Archive for November, 2005

Lunching alone

I like to eat french-onion soup alone. I am at Papa Haydn, next to a fireplace, in the back by the window. Full, but not ready to stop yet — the soup is delicious, I want the flavor of the cheese to linger, the warm broth on my tongue feels comforting, the onions are just right. The cappuccino was good, the waitress said, “watch. It’s really hot.” But not to my Indian sensibility — to my tongue it was the perfect temperature.

I overate — the bread was delicious, the savory butter on it even more so. The additional cucumber salad that I ordered was unnecessary — I ate half out of obligation, she took the rest away. Thank God I didn’t order a bigger salad. I finished the french-onion soup — Asiago cheese tastes like a slice of comfort, the taste of fulfillment.

Early evening shoppers are walking on “Trendy-Third” Avenue — they want to see and be seen. A poorish looking young man is waiting at the bus stop, his dark grey sweatshirt’s hood on his head, hands deep in his pockets. He has walked back and forth outside my window a few times now. His jeans are tattered and frayed, his eyes are grey. I don’t imagine he could afford to lunch at Papa Haydn, I don’t know if he would even want to if he could. Would they have let him in? Seat him at a cozy table by the fireplace?

With a twist of karma and a turn of life circumstances, he could have been me — here, inside, warm, eating deliciously prepared gourmet food, depressed, overwhelmed, afraid, and with a full belly. I could have been him — outside, cold, shivering, smiling, waiting for a bus. We might have exchanged our grey and brown eyes. There is no difference in us, after all. He and I are the same.

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