Sunday Out

Yesterday, friends took us to Eden, a vegetarian restaurant in the new Harrison’s Hotel. As we emerged from the elevator, the lobby was crammed with people waiting to get in. We entered into a sustained roar, punctuated by the shrieks and squeals of numerous children. Ramesh took a look around and said, “My God, you’ve brought me to the Gujarati Samaj (Society).” It appeared that half the Gujarati and Marwari population of Chennai was there. With their children.

Among Gujaratis Ramesh becomes Rameshbhai, and several people came up to greet him by that name. (Bhai = brother; the female equivalent is ben, sister. These must be appended to all Gujarati names. Though not many people actually call me Nancyben. I confuse them.) One thing I’ve learned, after being married to a (very atypical) Gujarati for sixteen years, is that most Gujaratis love to eat a vast variety of (vegetarian) foods, and that they will not flock to any place where the food isn’t good. So I decided to let the intense clamour of conversation wash over me and enjoy it.

The food was good, not sensational, and had a wholesome quality. A mix of cuisines: pasta, curry-rice, tandoor, idli-dosai, that sort of thing, all made by what Ramesh insisted must be a Gujarati cook. (We didn’t check, it was too hectic.)

While we were eating a small boy came up behind Ramesh and said, “Boo!” He made Ramesh jump, and grinned widely. The boy said, “Uncle, where are you from?” R: “I’m from outer space.” Boy: “Where, Uncle?” R: “From between Venus and Mars.” The boy ran to convey this information to his mother, who sent him back to ask, “Uncle, are you a scientist?” R: “I’m an astronaut.” This satisfied him, or didn’t, but he did not return.

By the time we left the place, my throat was sore from trying to talk through the din.

The traffic equivalent of the restaurant where we ate last night – a very typical scene, near the Gemini Flyover. From The Hindu, photo by S. R. Raghunathan

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