It all makes sense...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Saturday, February 6, 2010 9:48 AM
The Udupi restaurant near the railway station was surprisingly quite empty. I had with me my first prescription eye glasses. But before I could have a ‘first day-first show’ look at it, the waiter waived a menu card at me. ‘Idli Sambaar’ was a big bore and quickies like ‘Upma’ and ‘Shira’ were out of stock. Before I could think of anything else, an old lady occupied the seat in front of me, wiping her sweat on her forehead.

Why the hell she had to sit opposite me on my table, when there were seats all around? Maybe she was tired and wanted to sit below a fan. But what the hell…there was no fan above my table. Why then sit in front of me that too when I was just about to check the focus of my eyes with my new glasses? I was being intruded.

The old lady seemed to have read my mind. She asked me, ‘Is anybody sitting here?’ I shook my head, turned to the waiter and ordered the first thing that came into my mind. It happened to be ‘Onion Rava Masala Dosa’. But the old lady, who by now had recovered from her fatigue, was very clear. ‘A plate of ‘Idli’ fully immersed in hot ‘Sambar’ was what she wanted.

As I was hesitant to open the case and flirt with my glasses in front of the old lady, I decided to erase old messages on my mobile. The lady seemed to be immersed in her own thoughts.

Soon, the waiter served her the ‘Idli’ that was fully immersed in hot ‘Sambar’ and wasting no time, she triumphantly started gulping it. It bugged me that I had occupied the table a few minutes before the old lady, but she was the one who was eating first. I had to intervene. I smiled and uttered, ‘Your ‘Idli’ has already come…’ It was now her turn to get intruded and I was damn glad about it. But the old lady gathered herself within a second, smiled looking straight into my face and blurted, ‘You have ordered an ‘Onion Rava Masala Dosa’. Here, in this hotel they take a lot of time to serve you ‘Onion Rava Masala Dosa’.

She eats. I fiddle with my mobile as usual, sending short messages to some random friends. Suddenly, she stops, looks at me again and explains, ‘I know this place well, as I come to the nearby bank. Except ‘Idli’ and ‘Sada Dosa’, everything here takes time’. I act as if I had just heard a great piece of wisdom, ‘Oh, is it?’ She gives me an all-knowing smile. I call the water and irritatingly ask him if my ‘Onion Rava Masala Dosa’ is ready. He says, ‘five minutes’. The old lady smiles, as she almost finishes her stuff and orders for a cup of tea.

Not knowing what to do, I call up my friend and talk to him about the weather and sundry. Through the corner of my eyes, I see the old lady dip the tip of her index finger into her glass of water. She then takes a paper napkin and wipes the wet finger - this process repeats twice. ‘Why?’ I wonder. She then takes a fresh napkin and, all of a sudden, offers it to me with an ‘as-a-matter-of-fact’ face. After a hesitant second, I unconsciously accept it. I thank her and start wiping the imaginary sweat on my face.

When the old lady’s cup of tea arrives, she wipes the saucer with another paper napkin. I look at the waiter. He gestures to me that my order is not yet ready. The old lady grins as she pours her tea into the saucer and starts sipping from it. Visibly upset, I shift uneasily on my seat and contemplate if I should cancel my ‘Onion Rava Masala Dosa’ and order ‘Idli immersed with hot Sambar’, instead.

‘You can relax for quite some time now. Your ‘Onion Rava Masala Dosa’ is not going to arrive soon’ the lady cracked a joke. I wanted to smash her head but instead, I smiled. What else could I do?.

When her bill arrives, I act as if I am seriously reading some messages on my mobile. The old lady pays the waiter the exact amount in her bill. She had kept the change ready, before hand. She picks her purse and before leaving she looks at me, gives her now familiar naughty smile and … ‘Enjoy your wait and have a good day.’ The wise old lady then rapidly vanishes.

There was no point in checking and flirting with my new glasses with such an irritating mood. As my wait for the ‘Onion Rava Masala Dosa’ continued, for the next 20 minutes.

I just realized, albeit pretty late, as to why I have not made much progress in my field since the last twenty-five years. What a life...

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