Mumbai moments: Why being a man in Mumbai is so damn difficult

It’s lunchtime at Powai’s China Valley restaurant. Powai’s young professional crowd favors China Valley for cheap prices and efficient lunch service, not five-star food options.

Arjun taps on his iPhone keyboard as he sits across from his workmates, Deepika and Raj. Deepika motions the waiter to serve more Korean noodles.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

The waiter approaches Arjun first.

“More noodles, sir?”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Arjun makes a vague gesture with his left hand as he opens a WhatsApp chat from a friend. Another election joke. This time, Modi’s the target.

Translation: TGI Friday This bar, Modi government. Play on "This time, Modi government."

TGI Friday
This bar, Modi government. Play on “This time, Modi government.”

Arjun snorts a derisive laugh.

Deepika twirls her noodles, dragging them into a neat spiral with her chopsticks.

“The new boss wants the latest figures by 3 pm.”

Raj checks his watch. It’s 1:30, and service is slow today.

“I don’t think we can manage that. We’ll be here until 2:00. It’ll take until 5 at least.”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Her mouth full, Deepika nods and turns to face Arjun. She twirls another spiral onto her chopsticks.

“Yes, 5. Don’t you agree, Arjun?”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

“Arjun? Don’t you agree?”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Deepika’s chopsticks clatter on the plate.

“Arjun! You’re exhibiting the worst kind of table manners right now! The worst!”

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Arjun barely blinks.

“Huh. Yeah. Sorry. Just WhatsApped you a joke from Sunil.”

Unimpressed by this half-hearted apology, Deepika begins yelling in Hindi.

“Ab aapke phone bandh karo!”

Arjun looks to Raj for sympathy. Raj sips his tea. Diners turn to watch as Deepika comes unglued and continues her tirade in Hindi.

Chastened, Arjun switches off the phone and lays it on the table.

“What time’s the report due?”

Apoplectic with rage, Deepika continues in English.

“You’re not even paying attention and then ask these ridiculous questions! Show some respect for us!”

“But, I…,” stammers Arjun.

One cold look from Deepika silences him. The trio eat the remaining meal without uttering a word. Minutes later, Arjun pays the bill and pushes his chair away from the table.


Deepika attempts to flip her hair while sliding out of the booth.


She slips as she slides off the edge, embarrassed.

“Give a lady a moment at least!”

After recovering, Deepika retrieves a few breath fresheners from the ceramic bowl on the table.

“OK. Now, I’m ready. Chalo.”

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