05-Nov-2006

All creatures great and small


I was visiting Cochin on some official business and after a long meeting, my colleague and myself headed to a highly recommended up-market restaurant to catch some lunch. We were seated and the waiter got us a bottle of drinking water and served it in nice glasses. I reached out for my glass to take a sip. In the water was a tiny little worm, the colour of filter-coffee, wriggling about acrobatically, either trying to get out or enjoying a little swim. Appalled, I got the waiter’s attention and pointed out the worm to him. The waiter was puzzled because the water bottle had definitely been sealed and he assured me so. I could have been almost convinced by his earnestness into believing that I was hallucinating but for the fact the tiny creature was still present in the water and my colleague could also see it. Having established this fact irrevocably, the waiter gave me a resigned ‘Now what shall we do?’ look. Then looking pleased with himself for coming up with a clever pause-breaker, asked ‘Should I change the water?’ ‘I presume so’, I replied coldly trying to pack in as much indignation as possible. With that, he whisked away my glass and then seeing my cold glare, whisked away the offending bottle of water. After a while he came back with a fresh bottle of water, a fresh glass and a triumphant smile. While pouring me the water, he explained that he had discovered the source of the worm. Apparently the roof of that section had just been changed and the roof had been lined with dry, brown straw to look traditional. ‘So the worm must be from there’, he concluded. This of course caused greater terror than before. The menace had not been confined to a single bottle of water. It was there all over the place, ready to drop into your food, your clothes, your hair at any point of time. However by now my colleague had assumed a pose of supreme indifference to the problem. He is vegetarian and if he could be alright with tiny worms creeping all over his lasagna, I realised that perhaps I should stop being paranoid. I chose to ignore the problem and consoled myself with the fact that worms were proteins and not carbohydrates. This is not to say that I did not throw furtive glances at my food, water and the ceiling from time to time.

Finally it was time to go and I am glad to report that my acquaintance with wildlife ended there.

No comments: