My mum had this thing about her. She loved to ask questions. As a student, I’m sure she would have been a teacher’s pet. When I was in school, I used to be on the phone all the time. To get some privacy, I would pick up the cordless and go into my room and start pacing up and down while talking. And sometimes, due to lack of space, that involved walking all over the bed. Anyway, my mum completely encouraged that, because that was the only physical exercise I ever got.
Once my conversation was over, my mum would bombard me with questions.
Who were you talking to? How’s her brother? When is he getting married? What is she up to nowadays? Where are her parents? And the sorts..
And I could never explain to her that the last thing two girls would ever talk about is their family!
So, being true to her colors, my mum asked me a gazillion questions about my college and my classmates. After a while, I got into the groove. There’s just something about talking to someone who really wants to listen, isn’t there? As long as I wasn’t talking about boys, I was safe!
My dad came home later in the evening and was promptly informed that we were going to new place for dinner to celebrate my first step into a whole new world.
Now my dad, wasn’t particularly fond of eating out. He was a simple man at heart. All he wanted for dinner was a simple fare - dal, sabzi, chapatti, rice, salad, curd, pickle, papad, some chutney..maybe some kheer for dessert. You get the picture right?
So he wasn’t really excited about Chinese for dinner, but the rest of us loved eating out and as usual, my dad gave in.
“Fine, let’s go?” My dad picked up the car keys.
“Oh, it’s just around the corner.. You can walk it.” My mum said, going to get ready.
“Fine! Pinku, come, we’ll go ahead. Those two will take ages to get ready.” My dad started walking out of the door.
I glanced at my attire, good enough for an outing with family. I shrugged and followed my dad.
“Dad, where are we going?” I asked as I doubled my speed to keep up with him.
“Some Chinese place. It had a very distinctly Chinese name.” he mumbled walking swiftly.
“Dad!” I stopped dead in my tracks. “Do you know where the place is?”
“Must be around here somewhere.” He said vaguely.
“What’s the name?” I asked incredulously.
“Hwang ho. Let’s ask the traffic cop.” He said walking towards one.
Now at this point, I should mention that both of us don’t speak in Kannada. We in fact, have no knowledge of this language. And that my dad has a talent of completely messing up names. For example, my good friend Nirupama invariably becomes Manorma, My sister’s friend Himanshu becomes Manju and Daphne somehow magically transforms into Dhanvantri!
“Uh, Hwang ho! Chinese restaurant aa! Where aa?” My dad said in his best imitation of a Kanadiga.
The traffic cop stared at my dad for a moment when my dad repeated, “Hwang ho! Chinese restaurant aa, where aa??”
The cop somehow fell for my dad’s ludicrous accent and said, “Nanage gotilla, aa road kade hogi” he said pointing towards the next turn.
It was my dad’s turn to stare blankly.
Not to be easily defeated, my dad replied, “Kannada baringallapa!”
“I don’t understand?” The cop said in crisp English.
“Oh! You speak English?” My dad asked the cop.
“You don’t speak kannada?”The cop glared at my dad.
“That’s what I said, Kannada baringallapa!”
Now that I think about it, it’s probably a good thing that we didn’t understand the language. I could tell from the cop’s expression that he wasn’t very happy. He was literally spewing fire!
I half dragged my dad away from there to the road the cop had pointed at.
“Dad, are you sure the place is called Hwang ho?” I asked, walking down the street jotted with Chinese restaurants.
“It was something like that.” He said confidentally.
I groaned inwardly, “Maybe we should call ma?” I suggested.
He nodded and pulled out his phone. “Not reachable..” he said after trying Sona’s and Ma’s phone.
“Fine! Let’s just eat somewhere and go home. I’m tired.”
I nodded, I was quite miserable by now too. “Let’s go to this one!” I pointed at a fancy looking place.
“Fine! Anything!” my dad started walking up the stairs when something struck me.
“Dad?” I asked hesitantly, “You are carrying money right?”
I knew dad carried all his things in a briefcase which we had gifted to him on his birthday. Since we had dragged him out as soon as he had stepped in, there was a high possibility that he’d forgotten to pick up his wallet.
“What rubbish!” my dad said checking his pockets, “Of course I have..” he stopped mid way.
Slowly, he pulled out a 100 Rupee note from his pocket. He looked around for a while and then stopped in front of a darshini.
A slow apologetic smile appeared on his face, “How about we have dosa tonight?”