To be honest, it probably was not in the league where we could say, "it was an enchanting gourmet trip to Thailand". But for the couple of amateurs that we are, I guess it was fine. We had our Thai lunch, from one of the "good" if not the "best" Thai restaurants in town and we enjoyed it every bit, partly because the food appealed to our taste buds and partly, at least for me, it was a company I cherish.
Well it was yet another Thursday, weekly off, another day to feel lost, as I usually am when my body can't cope with a mind which is still on overdrive, from the previous weeks' up-and-down run in the valley of no return - my office, the ever-alert newsroom cum editorial.
It was time for the weekly rendezvous with my friend to renew the 'lunch connection'.
Checking out the different foodie joints in Chennai is what I do with her and this week the draw went to Thai cuisine and the first name that came to my mind was a small door I see every other day, while going to work.
I usually take the TTK Road while cycling to Nandanam and to my office, just because the trees lining the street protect me from the relentless mid-afternoon Chennai sun. And I sure have noticed the name "Benjarong", which they say is one of the best Thai joints in town.
But is it true? Is Benjarong Thailand personified? I don't know as I'm not familiar with Thai cuisine and even Thai culture, though I do know a few things about Muay Thai (Thai boxing) and the bicycle I ride is also an import from the South East Asian paradise.
So Bangkok, here we come, albeit in an auto rickshaw, not Thai Airways.
The place itself, when you enter, gives a feeling you can chill, be yourself and have a nice left-to-ourselves lunch.
But then it better be, otherwise who'll bother to go there next time. I know I won't. Because for me, the ‘gastronomical’ journey I undertake with my friend here is rather secondary to the emotional joy-ride I take when I sit opposite her and indulge in talks, ranging from the choir girl I would love to fall for, to how vast her chocolate wrappers collection is.
Yes, I know what is going through everyone's head now. Who is this friend, who's eccentric enough to collect wrappers and end up having a treasure huge enough to fill up the entire cupboard in her room and who fights tooth and nail for it when her roommate tries to clean the mess.
Well, the people who know me think I myself am a weirdo at times. So I guess we are just friends made for each other.
Anyway like I said, we are in this Thai "island" in the middle of "Tam-Bram country" and I am not the least worried whether what we eat is authentic or not. It looks, smells, tastes and even sounds OK to both of us. The food was great. So our gourmet curiosity is satisfied.
But beyond that, the whole experience, at least for me, was not a flight to Bangkok, but a flight to the roof of the room we were lunching in! A trip which showed me my inner self in relation to the special friend opposite me.
A trip I took, when I was sitting in front of her, eating my desert, while she had already finished hers and was eyeing mine with suspicion. Yes shedug into my dessert bowl as well, that’s what makes her special. No cosmetic airs about her at all...
Coming back to the flight; I floated up to the ceiling, had an outer body experience so to speak. I was above the table and I could see us both chit chatting. What are we doing there? No beating around the bush here. I wanted a straight forward answer. So Leslie, what's up doc?
Can't you see? We are finishing our lunch and with it, we are finishing another page of our "Friendship Log". A page which has some weird "leaf and peanut laced in a sweet sauce" appetiser, a chicken starter wrapped all over in bamboo shoots, pan-fried noodles, lamb, and dessert - all Thai style.
But more importantly a page which also had, the speciality of the day - "the chets and molus" fermented in love, the sweetest of ingredients known to any chef, and of course, the words of mutual respect, admiration, and, how can I forget, the small fights...
And yes, the three dots mean the story will never end here, it'll continue, my hope is... for eternity, if not forever.