Cutting Chai on SV Road

I looked up from my laptop and saw her moving away. She was nearing the glass door that led to the lobby which led to the main gate which opened out to the SV Road. This office on the ground floor didn't give us the time to meet in the elevator and share that little awkward time, which definitely leaves some possibility for small talk. There were no water coolers either and Chotu, from housekeeping got us a glass of water when we asked him to. So no small talk there too, no ice to break. The restrooms were at the each end of the hall, separate for Gents and Ladies. But there was the lobby, so I thought of running to meet her in the lobby and ask her if she wanted to have the pumpkin spiced latte at the new Starbucks that everyone cool seemed to be raving about. I personally didn't like pumpkin except in the Sambar from Ram Ashraya. She seemed the sort who hung out at 'Bucks and had frozen yoghurt for dinner. But by the time, I locked my screen and wore my shoes ( I like to sit without my shoes, even at the dinner table but would that be okay if I were at Starbucks?) she was out of sight.

I thought of running bare feet and accosting her in the lobby or maybe on SV Road directly but then thought against it. Tomorrow, I would set a reminder and wear my shoes and lock my screen much in advance, I promised myself. All this excitement had left my weak bladder flustered so I slipped on my shoes and made my way to the far end of the room, the Gentswala Toilet. There were no urinals, only two Englishstyle toilets and a wash basin and above it, hung a mirror that reflected the light of the setting sun. I made way to the commode, picked up the lid and without bothering to shut the door behind me, emptied my tired bladder into it. As I was enjoying the feeling of eternal relief flowing through me, I heard the door of the restroom open.

In sauntered a happy looking Sumesh, the Associate Area Manager and my team leader, singing an old Dev Anand song. He seemed in an unusually good mood(we were no where close to our targets) and hollered out to me. "Bhaeee, waat is up with you yaar! Waat you doing?" When you were talking to Sumesh, he considered you his brother. Clients, chotu, colleagues, interns and even occasionally our boss everyone became his brother. Our MICA return boss frowned each time that happened and continued to work, he was not to be bothered by such things.

What I was doing was quite evident so I instead asked him why he was in such a exuberant mood as I zipped up and came out to wash my hands. He was looking at himself in the mirror, surveying his right cheek, looking for any hints of the five 'o clock shadow. There was none, his fair cheek shone like that of an adolescent boy after his first shave. "Bhai, kuch nahi yaar, bus ek chotti see meeting hain" he replied as he tried to comb the last remaining strands of hair over his balding plate. Could a meeting make anyone so cheerful, I wondered in my head.

I didn't like this fellow too much so I said bye to him and made my way out for a chai as he whipped out his iPhone and tried to command Siri in a fake accent, which Siri always had a hard time figuring out. Chottu was useless, I thought. He would never bring us chai. The chai stall was across the road, across the compound overlooking the talao. I pushed the glass door and reached the lobby. On the black fake leather sofa, I saw her sitting, furiously typing something into her phone. She barely noticed me and I didn't want to interrupt. Tomorrow was the day, I promised myself and walked over to the tapri.

The chai had been boiled over three times minimum since four 'o  clock, there was just a hint of ginger in it but it was comfortably hot. A few cormorants were basking in the evening sun, perched on the defunct fountains that were installed as a beautification project by the Municipality public. I tried to spot any other evening visitors but there were none. I turned around and looked at the office entrance, the glass building seemed dusty, it reflected hazy moving images of the traffic back to SV Road but concealed very well all that happened within itself. Right then, the watchman was swung the gates open. I saw a shiny new green sedan pull out on the SV Road. The unmistakable shiny green sedan belonged to Mr. Sumesh which he had purchased last month for 8.76 lacs, which everyone at the office was aware of.

It took a u-turn and turned south, it was about to pass me, I wanted to look back towards the talao and avoid his gloating goodbye. But right then through the windshield I caught a glimpse of her. She was seated next to him, smiling stupidly as he probably droned about his trip to Pattaya and the villa that he rented out just for himself (and the two Thai women, that all male colleagues were familiar with). The sedan sped past the stall and I caught a glimpse of his gloating smile. I hated that look, him only showing me the thenga was remaining, I thought angrily. I ordered another cutting and let the hot brew soothe my burning insides as I watched them drive towards Hill road. 


crypticrow said…
Just yesterday I came across this article ( and today I read your post mentioning this pumpkin spice latte! :P
Haha I just saw this comment, I don't know why Blogger isn't sending me emailers! This pumpkin spiced has become such a rage!

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