Last week I was at Tiger’s place. And no, it was not the zoo. It’s like this. A friend, who relocated to Chennai three months ago, was visiting Delhi. We caught up for a chat and he told me, among other things, that he reads ‘Single in the City’ down south on HT’s ePaper. “It’s time you had a moniker — like, say, Tiger,” he editorialised.
What he meant was I should do what Upala Sen does. Upala (who, like me, is Bengali and almost no one can pronounce her name ‘Upola’ right. So now she’s become ‘Oops’) is a colleague and a very dear friend, and she writes a column elsewhere in the paper. She has Best Friend and Home Minister.
I could have Tiger.
Who’s Tiger? He’s a man, and a friend. Almost everyone I know who knows him too calls him Tiger. Don’t ask me why: I don’t have a clue.
Now, let me tell you about the time when I bought half-a-dozen chicken patties from Pat-a-Cake in Khan Market; I love the chicken patties there because they remind me of the minced patties that we bought from Flurys in Calcutta. Besides, my brother and sister-in-law were coming over the next morning — and they love everything that belongs to the chicken patties’ genre.
Post-purchase, at the car park, I met this sickly, emaciated puppy, with a bad case of some skin disease, who could barely walk. But he’d smelt the chicken patties, and nervously — and hopefully — twitched around me. I gave him one patty. He took his time; his tiny set of teeth biting into first, the flaky covering of the patty, and then the chicken.
At the end of the dietary exercise, he looked satisfied, eyes gleaming brightly, hint of a wag at the tail end. I gave him one more: my brother and his wife would have to eat one less patty – too bad. I escaped while the pup was tearing into the second piece.
Please God, I sent up a silent prayer, let him live and don’t let anything bad happen to him.
Last week, I saw my pup at Khan Market. He’s a big boy now. His skin problem persists,but he looked happy and well fed, loitering around the alleys.
The reason I was in Khan Market was Tiger. He had to pick up some stuff from me in the evening, and we were supposed to meet in front of a bookshop there.
I got out of work earlier than him, so I decided to catch up with a couple of other friends who were sipping coffee at one of the market’s tony coffee shops. One of them was nursing a tall glass of cold coffee; the other snorted derisively at cold coffee — “too girlie”, he said —– and ordered himself a second round of steaming cappuccino.
I plonked myself in their midst, and was about to order my kind of coffee when my cell buzzed. It was Tiger. “Listen,” he growled, “I’m hungry as hell so can you organise a sandwich for me? I’ll eat it when I come to get the packet from you.”
“Sure,” I said.
Fifteen minutes later, when I was nursing my own tall glass of cold coffee, Tiger called. He was at the market gate, and didn’t want to waste time parking his car.
Could I come down — pronto — with the sandwich? He was, he said, weak with hunger.
“Uh,” I struggled, “actually, I forgot to order the sandwich, but I can get it now, it’ll only take five minutes. Forget it, he snapped, I obviously didn’t care that he’s been starving the whole day: “Just come down and give me my packet, thank you very much.”
“Guys, I gotta run,” I picked up my bag along with the tatters of my self-respect. “Tiger is very angry.”
My girlie friend put down her tall glass of cold coffee on the table with a thump and asked: “Is he roaring?”
I think I’ve got myself a moniker.