Saturday, 17 March 2012

Doilies and Abundance


I have dutifully deferred gratification and I am now standing in the Jaflong curry house with three bags of Co-op shopping in my hands (yes I forgot to take my bags for life with me). Change is afoot. Our nearest take away has recently stopped doing curry choosing instead to concentrate on local favourites such as ye olde donner kebab. Ah well everything changes. So I now have to drive – perhaps I could cycle but have you ever tried carrying a takeaway curry in a rucksack? In fact I have and it was a miracle we ate that night. I’m not sure I’m ready to become that Lycra clad male who has fashioned a custom-built curry-steadying insert for his rucksack. I don’t really own a rucksack I use the turquoise one that used to be the nappy bag. The one that carried all the paraphernalia that as a stay at home dad I used to carry around. For a long time it still smelt of wet ones and by association something else that doesn’t sit well in a conversation featuring curry. That smell has now gone. Still I’m not using that rucksack tonight. Back to change - I had to drive around the block several times before I finally found a space within walking distance of the coop and the curry house. You see they have made improvements to the road. I’m pretty sure this is to make it safer for pedestrians. To make it easier to cross the road. Perhaps the shopkeepers instigated it. They felt that trade was hindered by pedestrians electing to stay on one side or the other. I think even then it’s pretty evenly balanced as coop is on the non-sunny side. Personally I always rather liked the experience of having to cross in one particular place. I used to think to myself how nice to live by an old fashioned high street with individual bakers and DIY stores and a proper knick-knack store (We Love Farmers). But now we’ve got the familiar raised kerbs and extended pavements creating lay-bys. It all looks very posh and efficient except it has started the homogenisation of the street. Granted there are more people in the area but we’re all pretty good at crossing the road. Perhaps if there had been an accident then someone might have said “oh the council should have installed another pedestrian crossing years ago” but until now there has been no accident that I know of. And so it goes.
 So I’m still standing in the curry house digesting all these complexities of objective phenomena and the chair is pulled out for me. They always pull it out in a way that points you away from the kitchen. I want to make myself invisible but they always turn me to the other diners. I am not a diner I am collecting a take away – this is a relevant point with regards to the next point. Tonight I am offered given a ten percent discount! Brilliant I say and they offer me the customary saucer to place my payment on. Something is not quite right – change is a foot. And here comes my change. But wait all right yes it’s on the saucer but something else is on the saucer too. It’s a doily. Have you ever tried to scoop up your change from a doily-bedecked saucer? It’s impossible. ON previous visits to Jaflong I have always presumed that the whole change on the saucer thing is part of keeping up appearances and facilitating a certain appropriate decorum and feel confident that my decision to not tip due to being my own delivery boy is not questioned one iota. Until tonight. The doily is clearly there to tell me that tipping is expected. The doily is like another hand grabbing hold of my coinage and tugging my cuff saying uh uh not so fast fatso. My change spills on the floor. Decorum punctured. The proprietor helps me pick it up. Its dark and I can’t see what the values are. At the last minute he retrieves what appears to be a pound coin and places it on the doily. For a microsecond I think about picking it up then raise my hand in a gesture that says of course I was going to leave that tip all along Mr. Jaflong. In my head I quickly calculate that with the tip is less than the discount so I can move on. No one surprisingly is too embarrassed by this exchange. Wittgenstein apparently despaired that he would have to rewrite all his ideas when confronted by his colleague flicking his chin at him in an Italian De Niro in Mean Streets kind of way. What would he have made of the complexities of paper doily communication? My sister used to communicate through cutlery. Every time she laid the table she would put the knives and forks in the left-handed position. Admittedly not as jarring as a horses head in the bed (God Father I know!) but still a way of communicating a certain amount of discontent whilst simultaneously unnerving the recipient of the message. The curry is delicious. And I’m glad I deferred this moment not least because I recently read that introverts like to defer gratification and introverts are, so I read, the new cool.
Afterwards:
Just read a nice link about Jaflong and it contains the words "doilies in abundance". Could it be that the doily on the plate was simply an over elaboration of the intended decorum.

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