Those who bravely walk into restaurants and enjoy a meal alone.
Wouldn’t relate to this being lonely, moan.
If you, my dear reader, dread asking for a table for one.
Read on for it turned out to be fun!
Untidy and still in uniform ,I’d holler at my mom or sisters to give me company.
Don’t eat alone was my only rule.
They’d fill my plate with food and I’d fill them with stories from school.
In college, I’d head to my friend’s place after tuition. Hot summer afternoons in May.
Food was forgotten as we danced to Spice Girls and welcoming VJ Trey.
The hostel canteen was an escape.
The idiocy and the I Love You’s etched on wooden desks.
Cramming for an exam and buried in our book.
Students bonded over a common cause, change the unimaginative cook.
Rotis hardened like pappads and pappads softened with moisture like rotis.
The management found this canteen camaraderie incorrigible and naughty.
Food was barely touched as it was labelled by one and all as inedible.
We would find street vendors with food was more dependable.
On holidays, I’ve had solo lunches overlooking the Sydney harbour.
Quietly devoured croissants staring at the Eiffel tower.
But that was different with people milling around me.
Couples, friends and colleagues. Exchanging smiles, numbers and a story.
Travelling on business isn’t woefully lonely either.
Diaries pencilled with client lunches and dinners with friends.
When that isn’t an option, one can opt for room service luxury.
I had progressed to having breakfast alone.
Hiding behind a newspaper or busying myself with the blinking Blackberry.
Feeling very corporate, with my Earl Grey tea and eggs. I was finally on the mend.
But all that changed when I recently travelled on work to Tokyo.
No colleagues, clients or cronies to rely on. It was a dinner from hell!
Don’t worry I will tell you more…
It was a Friday evening and I didn’t want to be indoors.
Such a vibrant city and plenty to see.
Grabbing a map, I went exploring the hills of Roppongi.
Not believing my luck when I read about a vegetarian sushi bar, which I finally found.
I walked into this small, upscale, fine dining restaurant.
With its hushed tones and dim lights making me want to turn around.
Heels clicking across the floor, I chided myself for drawing attention by not changing my shoes.
God help me, my nightmare was coming true.
Too dark to pull out a novel and no window seats to distract myself with the humdrum of city life.
Facing the inscrutable Japanese chef and glancing surreptitiously at the other couple.
Is it my imagination or was it disdain from his sophisticated wife?
Though tempted, I didn’t use my phone as an escort.
Having learned from bitter experience data roaming means trouble.
Being Friday night, my email alerts had ebbed.
Oh wait, here comes the chef with a basket of veggies and explains the menu.
Thankful for a chance at conversation I ordered a variety of rolls.
Having worked up an appetite I wolfed them down in ten minutes as if that was my goal!
It’s sushi, you can’t not eat it at one go, can you?
No flirty bartenders, no chatty waiters and no allies. That only happens in a movie.
Alas, my date with myself was far from groovy.
I sat there deliberately taking small sips of my non-alcoholic drink.
Wishing for a familiar face by my side.
In hindsight, a glass of wine would have calmed my nerves and I wouldn’t want to hide.
Minutes passed and I started to relax.
Looking around more confidently I made eye contact, not at all shy.
The 8-10 characters in an almost play-like setting, wore a similar expression.
A mixture of admiration and idle curiosity.
Focusing on me instead of their date, I wonder why?
Because I wasn’t togged up for dinner to remain unseen by their partners.
There was also, perhaps,envy.
To them I was bold and carefree so I reasoned it wasn’t pity.
Paying the bill, I smiled and promised to return the next time I’m here.
Feeling triumphant on conquering my fear.
And ready to soldier through others,I disappeared into the city.