Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bella Ciao !

On my first visit to her place, we spent an hour gaffing whilst she made tea for me putting sugar into it absentmindedly, and then profusely apologizing. I had to explain to her several times that it wasn’t such a disaster after all because I usually feel run down in the evenings and have to suck on a toffee to replenish the dangerously dipping blood sugar. The place is still bare, worse off than my place initially where the company had sent a truckload of furniture, and may remain so till things are bought and installed. But I am sure that under a woman’s hands a vacant flat takes up the appearance of a home much faster than under a man’s control. My place after four months still looks like a refugee camp even to me. So metamorphosis of her place would surely be faster.

It was planned that we meet at her office, one of the major offices hardly five or six KMs from my place in the evening around 4.00pm, so I turned up there earlier and went for a long walk to stretch my legs since sitting in the office or driving both give me a cramped up feeling. She sent a series of SMSes saying there was delay so I got another hour to walk around and get a feel of the area which is rather congested, though bordering on the main Poonamallee highway sort of road. Finally she came out and we drove down to her place as planned by the time we reached I think the sun was setting. Thus it was almost eight-ish when we set out for the visit to the beach that is close enough from her flat to make one hear the sounds of the sea. From the terrace one can glimpse the Bay of Bengal, but it was too late to see anything by the time we made it.

A long walk on the beach made me tired so I sat down on the edge of a precipice like structure, since erosion has been taking place wherever the high tide comes and does things, I guess. She preferred to stand by me and talk down rather than sit side by side. I didn’t pay much attention to it, for she had refused to sit down on the mattress that lay in her bedroom, and with two or three pillows I had to use it for rest.
On the way back, I happened to see a signboard yelling Bella Ciao! It explained that it was an Italian restaurant. I was in the mood to try out something exotic, and she seemed glad to join me in the merry making since she is definitely more informed about the continental cuisine…I usually don’t bother to remember their exotic names and trivia that goes along with them, but I enjoy the cuisine anyway. We decided to try out some pasta that she says she loves, lasagna if I didn’t mind, of course I didn’t –but the seafood part we decided to go and check upon.

It turned out to be a huge bungalow with its entire garden converted into a rather well landscaped restaurant. There were these hut-like encampments with lights and even an electric fan [something that must be redundant since the seashore is so breezy all the time]. As we sat down, a squall turned up suddenly as if Nature’s invisible band had struck up a noisy but warm welcome for us. We were both amused indeed, and soon issued orders for the food since it was getting late.

The food was indeed great, we had squids after crab soup which tasted worlds apart from my sturdy Chettinaad soup indeed. Then pasta with lasagna and lamp slices with white sauce and things… it was pretty good. There were no drinks on the menu, so I took it for granted that alcohol may not be served. As if reading my mind she said white wine would go with the stuff we were having…and this bombshell felled me instantly.
“ Do you drink?” I asked incredulously.
“ Some times. On special occasions. Wedding and things, and suchlike.”
“Wow.” I didn’t know what to say because the waiter informed us that indeed they had white wine and could be served… she refused of course, and I let the matter hang.

On the way back we were intercepted by the rather friendly owner, an Italian young man in his mid thirties with a pretty wife who looked like she were a peasant from the countryside, very focused on her supervision of the kitchen and pantry, and the small army of waiters. The man, I forget the name Ricardo or something was thrilled to give a copy of the menu to her because she wanted to be able to order food from home. Not a bad idea, but she said it would be possible only on some event, something special.
“ I’d rather walk down here and eat,” I said.
“ Me too,” she agreed, and chatted with the Italian owner who spoke in rapid-fire Italian that she failed to understand. He shrugged his shoulders and made a wry face at me, saying she only told him she had learnt Italian… we made small talk and congratulated him on dreaming up such a fine place with such fine items on the menu too. He seemed enthralled indeed and bade us a warm goodbye.
“ You should write about this in your blog,” she suggested. Indeed, I reassured her, that I would be doing that, “ shall we go and ask him his name, it would be good publicity for him-“ the marketing person in her often springs forward like a hidden side of a bipolar person. I said it didn’t really matter because millions were not thronging at my blog site as yet.

As we walked back another tiny squall came and hit us, this time we were fully exposed and had to seek shelter under a tree. A watchman from a nearby building with pitying looks kept watching us, but the squall ended as abruptly as it had come. Lightly wet, feeling buoyed up we walked back slightly faster to her apartment and I bade her goodnight from the parking lot where the Beast was waiting for me patiently, silently and reliably. I had no problems in working my way out of her locality. It was only in Adyar that I took a wrong turn and managed to get hopelessly lost in Nugambakkam area. It took me an hour and a half to be home, and in five minutes the phone rang. She asked me if I had reached home safely, so I explained my predicament and bade her good night again. I crashed in my bed immediately and slept the sleep of the dead. It had been a long day.

© Max Babi 080806


At 2:37 PM, Blogger david raphael israel said...

As delightful as fiction, Max. What's a "lamp slice"? As for the restaurant's name, are you quite sure it's not "Ciao Bella"? rather than "Bella Ciao"? I've often heard Ciao Bella (or Ciao Bello), but never with the words reversed. One might translate it as "Hiya, Cutie!" -- or perhaps (as often) "See ya later, Cutie!" (Or if one wishes a more formal rendering -- "Greetings, thou beautiful!")

All this, and fine Italian seafood too? You're making Chennai into paradise, bit by bit.


At 11:13 PM, Blogger rash said...

i finally managed to read your blog

At 1:10 AM, Blogger Known Stranger said...

hi maxi.

nice to find you taking pains to drop me a mail follwoing the tail from ryze to xanga.

trying to catch up your work here. hmm david too here. hmm

spedning more time on your company profile. fluid therm. I had a couple of times crossed your company.. i am in sales - technical engineering. sales

At 7:07 PM, Blogger david raphael israel said...

Hey Max,
you know -- now that you're departing from Chennai -- you can rename your blog if you want. (Alternatively, can open a new one, and this becomes history.) But "Max no longer in Chennai" is one possibility!


At 9:24 AM, Blogger Hershal said...

it was a delight reading these words of yours....


Post a Comment

<< Home