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Pehle aap

The Volvo (not just your average bus) screeched to a halt somewhere between here (Gurgaon) and there (Kasol) in the middle of the night (didn't bother to check time, it was somewhere around hungry time). The screech  put the dhaba waiters into accelerated motion. Towel on the shoulder, slippers under the feet. Hands busy waving away the flies. Eye roving compulsively and furiously over the fat contingent vomited out of the bus, straight into the washrooms. The washrooms lacked soap. (there perhaps was something that resembled a soap near the wash basin, but one can't be sure.) But that didn't deter us to go order food in the restaurant after visiting the washrooms.

At a distance, there were 3 portly men. One sitting, the other two were standing. They were intently avoiding each other's gaze. If accidents of timing made one catch another's gaze, both ended up smiling profusely with wild hand gestures. One can only surmize that the gestures were theatrical acts of extending respect. The one who was seated was not as animated. A little younger and fatter, he was incredulous about all the fuss around him. He smiled weakly, he gesticulated weakly.

To his misfortune, a waiter came along. He was carrying one cup of tea. One.
The first man (white shirt) enthusiastically offered it (or rather menacingly ordered the waiter to offer) to the third guy (red shirt). Red shirt pushed it away - 'pehle aap', smiling extra wide. The waiter's hands were in auto mode - moving as directed.
The red and white then got into a chorus and commanded the waiter to offer the tea to the third guy (Mr. seat) Mr. Seat was in two minds. He looked at them both, and made a weak gesture - asking the others to have the first tea. By this time the waiter's hand had completed a complete circle.
It was as if the waiter was a brahmin, doing a pooja of the three idols (Tridev!)
But this brahmin was getting a bit agitated. His body was tense with impatience. But he was too afraid to do anything. He eyes were extra alert and roving a tad too quickly. Curiously, he didn't look away from the trio for a second.
Mr. Seat then said that he can't drink this much tea. He gestured with his hand - a 'cutting'. He wanted half a glass of chai.
Mr. white shirt got into faux action, menacing the poor waiter again to go get a cutting chai.
 The waiter protested, someone take this one cup of chai first!
At which point, both red shirt and white shirt simultaneously leaned towards the waiter.
and then started the second round of 'pehle aap'.
The waiter had had enough.
He thrust the cup in Mr. White shirt's hands and left.


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