I doubted if the energy of the place would change.
Four women walked into the bar.
The first girl held the door open, looked around and took in the place. The young man spotted her first. Immediately, he pushed his body far back from his beer & his hands automatically rose to straighten his hair. His friend looked back, saw two girls, straightened himself – no slump or slunk. His hands moved towards the beer mug & he held it firmly.
The girls had stepped inside. One of them had a white skirt and silky straight hair while the other one was wearing a denim skirt with her hair tied into a bun.
The waiters hurried past with quick glances and furtive nods. The manager slipped out from behind his counter to assist the ladies if they needed it.
In a minute the door opened again and in walked two more of their friends.
“Hello! Hello! Yes Doctor! Yes!” the voice jarred me a bit – it was the sales-exec. He was sipping on his rum and speaking on the phone. You phony!!
One of the girls looked across the room. Something about her attracted the eyes of the old man – they exchanged glances. The girl looked away sucking out the old man’s ease and regal air.
The fourth girl, clearly their leader, extended her hand and pointed in the direction of the family section and they eased their way there.
“Nowadays the direct buses to Karnataka have reduced.”
I heard the two middle-aged men behind me again. Only then did I realise that they had stopped talking for a while!
Now the energy had changed. The staff bounced and flitted about between the family section and this lonely-hearts club. I decided to take advantage of their energy.
“Listen – can I get an extra lemon with my fish thali?” I asked the staffer.
His eyes shot up. My fish thali – that he had forgotten! He nodded and left.
10 minutes later my thali arrived, with the extra lemon. In that time, on table 1, the young man’s hair had flopped down again and another beer saw his friend slump too.
“Can you get me a soda/tonic water?” I asked the staffer.
The staffer was preoccupied. Lunch time, lots of people began walking in. He didn’t seem happy about it. In a while, he got me the soda and left.
Meanwhile, more people continued to walk in. Couples, large families, revellers, odd balls – all of them came in, stared at our ‘relaxed’ section and moved into the family section.
This didn’t please the staff or the manager.
The staff approached all our tables asking for orders. I knew the trick – if we didn’t order more, they served us the bill. The old man, the salesman and the boys all got served their bill. There was just me and the local news uncles behind.
But I had an ace up my sleeve.
I mixed the sugar, the lemon and tonic water together, enjoying it with ease as the helpless staffer looked on. I took my time to finish it.
When I left the bar, the four girls were still in the family section and the relaxed section had been converted to a ‘free for all section’.
‘Thank you very much,’ I told myself. ‘I prefer the hot Goa sun.’