Monday, March 13, 2006

What I look forward to on Mondays

Lunch.

1:00 p.m.

Open-air canteen on the terrace. Flapping chapattis and flying papads. Lots of wind. Wuthering Heights type gusts. Heathcliff serves lunch. Scowls if you take an extra slice of cucumber. You put it back and scamper ahead.

Z sits and opens her dabba with relish. J opens her dabba and looks at Z’s dabba with relish. I open my dabba and suggest we go out to eat.

Z, taking delectable spoonfuls of dalia with brown onions and ground spices:
‘Where were you last night?’

Meanwhile, I try to figure out what can possibly be damp and pale blue and taste like a cucumber? I contemplate in my mouth that refuses to co-operate. My stomach and brain ask God to transfer them to a different body. Organs nowadays have no scruples.

‘What?’, I ask again.

‘Where were you last night?’, Z repeats.

I’m always with Z or with J. In office I’m with Z, outside office, I’m with J. That’s about it. I have two friends in Pune – Z and J, and only with these twain I meet. So, where could I possibly be last night? Oh yes, suddenly it dawns.

‘I was with this friend. We were at a place called ‘Chandni Chowk’.

Z looks up.

‘No, not Delhi.’

Z chomps thoughtfully. Why go to Chandni Chowk when it isn’t in Delhi?

‘What’s there?’

‘It’s on the way to Khadakvasla. Beautiful, stark trees reaching out to hold the stars and…’

‘What did you eat?’

‘Chicken fried rice, diced chicken, and prawns.’

Z approves.

I go back to my veggies with tints of alien skin tones.

‘Aren’t you trying to lose weight’, Z asks.

‘Well, you know, I figure, it’ll go when it’s ready to leave. No sense in trying to force anything.’, I tell her.

‘Hmm…’

I would like to carry on about the stark trees, empty roads, and crystal constellations, but Z doesn’t have patience with all this.

It’s summer – leaves will fall.
It’s late – roads will be empty.
It’s night – there will be stars.

Suddenly, I remember what my friend had pointed out during the drive. A huge farmhouse belonging to the ‘Venky’s Chicken’ business.

‘It had round, red lights surrounding it’, I tell Z, eager to get her interested.

‘Must be for the chicken’, Z tells me.

I don’t think so. Why would cluckers want round, red lights?

Z explains that it’s for the people who come to steal chicken.

Patiently, I tell Z that people who come to steal chicken are not invisible; so it’s not as if the Mr. India strategy of having red lights everywhere would solve the problem.

‘No, the lights have current, so no-one can pass through them.’

‘But all lights have current, that’s how they get lit.’

Z looks at me and laughs. ‘Good one,’ she chortles.

I am confused but I laugh anyway.

J, who hasn’t spoken until now, looks ahead in a daze.

‘Why do people smoke?’, she asks.

Z and I turn back to look as if we don’t know what she’s talking about.

'Hmm', says Z, that really doesn’t mean anything – like her red light chicken theory.

‘Why do people smoke?’, she repeats slowly, waiting for the answer to come flying with a chapatti.

‘You got me’, I say with sturdy disapproval.

‘I don’t want you’, says Z.

J and Z laugh uproariously at this as another papad flies away.

I am confused but I laugh anyway.





8 comments:

Ashish Gupta said...

huh? :-/

Mukta said...

Hey ashish,

so were you confused but laughed anyway? hee hee!

Anand said...

A leisurely lunch-surreal!
Out of a Brookner maybe.

New Dik On The Blog said...

imho, Z is an idiot ;-)

Mukta said...

Hi Anand,

leisurely maybe, but surreal - :-) You talking of Anita Brookner?

I haven't read her.

Hey new!

NO, she is NOT! Grr!

New Dik On The Blog said...

Mukta,

Yes she is ... for sayin ‘I don’t want you’

Thought u'd 'get' that :-)

Mukta said...

Yes, sorry, I'm stupid. :-)

Chandrika said...

It was sooo hilarious!!! I like Z and her red light theory...by the way, please ask her if the same principle holds for red light area...she is a sag...she will understand...You can stay confused and laugh anyway.

Smita and I read this blog together and were rolling.... :)