I would like to think of myself of as independent woman, and I guess I am in many ways, but one of the recurring themes in my thirty things to do as I turn thirty is doing things on my own. Somewhere I guess I am encumbered by the necessity of doing things with other people, requiring company for many things.
Doing things with people is fun, but doing them alone can be fun too, freeing even. I realized that I often don’t do things I want to do as I am not inclined to make plans with friends, or I just wait for the Other and get frustrated. He has the worst working conditions in the world. There are no concepts of weekends or holidays and he will not know when he will be free till he is free. Try booking tickets for anything with this person!! So began my exercise of doing things by myself, and with myself.
The first thing on the list was eating a meal by myself, without a book, without my phone. A proper meal, with wine and dessert. It sounds easy, friends laughed at me, raised their eyebrows and said whats the big deal ? The Other was the worst, he was nonchalant, said he ate alone everyday and didn’t see what the fuss was about. Humpf !!!
But for me it was a big block, I kept putting it off, procrastinating and months passed. I have to admit that I almost did it , but then I didn’t.
For a post I wrote about a place in Bangalore that touched me,(https://aninsightfulnut.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/bangalore-bits/) ‘ The Alternative’ picked me as a winner. Yay !!! Except that prize was more of a punishment. I was awarded an experience from poshvine, an online even management company. I first picked a wine tasting experience at the Oberoi, where I would learn to taste wine , (sip not gulp) with food pairing etc. Fancy !! fancy !! Except that poshvine messed up and forgot to tell me the time of the event. I got a message saying please report at the Oberoi today, and then nothing else, not even the time! They also are a stellar organization who do not answer phone calls. I then told “the alternative” who arranged for me to pick another experience, so this time I picked a cheesecake baking workshop. I was excited, I have never been much of dessert person, though I would like to be and here was my chance ! oh and I love cheesecake.
I took an auto all the way to Indira Nagar, but couldn’t find the cheesecake baking place. Since they don’t pick up phones, I soon gave up and walked around. To make hay while the sun shines I stumbled upon a vero moda sale, felt a little better (armed with new clothes) and decided that it seemed like a good chance to have a meal by myself. I was by then also desperate for some cheesecake.
I walked along 100 ft road, stood outside several bars and cafes but was unable to enter one, not even the Costa. I would walk upto the entrance and freeze, then look down on at my feet and shuffle along. After repeatedly doing this outside 4 cafes, I had the brilliant idea of buying a book and then entering costa. Ha ! if I had a book then I would have purpose to be there .. blah blah I reasoned with myself and then realized I was just chicken. FAIL . EPIC FAIL.
I returned home, head hung in shame and thought I could never do it.
Months passed, and one Friday after work, I knew it was the day ! I knew it, I felt it, like the end of masala movie where you know the underdog of the Hero will triumph, and there was no stopping me.
The universe tried ;
I took an auto to the restaurant, and realised I had no money. Was the universe asking me to give up ??
The patient gap toothed old man who was my auto driver was unfazzled, he asked me to cross the road carefully in my search for an ATM.
I ran to the ATM which gave me a 500 rupee note, no change ! Was the universe asking me to give up ??
I stood outside 1MG and asked all the fancy passerbys for change, they stared at the dishevelled wild eyed me in disdain, shook their heads ever so slightly and walked on. Was the universe asking me to give up ??
I refused to give up. If I was in a movie, this is where the music would change, and I would pick myself of the ground and shuffle towards the villain and beat him to pulp.
Finally a kind lady gave me some change, I paid the patient auto guy and walked up to the food court. The restaurant that caught my eye was called – Yuatcha. ( Googling it later, I found that it was michelin starred :), well I took my time, but I did it in style).
It was a pleasant restaurant, and the very polite hostess didnt bat an eyelid, when I asked for a table for 1. Somewhere I guess for reasons unknown I was worried about snooty waiters. I was seated almost immediately. Unfortunately most of the restaurant was booked for a very nosiy private party, who also finished all the wine, but it was a nice visual backdrop.
It was a party for expats, and a strange thing caught my eye. All the foreigners were dressed smartly, but casually. They had spruced up their outfits with a necklace or a jacket. The young indian girls on the other hand, had gone so overboard that they looked comical. Too much skin, too much make up, uncomfortable high heels. The thing that stood out the most was that none of them looked comfortable in what they were wearing, a girl in a tiny black tube dress kept pulling her dress down and then up and shifting her weight on her rather uncomfortable shoes. I just dont understand how sometimes women give up comfort for what they think is beauty.
Once I sat down, I began to enjoy myself. I took in my surroundings, poured over the beer list and settled for an Asahi. It is a wonderful deep bodied beer. I had a rather nice time by myself with my thoughts. The restaurant does not allow for you to pack and take leftovers, but I need not have been alarmed, as their portions are meant for one. (But their prices are not)
After much debate I decided to forsake the dim sums, though they are my favourite and went ahead and ordered jasmine rice and a vegetable stir fry. The presentation of the food and the taste exceeded my expectations. They served everything in gleaming white china, with an array of sauces and condiments. Each one was better than the other, and I was happy. I also had a mango based dessert which was mind blowing.
Towards the end of my meal, the party was growing in size and the waiters regretfully removed the chair opposite me, then I felt a little odd. I supposed having a chair opposite me, made me feel a little enclosed, and suddenly I felt alone. But the mango pudding worked its magic and I ignored it. As I said, there was no stopping me !
With work and other things I often feel like my mind is racing, running endlessly on loop, and sometimes it is nice to be alone, to let my mind relax and do as I please, order as I please and eat as I please.
Leaving the restaurant I felt a sense of accomplishment, and I think I could do this again every now and then. Growing up in India, I have never been on date., I have had boy friends, we have gone out but I have never gone out with someone formally in the hopes of romantic interest, or have been too dense to see it. But I think this was a date with myself, and I liked it.
I proudly told my family about my accomplishment, my mother and grand father seemed to understand, were encouraging. My father on the other hand was worried,
” why kanna, why did you go eat alone ? If you had asked me I would have driven to Bangalore and taken you for dinner ! ”