Eating out, brat-style

“Shall we go out for dinner tonight?” asked the L&M. I pretended not to have heard. But the boys had heard all right.

“Oh, yes, Dad!” they called out from the living room. It is a mystery to me how they can hear a question asked in the most normal tone from that far, when they can’t hear me when I am shouting myself hoarse calling the one or the other to do some chore. I guess it is what one would call selective hearing. (Tricky teen-talk)

Coming back to why I was pretending not to have heard the L&M, it is because of the simple reason that going out anywhere is an ordeal as far as our family is concerned. If it is eating out, it is worse. First of all, no one agrees about the place we should go to. If I want to eat a Chinese dinner, the L&M might want a tandoori night and the boys would want nothing short of a Moroccan meal or a Spanish feast. The more exotic it is, the more desperate they are to taste it. And worst of all, being a vegetarian I usually end up with dal and roti, for which I needn’t have gone all the way with the crazy trio!

Now comes the crucial question. “Where shall we go?”

“How about an Afghan meal?” offered the older one nonchalantly.

“But where is an Afghan joint?” the L&M asked feebly, already sensing defeat.

“We’ll find out in a jiffy,” answered the younger of the two, flipping furiously through the yellow pages and the cuisine section of all the newspapers.

“Aren’t we lucky?” he called presently. “Maurya Sheraton is having an Afghan food festival!”

“Maurya?” croaked L&M. “But….”

“Oh, I knew it!  You’d never take us to any place we want to go? And you’d dragged us to a crummy Chettinad food festival, rememeber?”

“Why, after all those chillies, you wouldn’t even buy us an ice cream!” The duo bombarded him by turns.

“All right, all right!” gasped the L&M. He knew when he was beaten. The pair of them could go on and on about all the times they had been ‘dragged’ to sundry restaurants that were as ‘yucky’ and ‘yetchy’ as they come.

Though he had given in, we all knew that he would be grumpy through the evening. It began the moment he got behind the wheels; he began honking impatiently. I hurriedly locked the door. Just then, the younger brat discovered that he had forgotten his watch and he wouldn’t be seen dead without it if you please, and so I had to open the door again. “You go ahead, I will lock up,” he said helpfully, hoping perhaps that his father would calm down if he saw me.

“Can’t you guys hurry up? This is the last time we are going out,” barked the L&M. How I wished I could believe him as I flopped tiredly into the seat!

He swerved crazily in and out of the evening traffic, which was abnormal for the L&M, who is famed for his slow driving. I bit my lips to keep from screaming and would have closed  my eyes too, except I have this compulsive urge to see what I am going to crash into!.

Much later, after paying through his nose for a frontier dinner at which all I could eat was a cheese kabab (everything else on the menu had been once walking, flying or crawling), we left the hotel. The kids were in a great mood but the L&M was still growling. My stomach growled company. I hoped there would be some curd rice back home.

I thanked the stars that another episode of ‘eating out’ was finally over.

Come to think of it, I prefer the L&M in a bad mood any day to the boys’ bad mood. Take the time the father had had his way about where to eat. When the brats heard the name of the place, they both groaned exaggeratedly.

“Oh, that place! I read some time ago about how a  cockroach was found in the soup there,” the first one said. Never mind that the ‘some time ago’ was many years back and that the place had since been taken over and refurbished.

“And the music! The guy there must be at least eighty years old and all he knows are a couple of songs he must have learnt as a kid,” the younger one piped in.

“We are going only there and nowhere else. You boys cleaned me out when I took you to that fancy joint last time, remember?”

The boys shut up then and didn’t open their mouths after that. Not even when the L&M wanted to park the car at the crowded market where this joint was. If he is a maniac behind wheels when he is upset, he is always a bundle of nerves when he is trying to park in a crowded parking lot.

It was well past 8.30 P.M. and the place where he had parked was at least half a kilometre away. So by the time our silent procession wound its way to the restaurant, it was overflowing. We wrote our names and settled down to wait. Anyone observing us would have thought us to be a family of deaf-mutes. The boys stared out my futile attempts at cheerful conversation. They were silent, except to give each other meaningful glances that said ‘I told you so’.

