My dining choices are frequently dictated by weather rather than cravings or hunger. For instance, three consecutive rainy nights = time for some piping hot sambhar. The accompaniments are inconsequential. Idlis, vadas, some fancy pants dosa (the entry that startled me was an Italian dosa. What can possibly be Italian about a dosa? Is it slathered with extra virgin olive oil and sautéed with garlic and porcini mushrooms and served by an exotic young man with a glass of Chianti the color of rasam? And while we’re at it, I also spotted a rava gnocchi on the menu! Go figure.), it doesn't matter.
I stuck to the basics this evening and ordered a couple of flabby idlis. The sambhar and I got a little friendly and seconds later, I realized I was entertaining it on my jeans. I rushed to the back of the restaurant where the restrooms were at.
The basin area was like a contemporary powder room replete with a rectangular colored glass sink, an artsy mirror above it and an enormous floor vase that showed off decorative floral stems. The area was made semi-private with a bamboo wall separator on one side and an actual wall on the other. Of course, I only saw this later.
When I was a few feet away from turning towards the basin area, I heard a roar. It was riotous, turbulent and disorderly. And prolonged. It must have lasted for a good few seconds, something that a lion would kick off with his head on one side and it would last till he did a complete, slo-mo, head roll. It hit a few high and low notes as well. I winced. A Shere Khan checking itself out in the mirror? Hangover had come to life in a South Indian joint? I shushed that silly voice and took that impending next step to see it for myself, when a man, perhaps in his early 30s, clad in a black tee and jeans, emerged from area.
He didn't seem like someone who'd do something seemingly private in a public place and then not worry about running into a woman right after. Which is to say that he appeared visibly embarrassed. Our eyes met for a brief, honest moment. Was that you, I asked him non-verbally. And what kind of a roar was that? A I’m-so-cool-I-gotta-flex-my-muscles-every-chance-I-get roar? A yeah-baby-I-finished-that-two-feet-dosa-all-by-myself-and-didn’t-even-burp roar? A I’m-going-to-show-that-disrespectful-son-of-a-gun-waiter-his-place roar? The man gave me a silent acknowledgement of that act. Uh gosh I didn't realize someone would hear me. Please don't tell anyone, he replied wordlessly, hands clasped, his eyebrows as far north as they'd go.
I didn't think it was possible to go from wild to timid that quickly.
I narrated the episode to the spouse who was much too stuck on the filter coffee at the table to process any information. So he shrugged it off. Then oddly enough, he tried to cover it up by suggesting I must have overheard a dog bark or something. It was sly and a deliberate attempt to make me forget about it. As if I'd stumbled upon a closely guarded male secret.
Is this common practice?
My 4-year old nephew frequently roars in response to a question, even walks on all fours, but that's because he watches Discovery Channel all day, wears striped pants and genuinely believes he'll turn into a lion if he roared enough. What is a grown man's excuse?