Read this before reading the following post (if you have not already read it).
It was some day in August 2008. I was working in AnimationXpress as Design Head for their upcoming event AFF. Chaitra, Vidhi and I decided to go to Pop Tates for dinner after a really hectic day. Reaching there, we found a queue waiting and we were no. 6 or something. We were asked to wait for 15 mins. I and Chaitra resumed our conversation (we were in some very animated discussion, can’t remember the subject as of now) while Vidhi moved away to buy a fag. Right next to where we were standing was a chaat vendor surrounded by a gang of ladies loudly chattering while crunching pani puri. I always loved pani puri you see.
After something like 5mins or so I turned to find Vidhi gulping down pani puri. While talking to Chaitra I swiftly moved towards her and grabbed the puri she was about to gobble.
“Akele akele kha rahi hai motu? (Having it all alone, fato!)” I said opening my mouth wide.
Just as the superbly awesome crunchy mouth watering pani puri was halfway through my mouth I noticed a lady staring at me with immense disgust and hatred. Her eyes told me she was hitting me left right and center in her mind at that moment. A punch on the right cheek, one in the eye, one in the tummy, elbow on my back and that one final kick. BAM!
Next came the sudden hard hitting realization. THAT WAS NOT VIDHI! I saw Vidhi right behind that lady, at a distance, smoking and looking at me with Don’t-tell-me-you-did-that look.
I froze! Time had just stopped. The chatter faded. Everybody was quiet, fully concentrating on what just happened. I wasn’t able to decide if I should eat it or put it back at her plate. To my horror, I saw Chaitra on my left witnessing what just happened.
“Itna hi mann tha pani puri khaane ka to mujhe bol deta, main khila deti, logon ki plate se mat chheen Himanshu” she barked (yes! Bitch was what came to my mind at that moment!). Exactly what I was looking for, support of a friend. I could feel the blood circulation on my face. It was getting hot.
The lady smiled realizing what just happened and said “Eat it. Its ok. It happens.” I still didn’t gulp it. Was holding right there halfway in my mouth. “Arey kha lo, koi baat nahi, I will take another one” she insisted. I pushed that pani puri inside my mouth with all my strength (Trust me, it took a lot of it) and then I chewed and chewed. It was not tasting how it should. Referring to an episode of FRIENDS, like Phoebe’s shoes, every crunch was sounding in my ears “Not mine Not mine” and if I would try to chew faster I would hear “Not not mine not not mine”. I swallowed!
I apologized to her. Smiling even more widely she said, “Its perfectly alright. It happens. Don’t worry, carry on”. I offered to pay but she completely refused.
“Guys, you can come in!” called the restaurant guy. I could have kissed him! I so needed that escape. Embarrassed like never before I began walking towards the restaurant. I could hear giggles, laughs and comments from my back. No way I had done that to my self!
Vidhi and Chaitra had transformed into dementors sucking on to this dark incident and rubbing it in again and again. They had just swallowed all the happiness, hope and light from me. Everyone in that restaurant who laughed, I thought was just told about that incident by the waiter. Even the order looked like it wasn’t what I had ordered.
“Kha le Himanshu, yeh tera hi hai!” giggled Chaitra and Vidhi raising a toast to yet another milestone in idiocy just erected by me.
For the rest of the evening, I couldn’t help but think of that incident again and again. I hated Vidhi for wearing that Black top of hers and tying her hair in her typical high jooda style. That was what had confused me since that lady was like the body double of Vidhi planted to fool me. It took me days to completely overcome this one.
Even though its been quite long now, the memories are still as fresh in my mind as the smell of pani puri.