Dinner was at Crystal. Split into two floors, this small Punjabi restaurant near Chowpatty beach had the air of a hostel canteen: young people huddled at small formica-top tables, grimy walls leading up to a cobwebbed ceiling, the din of a market, a bald man sitting behind a small table bearing a cashier’s notebook next to an idle pen. I took an instant liking to the place.
On the right a dark, narrow stairway led to the first floor. We took a table in a corner. I looked around. At the edge of a half-peeled wallpaper on the wall behind me I spotted small whiskers tracing a pendulum’s arc: a cockroach. It was a tiny one, nothing to worry about, I assured myself.
We ordered Rotis, Aloo Parathaas, Rajma Curry, Mutter Paneer, Lassi and Pepsi. Soon after the waiter left there was a scream: someone had spotted a cockroach. A big one. A couple in front jumped out of their seats; we looked around, alert to any movement. A (brave) young chap noticed something on the floor and kicked it away. Imminent danger was averted, but an uneasy calm prevailed. We sat at the edge of our seats. Bunny rested her legs on toes (smaller chance of a cockroach crawling up the legs). When I looked behind at the spot on the wall with the peeling wallpaper, she said, “Don’t look! Just don’t think about them!!”
When the food arrived we did just that – we forgot about “them”. Every item was delicious, mouthwatering; I wouldn’t have cared if there were roaches were all over the place. In the end, remarkably, the total amount I found on the bill was 200 rupees. If I lived in Mumbai I’d go there every week.
After a coffee at Cafe Coffee Day – where other bloggers we knew (Rash, Lee, Inkspillz, Unrationsenatic) were discussed, dissected – we took the train back to Andheri. At Andheri, Bunny refused to let me take an Autorickshaw by myself. I was the gullible NRI from a small-town in Germany, and this was the big city of Mumbai – I was not to be left alone. She rode with me all the way to my hotel, convinced herself I was safe inside, then returned. I then understood the reason behind her choice of email id: ‘BunTheHun’.