Monday, April 13, 2015

Free advice

I was at the cafeteria table eating my lunch. It was a four chair table and I was the only person occupying it. My pollen allergy had worsened. My eyes were watery and had turned red. I was constantly wiping my eyes as I eat my food.

I was probably eating my fourth or fifth spoon when a gentleman tapped on my table. He showed the empty chair opposite to me with a questioning “May I?” look. I asked him to go ahead and he settled into the chair. I continued eating my food without a word. He started eating his food looking at me every once in a while as if trying to strike a conversation.

After a few minutes, he asked ‘allergies?’ I said ‘yeah.. bad one’.
Gentleman – It has been one of the worst allergy season this time.
Me – Yes I think
Gentleman – Did you take any medication? You can pick some good ones over the counter too.
Me – Yes I did. I have taken medication.
Gentleman – Which one did you take?
I told him the name of the medicine I had taken. He said the one I had taken was not effective and I should try a different one. He gave me some names and said some cause drowsiness while some are good for day time.

Gentleman – Hey, Sorry I did not introduce myself. My name is …..
He said his name but I didn’t catch any part of it. Maybe it was my allergies; my head was kind of heavy and stuffed and I couldn’t think properly. I smiled and gave him my name.
Gentleman – I am just curious.. Are you a vegetarian?
Me – Yes
Gentleman – do you at least eat eggs?
Me – No, I do not.
Gentleman – if you do not eat meat or eggs how do you get your proteins?
Me (smiling) – I buy it online. My card gives me a 5% cash back on that.  
He laughed at my answer. I meant it funny, but still felt sorry for what I had said and thought of apologizing to him. I was still thinking, when – 
Gentleman – Do you know, many people do not consider milk as vegetarian? If milk is vegetarian, then eggs are vegetarian too.
Me – ok.
Gentleman – Let me tell you something funny. Do you eat eggplant? Brinjal? Raw Brinjal tastes like fish.
I didn’t know what to say. He then told me of many different vegetables which either look like or feel like or taste like Chicken or fish or other meats. I had told him I am a vegetarian, yet he was telling me all this. I don’t know what joy he was deriving out of telling me about vegetables which look or taste like meat. All my thoughts of apologizing to him evaporated. How can somebody be so insensitive?
Soon I finished my lunch while he continued to talk. I packed my stuff and got ready to leave.
Me – You seem to know a lot of things.
Gentleman – Yes. When you start eating different foods, you will compare and you will know too.
Me – You should start a consulting firm.
Gentleman – Me? Why?
Me (smiling) – You should charge people instead of giving free advice. You might make money.

He just stared at me. I got up, said good bye to him smiling and walked away.
 
~Narendra V Joshi

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