Living in a new city can sometimes be overwhelming. Especially, if you don’t know the local language. Things as simple as getting a ticket in the bus could be complicated. Ultimately, it takes a LOT of gestures and broken words to make yourself understood. You may go through a dozen crappy experiences before you end up with the right thing. But at the end of the day you have an awesome story to tell and a treasure trove of experience to share. That being said, don’t expect an awesome story from this post. 😛
As a vegetarian, my options in the locality are pretty limited. Within a month of my arrival, I knew that my chances of getting ‘Vatha Kozhambu’ was pretty bleak. Until one day, I saw the dark green signboard with the words ‘Chennai’ on them. Let me call the restaurant ‘Narnia’ for it claimed to be a ‘shortcut to Chennai’. Vatha Kozhambu was back in the game. Ha! The day came and we friends decided to get a takeaway and have a movie marathon for the night.
The words printed in Tamizh near the entrance was so inviting compared to the series of bizarre things that happened next. We took the elevator (which by the way looked ancient with rusting grill doors and barely had enough space for three people) and landed on the second floor. Pitch darkness. Were we actually travelling to Chennai ? Was this some sort of teleportation machine stuck in between space? I wish. We were on the wrong floor. Once we moved up to third level,things looked reassuring again. I went inside the restaurant. The ambiance was fantastic – the dim golden lighting,the circular tables with glimmering glassware and pristine white napkins. Everything was perfect except that the place was completely empty. Not a soul in sight. Now, Narnia was really starting to scare me. First the pitch darkness in the second floor and now a deserted dining hall. Oh boy! In a few seconds, a man came out of the kitchen door. He gave the menu and alas, no ‘Vatha Kozhambu’ in the evenings. So I ordered something else and sat waiting. There was absolute silence except for grinding of machinery from the kitchen. The place had an eerie quality to it. Gaping emptiness and grandeur. If only there was an old English Butler by my side, it would have been the perfect setting for a Hitchcock movie.
After a while, some one entered the restaurant. At last another customer ! Before I could even heave a sigh of relief, the man went straight for the speakers and fiddled around with the music player. So he was one of them. Perhaps the owner. Grr. An eerie old tamizh song blared out of the speaker. The slow melancholic tune was enough to creep the hell out of anyone. My friend and I became so uneasy. When we were making dumb jokes to ease the tension, suddenly we noticed out of the corner of our eyes someone moving. We when looked towards the direction, there was no one. I asked my friend if she noticed the movement. She did too. It was definitely scary. In a minute or so, it happened again. This time we could not dismiss it as a trick of the light. We were starting to get a little panicky but kept looking for the source of disturbance and there it was ! A big fat mouse running through the tables. Phew! Our 20 minutes encounter fizzled out like baloon.
I couldn’t wait to pay the bill and run straight for the door. While all this happened, I couldn’t help but remember the lyrics of ‘Hotel California’ and chuckle a bit. I am never going back to Narnia again…. and my quest for “Vatha Kozhambu” is permanently shelved!
P.S : This is my first post after nearly a gap of nine months. College to Job transition. Big story. But I can say with delight that I discovered so many new things in these nine months. Moved to a new place. Met wonderful people. Missed home. Rediscovered me. 🙂 Now back to blogging. Home sweet home 🙂