Last night was good fun. I love last minute plans. A friend of mine and I went to this hideously designed ‘Bar and Kitchen’ opposite my office. It was strung with unholy Kermit green lights and looked so desolate and haunting – it’s called ‘Spirit’.
I, being short of cash, couldn’t afford anything as fancy as Pop Tates. (And when Pop Tates seems fancy, one can only imagine how short of cash I was.) To add insult to injury, I got into a Standard Chartered ATM near office. First of all, the machine talked…Welcome here, and we are processing this and that, and please enter your card again, etc. These things should come with a mute option. Of course, I have never encountered a talking ATM machine. So, when I first heard, Welcome…hmm humm…Mukta…whirr…humm humm…Raut, excuse me, but I was scared. I looked around quizzically, because of late I have been praying really hard and given that God does work in strange and mysterious ways, one never knows.
The obnoxious guard, however, stuffed his head inside and said, “Machine ke andar se nikal raha hai.”
I looked very silly. Not at all in keeping with the persona of my new hair cut. Anyway, I stuffed my card inside and demanded that I be given 500 bucks. But I didn’t even have 500 bucks. Instead the talking machine musically told me that I had ‘insufficient funds’ in my account. Not that I would have missed knowing that, considering how Insufficient Funds seemed emblazoned on the little ATM screen.
I walked out and avoided eye contact with the guard. Next, I went to my friend’s office which is a 10 minute walk from mine. It took me 15 minutes to fill out forms in triplicate at the gate. Finally, I reached her lobby and waited, relieved that I can rest my tired legs. She came out within 2 seconds – all regally dressed in a red and black salwaar kameez. I stood up, giving her the full opportunity to take in my fabulous overhauled look. Instead, her eyes seemed to glaze over with commiseration, “Accidents happen.”
That aside, we went to Spirit and ordered a Palak Soup. It was remarkably good. I don’t think anyone even orders it there – the restaurant seems to be one of those little dens where booze and fried stuff are served regularly. Palak soup would hardly have been on anyone’s list, but then one never knows what one can order when drunk. Perhaps such foresight led to the inclusion of demented sounding ‘Kungpoo Chicken’ and ‘Kinglump choo potatoes’.
We went for a straightforward dry Manchurian that was really spicy and tasty. And then came my favorite Schezwan noodles, spicy, greasy, and mouth-wateringly tempting. We polished off everything and washed it down with chilled, sweet, fizzy Coke. It was perfect.
Chatting with my friend was so nice. It was ages since we’d met up, and it was a whole lot of fun to just hear her describe the a new lamp she’s bought for the house or that such and such a poster was really bizarre or that she had really liked Taare Zameen Par.
We split the tab and according to her calculation (I am very bad with these things so I just hand over the money), she said she owes me five bucks. She seemed so penitent about it that I wondered if I should ask her to forsake her first born in my care in return for the cash. Resisted the urge.
I was just going to ask her to probably come for coffee when she snubbed me and said that I should just pack up and go home. That’s the thing with friends, see – they kill you with kindness.
They do, actually.