Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Old man and Chicken Soup

Taking a walk on Shankar Road, famous for its tandoori chicken outlets, serving food inside customer's cars, I decided to try the newest joint, the Sardar M* Shop. Waiting for my serving I was joined in by an old, well dressed gentleman, who asked for chicken soup. For some five minutes, busy eating, I did not notice him in any detail. As I finished, he collected his package. Both of us took out our wallet and paid at the same time. The counter guy went inside the shop to get some change and at that moment I noticed him. He wore a winter cap, plaited trousers, a blazer and matching shoes. He looked frail and quite old. It was past evening so it was hard to discern how old he was (Well, isn't it becoming hard to notice old people in any detail these days? Arent we getting increasingly occupied with ourselves and some selected things around us?). 
I thought of saying hello to him. But what could I ask? What could one ask an old man(who knows all at once)? What if he was a pure punjabi, who did not care to reply in english? (sometimes initiating a conversation in english is a bad idea, as who knows if the intimacy gets lost?) I thought it better to ask him directly what came to my mind and I said, "Uncle, at this age, how can you like Chicken soup?" (By the looks he was to be in seventies, when people eat bare and plain stuff, just to keep them going, and here he was ready with his packet of chicken soup). He said, to my astonishment, "I am 86 and I am doing just fine!"
I have never really talked to a man of that age, specially at a fast food outlet, alone by himself. I said, "Whats your view on these outlets, serving just about anything, anyhow. How was it back then, when you were you young?" He replied, "Ah it doesnt matter! Eat anything, which looks good and tastes good. You see I am single and I have worked in the foreign office, lived abroad and eaten everything that came in my way. I am 86, you see!" For a minute I felt relieved from the bashing anyone receives from within because of eating out. "Why did you stay single? Sometimes, Uncle, I have a similar urge, a deep thought of staying single too!", I remarked. "Ah no! Never stay single!" By this time we started walking, "No one comes to a lone tree, people prefer them in groups," which showed that he had felt loneliness and perhaps suffered from it too. I had to smile and asked him about his routine. "Nothing, I do nothing now, the cook comes and she make my meals, I call my friends, and go for long chats in the park. Thats about it." Walking, we had arrived at his by lane and we had to part, but I was glad I said hello to him!  

2 comments:

akiyer iyer said...

ENJOYED READING THE WONDERFUL PIECE. WHERE ARE YOU?AK IYER, SURAT

Neeraj Pandey said...

Thank you Uncle.
I am glad you liked it. :)
Sometimes we choose to observe few things closely, specially if it comforts us.