Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Chicken in Paradise

Last Sunday we decided to go to the local restaurant here in Morrumbala called “Paradisio Resturante”.
The proprietor is a rather paunchy Old Portuguese fellow, married to a local lady who does all the work whilst he looks on and shouts instructions every now and again.
Usually he can be found slouched in his chair at the entrance to the restaurant’s pub, with one of his pet poodles lurking between his ankles.
As you pass by, the poodle makes a rush at you, growling and gnashing his pointy little teeth until his master swats at his backside, shouting “comportar-se voce merda, se comportam!” (“behave you little shyte, behave!”)

Tail between his legs, he slinks back under his boss’ chair and waits for his next victim. 
It is not the cleanest of places and definitely not the best I have ever been to. They serve char-grilled peri-peri chicken and chips and the beer s are ice cold. So, if you ignore the state of the kitchen and make darn sure you do not use their bathroom, eating there can be a reasonably good experience.
Also, if you close your eyes to the t-shirts that the waiters are wearing, and do not allow your imagination to run riot as to whether they really do have AIDS, as broadcast in the slogan stamped in large letters on the front, you can get on with the business of ordering your meal.
It is also a pleasant change to being confined within the OLAM cotton complex compound and Graham was concerned that I was going a little stir-crazy after three weeks lack of Internet and unable to communicate with people on the “out-side world”!
We got there and said hello to the landlord, avoided his poodle and made our way to our usual table in the corner.
Then the noise started.
A high pitched yowl permeated the four corners of the place.



“Wow Babe,” I said to Graham, whilst looking in the direction of the kitchen, “someone must have ordered goat for lunch.”
I visualised a goat being slaughtered outside the kitchen door.
“Nope,” Graham pointed at three men sitting around a table some distance away, “there’s your goat.”
It did not take long for us to realize that one of the men was a very drunk deaf mute.
He was interesting to watch as he acted out what he wanted to do with one of his companions. It was not very friendly. He mimed that he’d slit his throat, stab him in the chest and then every now and then forgot about that and indicated that he was hungry and wanted to eat.
Or perhaps I was being naïve and he wanted to eat his friend after cutting his throat.
Our chicken had arrived and we tucked in, trying to ignore the blood curdling yelps from across the room.
Above us was a pergola with a tangle of creepers covering it,  I looked up, there looking back at me was a large black rat, his beady eyes darting backwards and forwards, looking at our food.
Then the poodle arrived at our table and sidled up to my chair.
“Shoo!” I shouted at him when I saw what he was about to do. He hopped off on three legs, the fourth leg waiving half-cocked in the air.
The cacophony of yelps continued from the drunken man.
“Sounds like a yeti. Well what I think a yeti should sound like,” I mumbled as I tucked into my peri-peri chicken.
“Time to get out of here,” Graham growled, standing up and pushing out his chair.
We returned to our house in the OLAM complex.
The three shebeens (moon-shine bars) in the shanty town were competing with one another for customers and blasting out their loud local music.
“Even they are quieter than that noisy guy in Paradisio,” I remarked.
“Yes,” agreed Graham, “but at least here we can close the doors, shut the windows and turn on the air-conditioner to drown out the noise!”
I am not sure that we will return to Paradise in a hurry.

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