We usually don’t go out to eat mid-week. It’s too tiring. There’s too much traffic and it’s not possible to get up on time the next morning if you’re scarfing the good stuff all night long.
But last night, there was nothing to eat at home. No pasta. No pizza. No warm bread with garlic butter. No medium-rare steak. No bacon-wrapped prawns. No Caesar’s Salad with fresh Parmesan shavings. Nothing at all. Not even Maggi.
Because there was no Bhagya. She who nourishes our gourmet sensibilities with flair and inspiration had been taken very, very ill with a nasty cough and cold. She would have certainly spread her misfortune all over us, had we not packed her off to rest and recuperate in her own house.
Ramjee (my Significant Other) was happy.
“Yes!” he punched the air gleefully. “We’ll go out. Mid-week. To your favourite restaurant.”
I didn’t argue. So straight from work we drove to midtown Bangalore and were ‘a table’ at 7:30pm. (We like to eat early. Someone told us it’s a healthy thing to do.)
The restaurant wasn’t too full, so we got our favourite table.
We placed our order and sat back to sip our drinks and do a little New York Times Crossword on Ramjee’s iPad. That’s how we establish togetherness. The Friday and Saturday puzzles are especially nasty.
The meal arrived and in happy silence we chomped and filled in the squares. Deleted and sipped the Diet Coke. It was lovely.
Suddenly, from the kitchen we saw four waiters carrying a medium-sized chocolate cake, with an enormous lit sparkler that was sprinkling rays of joy in their path. It was headed in our direction, probably to the couple sitting behind us, I thought.
“Oh, someone’s birthday Ramjee,” I said. “How sweet.”
We went back to our crossword. And our dinner.
But the posse of flame-throwing cake bearers stopped at our table and beaming broadly, “Happy Anniversary,” they said in unison and set the fiery dessert down in front of us.
“Whaaa… whooo… howwww…” I spluttered. It certainly wasn’t our anniversary. As I’ve said earlier, he’s my Significant Other, ‘SO’ for short. We aren’t united by name, only emotion. “It’s not our anniversary. It’s not even a birthday. It’s just the maid’s night off,” I tried to explain but I was cut off.
“No, no, no Madam. Don’t be shy! It is your anniversary! Our chef already told us. Somebody called and said so. Please accept this from us,” the head waiter gushed, assuming we were coy.
“Bbbuuuttt,” I began again, and looked to SO for help.
“It’s not our anniversary,” he said smilingly to the waiter. “There’s some mistake. Please take the cake back.”
But then the sparkler had gone out and one of the waiters had pulled it out of the cake. They couldn’t take it back if they’d wanted
I kicked Ramjee under the table, gently of course, since I already have a stress fracture in my femur. “Let’s not make a scene, “ I said under my breath. “Let’s just accept it gracefully. It’s just some mixup.”
“Hmmm,” he replied reluctantly. “But just to be polite you cut a thin slice and I’ll take a bite of that.”
Thin slice? Bite off a thin slice? I didn’t want to argue in front of the waiters who were standing around anxiously to see if we’d be gracious.
We thanked them profusely for their generosity and off they went to confabulate amongst themselves. Something was wrong.
The sinfully non-Atkins chocolate cake with decorative icing that said, ‘Happy Anniversary,’ sat staring at us. It looked heavenly.
“Can we ask for a doggie bag?” I asked Ramjee. For Stefan, my ever-hungry son, not for me.
“No!” he said. “That’s tasteless. Not classy.”
“Oh ok,” I said meekly. But I sliced a huge chunk for myself. I’m not the classy sort.
We settled the bill and thanking everyone noisily once again for their kindness, however misplaced, we left. We walked past the girl at the front desk, the one who takes reservations, and thanked her brightly too. Sugar makes us very pleasant.
“Ohhhhh sirrrrrr,” she said. “I made a biggggg mistake.”
“How? How did you make a mistake,” asked Ramjee. This was getting curiouser and curiouser.
“There is another Ramjee dining with us tonight sir, it is his anniversary. Not yours.”
Poor Mrs. Ramjee. I’ve gone and eaten all her cake.