Saturday, 1 August 2015

That's what friends are for

I quite like cafes. They seem to be the ideal place for someone like me , who needs to be isolated, yet, be allowed to be near human kindness. I like to do my observations in this environment where people just seem to relax and munch on their favorite snacks.I truly feel that i am catching mankind at it's best. For  hunger is the ultimate trigger. It triggers alacrity. Watch how we tend to hop over our closest competitor for the best table and then tackle the queue for payment.The adrenaline is pumping till we have  settled ourselves.

Triggers are so varied. But normally, especially in India , we are somewhat aggressive in cafes. On account of the heat, traffic, large families, we tend to be a little more possessive about our seats while  in  a cafe. So it was a pleasant surprise when yesterday, i did not elicit a nasty response when i unceremoniously, without asking for permission, grabbed  a seat opposite another woman, who just looked away.To be fair, i did this as i was a tad wet from the rains. I desperately needed a cuppa and didn't think the woman would give me the time of the day if i  put in a request.

So ,i didn't. Put in a request  for the seat i mean.Just plonked myself on the seat that was  vacant.But conscience struck and  i smiled in apology. She peeped from beneath her Burqa and smiled back. Soon enough , her companion came with a full tray and she stood up .Both went with their tray to a small standing table where they would have to stand to eat. I remember she looked pretty tired. So, they had left their seats for me.For my comfort, my privacy. Well, did they want privacy? the table was there's to begin with so they should've staked their claim.But they preferred to stand.a moral dilemma swept my mind. Shouldn't i be calling them back?

They seemed such a serene couple.The courtesy they had shown  really touched my heart. Just the other day, i had faced a similar scenario. Clutching on to my shopping bags  i had tottered from table to table but had met only stony faced glares. Especially from the women. All of them seemed to be waiting for someone. I frantically gestured to them. You know i didn't like to get up for fear someone might pounce on our seat. Yes, i felt as though they were my good friends. Were we like minded? I am not so sure. I may not have had the courage to do what they did.

Well, my new friend smiled back at me and came back with her husband, for that's what he was, and her tray.I said," Hi, I am Anuradha from Delhi and you ?" She said" We are from Sudan" . Clearly she was enjoying the masala chai which is so Punjabi. He said," She is not well. We have come here for her treatment." Well, that is why she looked so tired , i thought. We smiled at each other for we had discovered that the world is full of smiles, after all. Her gesture taught me so much, which i can share later. But it was an educational experience. Mostly, i was so happy that they didn't mind sharing the table with me. That's what friends are for.

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