Jonesing for a Burger

Okay. So I did it. I haven’t been here more than three weeks, and I got this outrageous craving for a burger today. I think it’s because I was emailing my former colleagues at the Diner and it got me thinking back to the hundreds of burgers I ate and/or served while there.

I hate it. It’s terribly American – aka gauche – of me to order a burger in the land of the Holy Cow. And, for god’s sake, it’s Friday. Then again, I’m not Hindu, nor am I Catholic. And, my many attempts at pure veg eating have failed because of my weakness for hot dogs and cured meats.

I didn’t set out today in search of a burger, but I had no trouble finding one at the Taj Mahal Hotel, the poshest of Mumbai’s hotels located on the Arabian Sea-front by the Gateway of India. I went to the Taj primarily to check out some of the stores that were there, as my friend Lauren tipped me off to this Indian tailor/fashion store that’s been there for years.

Burlington’s is a great place to buy kurtas (long shirts), anything embroidered or hand-beaded, Diwali outfits, custom suits, silk ties, caftans…you name it. The place is no secret of course. In fact, below the glass at the check-out desk were two pictures of celebrities. Can you guess one of them? Did you guess Bill Clinton? My god, he went everywhere when he was here! The other autographed photo was from none other than Keith Richards. Weird, huh? Maybe he was buying a caftan for Patti or a silk scarf for Mick. I’ll never know.

After Burlington’s – and one silk tie purchase – I wandered around the hotel checking out what was there. Louis Vuitton, check. Fancy silversmith, check. Shoe store that I resisted, check.

I went further and came to some double-doors that led to a courtyard and the pool. It was a real oasis, another world. Across the path was another set of double doors and the restaurant of my dreams. Okay…so it was a hotel buffet-type restaurant. Nothing special. But they had burgers on the menu and it was lunchtime.

I ordered the Euro burger. Not sure what made it a Euroburger – it had mushrooms and grilled onions on it. The American burger came with bacon. The veggie burger came, inexplicably, with cream cheese. That didn’t sound quite right.

Maybe it was a Euro burger because it was made of lamb. Yes, I had a lamb-burger. I’m pretty sure that was the standard at the Taj, so as not to offend anyone, but I didn’t bother asking. There was nothing on the menu that indicated that the burger was anything other than beef. But I should have guessed. Nevertheless, the lamb-burger was quite delicious. It was served on china with fries, a salad, and a side dish full of Heinz ketchup. Pretty juicy stuff. Needless to say, my starched white cloth napkin took a beating.

This was my last weekday of leisure as I get back to work on Monday, so I continued on with my posh ways the rest of the afternoon: a visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art, where there was a British Council-sponsored exhibit called “Import-Export;” a stop at a place everyone calls “Harry’s” that sells all things-Indian, including furniture, jewelry, sandstone carvings, rugs, brassware, etc; and then on to Phoenix High Street, which is a sort-of mall with some really nice (and fairly inexpensive) Indian fashion, a Marks & Spencer, Adidas, Nike, Aubade (the French lingerie boutique – yes!), and some other crap.

So far, Mumbai has proven to be quite cheap, but there are plenty of things to buy if you’re in the mood to part ways with your money. I’m window shopping for now, but watch out once the salary kicks in…

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