My Friend Mohan

I met him today at the Kerala House. Where he serves up Malayali food.

I landed up there with all my colleagues – 12 very hungry beings – ready to pounce on whatever came our way (The usual gag at work is that everyone fasts from the night before when one has a birthday treat coming up the next day. The way we eat would convince you of it).

This was my treat for my day which happened to be on November 9.

We got in as guests of a Member of Parliament and thereafter behaved not unlike a bunch of famine-struck baboons. I mean the younger lot.

Because the big dining table was occupied (which was rightfully ours), we settled for whatever came our way – small square tables of four with real heavy wooden chairs.

Soon the food came rolling in. Big, fat brownish rice accompanied by veggie dishes that had my mouth watering. The side dish was piled generously with ‘thoran’ (cabbage with lotsa peas and coconut grinded finely) and ‘thiyal’ (this was my favourite, it had eggplant cooked beautifully with spices and sour tamarind).

There was pale yellow, watery gravy that was poured by one of the servers on the rice. It was called the ‘pulissery’ that came with chunks of green papaya. The yoghurt base was the reason I guess it was inordinately sour. And even though I love sour -- I mean I heart sour --but this was Sour.

Where Mohan comes in, of course, was this. He was bringing us plates heaped with papad. And he had the sweetest, kindly smile that touched me. He brought us a fish curry with tender ‘surmai’ fish pieces cooked in a thick, yellow coconut curry. It is one of the most delicious fish dishes I have ever had (not to miss out on my favourite ‘shorshe ilish’).

So when I get greedy, I get greedy. You cannot cap my greediness in any plausible way. So I wanted more fish. Mohan said, ‘Sorry, no more.’ But in two minutes he arrived with a baby plate containing two pieces of fish, fried to blackness along with onion and tomato rings and plonked it on my plate.

That swept me away.



I have finally found you. Or you found me. I don’t know which it is. But the one who seems to love me, understand me and kiss my three heads and make it all better.

So this is for you. If you are reading.

We met in a bar. Across a little pool of people, standing and sipping disinterestedly on a martini, a whisky, a vodka cocktail – whatever wooed them, in that dimly lit bar.

I saw you. A young boy (gets you worked up, I know sweetheart!) in shirt and trousers and oh so cute with this quiet, aloof air about him. You had come down for some sort of internship it seemed from somewhere in the States and I was kind of dating/meeting (don’t know how to describe it) another man.

It was one of those evenings where I seemed to know no one else except your and mine common friend. And I was starting to wish I was somewhere else. Then somehow we got talking. Exchanging notes on the band playing at the bar. Innocent little notes with no agenda I believe.

The evening wore on and said common friend took us to another pub. On the way she made me sit next to you in the front passenger seat. We chatted. I liked your smile. You kept cribbing about your mother’s ‘chick car’ – a cute hatchback – about it being not your style really. This time though I really enjoyed myself at the pub.

There were all my former colleagues at the place, dancing and snacking and drinking. I promptly joined in, in all the fun. Then I turned back when one of them asked me about you and found you standing alone. I wanted to be standing next to you. So I stood right where I wanted to be. I think somewhere that that was where it all started. This wonderful feeling that seems to be taking me places I never dreamt of going.

I remember how Carrie Bradshaw (you know the fabulous her from Sex and the City) took off on that word soulmate. ‘Two little words. One big concept. A belief that someone, somewhere, is holding the key to your heart. And your dreamhouse.’

And I cannot but help think of you.