The L&M noticed them and after trying to ignore them for a while exploded in a strangled whisper, “Okay, now, what are you guys trying to say?” By then we were tightly jammed between a Sikh family with 18 members and a yuppie family where the woman was fussing about her crepe de chine sari getting crushed by the uncouth boors around her.

“Why, nothing!” replied his first born innocently

We finally got our table, which was bang opposite the toilet door. The boys delicately held their noses. “What great fusspots have you reared! We are lucky to have got a table so fast! Look at the crowd!” L&M’s anger turned towards me. I gave a soothing reply while trying my best not to hold MY nose. Anyway, 40 minutes was not ‘fast’ by any standard. But I dared not tell him that.

The boys had decided to continue with their silent treatment and refused to order. “Whatever you order is fine with us,” said the older one a trifle too politely. The L&M looked at him suspiciously, but couldn’t read anything from his expression.

We ate in complete silence after L&M’s weak attempts to crack some jokes were greeted by stony silence.  “The food was good, wasn’t it? It was well worth the wait,” I said cheerfully hoping the boys would respond. No luck. I began feeling very sorry for my poor L&M by then. I decided the situation called for desperate measures.

“How about some ice cream at the Baskin Robbins?” I asked.

“What?” the brats couldn’t believe their ears. It is an unwritten rule of our family that we never go to a parlour for ice cream after dinner out, but usually grab some at one of the pushcarts lining the road on the way back home. But this was not a ‘usual’ situation and called for drastic steps to normalise it. The place I mentioned was one of the swankiest joints and offered some of the best ice creams in the city.

My gamble paid off and the boys instantly perked up. In fact, so perked up were they, that they began talking animatedly at once, as if some invisible switch had turned their voices back on.

“Oh dad, that would be wonderful!” they told him like adoring puppies as if he had suggested the place and began talking nineteen to a dozen. The L&M’s face was worth looking at. He couldn’t decide whether to be happy to have his sons back with him or be horrified at the prospect of paying the bill!

While the boys’ voices had come back, another voice had suddenly gone silent — the L&M’s. Yours would have been silenced too if you’d seen the bill, which was larger than the food bill he had paid earlier in the evening.

Well, you can’t have your way all the time especially if you have two determined brats, can you?

30 comments

  1. hi, came to your blog through the indian raga blog. wonderful style you have and i smiled continuously as i was reading through eating out (mis) adventure. your L&M sounds like my partner exactly and boy does he drive badly when he is mad!!

    good post. will keep coming back.

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    1. Welcome here Sharbori! I am glad you enjoyed the post. I guess L&Ms are all the same give or take a few traits here and there. By inference, does that mean that we are also the same? 😛

      Visit again!

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  2. Lol…such a cute post! loved it 😀

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    1. Thanks NN. Have been rather busy the past week or so and haven’t even logged in 😦

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  3. Wonderful post… what a beautiful way of capturing a situation… Loved it ..
    Going out for Dinner with parents had always been a funny and messy kind of situation for us as well. ( Even though we are all veggies as a family). How true, the location of a place of dinner is one point of Mess. We always wanted to try the new joints and Dad wanted his one among his old fav (2-3) restro.
    Trust me , these 3-4 joints were No more like good eating joints for us, rather like a Home!. We knew what to order , we knew how it will taste, who are the waiters etc and etc. The manager knew us too.
    And mum , she was in the same situation like you , she prayed that there’s No mess in between. She was always apprehensive about going out with Dad and us!. Dad might say sumthing, which might change our mood and make us behave like deadpan’s or it could be vicaversa, my bro or me might say sumthing ( be it in an inoocent manner) which might end up Dad getting furious and saying ” I won’t go out with both of u nxt time. Ordering of the dishes were Predestined.
    At times i used to tell my bro, that I can with the smell of the perfumes in the resto or the voice the singer I can tell which restro we had gone 😉 😛
    But honestly wenever we used to go out , be it for dinner or for any family function or anything, ma was praying in her heart, dat we all come home without any silent battles. I really loved the above situation, its sooo similar.. I truly can feel it in my nerves, the looks and the talking of eyes and the cold war and the silence. And yeah many times we also behaved like 4 people sitting together with no talks at all. It’s like who wud break the ice now.. and trust me , we never started first.
    Even today wen we are together these things happen!.lol
    I still remember i went to a wedding with family, stayed there at night and was busy dancing with new guys, never knew dad had an eye on me, morning at 4 ma gave me an alert buzzer and I was like .. Though he never said anything but the way he looked at me for the next 2-3 days was bizarre..lol
    Even today, I cant stay with dad for a long time, or cant think of a long conversation , coz as we both are leo’s , we end up disagreeing and then starts the cold war!
    Irony was, I never argued back ( just a one liner , which mom said was a cruel one always) or doing silent and not talking. Now for 2-3 days it’s ok for dad, then he starts complaining to mom , dat Ridhima does not talk to me , does she care about us??
    I wonder what situation mum must have had… stuck between us.

