Puthandu Varthugal in advance, I greeted my friend over the phone as soon as she picked up the receiver.
Thank you, same to you she said.
I thought you would say that in Tamil because my greeting was in Tamil, I pointed out. Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize that, she apologized.
See, again, sorry is an English word. I thought you would say an equivalent in Tamil, I teased.
What’s come over you? Why this sudden interest in my language? She retorted.
Why not? isn’t Varsha Poruppu fast approaching? And your name happens to begin with one of the oldest languages, doesn’t it ?I said wanting to carry on conversation in the same vein.
Yes, I know, but I am so used to responding in English, that I am not conscious of the tongue I am speaking in, she said in a defensive tone.
O.K. tell me how are you planning to ring in the New Year?I asked. Are you dining out? in your favourite restaurant? I added.
Certainly not, she said vehemently.
Why, what happened? I asked wanting to know the reason for her sudden apathy for the restaurant Arusuvai Arasu which she normally patronized.
Don’t ever mention its name to me again. I will never in my life set foot into this God forsake place again. I think even God can’t restore the image it could once boast of, she fumed.
Why don’t you tell me what exactly happened? I persisted.
First of all, the restaurant which was earlier situated on the ground floor is shifted to the first floor to accommodate an icecream parlour. After trudging along the steep steps, we found not a single soul excepting the four of us. Promptly a lady reclining in a chair nearby came to take the order and assured us that the stuff we ordered will be served piping hot. After nearly 20 minutes we noticed someone approaching our table with an order book in hand and a scowl on his face. He disappeared when he learnt he had nothing to do with us. All that we ordered arrived after a wait of another 15 minutes, the idlis were ice cold and the dosa was no better and on complaining the lady collected our plates promising to heat the stuff. She disappeared with the plates probably into the kitchen and never reappeared at all. Disgusted we all decided to walk out and as we were climbing down the stairs, the lady met us halfway looking very much relieved!
N Meera Raghavendra Rao