Brunch With Bhavika-2

First things first.

Bhavika Asnani is a poor eater. Like a squirrel, she nibbles. Proper eating, no.

Twenty-four hours earlier, we debated whether to meet over breakfast or lunch. We were poles apart in the sense she was in Pitampura and I in Greater Noida, say, a distance of 55km. We agreed to brunch at noon in Sector 18, Noida marketplace, with countless eateries serving all types of food. I had the Food Courts in mind: you eat what you want, and I eat what I want. Hassle-free.

She rode on the Delhi Metro, and we met outside the station and quickly zeroed in on Barista, hardly 300 meters away. Post brunch, she can board the Metro for the return journey. The third person, my colleague Syed Kausar Hussein, was missing. Nonetheless, we entered and found an empty 3-seater round table.

Fifteen minutes later, Kausar would join. Until his arrival, we indulged in the introductory stump speeches because we knew very little about each other. This was our maiden meeting. LinkedIn was the only place we exchanged messages and a few telephone calls later. My ethnographer-style focus on truck drivers drew the Bangalorean to me. Why, I would learn later.

What do we want to eat? Both of us looked up at the wall-mounted back-lit menu display. By then, Kausar had joined. A fresh round of introduction between the two.

Earlier, she told me that her Muslim driver came to her rescue dealing with truck drivers in coffee production centers. Coorg, maybe. Her Kannada was non-existent. Having spent my formative career years in Bengaluru (1977–80), my Kannada challenge was the same the first few weeks. Later, I took to Kannada, like fish taking to water. Today, 45 years later, I can converse in the language of Kannadigas. Of course, can’t write and read.

Now we trooped to the counter to pick our choice of food. Kausar and I finalized it quickly and returned to the table. Bhavika was still struggling with what to eat. Some non-veg items she zeroed in on and returned after making the payment with one of her innumerable credit cards! I’m the host and I shall pay!, she insisted. We had no issues on that score.

Another 20 minutes passed before the food arrived. Like hungry wolves, we were at the food. More chewing and less talk. But a lot of listening because Bhavika was in full flow. Not touching the food. Not hungry?

“I came empty stomach so that I can do full justice to the brunch… but, I am not able to …” she responded.

Is food no good? Well, that’s not the issue. She lost her appetite.

Our plates emptied. Coffee gulped. She was still toying with her non-veg item. Maybe two baby bites she had.

Can we order a “dog bag” of the remnants? Not a bad idea, she cooed with her infectious smile.

I gifted an autographed DRIVERNAMA and posed together with the book.

She had the time, but I had another engagement to rush to.

We shook hands and promised to catch up again.

“My wedding is on February 11 next year. Do come,” she politely extended the verbal invitation. What a fabulous wedding day! The day I was born 66 years ago in Krishnagiri, erstwhile Madras state. I promised.

She decided to stay a little longer at Barista.

Brunch it was not. It was bountiful meeting such an Arabic-Hindi-English speaking Sindhi young friend interested in knowing about truck drivers!

A week later..

“There is a courier with two pouches of Filter coffee from someone, I can’t figure out! Did you order filter coffee without telling me?” asked my better half.

I know who the sender was. Pretty well.

READ Brunch With Bhavika-1 here …. https://konsultramesh.medium.com/brunch-with-bhavika-1-51dec889ecf3

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