The transition from school to junior college is huge! We learn so many things in the process. We learn to travel by ourselves, we learn to communicate with people, and we learn time and money management. For me, the one important thing that I learnt in that phase of my life was to be comfortable eating by myself. I had enrolled for a coaching class in Borivali (a suburb in Mumbai). I used to be there every day from 7 to 9am. After that I had college in Goregaon (about 10km from Borivali) at 11am. So every day after my classes, I would take a train to Goregaon. I had no friends on this route, so I used to travel alone.
There used to be a small restaurant near my college, where I would have my breakfast (because I don’t believe in carrying lunch from home 😛 ). I would be the first and the only customer at 10 am. Soon, the restaurant owner (let’s call him as uncle from here on) started greeting me with a smile and had memorized my pattern of alternating between idli sambar and uttampam every other day. This went on for about two and a half months. Then I changed my coaching class, my college timings changed and thus my everyday routine of having breakfast at the little outlet stopped.
A few months passed by and one day I took a friend of mine to the same outlet. I didn’t expect uncle to remember me, but he did. He was so pleased to see me and the smile and the look on his face made that pretty clear. We ordered just one item, but what we got was a mini bonanza of 2 plates of Pav Bhaji, 2 glasses of lassi and sweets! He came up to our table and told my friend, just like a proud father would talk about his daughter, “Yeh roz aati thi breakfast karne, akeli!” (she used to come every day to have breakfast here, on her own!)
I was so moved and touched by the gesture that I welled up. He refused to accept payment from me, but when I insisted he gave me a token bill of a mere ₹50.
We never realize how and when we form these cute little attachments with people we barely know. We always have company while we are eating, we either have our family, friends or colleagues around us and if not that, then definitely there is a television set to accompany us. This was something I did by myself and for myself; for my hungry growling stomach specifically 😛
When I think about the incident, I feel all warm and fuzzy knowing that there was somebody who appreciated a 14 year old girl eating all by herself, and was proud of her independence.
About Kalyani Kulkarni
She is a 21 year old girl working in a software firm, still trying to find where she belongs. Her daily routine includes breathing, eating and watching F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
Edited by Aamil Syed