The weekend was just like many in the last 2 months. Dreamy and beautiful. Perfect even sometimes. Not always but sometimes near perfection. This Saturday in particular felt retro to me. Old fashioned. Simple. Simpler. Relaxed and didn’t have many quips from my otherwise quick witted other half.
Spent the day at home trying to avoid getting baked in the October humidity and sweltering heat. A plan to go shopping with a friend went expectedly kaput; I had my contingency ready – I was gonna go by myself. Abeer had drunk himself a bar the night before and getting any response from him was like asking a semi-conscious person their entire biodata. I informed him duly like I always do and set out. I was content but frankly not ideal. You see I get excited about anything that works my senses and that moment I feel like I need to share it with someone. Not just anyone – that someone. And his absence only either overworks my memory or I go into a ‘never mind’ mode.
So I picked him up from his abode and we waded through Navaratri traffic and chaos to the station. Train rides had become our thing – only this day we broke protocol from the usual meeting point (keeping it fresh). A short ride to Khar and we hit my favorite stores there. I shopped 80’s disco clothes (short tank with skull designs to go over black jeggings and a tunic or vest). All I was missing was a dirty blonde crop and some Madonna makeup and headgear. Ballet flats were at home. Abeer had a brief stint of sky blue shorts under Fanta orange t-shirt. We all exclaimed how ‘pretty’ he looked following which he promptly dumped it all and stepped outside the store like the ‘complete man’.
We decided to treat ourselves to some old-fashioned apple pie, some good ‘ol coffee and topped it up with a cab ride to town. That’s right a cab ride for us was a big deal. Abeer is big on saving and economical spending. Me – I’m just officially poor who likes to spoil her boyfriend silly. For us the cab ride was the fancy thing just like our parents thought cabs were a treat. We whizzed through the Bandra-Worli Sealink alongside Mercs, Audis, BMWs and what not. Enter. Finally. Heera Panna shopping arcade. A 1-stop-shop for many things fancy and ‘export-worthy’. The fancier chorr bazaar I call it. 1st copies of nearly all products to near perfection that you could fool a few untrained naked eyes. I loved walking through the arcade that had me lost so many times in the past. But I gripped on Abeer like I did mom when I was younger. He was my bargaining chip and my ‘NO’ sign when it really was a ‘No’. I needed his fashionista-le-French opinion on my new retro frames and cell phone accessories. We did the rounds and the ho-hums and left.
In the middle of it all, his appetite changed from mmmm to “I wanna be light and healthy” and finally resting on the real thing, “I feel like Chinese”. His thought process was like the roulette wheel. It keeps bouncing off ideas until it rests finally on something steady and real. I wait patiently. We went to Kamling Restaurant at Churchgate. Abeer had asked me a few times in the past when we passed it after a meal at some obnoxiously pricey place. As I entered, a strong sterile almost phenyl scent hit us. Ok very very clean. I get it. But what hit harder was the team of really old, cute, ever-smiling, North Eastern staff waiting on us. I felt almost ashamed being waited on by someone so much older than me rather than offering them a seat and a warm broth. I smiled. It felt like home. Then a strong hit of flowery air freshner. Yes… very old school solution to the phenylish scent. We ordered light servings of noodles and a Chinese beef stew. BEST ever. The food was light, fragrant, so very simple and just perfect. It didn’t feel heavy or Indian-Chinese like. The plates had scratches on them and the cutlery was well maintained but well on its way out. This was like the old Chinese restaurants where our parents would take us out for ‘fancy’ dinner nights and birthdays. Nothing was over the top but it still held special place for us. It did for Abeer with old memories that brought him back here. And now me.
We ate quickly and made it to Eros. Abeer’s idea for a faaltu Hindi movie at a single-screen theatre. For both of us it meant a bratty useless evening where we decided at the time to leave our brains behind. It had been years since someone asked me ‘balcony or stall’ and that I had to pay by cash only. Old-school. I chose balcony. We were hustled in to loud, eardrum shattering introductory number accompanied by major pelvic-thrusting visuals from Besharam. Again incidentally the movie took digs at old school romance, dialogues, loud costumes and cheesy lines that had been there done that written all over them. Before interval we both laughed ourselves silly. Only cuz we knew we were there to be stupid with Besharam. But after interval and a sealed tub of pretty decent caramel popcorn, it became unbearable for Abeer to fake-laugh anymore. I didn’t regret leaving 75% into the movie either. For both of us the experience had satiated our need for silliness and now it was time to get back to reality.
Whenever possible through the day we walked. It’s what he and I did best. I always loved to walk. Still do. No matter how tired or in pain I am… I can walk. The motion of walking soothes me. Add to that a partner who does the same – sweet sublime love. We took a late Bhayander train back (the only uncomfortable part of the night for me) and made it in 1 piece to Malad.
Here was the bitter-sweet part of a retro night. Even though I would usually submit to shameless love and passion and probably kiss him anywhere anytime, he was more old-school and preferred a safe peck on the cheek in front of a plethora of rickwalas – 1 who was expected to drop me safely home at 12am. I hated when I had to make do with just that peck and then go home, alone with just a sigh and some smiles to remember the love that seeped through the evening!