My friend told me a story around a year and a half ago. I knew right then that it would make a good blog post. I never tried writing it until now but luckily I think I still remember most of it in vivid detail. We were two engineering graduates sitting in a cheap bar in Lokhandwala talking about what our lives had become after working for six to eight months. It was past 11pm on either a Wednesday or Thursday night but we had jobs that began in the afternoon and went on till 9-10pm. Spending the whole of five days a week only in an office and at home is hard, especially when you’re used college life where you have everything after 6pm to yourself even if you attend as much as you’re supposed to. This, of course, excludes the two to three months a year when we would finish all the work we had to do for the entire year and study for exams. It was around this time that I came to the conclusion that I should do something fun (fun being a minimum of meeting friends for drinks) every Tuesday or Wednesday night in order to survive corporate life without slipping into depression.
While we were sipping Old Monk and Thums Up, he told me his story which went like this (I may have forgotten some of the details and made up random ones but oh, well, there’s only one person in the world who’ll know.):-
Dude! I have to tell you what happened at work today. First, let me tell you about my team. Okay, so we’re all major foodies. We love food. If you look at them, you won’t find that hard to believe. There’s a trend that’s been observed amongst us, which is that we gain ten kgs in every two years that we work here. And it’s true, I’m getting there myself. So since we all love food so much and since it’s one of the things we all have in common to talk about, it makes up a very large part of our everyday conversation. Everyday before we head to the canteen for dinner, one of us will go scout the food counter and come back to report to the rest of us about the day’s food. If it’s good then we’ll all get excited about it.
Another thing about the canteen food is the chicken lollipops. My canteen always has chicken lolipops. These lollipops are legendary and we only have them on special days when we really feel like we need or deserve them. It’s almost a daily ritual where one of us will go and check out the lollipop tray before dinner and comment how good they look. He’ll say “Aaj khana hai kya?” (Should we eat them today) and another one of us will usually reply saying “Nahi, aaj nahi. Kal khaate hain.” (No, not today. Let’s eat them tomorrow.) As I said, we eat them only on days where we feel we really need or deserve them. If we have them too often then they’ll lose their charm and then it won’t feel as good on the days that we eat them.
There’s more to these lollipops. It’s believed throughout my office that if you eat too many, your stomach is going to be fucked the next day. This belief is so strong that it’s actually an acceptable excuse for missing work to say that you ate too many lollipops the previous day. They’ll just call and say “Sorry yaar. I’m not feeling well. Kal bahut lollipops khaye the.” (I ate too many lollipops yesterday.) I’ve used this excuse twice myself. So today, we go about this same ritual before dinner. My friend goes up to the lollipop tray and I follow him. He says, “Lollipops bahut achhe dikh rahe hain. Aaj khaana hai kya?” I look over his shoulder and agree that the lollipops look delicious. I’m just about to tell him that we should save them for a better day when we see one big cockroach followed by two little cockroaches walk across the tray. That was it. We both made disgusted faces, said “Oh, shit!” and walked away to get our food. That one moment when those cockroaches walked across the tray destroyed the grand illusion that we had built around those lollipops over the months. We can never contemplate getting chicken lollipops with our dinner again.