27 August 2013

The Solitary Diner

I went out to dine today. Since I am in a new city and neither have a place nor know anyone here, I went to a restaurant nearby that I had noticed yesterday. Seemed a neat and small joint. The rate list said otherwise. The food was pretty expensive and the quality of place did not justify it. While waiting for my dinner to be presented to me, and since I was without a book (the rare occasion when I am between books and taking a few days' break), I started looking around. A family with two kids behind me, two female friends celebrating one's birthday on my right, another couple seemingly immersed in discussion a little father to the left, etc. I noticed that I was the only one sitting alone. This is a common enough practice for me. I usually dine out alone when I feel like it. If none of the ones at hand are interested enough, I just take off with a book in my 'jhola' and sit in some joint and spend time. But over time I have noticed that dining alone is not a common practice in general. On the odd occasions that I have seen someone digging into his food alone, it has usually been men towards their middle ages seemingly on errands (they carry files and folders or something of the sort). I have even shared tables with them at times, two solitary diners unmindful of either's presence. Since I had nothing better to do today, I started wondering why it was that people did not done alone? 

It is not that I am exceptionally unsocial to not have dinner companions. But I occasionally do find myself in a position where no one is interested, is otherwise engaged or has already had dinner. In such cases I step out alone. Do others not face such situations? I think they do. Assuming they do, why don't they go out? Apparently the inhibition to go out to a fancy place and dine alone is greater than the longing to have that special food. Perhaps the longing was not great enough in the first place. Or maybe people find their own company too burdensome to bear alone. Loneliness is boring for many. Has never been for me. Is that why I have failed at almost all human relationships? Except the ones in which people have stuck to me and made me succeed? But then that's their success. Still my failure. I digress however. My food was presented.

Chicken cutlet served on gravy with some fries. Hmmm. And some bread to go along. Fries and bread both? Weird. 

My mouth was busy with the food but my brain was still free to rave. So. Why do I not mind myself enough to ditch plans where I am left alone? I travel alone, quite a few people do that but attach themselves to temporary companions. I dine alone, not many do that. I go to theaters and watch movies alone, rarely people do that. I ride alone, still fewer do that, if any. I let out a low laugh as I realised what had made me this solitary diner sitting and chewing on the cold cutlet and excellent gravy. It was a social experiment. Triggered by a spat with friends back in college and converted into one of the many experiments that I had chosen myself as the subject of.

The ice tea was good as well. If only the cutlet had been freshly prepared and the prices a little less, I would have come here oftener. Well...

So this particular one was about me surviving alone. Absolutely alone. I used to attend classes occasionally, else lock myself up in my room. I fancied I could was in a prison. No, prisons were not a lonely place. I wonder why I had fancied that back then. Anyway. Self imposed confinement. Alone in whatever I did. I picked up habits that let me survive without craving social contact. Reading, writing, surfing, walking, thinking. What was funnier was that this was not the only experiment that I had forgot to terminate. My unkempt look, lack of enthusiasm or ambition, no tube, cynicism - my entire self was more or less from these weird experiments. Damn me! I am a concoction! Ah, well, the dinner was decent.

No Amex. Hah. Fake appearances. [:P] That is how I have stated judging the sophistication of places now. But then CCD accepts Amex. What a world!

As I walked back I wondered why I had not ended the experiments and whether I should end the experiments now. But there was no need to. Why make the effort? Who cares? Not me for sure. Wait, is that the experiment speaking in the first place? Argh! Too complicated. Let me just go back to the big posh room with a big bed that I have for a couple of days and stare in my laptop. Weird that I don't feel weird. I should probably get my head checked.

1 comment:

  1. Probably the most honest piece you have written in a LONG time, baccha :D

    Accha hai, type of saccha hai. Also - I have been dining alone for more than a week now, so it kind of connected.