The mall at Thane is shut.
They must have changed the rules.
I had earned some money after a really long time. It was time to celebrate and I had called a friend over for dinner date. Poor thing, she had come down all the way to Thane to meet me – a good 30 kilometers away from where she stayed. Only to discover that the mall in which the restaurant was located was shut.
The guidelines must have changed.
I could hear soft traffic sounds from her end as she clearly chose not to respond to my profound proclamation.
Meet me at X – it’s a standalone restaurant about 10 minutes by auto from where you are. That will be open.
She agreed to my suggestion. She had to – what choice did she have? Half an hour later, we stared at the locked-out place. I smiled at her. Mercifully, she smiled back.
Lets go to Vashi – out of the city, it will be open there.
Let’s call before we go there.
The smattering of rain, no place to sit, and general desire to sit and talk made the decision easy – hail a cab and call the place while getting there. At that time, it made sense.
I spoke to her, we cracked jokes, gossiped, talked about work, then I attended a couple of work calls. I kept the phone down just as we got off the cab only to see the security guard shake his head at my friend – NO.
We found a road-side thelaa – where we ordered andaa bhurji, and sugar cane juice from the next streel cart. We got a small table to sit and quelled our hunger.
Lets go to Bandra to hotel ‘Y’.
I knew the place she was talking about, I also knew the owner’s son. Y did have a back entrance that was open only to insiders. That did it. Uber, click. 10 minutes later, we were in a cab getting back into the city.
Horrible traffic on our way back into the city – the air conditioning helped. Luckily, I remembered to call Y. We called Y – nobody picked up. I called again. This time the phone got picked up. It was the security guard.
Y’s dad died of covid yesterday – he said.
Clearly, nothing else needed to be said. I tried cancelling the ride. Some app glitch, end of story. We ended up in Bandra.
The sea breeze hit our face as we sipped on bad filter coffee, before laughing some more over really bad jokes. There were couples walking on the promenade, stray dogs sleeping under the night sky and we were done hunting for a place.
As I sat in another cab on my way back, I thought of the different rides that I had back and forth. I thought of how we would have gone to a restaurant, had dinner sitting down on a table and gone back home. Somehow, I liked these cab rides better.