full circus troupe, complete with lions and trapeze artists, or for it to be utterly bland and devoid of any redeeming features.

What we did get however was completely unexpected. The place was totally deserted, save for some staff propped up against the bar having a chat. The decor was completely informal, heavyset smoking sofas set in good softly-lit surrounds ruined only by the sound of panpipes filtering through the sound system.

On hand was our own sushi chef, who really had nothing else to do, save serve us anything we wanted. Alright, so he was no Johnny (see the Samurai Sushi episode in Mischief USA) but then what do you expect – he spent most of his day sat around with very little to do, as seems to be the way in the middle east in some professions. Chances are that he was probably not properly trained, as was obvious from the fishbone in the mackerel, but as the food was actually pretty good we didn’t really have too much to complain about. Pretty good tuna though…

My tastebuds seemed to overrule objections from my delicate stomach for the duration of that first course. It was the calm before the storm.

The next course took us upstairs in the lift and as we walked into the Chinese section my stomach had started to heave and jerk about a bit. For the first course I had thought that the stomach was a passing thing, but now, as we ordered Dim Sum, it felt like a whirlwind in cage. I crawled off to the safety of the toilet and let the storm out.

When I arrived back at the table, I sat and gazed quite dazed and confused into the distance, wondering what the hell had caused my overnight rectal deviance. Over the rest of the meal we discussed possible candidates for the bottom-crime committed and decided it to be either the fish or the prawns or even perhaps the shawarma I had earlier in the day.

The strangeness was just about to begin. I’d declined to eat any further and the other 2 continued. We were the only people in this second restaurant too.

So it was with a bit of a surprise when, within a few minutes of our Dim Sum arriving, a tall Indian guy came in dressed like an aristocrat with top hat and tails. Spinningchair got visibly agitated at this point and kept looking over at the new boy, who was greeting all the staff.

A magician had just walked in with our brunch.

At this point Chairs said, I thought quite harshly, “If the magician comes over I’m gonna send him away – I can’t stand magicians”. Given that we were the only customers in the open plan restaurant (hell it seemed we the only diners in the hotel), all our hiding was in vain, try as we might to hide behing our chopsticks and meatballs. It was no use. He spotted us and made a beeline to our table.

At this point, totally unexpectedly spinningchairs abruptly excused himself. The magician was probably the worst magician you have ever seen, his patter tired and disinterested leaving his always-reluctant audience to almost instinctively look for his many flaws, just for some form of entertainment.

Rainspire and I tried in vain to send this guy the right hints but they just weren’t sinking in. Meanwhile, in the background Spinningchairs would pop his head round the door and keep at a distance before disappearing into the loo again.

10 minutes later this guy finally disappears. Still no sign of Spinningchairs.

15 minutes: Nothing

By this time I was starting to get a little worried and suggested I go check up on him in the bog. In truth I needed yet another crap too so I was headed in that direction anyway.

In the toilet spinningchairs was ashen and had thrown water on his face. He had just been sick. Little did I know that he does not actually not like magicians but actually has a bloody phobia of them!

So while I was in the toilet taking a crap, he was next door chuckin up his guts and Rainspire was the only faintly normal person left. What a balls-up!

When we finally got back to the table, spinningchairs nervously kept his eyes on the door while I vegetated in my place and Rainspire laughed at us both in our states of disrepair. We were a mess and no mistake.

Heck we were all bloody nervous that the magician would come back and kept our eyes on Chairs for any reactions. With 2 of the 3 of us sick, his eyes nervously scanning the restaurant floor and our eyes on him, this meal had become decidedly strange. We were now all shaking with nerves or fatigue or dehydration or some other impediment

Suddenly his expression changed and his jaw dropped and his eyes jumped out of his skull. “HUH!?”

In shock the two of us turned round to see what the hell had just come in thinking that it would probably be David Copperfield, Paul Daniels and Houdini all in tutus. That wouldn’t have surprised us one bit.

It was Barney the purple dinosaur.

I had to do a double take. Then despite myself I couldn’t stop laughing and suddenly it all seemed like a big joke and not the embodiment of a complete nightmare after all. What a flippin weird lunch!

Thanks again you 2 I had a brilliant time and despite the obvious drawbacks like food poisoning I wouldn’t do anything differently. What a classic day out!
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