Anyway, so we're at Zenzi--and I have some friends in Bombay, who I meet only once every month--and this guy comes up with these shots. We regard them and him, and I am seized with a desire to giggle, because really he looks so absurd with his pot belly and straggly beard and an earnest expression on his face. "Is my request," he says, "These are for you." We nod, and try to go back to our conversation, only he takes this not rejection of the shots as an invitation to talk. "I am Anil from Bangalore," he says, "And you are?" Virginia rolls her eyes. Really, she is so much better at this than I am. "I'm Virginia from Bandra," she says. I'm really beginning to giggle at this point so I get out, "eM from Delhi." We're hoping the fact that neither of us is from Bangalore will make him go away, but mentioning Delhi was a bad idea, because instantly he turns to me and goes, "How long you have lived there?" "Erm.. 25 years?" "I also am from Delhi, I have lived in IIT Gate, Saket, blah di blah blah."
Virginia's starting to get cross at this point. "Look, could you leave us alone?" The Burly Boys at the next table look up, eyes alive at a chance to defend some hot honour. AnilfromBangalore decides Virginia is the woman for him (I am much too giggly) and turns devoted eyes to her. "Would you--you two--like to come back to the Marriott with me?" he asks, "For a quickie..drink." My mouth is hanging half open, but Virginia who is using all her body language signals to tell him to fuck off, shakes her head. "How about coffee then? Just half an hour?" "Look, we're in the middle of a serious conversation here!" she says and he raises his hands and leaves. Burly Boys settle down.
He's baa-ack, though, in the next five minutes. "Could I have a cigarette you have rolled with your own hands?" "Take this one," she says, thrusting her half smoked cigarette at him. "I am not doing this for f-f-fucking lust," he says, turning to her, "If you want to be friends, it's okay. If you don't want to come to the Marriott, it's okay." "Yes, I know," she says, "Because we're not coming." I decide to intervene at this point. "Um, Anil?" He half-turns to me. "Firstly you should know we're both in serious, committed relationships. Secondly, if you want to make friends in Bombay, this is not the right way to go about it." He is hurt now, and I feel bad. But he leaves.
Only to return fifteen minutes later. "Can I buy your drinks? It's just a request." "If you buy our drinks, will you leave us alone?" asks Virginia. I don't think he gets it though, because he says, "It's just a request" again. "It's this f-f-fucking city, I have no friends," he gets out. Aw. I feel a sort of fellow feeling with all other migrants. "We're sorry for being rude," I say, "But really, you don't have to buy our drinks, just please leave us alone."
"I am buying your drinks," he says, and takes off to the bar, coming back in a bit to get another cigarette and then a light. One of the Burly Boys gets up and intercepts him, putting one hand on his shoulder and blocking him off from us. Virginia sneaks a quick peek. "He's paying the entire bill with a thousand rupee note," she tells me. "At Zenzi? Wishful thinking," I say.
He straps his laptop bag around his shoulders and comes up to us. "I am going to the Marriott," he says. "Okay!" we say. And then he leaves.
After he's FINALLY gone, I sigh. "That has never happened to me in Bombay," I tell Virginia. "Um..eM?" she says, "That was a Delhi man."