I followed my parents' gaze as they travelled from right to left. Studying the menu intently, ordering food was no mean feat.
So what if we ordered the same dish after reading the menu for an hour.
The menu had to be read. It was a ritual.
Finally, clearing his throat, my dad started, "Toh ek dal makhni, ek butter chicken- - -"
"Do rumaali roti, ek butter naan aur 3 fresh lime soda," I finished.
Like I said, it didn't matter how long we studied the menu for. We always ordered the same stuff.
But, I was hell bent on making one deviation today.
An exception I was shit scared to make.
A waiter was called to take our run-of-the-mill order.
"Sir, paani mineral ya normal?" asked the waiter leaning in politely.
Remember what I was saying about an exception I was about to make?
Well, this was it.
"Mineral," I said.
And immediately regretted my guts.
"WHAT? Why mineral? Normal is good enough," screamed my dad.
"Aur kya! Bhaiyya aap normal hi kar dijiye paani," said my mom.
End of discussion. Normal it was.
"But I earn now," I protested. "We can order mineral water now."
"So what if you earn. Paise kisi ke bhi hon, faaltu aa rahe hain kya?" argued my mom.
For as long as I remember, ordering mineral water in a restaurant has been the biggest taboo in my family.
No matter how expensive the dish is, water always has to be normal.
It's not even about the money anymore. I think it's just about the ethics now. Yes, deep down we all know that most restaurants might be overcharging us, but somehow, paying extra for that bottle of water just doesn't feel right.
No matter how much money we might be wasting otherwise, this seems like the biggest wastage of all.
Which is why it still is, and will always be an impossible thing to order. Money has nothing to do with it. It's just a matter of principles.
After all, paani chaahe jaisa bhi ho, pyaas badi honi chahiye.