Poets and Oats

As she slipped into her favorite top, she realized that the restaurant maybe all booked by the Valentine’s day rush. In her half worn sandals, she hopped across the room to reach her phone and dialed the restaurant .

Hi, I know it’s last minute, but I was hoping I could book a table at your restaurant, she inquired with her fingers crossed.

To her surprise, the guy on the line said , Yeah, sure! 

My name is Megha, and we shall reach in another 40 minutes.
Yes, sure, we shall be waiting for you, he ensured. She couldn’t help but notice, how comforting and polite his voice was, seemed like a genuine invite to come and dine with them.

As they crossed the city, they noticed every alternate car and bike with red heart shaped balloon desperately trying to find their way through the dense evening traffic. It was a pleasant surprise when they reached the cafe which was in the heart of the city yet tucked away from the bustle of the city; quiet and peaceful almost like a secret hideout. It was a bungalow with small garden with white-painted tin chairs and tables covered with what seemed like one of those old grandma’s red checkered table clothes. There was a small corner for readers, with a shelf of books and an open lawn further down the garden which seemed like a place where a small band could perform. The fairy lights, with cut outs of Christmas trees and Santa, hung innocently reminding of the camping nights during school days. The cyan colored kerbs along the lawn and doors brightened the ambiance.

The entire menu was written out on boards resting on the tress and walls of the Cafe. It was the only Vegan cafe in the city and they had a very impressive menu. It looked like a lot of thought had been given as to make it not only a healthy but also tasty option for customers. Quite like mothers who try different tricks to feed kids veggies and healthy food, by adding some glamour to the regular sabji roti. Like the Sloppy Joe burger with a filling of soy granules had the caramelized onions and mustard sauce to add some zing to the dish. They relished the meal ending in a dessert – pancakes and the restaurant’s in-house soy ice cream.

Megha observed a young man sitting in the corner, occasionally giving instructions to the solo waiter. As their bill arrived, she noticed a tiny smiley with a Valentine’s day wish scribbled on it, written in a different ink than the rest of the bill. She guessed the young man must be the owner, as she pulled out her card to pay, the man came up to them and said I’m sorry, we do not take cards, you can pay us through UPI, I shall send you the link.

Megha instantly recognized the voice, it was the same voice she had spoken to on the phone. Okay, thanks, we loved the food! she replied, to which he smiled.

While they paid for the food, they got talking to the owner, Megha requested the owner to open a branch closer to their part of the city, ie., the IT hub of the city.
Yeah, I know, we have a lot of customers who keep requesting us to open a branch there. We shall plan it soon.

After chatting for a while, they found out that the owner, a man who seemed to be in his late 20s, was also a corporate survivor, who quit his job, came to the city to work for an NGO that worked towards educating children and ultimately found his mojo in the restaurant business.
I am from Ajmer, where Vegan food is unheard of, but I like it here, we have a bunch of enthusiastic regulars, we conduct small band performances, Karaoke nights and the German Institute next to our building, has many conferences here. It makes the place young and vibrant.

As she walked towards her car, Megha wondered if these stories of leaving your job, doing what you like and finally finding yourself caught only her attention or if everyone else too was looking for something to complete them, knowingly or unknowingly. Maybe some express, while others may leave it ankahee



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