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    1. LOL It is ghar ghar ki kahani all right! and the onus falls on the lady of the house, right? Bah! 😛

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  4. We vegetarians always suffer :(…nice read…i was almost transported to your living room admist all commotion 😉

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    1. Thanks you Witty Jester! Yes, we do suffer, especially when you go abroad where chicken and fish are considered vegetarian! to them only meat is non-veg! 🙂 Fortunately the L&M has turned a strict vegetarian so I get to eat better stuff! 🙂

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  5. I’m sure my mother would empathize with you. She faced the same situation when we used to go out…except that since we’re all vegetarians she’d resent us choosing a restaurant she didn’t like or some sabzi she didn’t want to eat….and she ALWAYS had to make peace between us and Dad!

    Did L&M give you a cold stare for suggesting the icecream in the first place? I wonder 🙂

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    1. Nice template by the way…I had used this once..I like it 🙂

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      1. Thank you! Vinni deserves the credit!

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    2. Hey, you are back! Good, good.

      Just you wait till A junior grows up and then you can share your own story!

      No, the L&M was probably relieved in a way to have found a way out of the silent impasse! 🙂

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  6. I pretty much encounter this situation when my hubby and I decide to go out. If I want Italian, he wants Mangalorean food. Its a long while before we come to a consensus. Most of the time its a case of “We went there last time so its my turn to choose the place” and this ends up in one of us getting all grumpy and fussy about the food 🙂

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    1. Welcome here Milana! I guess some amount of disagreement is required to spice up the eating out experience! (pun intended). What is the fun when everyone behaves like a family out of a Suraj Barjatya film? 🙂

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  7. 😀 Sigh it was a peek into my own home. I am sure vinni an vikram , adi and shubhang all are made from the same dye. loved the post. Maurya , ??? when did it have Afgan food fest ? My hubby works there and I am in love with Afghan post , now that topic needs some questioning at home. 😀 lol
    Push cart ice cream rocks though now we have a Mother Dairy booth which sells very good ice cream so we pick up from there too.

    I have seen those silent expressions on the faces of the brats and sometimes I too have them 🙂
    while adi and I have similar food tastes the other two men have a very different food choice so it is always a debatable situation about where to go .

    Mothers face such difficult to handle situation and most of the time have to be the mediator or peace keeper

    to look back and laugh at it is the right thing glad boys do not keep grudges , neither do mine
    great post

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    1. Oh dear, what did I do? Hope the questioning went off peacefully! 🙂

      Like I said in reply to Milana’s comment, some disagreement and long faces are a good way to have fun too. The roothna, manana, you know what I mean? but yes, the onus is on the mother to soothe ruffled feathers!

      I’m sure kids are all the same and so are the mothers and their L&Ms! 🙂

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      1. Mine doesn’t like to eat out. I thrive on it. Sigh.

