It is Sunday and I’m in Colaba. This means that I am happy. Perhaps, ‘happy’ is too glint-y a word. I am soothed. Sunday is usually a mellow, older cousin of the impatient, rowdy Saturday – this one wants to get about town and create trouble. Sunday will draw the curtains, change into soft flannel shorts, and play piano.
I was supposed to meet a friend outside Regal for a movie around 4. I got delayed by a half-hour. Contrite, I jogged from Churchgate station to Colaba. On the way, I called him up. I apologized and promised him my first-born for making him miss the movie, etc. He told me ‘to chill’ and he said that ‘it’s okay’ and also that ‘things like this happen’ and wouldn’t you know that it’s ‘only a matter of 30 minutes?’ I floundered for a bit. I’m usually not at the receiving end of such gentle understanding. And today I was. Why? Not because some fount of infinite patience had descended on the said friend. But because he was still in Mulund. This meant that I had to wait for two hours before he reached Colaba. My mind immediately offered up lists of decibel levels I should yell at him at. But, you know how it is. It was Sunday. And I was in Colaba.
I wondered if should do some splurging at the Causeway. I’d spotted a cute, black smock. And some emerald-colored sling-backs and a magenta and turmeric yellow bag. But there was no money to spend on outfits that would probably never see the cobbled paths of Italy. And why wear such fine things in places where I get by in ratty denims and ganji?
So, I decided to eat at Wayside Inn instead. I love that place. First, there is the view. Even though I could only see the Sahakari Bhandar opposite, and a little strip of a busy road, it was enough. It hinted at a crowd at Regal, and boats docked at Gateway beyond, and weird shops that stocked attar in gaudy, purple glass bottles and hung kaftans with rainbow-colored sequins.
Ordered a Ginger Rogers (a very Peter-pan type ginger-based drink. You have little spurts of magic tickling your nose). Also, had a rather large aubergine and cheese burger. It was tasty, messy, and oozed all sorts of rich, creamy sauces. Just the way I like it. All this commingled very happily in my tummy. So happily that I, for a moment, tried to recollect why my friend was calling me – the one who I had to meet and who was already 2 hours late and who was, in fact, calling to tell me that he wouldn’t be able to make it to town. So could I meet him in Bandra instead? To which, I laughed and asked, “Does a peacock dance in the rain?”
My friend’s heart is big and warm. And it’s nothing like his brain, which is very much like a pea – in size as well as ability to comprehend the rhetoric. He seemed puzzled with my remark. “I suppose a peacock will dance in the rain. Why? There’ll be a peacock dance in Carter Road? I don’t think I want to go for that.”
I hung up shortly and planned my route to Bandra. I could take a nice long walk to VT and catch a train from there. Or else, I could take a train from Churchgate. That way, I could stop for a cup of dessert tea at Tea Centre. Or else, take a bus ride. It had been a long while since I went by bus. A nice leisurely trip, seeing the sights and sounds of a relaxed Mumbai was tempting.
But the bus ride would be long, and the bladder’s capacity would be tested severely. So I decided to go to the loo before I left.
Now, the Wayside Inn has two rather roomy loos. One for the men. One for the women. I stood outside the women’s. There were very few people in the restaurant and I hadn’t seen anyone go in. But the door was locked. I waited. I could hear some humming inside. I waited. I could hear the tap being turned on and off a few times. I waited. I coughed loudly, but then realized that I wasn’t exactly trying to interrupt a conversation here. I thought I’d knock, but didn’t want to…well…rush anyone inside. I mean…some things just take the time they do. But after a good five minutes, when my bladder told the rest of me to do something, I knocked. A shrill voice shouted, “It’s occupied!” For some reason, I felt quite chastised. So I meekly stood near the sink.
Two minutes later, my bladder spoke up – rather sharply. So I knocked harder. This time, the door opened and out stepped…a man.
He was a little, well, fey. His hands looked manicured and soft – much more primed for fine dining than mine were. His linen shirt was uncreased and his pink skin was freshly washed. I could see a walnut face scrub peeping out of the pockets of his drawstring pants. (A very stylish, chocolate colored pair that was. Very stylish.) Ordinarily, impeccably groomed men intimidate me. But this time, my bladder was in control of my personality. So I looked pointedly at the sign on the loo.
He returned my glare with a look of complete exasperation, flailed his hand a little and snapped, “Like you women don’t already have everything!”
With that, he stuck his nose up in the air and left.
When they say you never know what to expect in this city…man, are they right!