Monday, May 25

The Times of Anuja

Nice title, eh? I was actually considering changing my blog name from “Life...” to this one, but then decided against it. Life is so much more closer to my heart, so what if the term’s overused and random...

(By the way, that statement was grammatically incorrect – you can’t use an “–er” comparative form with “more”. For instance, comparative of fat is fatter, not more fatter. But hell, I just used it for the sake of emphasis. Kindly excuse.)

This break from my Goa trip description comes as a result of certain new experiences that I’ve had over the week in Pune. So, our agenda for this post encompasses my dinner at Chinese Room Oriental followed by the Chocolate Paan debacle, my book shopping with Abba and an alarming experience at the Inox multiplex. Stay tuned.

Last week was funny. I returned from Goa and my parents left for a wedding. When they reached Pune, I was off to Khandala for work. By the time I came back, they were packing to leave for Mahabaleshwar with their friends. And I won’t be surprised if mum has any more travel plans in the offing. Already told you what a travel-o-holic she is...

So while she was out of station over the weekend, I accompanied Bhai and Bhabhi for dinner to Chinese Room on Karve Road. (Bhabi loves Chinese, so my bro seems to have developed an unusual fondness for that place.) The liking seemed well-founded as the restaurant was full of patrons, both young and old. My suspicions were set to rest when I crunched through some scrumptious Spring Rolls and Veg Manchurian.

As I practiced my dexterity with the chopsticks, the gang ordered Manchow soup (which looked and tasted no better than a concoction of leftovers), fried rice and Hakka noodles. While I was not too pleased with the main course, it certainly satisfied my hunger pangs, as did the avoidable Sizzling Brownie with Vanilla ice-cream. My belief was reinforced - nobody serves desserts like Yana and Mainland China! Yummm...

What caught my eye was that all the waiters and captains were beyond the expiry date. Wonder if it’s the Chinese food or the salary that is the reason behind those grey hairs. The bill was Rs. 1300/- for the 6 of us, which I thought was quite high-priced. But, not a bad experience at all.

Or at least not as bad as the Chocolate Paan we had at Shaukeen. A fellow-diner insisted we visit this paan shop near Hotel Samudra at Nal Stop, and I was expecting the moon when I saw a huge crowd of people teeming outside the store. This weird paan is something like the Choco-Dip softy that we all love. What didn’t quite agree with my tastebuds is the paan-filling that I thought didn’t gel well with the cocoa covering. Exclude me from the fan list, you crazy Shaukeens; I’d rather have my fave Chocobar for 15 bucks.

Books!! My biggest addiction ever... After having finished Twilight in less than a week, I’m more than eager to read the New Moon – also an international bestseller like its prequel. I’m so in love with Edward that I even dreamt about somebody like him!! This dude was named Aniket (at least that’s how I addressed him in the dream) and he sported a long ponytail as he was walking into a forest trail. I just called out to him, he turned to me and started walking, and then I don’t know... Scene change...

So, I was saying, I bought New Moon, but I’m restraining my obsession with the novel. I’ve started Almost Single by Advaita Kala. A friend recommended this book to me, and I must say, the first 15 pages look very promising. The other books that I got from Crossword include The Associate by John Grisham (I’m missing the Prisoner of Birth!!) and Climbing Chamundi Hill: 1001 Steps With A Storyteller And A Reluctant Pilgrim by Ariel Glucklich (yep, missing Mahabharata, too!!) I’m very pleased with my book-shopping, and I’m super excited to plough through them within the next month or two. Shall keep you posted!

And now for the final fiasco which occurred at Inox the day before. I was actually in two minds whether to put this on my blog or not, coz it’s so shameful and disgusting. On very rare occasions have I ever felt so alarmed and dazed. But then, I decided I must. This incident speaks volumes about the security and safety in public places, and if I don’t voice it, it’s a fault on my part.

It went like this.

I went to the washroom on the ground floor, and no sooner had I entered, than I saw this ugly woman (who I mistook for the toilet attendant coz she was so ugly and unrefined) washing her hands. I paid no heed to her and went to the first loo on the right. She screeched at me in crude Hindi, “Don’t go there, my purse is inside.” I usually use the right-side cubicles coz there’s a ledge where you can place your baggage. So, I said to her, “Ok, remove it, I’ll wait.”

I was completely unprepared for what happened next. She started yelling and abusing me, “Why do you wana go there? There are other toilets also. &^*&#$%)@%$#*%@$” I calmly stated, “Look, don’t shout. Speak politely. I’ll wait until you remove your stuff, but I want to go here.” I was ready to use the other loo only is she softened a bit. When I saw no signs of that happening, my self-respect screamed out to me to stand up for myself. I adamantly stepped inside the loo and said, “Now I WILL go here.”

She dashed across the area to my door and threw it aside. I was stunned, I thought she was going to hit me. I would have done the same very gladly myself had I not anticipated that this wasn’t a woman worth meddling with. “Nange se duniya darti hai” is a famous saying in Hindi, and it is izzatdar people like us who need to preserve their esteem. However, I did not trust her enough not to rush after me and create a scene, so I called out to a guy-friend standing in the corridor. Just to show I wasn’t alone.

The freaky woman that she was, she couldn’t care less whether I was with a friend or the Prime Minister. She started abusing him as well, and all this while, there was no one who came to check out this racket. I’ll admit that I was petrified by this time, and did not know what to do. I walked out feeling helpless, humiliated and livid. How CAN people behave like THIS?!!!

As if what occurred wasn’t enough, she followed us all along the corridor into McDonalds, all the while hurling insults at us and shrieking at the top of her voice. Even then nobody bothered to find out what was wrong. We ignored her, took a meal parcel (I was too upset to be able to swallow a morsel), and left the multiplex.

I’m just wondering what would have happened had she actually hit me. There was not a single soul in sight who would either protect me, or take action about any mishap. Is this the kind of security we encourage in public malls and hangouts? Is the security meant to be only a pain in the a** as they screen decent-looking folk, their vehicles and bags upon entry? Is there no other responsibility upon them beyond the frisking and lounging? I guess I should have complained to the authorities. But, aren’t they supposed to have cameras installed all over the building to monitor and ensure wellbeing?

I’m very disturbed. And I just can’t seem to get this incident out of my head.

Talk to you later. Take care and TRY TO stay safe.


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