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        1. To each his own, I guess. So enjoy your eating out! 🙂

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  8. hahahaha.. that was one heart warming post… you are a total sweetheart trying to bring in truce btw L&M and the brats… it wud have been a sight to see them goin out 🙂

    we nvr had the habit of going out to eat… we always ordered in.. somehow the cluttered over crowded restaurants nvr fancied my parents nor me… i still get my food home delivered if i want to eat out..

    i do remember one going out with family… we wr all dressed in this aquamarine shades and wat a sight it was… 1994 to be precise i think 😀

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    1. Hey Ratzzz, it is nice to have you back here! where were you all these days? 🙂

      Aquamarine? Why, why why??? Can’t wait to hear the reason for the colour code! 🙂

      We so loved to go out especially when I decided to go off cooking on the odd evening! and i guess we should have loved the squabbling too! But yes, we must have been a sight 😀

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  9. Yeah! The best ones we went to were 365, 24 Carats and All Heavens. Those dinners were the best! Hey, by the way we liked the ice cream by the push carts more than Baskin Robbins any day!

    It was always a pain when dad had to park the car, they did not have valet back then I guess.

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    1. Oh yes. I remember ! and how the neon bulbs in the letters ‘ca’ of carats had gone off and we ate at 24 rats! Now Ratzzz would be thrilled with that one, I’m sure! 🙂

      Parking is still a pain with him, btw, only you guys are not there to share it with me 😦

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  10. That was fun to read. As a father of 7, I know how it is 🙂

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    1. Thanks for the comment AN. I am sure that would have been something, managing the moods of seven of them!

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  11. We wrote our names and settled down to wait. Anyone observing us would have thought us to be a family of deaf-mutes. The boys stared out my futile attempts at cheerful conversation.

    Your observations are spot-on and very funny. My parents don’t like eating out (but I more than makle up for it) so we didn’t generally go out to eat…if we did, I’m sure these same scenes would be acted out 😀

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    1. I am sure it would have been. Have you or not started coaxing your parents to eat out with you? I am sure they’d love it! sometimes when you get older you begin to enjoy things you didn’t when you were younger, especially when your children make you do them! 🙂

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  12. Yey L&M and the two brats are back 🙂 I nearly fell off my bed laughing (The reason I didn’t fall is cos my bed is a matress on the floor 😉 )
    And what a post, vintage ZM I must say. Guess your L&M and two brats bring out the best in you 🙂
    And also the first time I found a point of difference between our families. In our home, eating out is reserved for birthdays and anniversaries only, no random outings. A week before the big day, plans are chalked out. Beginning from where we will be going to what we will be wearing, everything is up for discussion. Dad keeps collecting restaurant reviews in the newspaper all year round and on these momentous occasions the file is brought out to pick a new place. No repetitions please unless it is completely unavoidable. On the day, Dad instructs both of us kids very clearly to be ready when he returns from office so we don’t delay too much. The ordering duties are usually left to mom who begrudgingly obliges (“This is the last time absolutely! Next time you are ordering. I will not say a word.”). In our home, we are all born foodies. Even my grandfather who had eaten the same boiled vegetables for the last 10 years or so of his life would be excited to make us try something new foodwise. So inevitably, we all have our opinions about the food which absolutely must be shared at the dinner table itself. Who cares if a waiter or captain or maitre’d overheard us… 😛
    Post-dinner ice cream always involves a party pack (of course! that measly half litre family pack is no good in our home of foodies) of usually butterscoth or occasionally vanilla or strawberry. At the end of the day my dad was always guaranteed two very satisfied kids 🙂
    I have written the whole of the above in present tense for I wish that still held true. But as I left for hostel and was followed by my sister three years later things haven’t really been the same. Dad and mom go out only the one day on their wedding anniversary. The birthday treats are all counted out and put away to be “encashed” as and when an opportunity provides itself. And by opportunity I mean when all four of us are in Pune. And now with the new jobs, it is becoming more and more difficult for my sister and myself to be in Pune more often, leave alone at the same time.
    So Dad’s count of “pending” treats is all set to enter double digits as he waits for his flown birds to return to the nest.

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    1. Thanks for the enthusiastic response, Siddharth! You are right and our families also differ in the ‘ordering’ department since sometimes the trio would even forget that I needed a separate order!

      I do hope your family is able to get together soon and more often to encash the treats so lovingly collected for you both by your dad!

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      1. Ordering now is more often “Each one, order one” and I jump with the order of “Roti” 😀
        And yeah I hope too that we can encash at least one of those treats dad is collecting when my sister returns home in two weeks before her next stint 🙂

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        1. That’s very smart of you! 🙂

          All the best for your treat!

          Like

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