I have just finished reading Gouri Dange’s The Counsel of Strangers, a charming presentation of six stories that come pouring out at one big Indian wedding. Something one of the characters said in the book stayed with me all week. The near-suicidal Nurse Sajani at one point in her story said: “So then, tell me, as the fellow says in his book, When I die, who will cry? But I have a more urgent question. When I am living, who will laugh with me?”
The dreariness from the week before has continued to creep into the rest of the month. I’ve been on crap dates, fallen ill, still haven’t found joy in the promotion, and saddest of all, found out that the Coffee Shop Guy is married. I needed a miracle to lift my mood… but thank you Universe for sending me three!
Rahul was in town on business and pulled out a few hours to buy me a Skinny-Dry-Extra-Foam-No-Sugar-Chocolate-on-Top-Cappuccino at my local Pret A Manger. I have known Rahul for as long as he’s been married to my best friend Lina and over the years he and I have developed a tremendous affection and respect for one another. I have heard and experienced too many incidents of “socially acceptable” inflections that quickly escalate into uncomfortable conversations and consequently, the death of friendships. But in the 15 plus years that I have known Rahul, I am relieved that not once has our friendship turned even mildly flirtatious, and not once has my friendship with Lina ever soured. Lina and Rahul, collectively and separately are havens of joy and love and I am grateful for them in my life. That day I laughed a lot with my favourite married man.
It is week one of the grouse season and there was no question that I had to book a restaurant that served grouse. Scott’s in Mayfair, before the refurb was the epitome of traditional elegance. The renovations brought a few naff additions like the art on the walls, a mile high island bar to display their oysters, and way too many diners in grey tee shirts. Fortunately the food is still top-notch and my handsome companion wasted no time devouring the menu. Madison and I settled for 18 oysters – yes, 18, the Roast Grouse for him and a Bannockburn Rib Steak for me. We paired our oysters with a rosé from Sancerre and the mains with reds from France and Argentina. Madison orders with his eyes and so of course we had dessert (that we couldn’t finish) – honeycomb ice cream with chocolate sauce and a scoop of the mint chocolate chip. Date two is with handsome Madison. I have only known him a few years but continue to be joyously surprised by how effortless our times together are. We glide from gossip about ex lovers to Ugly Betty, from developments in the Indian hotel industry to non-political books by daughters of politicians; I cannot remember the last time I had so much to say to a straight man. That day I laughed a lot with one half of my favourite gay couple.
I first met Aditya in 2004. I remember like it was yesterday, an autumn evening when I had a sudden attack of the butterflies. We flirted for years. I dithered, then he did, and at one point we just stopped; flirting and dithering. Today even though there is no hope for a romance, nor a desire for it, Aditya is still my favourite single man because he still gives me butterflies. That night we went to a restaurant he had never been to before. Goodman is a New York steakhouse in the heart of Mayfair and I am delighted to report that no steak lover will ever be disappointed here. Aditya visits London every few months and always, always makes time to meet me. He lets me know that I matter. That night I laughed a lot with my favourite single man.
My three miracles arrived like strapping life guards on a stormy beach. I’ve been reminded of the love that surrounds me… even if not from exactly next door, and all is right in the world again.