Saturday, February 22, 2014

That suffocating air at Ballal

One summer evening I’m having dinner with a friend at a restaurant. We are done with the starters and are waiting for the main course. My friend is about to launch his website...a small but ambitious project, and we are discussing the details, in between gossiping about all and sundry. A lovely evening, nice food, great ambiance...the gods are smiling...and suddenly, three people walk in through the door and slowly walk towards us.

I wish I could capture that moment of terror accurately in words, but it’s impossible, however much I try. A lot of background story is needed to explain ‘that moment’ and also bring out all the emotions that ran their course there. And it’s such a funny and hilarious situation, yet, at that moment, we were almost shitting in our pants, imagining a whole lot of possibilities.

The people who walked in were not mafia dons or police officers. In fact, one of them, an elderly man in whites, was one of the gentlest people I’ve ever known. And the two others with him were elderly people in their fifties...husband and wife. Regular people, posing zero threat or danger to anyone! They sat at a table near us and ordered their evening snacks.

To paraphrase...let’s say...the elderly man is a team leader...and my friend was recently ‘sent out’ of the team, and I’m a bloke who is still very much in the team. Now here I am, enjoying an evening meal with that ‘outcast(?)’ friend...and my boss walks in and sits a few tables from us...and looks around casually, with a sweeping gaze. For all his gentleness, the boss commands such respect and awe in the team that one gesture from him can throw you out...or can make the other team members completely shun you!!! And you’re someone who has recently committed oneself, emotionally and otherwise, to a dedicated stint in that team.

To say that the air suffocated that evening is an understatement. I don’t remember what we ate for the main course that day.

We waited for a while, expecting them to finish their food and leave so that we didn’t have to encounter them on our way out...but they looked totally relaxed...kinda settled down in their chairs for the rest of the evening. After some deliberations, we got up and walked casually towards the door...and, out of obligating, greeted the trio at their tables. Everyone smiled and greeted one another, spoke gentle words....full of fake social gestures while carrying exactly opposite thoughts and emotions within. The lady....she was authentic...perhaps truly spiritual. She turned her face away grumpily without acknowledging our presence and we walked out, feeling like we had just walked out of a lion’s den, alive!

Two weeks later I tell this to archana...and she’s horrified. ‘Why the eff did you go to that restaurant...out of all the thousand eateries in Bangalore, when you know that He loves that place. Now...apply oil on your body and wait. You will be called and skinned alive in a meeting’

That skinning alive never happened, although a very milder version was attempted some months back, for a related reason. And the terror, absurdity and hilariousness of that evening ...they still remain fresh--- and will probably stay etched in memory along with all the beautiful moments that were spent with Him. 


  1. Shows that we never really know what others are thinking...including a boss with whom we disagree. Wonder what the boss was feeling when he saw the both of you. I am guessing it is not what you surmise.

  2. Can never forget that moment, i was sure of you being thrashed before being shown an exit door !
    Beautiful post and loved the way you make a reader laugh , even when you remember that both of you, did't know when to use spoon or a fork to eat your dinner on the table which was served for you guys and for the others as well who were sitting close by !