Feature 6

A refreshing take from our very team member, Suraj Menon. Here's not just a story, here's:

A Fresh Start and Pyjamas

After dabbling in several fields, exploring interests and questioning life and its questionable motives, I decided to return to my first love – food. Ever since I can remember, I’ve observed substantial change in people’s moods when a plate of food is pushed in front of them. I recall watching a video some time ago. A man breaks a disastrous fist-fight between two other men by simply offering each a slice of pizza! That’s what food does – it heals.

Serving a hot meal is yet another dimension. I don’t really enjoy eating what I’ve cooked as much as I enjoy watching others smile after they’ve taken a bite of what I’ve made. Well, it could be that they remembered the jargon ‘Ride a dragon upon St. George’.  A long-standing custom at FreshMenu requires each new employee to service an order or two, in my case, as you will see, four. Akshay, our photographer and I headed out to capture these very emotions. Our ride to the kitchen involved an informal introduction to each other – I was a week old and he was a day old. Both of us remembered Chris Cornell.

Rahul, the service personnel whom we were to accompany around the block, had some words of wisdom: Be prepared to meet all sorts of characters. Some happy. Some angry. And some just plain silly. “This one time . . .” he sniggered and continued, “I informed a customer that I had arrived with the food. She started screaming at me for telephoning her. And I wondered whether telepathy had become the trend. How else was I to communicate with her? I waited for her to calm down and then delivered the parcel.”

I wasn’t too surprised when my first delivery turned out to be a Wodehousian comedy of errors. Akshay was fiddling with his camera, preparing for a quick photograph, adjusting light and everything, when a lady in her bathrobe opened the door. Rahul unassumingly handed over the food, and I am not sure why I thought that a lady in her bathrobe receiving a FreshMenu package would be perfectly all right for our magazine. She muttered something shyly at my request and waved her phone at me. I still hadn’t snapped out of this ludicrousness. I went on to explain to the gentleman on the other end that FreshMenu would be delighted to feature the lady in the magazine. The disjointed explanation was cut short when I turned around to a roar of laughter – as it turned out, the gentleman I was speaking with was a FreshMenu employee. The ordeal had finally ended. I handed the lady her phone and wished her a good meal. The walk down the flight of stairs was long.

A corporate order followed. The conversation went something like this –

Suraj and Akshay (in unison): Hi!

Customer: . . .

Suraj: We are from FreshMenu. We were wondering whether, as a part of the magazine, we could phot. . .

Customer: . . . no. You may not.

The customer walked away to Akshay’s waning voice. . . enjoy your food . . .  

Akshay and I were beginning to doubt our interpersonal skills. We returned to the kitchen to accompany another service personnel Veeresh. After being turned down once again politely by a lady in her pyjamas (and this time I was quick to realize that the request to be photographed isn’t valid for anybody in their pyjamas), we were on the verge of giving up. All we needed was a photograph, and why was everybody in their pyjamas? Why me? All hopes were pinned on the following order. We rang the doorbell and . . .

. . . a man his vest opened the door.

That’s it. What tosh luck was this I thought. Just so he doesn’t ridicule the idea of three people turning up to service an order, I thought I’d explain the situation and ask him for a photograph.

He says: Absolutely! But let someone who is better-clothed than I am be featured.

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And, a few seconds later, out came the man who had ordered Chicken Lovers Delight. In my head there was the sight of Nandamuri Balakrishna in a brown leather jacket, dark shades and an enormous wig walking towards the door in slow motion and the noise of a champagne bottle being cracked open. The moment of reckoning had passed. We smiled as we handed the package over, and Akshay tapped the button on his camera.

And that is how we managed to find a happy, clothed-customer on a dry Monday noon.