"So, how much is it?"
"Ek second yaar. Lemme calculate."
"Jaldi kar na! Kitna time laga rahi hai!"
"Wait yaar. Okay okay. So it's ₹800 each."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes. Oh wait! Fuck, I forgot to add VAT. Wait. Yeah, so it's ₹900 each."
"Hmmm... that was kinda cheap," said my friend as he took out two ₹500 notes from his wallet.
I begged to differ. I just had the most expensive lemonade and fries of my life. And was about to pay ₹900 for both. "But why would you drink a lemonade that's priced at ₹900 ? That's insane!" I hear you say.
No. Actually, the lemonade was for ₹90 (still shit expensive if you ask me) and the fries were for ₹150. But I ended up paying ₹900 for them because my friends firmly believe that splitting the bill equally is the preferred societal norm. I mean, that's how it's done these days, amirite? Any attempt to dissect the bill in a different fashion is met with a look that screams "Listen, we're not students any more. We're all earning. So stop being such a miser will you?"
Well, unwanted monetary losses aside, not only do I find this practice unfair, I also find it deceiving.
I find it unscrupulous, misleading and unfair. Oh did I mention that I find it absolutely unfair?
I don't mind a drink every now and then but if I'm not drinking, then why the hell should I pay for someone's Kingfisher Ultra? (Yes, Vijay Mallya continues to rob me of my monies)
I enjoy eating kebabs every now and then but if I'm not eating on a particular get-together, then why the hell should I pay for someone's tandoori chicken?
I might hate soft-drinks but must share the cost of one just because a friend of mine must-absolutely-most-certifiably have it with his chicken sandwich.
Ever heard of the term 'angel investor'? Well, I seem to have become one. Albeit, unwillingly.
It's high time we realize that not paying for what you don't eat doesn't make you a miser. It makes you sensible.
It's high time we realize that "Hey, I don't feel like eating anything. So I'll just have a small coffee" might mean "Listen, I'm really low on cash. So I won't be able to order anything fancy but will just have a cup of coffee to give you guys company".
How then, are you supposed to feel, when you're asked to cough up a thousand bucks 'just like everyone else' who had multiple pints of beer and munchies?
I get it if you ask me to share the service tax; agreed, calculating the service tax on a single cup of coffee or a glass of lemonade can be an arduous process. But I'm definitely not comfortable giving an equal footing to a glass of juice and a pint of beer or a peg of whiskey.
And as if paying for stuff I don't have wasn't cruel enough, there are some who firmly believe in getting a value for money.
Some, who will say "Bhai tera lemonade toh sahi lag raha hai. Ek sip diyo" while holding a bottle of beer.
Some, who will want to taste your paneer tikka even if you want nothing to do with their tandoori chicken platter.
Some who will want to taste your tomato soup before moving on to their chilli garlic noodles.
Yeah, talk about adding insult to injury.
Hence, the next time someone decisively says "Okay guys, it's ₹1000 each", don't be ashamed to highlight the fact that you just had a plate of nachos or fries or a cup of coffee or any minuscule snack you're particularly fond of. Trust me, neither will it make you a miser, nor poorer. Apne adhikar ko jaano, jaago grahak jaago.