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The God of mall things

The two of us ventured from counter to counter thinking Ancient Mariner-like: Food, food everywhere but not a crumb to eat, writes Sayandeb Chowdhury.

india Updated: Apr 28, 2008 20:41 IST
Sayandeb Chowdhury

They say there is nothing called a free lunch. But then, the world is what it is because some pleasant surprises still manage to pop up from below the most unexpected exchange counters. Just like it popped up before a friend and I, two hungry souls, when we rushed to a mall in Saket one late evening only to realise that in Delhi, 11.30 pm is actually midnight. All the shops were shut — except for a coffee shop that was closing down hesitatingly.

The two of us ventured from counter to counter thinking Ancient Mariner-like: Food, food everywhere but not a crumb to eat. Only one counter had a few smiling faces, the people talking to themselves while they were cleaning up things.

“Is there anything to eat”? I ventured.

“Nothing sir. We are closed.”

Our last hopes were dashed and we were turning back when one

of them asked, “Veg or non-Veg?”

“Non-veg

possible?”

“Yes, we can arrange for a sandwich. Will that do?”

“Yes, yes, very much, thank you.” I replied.

“You have to pay at the cash machine and get a coupon.”

“Sure,” I said and rushed to the place. But at the counter I was told that the machine had been locked and no cash could be accepted. I came back, hoping to ask them whether the money could be received at the counter itself. “Okay sir, we will prepare it anyway. Give us a couple of minutes.”

Two minutes later, out came a grilled focaccia sandwich and two glasses of soft drink.

“How much?” I asked.

“No payment sir, it’s okay.”

I was stumped.

“We can’t accept cash at any of these counters.”

“But you can still take it!”

“It’s our pleasure to treat you. You two seem really hungry.”

As we walked to the nearby table with our tray, we could not help but feel misty-eyed with gratitude. Even for us hungry cynics, all is not lost.