I could barely smell anything and had to blow my nose every ten seconds as we walked to the place. It wasn’t far from home. “just here”, “just here” Neil kept saying. Naffah was being grumpy, upset that we kept talking about his receding hairline.
It wasn’t out fault. What would you do if the old class jock turned in a eternally exhausted, almost bald 18 year old engineering student? Naffah has an odd face that never stops smiling, so you can never tell if he’s angry just by looking at him. The waiter gave him a weird look, as he grumbled. The place smelt bad and Naffah grumbled about Neil’s’ terrible taste. Thanks to his face, we weren’t sure if he was really upset. There were a lot of people around but we found a wobbly bench and wet steel topped table before anyone else did. It was probably a house before it was tuned into a restaurant. Naffah was convinced the walls were made from mud.
Neil kept shouting to people he knew or at least claimed to know. The military hotel which lacked any signboard or name was just called ”the military hotel”. It was a small place a little away from the local temple, which meant that a crowd was always around. Thankfully we didn’t have to look at our feet and pretend not to know Neil for long. The service was fast. Naffah was convinced that this was because they were giving us yesterdays’ food. I told him to find a toothpick and jab at his Ragi mudde to make sure there weren’t lizards in there. He smiled, but Neil insisted Naffah was annoyed.
We all ordered the same thing. My food tasted bland, maybe it was because I was sick. Neil told me to soak it in chutney, so I did. The experience improved considerably. Naffah smiled and asked me if I wanted a spoon to check for grasshoppers in the chutney. I decided grasshoppers were delicious and really should be used more often if that means food will be so cheap.
Neil started calling out to people again and Naffah tried to borrow through the table with his forehead. He got some bits of food on his head but I didn’t say a thing. He doesn’t like it when people remind him that he’s balding you see. Neil ordered another plate that took a lot longer than the first order. The place had gotten more crowded as the school nearby closed and mid day sun waned. We ate everything on Neil’s’ plate as revenge for his repeated public hollers.
Naffah got a call and left early to do engineering things and loose more hair. Neil called some of his friends over and wanted to order more food. I thought the food was kind of bland, or maybe my cold made everything bland, so I left before Neil realized I hadn’t paid for my food.