It was a weekday night and we were having the usual family argument about whether to watch Masterchef Australia or Kaun Banega Crorepati. “This is the episode where someone wins seven crores!” my mother said. Against that, my argument of “But we’ll find out today whether the Red team’s croquembouche was too biscuit-ty or not!” was met with much derision. “Crock what?” asked my dad. “It is the French version of badushah sweet.” said my mother, “They put it in a cone like at Iyer weddings.” Before we could go further down this fascinating culinary path, the doorbell rang. “Biryani delivery madam”, the eager young man said.
“UPSTAIRS!” we all shouted, and I quickly closed the door.
We are not a rude family. It just pains us when we have to turn away noble souls bearing food. The food, you see, is almost always for the Mehra family. So are the daily visits from an array of people: electricians, bankers, priests and knife-sharpeners. The Mehras are popular people. Their visitors always land up at our door first, because apartment numbers in our building have no logic to them. It’s like they were picked out by a drunk numerologist.
But this is nothing compared to the issue of locating the building itself. Gomathi Golden Gate is hidden away between two suburbs. When we first moved here, we tried to be precise with our directions: “Our nearest landmark is the Big Red Supermarket. Keeping that on your right, come straight and take the second left.” Most people managed to locate the supermarket and would call from there in confusion. “Is the supermarket on your right or on your left?” we would ask.
“On my right. Oh, wait. Now it’s gone off to my left.” they would say.
Some overconfident types would call and say, “I’m on your street. Is your flat the ugly blue building?”
“Our building is green, and has a big arch with the name. Can you see it?”
“You’re wrong. Your building doesn’t have an arch.”
When they finally did arrive at our street, they would disappear into Gomathi Golden Gate’s sister apartment, cleverly named Gomathi Pearly Gate. The courier guy would call from there saying, “Madam-as-you-are-not-in-house-shall-I-take-it-back-the-parcel?”
“No, no, I’m at home only. Where are you?” I would reply, panicking.
“With your watchman. He says madam in 206 is gone to foreign.”
“I’m very much in the country. Are you at Gomathi Golden Gate or Pearly Gate?”
“I am at Gomathi apartment.”
“GOLD-EN GATE or PURL-Y GATE?”
Even something as simple as ordering a pizza seemed to involve many stressful phone calls. We decided we would just stop ordering food from outside. In the midst of all this, people somehow kept turning up for the Mehras. How were they all getting here?
Then, one Friday evening, I had an epiphany. We would have our pizza and we would eat it too. I picked up the phone confidently. “Could you order two pizzas for us? 12-inch Gourmet Veggie”, I said, “Oh, and extra olives. Thanks so much Mr. Mehra.”