“Please be early, we have a plan for an outing, remember?” my wife’s text buzzed the phone. I was a bit anxious, because the venue, a posh restaurant of Karachi, was something neither me nor my wife had ever experienced.
I had been delaying the program for very long, not because of money, but out of fear of being unable to have the right attitude and show needed at such places. But today, we were determined.
We had the best of our outfits, a budget almost ten times our daily expense and a special arrangement for car from my friend.
It was a pleasant evening, and my wife seemed to be pretty relaxed and happy, it’s been so long she wished for that moment. For her, it was a luxurious company with her husband. For me, it was stress. I was happy because she was happy.
We entered, reluctantly, with a very nice person standing right at the entrance. He just opened the door for us and guided us to the table. Soon, a lady came and gave us the menu book, where everything the restaurant had to offer appeared with blunt price tags. I did not understand what to order so i asked my partner what she would like to have. As a woman of ‘mashriqi’ mindset, she just whispered “ Ji jo apko theek lage“ and by saying it, the ball was again in my court.
Anyway, I ordered one large pizza, a salad, and a pitcher. I had no idea of the quantity, so I was relying on only guesses. I ordered a dessert as well, but I instructed the waitress to serve the pizza first.
The waitress gave a pleasant smile with a daunting look, asking “Sir, sorry for the inconvenience, but hamari credit card machine kaam nahi ker rahi” I found her a bit rude, but I replied with a little humor
“fikr na kerian jee, paise puray hain hamare paas , kam paray tou begum se lelunga , phir bhe kam paray tou ghar se lekar ajaon ga”. I thought she felt my reply a bit weird, but she gave again a pleasant smile and went to get the order.
There were at least 20 minutes before our food would be served, so I started observing the surrounds. Some guys were busy in taking snaps. They looked happy from outside… smiling, cheering, laughing…but all of it was powered by fake energies. Others just ordered drinks and by taking short sips, they are appeared to enjoy the moments. Some were busy in filling the bowl of salad (which was already overfilled). Most of them ordered enough, not to take the meal, but for the sake of sitting in this posh place.
One thing I observed on all tables was that all are very fond of making poses, in front of their camera, I guess by doing so they are busy in capturing moments in their camera, but where were those moments anyways? They did not even talk to each other. It would have been remembering times for them, but I found it really weird to pose like that in front of camera, something that they really want” being happy” but in real they are unable to attain that.
I was in the middle of my assumptions when the waitress came and served us the meal. And then, we were busy eating. With a few minutes we realized that the pizza was actually too much for us, so I asked the waitress whether could take away the dessert. Off course sir, she replied and had it packed in some time.
She returned with a parcel and a diary with a bill wrapped in it. To my surprise, it was not as much as we’d thought it would be, although it was still very much for one time had we were dining in our ‘usual’ places.
I comfortably paid the bill and asked her to keep the change, and to my surprise, she was actually amazed and happy, even though it was not that much (at least compared to the bill) but she was normally not expecting that much tip in return.
As I checked out, I felt really relaxed and comfortable. It that felt something had really changed. And with all the comfort we returned to reality…moments where everything is actually real for sure.
He is a gold medalist from University of Karachi and a regular contributor for Awaz-e-Pakistan.