The last week I was in China, the thing that punched me in the gut and made me feel terribly homesick was a busker on the side of the road playing a Chinese instrument with strings. I can't remember it, but the sound of it is very haunting. As soon as I heard it, I had to find out where the music was coming from. I was out with my coworkers for a good-bye dinner, and they were confused as to why it was so important to me to listen to this.
One of the most popular buskers in Edmonton is a Chinese man who plays the same instrument. It struck me then that I was going to be home soon, but that I wasn't home right then, and it was hard not to start crying.
The thing that made me homesick here was going out for East Indian food. Edmonton has the most amazing East Indian restaurant called New Asian Village. The food is outstanding, the decor is wonderful, and the staff are amazingly friendly. There's countless pots of chai, and little mango liquers to end your meal with. You can chose to sit at a normal table, or in a private booth in the back with pillows, a low table, and curtains for privacy. The whole thing has a wonderful, exotic feel to it, and I have falled in love with Indian food.
My guidebook highly recommends Indian food here, so I went out to a place on Rose Street, expecting something like home.
Let's just say... not so much.
Well, let's say more. It wasn't just the decore (pink and blue pastels), or the service (rude). I think what really killed the experience for me was Madonna's Greatest Hits playing on the sound system. I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible. The food wasn't even as tasty as it is at home, and the nan bread was a pitiful imitation at best. I had no idea why the place was packed, or why anyone would ever want to come back.
On the walk back to my flat, all I could think about was how much I wanted to be at home at that moment, still tasting the wonderful chai tea on my lips, mocking Don for being over-caffinated, or chatting with Raven about various family types, or just something that wouldn't make me feel quite so much like a fish out of water.
Since then, I've found a place that makes amazingly good Indian Food, some of it even better than New Asian Village, but the entire decour of the place is set up like any other restaurant. I like the food, but I miss the feeling of an intimate restaurant with good food and better company.
And, well, I really miss Chai.