ARMED TO THE TEETH It could have been a scene from a Bollywood version of The Godfather. I entered the highly recommended vegetarian Sindhi Restaurant near Varanasi's Lalita Cinema to find half a dozen men sitting at the center table, rifles and sawed-off shotguns casually slung across the backs of their chairs. I thought it best not to ask why. None of the other diners, well ensconced in their peeling vinyl booths, appeared perturbed. Nor was I, once my thali, or set meal, arrived. Usually served on a flat metal plate divided into sections, thalis are a traditional Indian meal comprised of vegetable curries, a lentil soup, Indian pickles, flat bread, a dessert and a crispy popadam. My Sindhi special featured a delicate green curry of walnut-sized eggplants flavored with cardamom, a spicy red concoction of chili and okra, and dry roasted pumpkin with ginger and cumin. The dessert was gulab jamun, two deep-fried balls of milk dough soaked in syrup. I finished off my meal with lassi, a frothy, sweetened yogurt drink flavored with rose petals. As I got up to pay the bill, I noticed that my waiter had joined the gun-toting men at the center table. Naturally, I left him a big tip.