Crepe i think.

They don’t belong here.

Later I thought about these words. How they sprang up in my head, as soon as I saw them. It led to two things –

What I think.

What it really is.

What I think.

The two lady friends were occupying a corner table in the café. I was with a friend having lunch. The pandemic makes us do strange things. Like lunches at cafés, or spotting odd people in cafes.   

I spotted them because they stood out. Just like the name of the café. Pronounced a certain way it meant O SHIT! That part was silent in my head when it went –

They don’t belong here.

What it really is.

crêpe is a type of very thin pancake, usually sweet crêpes and savoury galettes (crêpes salées). Crêpes originate in Brittany, a region in the west of France. Though it originated in France, the consumption of crepes is now worldwide.

The one in the saree worked in the beauty parlour manning the accounts section. The other in salwar-kameez worked as the receptionist in the dermatologist’s clinic in the same complex. They knew each other, took the same bus & train to commute & did exchange smiles & greetings. They were not friends.

What I think.

The usual bunch were at the café, single girl working, couple coupling, men talking business & bullshit. They didn’t make me bat an eyelid – not the tattooed couple, or the pregnant young girl, not even the animated eyed girl hooked into her laptop either plotting the end of the world or you tubing best dal tadka recipes. In wanting to be different, they became the same.

None of them made me look up twice. Except these two local women. One in a salwar, other in a saree, both in their forties. Their appearance so ordinary amongst the wannabes, they stood out.

What it really is.

The French term “crêpe” derives from the Latin crispa, meaning with “creases”. Crêpes are served with a variety of fillings, only sugar to flambéed crêpes Suzette or elaborate savoury galettes.

The dermatologist had called in sick. So the salwar lady got an early day off. She preferred long shirts teamed with denim jeans. Yesterday her area faced a power cut, her favourite denim hadn’t dried. Hence the Salwar. It was a gift from a man who had been wooing her on Shaadi.com. She dumped the man, took her account off permanently and kept the salwar.  

The saree woman had been given a pay hike at the parlour. She knew at home; her husband would throw a party. For which she would arrange everything, serve, clean-up, wait till the guests left & her son fell asleep. Only then could she enjoy a drink with her husband. By then he would get drunk and sleep. No, she didn’t want to celebrate the pay-hike at home. Not yet.

What I think.

While choosing drinks, my mind jumbles taste with drink types. So cold, hot, shakes are easy, Frappes, Lattes, Expresso confuse. I ordered a traditional cold-coffee, my friend ordered a Berry shake. After I tasted her drink, my coffee tasted sh… 

For the main course, I ordered a penne pasta in white sauce with mushroom & grilled chicken. My friend settled for exotic veg rice with mushrooms, broccoli & was called Pilaf something. Didn’t pay attention. It was veg. after all.

I slyly eyed the food on their table.

1 Chocolate laced coffee,

1 chocolate eclair,

A fresh orange juice &

Some kind of wrap.

Very much what they would order. Safe typical & ….

What it really is.

Sweet crêpes are generally made with wheat flour & eaten as part of breakfast or dessert. Savoury crêpes are made with non-wheat flours such as buckwheat but omitting the sugar, is gluten-free, which makes it possible for people who have a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance to eat this type of crêpe.

On realising she had PCOD, the salwar lady altered her food choices. On the rare occasion she ate out, opted for simple beverages like coffee & added unrefined cocoa powder to it. She liked crepes because they came in gluten-free options.

The saree lady loved her sugar, her favourite drink being the very berry shake. An off-handed compliment made by her husband to a lady guest made her give up sugar. When she had a craving, she drank apple ciders & had low-fat chocolate eclairs.

What I think.

On my way out, I ran into the manager. He happened to be a friend’s friend. We exchanged notes on the friend, gossiped & laughed. He warmed up to me as I congratulated him on running the place. Then I sprung the question

Do a lot of these clients also come here often?

He looked to where the ladies were sitting, got my drift.

They do come.

Oh, they do?!

Yes, but only once in a while.

I smiled, satisfied with his answer, shook hands and left.

What it really is.

In France, crêpes are traditionally served on Candlemas (La Chandeleur), February 2. This day was originally Virgin Mary’s Blessing Day but became known as “Le Jour des Crêpes” (literally translated “The Day of the Crêpes”, and sometimes called colloquially as “Avec Crêpe Day”, “National Crêpe Day”, or “day of the Crêpe”), referring to the tradition of offering crêpes.

The saree lady wanted to celebrate her pay hike. She chanced upon the salwar woman in the complex shopping for raw jaggery at the organics store. They began talking, realised both had free time, decided to visit the café.

The salwar lady had a savoury crepe made of buck-wheat flour & a cappuccino, no sugar. The saree lady ordered apple-cider (the lighting gave it the effect of orange juice) & low-fat eclairs.

The manager was right, the ladies didn’t go to the café often. Instead they ordered. The salwar lady ordered her crepe & cappuccino every other day at the parlour. The saree lady ordered her apple-cider juice once a week but the low-fat eclairs, that she shared every alternate day with her lover, the dermatologist.

Clearly they didn’t belong there – at the cr** place like I did.

Story credits – Soni A A. Photo credits – Hormazd Mehta, Geulgram & Alamy.

Published by appamprawns

soni writes about children and people in controlled spaces, in his quest for appam stew. homi writes in the hope of being able to buy prawns to make patiyo.

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