Ten years had passed and I never gave a treat to my friends on my birthday. This time I had no option but to end my streak. On finding out that 20 people were eagerly waiting for my birthday and seeing the smile on my friends’ face whenever they talked about it, I realised how costly my birthday was going to get until one day before it I had an idea.
On my special day, my friends reached my house and I didn’t tell them where I was going to give them the treat. We sat in our cars and mine was ahead, followed by three more cars filled with my happy and hungry friends, ready to knock me down. Finally, I stopped at a funky dhaba with a big signboard that read, “Anday Wala Burger and Khan Broast”.
The place was full of people but thankfully I had already booked a table. Meanwhile my friends, a little disappointed at not being taken to any famous fast food joint, prepared for their fight with the food. The place glittered under the reflection of numerous lamps hanging above the people sitting on traditional benches known as “Charpaiee”, with their burgers in their hands, eyes transfixed upon it and teeth busy in biting the tender chicken.
To give a Mughal look, the waiters wore robes like kings and they doubled the enjoyment of the guests by reciting fascinating Urdu poetry every now and then. Apart from the restaurant business, the restaurant did a non-profit work — feeding street cats.
Even though this particular place was cheap compared to other top restaurants, I knew the bill would still be too much to digest. The tension of a large bill already filled my stomach …
Where there’s food, there are cats and where there is a table with food upon it, you will find a cat underneath it, enjoying a leg piece given by the person seated there.
We all settled down and ordered around 15 anday wala burgers, two full broasts, and three bun kebabs. The waiter arrived with the food in 15 minutes and everyone dug in. Even though this particular place was cheap compared to other top restaurants, I knew the bill would still be too much to digest. The tension of a large bill already filled my stomach … then I saw my friends.
One had already finished his burger, the other was plucking vegetables out of the burger, while there was this friend of mine who didn’t even bother about people sitting around as he slurped the sauce which trickled down the edge of the bun kebab. The broasts boys were sucking on bones and once everyone had finished eating, all of them drank the bowl of raita too.
How embarrassing friends can become when out on a birthday treat! I thanked God that most places like these still have no concept of starters and desserts. When everyone was done with eating, they went outside without looking back and I was left with the bill in my hand.
After paying the bill, I was left with 20 rupees in my pocket. On the way to home, I was told by a friend that there was another birthday treat waiting for us the next day. I sighed in relief that this time I would be the one enjoying the food!
Published in Dawn, Young World, January 12th, 2019