Ondu Naanyada kathe

It was a lovely winter afternoon in Bangalore, the sort that’s cited as one of the prime reasons for the massive IT presence in the city. I was in the most happening and probably the most famous hangout in the city – M. G. Road. It was a trip to the Foreign Exchange guy who ran a small shop with no place for himself to sit inside. The amount I had to exchange was meager and he was visibly bored. I hadn’t shaved for close to a week and every peek into a mirror got me wondering if I should grow a beard. Wearing an old pant and shirt, both badly needing a wash, I could’ve passed for a tapori. I felt safe under the pretense considering that I was carrying “cash”…”hard cash” :D.
As is my wont everytime I am in M.G.Road, I ducked into India Coffee House for a hot cup of Coffee. It was crowded, which was unusual for a weekday afternoon and it was irritating to notice that almost all the tables were taken and the only seat left had its back to the exit which meant I had to sit and stare at a world comprising an old wall, the cashier behind the desk and the door leading to the kitchen with a huge “No Admission” nailed over it. I was bored, irritated and restless. I ordered a cup of coffee to a waiter ambling along to another table with an equally bored look.
The guy sharing the table with me was an average North Indian middle aged man ‘relaxing’ in a t-shirt and a formal pant. He was typical in every sense of the term – Extra pounds, hair greying at just the right places, gold-framed glasses, the sort that you associate with board meetings of companies like HLL or ITC. He was busy with his French Toast, working on it with precision with his fork and knife. My coffee took a while, making me get all the more restless to the point of drumming on the table, drawing disapproving looks from my ‘table-mate’. My coffee arrived, extra hot, burning my tongue in my restlessness. I tried to maintain a cool face, but I could sense amused glances from all around me. In the meantime, my table-mate’s bill appeared. He paid it, collected the change, but stayed put while I debated whether to shift to his seat once he leaves or not. He continued gracing the seat for some Godforsaken reason. Around this time, the waiter got me my bill, which read 7 in a small piece of paper in a small steel plate.
I checked my wallet, only to find that the minimum denomination was 100, but I had coins to the tune of Rs. 10. I counted Rs. 8 and placed it in the plate, with the extra rupee intended as “Tips” and mentally noting that the remaining two rupees will go soon too, in paying the self-styled parking attendant. The man was still holding on to his seat as if it meant his life. The waiter brought back the plate with a rupee coin untouched as expected. I didn’t intend picking it up. I stared at the coin. with pretty much nothing else to look at. It was a new coin. Maybe 3-4 years old. It was showing me heads. I marveled at the national emblem, the three visible lions looking ferociously and marveled at the craftsmanship of the minting machines. Around the time I was finishing my coffee, the man opposite me started shifting around in preparation of leaving. Finally, I was watching something that seemed to be eternally inveterate, budging. I was taking a sip as he got up to move and I noticed in a combination of shock, amusement and managed to keep a straight face, as he nonchalantly dipped into the plate and pocketed the one rupee coin I had left for tips and left without a second glance at me. I finished my coffee and left the place after 5 minutes with a story to tell…

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19 thoughts on “Ondu Naanyada kathe

  1. That was neat. You write well.
    Still, a strange guy that tablemate of yours. What if you had paid the exact change and left? What was he really waiting for? Was he badly in need of change?!

  2. strange!! maybe he thought it was *his* bill change, completely
    forgetting that he had already collected it. Just that, nothing
    else …
    I once remember a friend of mine paying up an auto driver twice, in
    a span of just a few seconds. He completely forgot that he had already
    paid the fare !!!!

    1. Whatever it was its something that’ll stay with me for a long time….
      I still remember the guy’s face sometimes and laugh…
      but I remember his bill was in dobule digits, as his change never had coins…
      but to be fair, I think he plain forgot…

  3. For some reason, I read the title as “ondu nayanada kathe” .. and I was waiting for a girl to come into the story … πŸ™‚
    You write well maga !

      1. well u need to err on a more controversial side for that to happen…
        maybe “ondu naariya kathe” could’ve got tongues wagging πŸ˜›

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