The over-friendly staff at the hotel, ushered us to our table. We were about to celebrate Father's retirement by participating in Maami's Food Festival. Again, there were no guests in the hall. It was eerie to dine at a place that looked rundown. Father, who was a bit curious, asked the waiter, "Are you expecting more guests?" He adjusted his tie, wore a sinister smile, flaunting his blinding white teeth. "No, sir. It's just your family."
Mother seemed worried. "Can we go to another place?" I suggested. Father, who didn't want to disappoint me by changing the plan, reassuringly said, "It's fine. This looks strange today. But don't worry. Nobody would harm us or anything."
I was restlessly drumming on the table, when the waiter appeared with four bowls of cold soup, and two plates of pasta. I was filled with indignation. While Mother and Father looked quizzical, I questioned the waiter. "We have come for Maami's Food Festival. Why have you given us soup and pasta?" I yelled, fisting on the table. The cold soup spilled. Our glasses jumped off from the table. But, the waiter was unyielding. "I think, you must talk to our manager," he said nonchalantly.
I stood up, threw the napkin on my seat, and scarpered to the managers' bay. To my surprise, he was not liveried. His eyes were blue, and matched his denim shirt. He was dark and tall. The air in his room was thick. I wanted to run away from him.
Breaking from my reverie, I chided. "I demand an explanation. Why were we offered soup and pasta at Maami's Food Festival?" His smile was reminiscent of the waiter's. Bright and sinister. "Ma'am, I apologise. Would you like to buy a couple of apartments from us? I can explain the deal to you..."
My head whirred. I couldn't bear a whisker more of that bullshit. I walked out with vehemence, just to find a group of photographers capturing my angry countenance. Click. Click. Click. "What the fuck is happening here? Bastards! Stop!" I screamed, clapping my hands to my eyes.
When I brought my hands down, Telugu actor Venkatesh walked toward me, pushing the bunch of unruly photographers. He was wielding a microphone. "Happy birthday, Deepika! It's a surprise.What do you think of this unusual party?" Moping the bead of sweat on my forehead, I panted, "Where are my parents? What am I on? This is strange. This party is strange. I want to see my parents."
Venkatesh laughed out heartily. He laughed, laughed, and laughed. As the photographers, the actor, and the waiters faded, I heard my phone ring. Dangamaari Udhaari was the ringtone. Anu Boo placed a warm lick on my face, and I woke up to answer the call. "Ma'am, This is Ramachandran, calling from Deccan Plaza. Your booking is confirmed. May I expect you at 7.30 tonight?"