The highlight of Chitra’s New York trip was lunch. Hunger pangs dug in when her car entered Holland Tunnel on the way to a rain-soaked Big Apple. Though it was Saturday afternoon, guide and cousin Shalini found a parking spot on Thomson St. She flipped out her iPhone and scanned for the nearest Thai restaurant.
Chitra led the four women around the block. A keen observer at the corner of Spring and Broadway streets may have seen puffs of white smoke with every one of Chitra’s steps. If she jogged past Chitra and looked back she would see the smoke alternating between nostrils. If that person knew Chitra well, she would have decoded the signals: extreme hunger.
Chitra ran and crossed the road in front of the yellow cab hurrying to beat the red light. She did not stop to look at the menu outside KittiChai. The dim interior of the Thai restaurant slowed Chitra; the hostess bowed to her waist blocking the way. “The dining room is closed,” she chimed and the clock on the wall struck 3. They were willing to serve in the foyer with the low table and ottomans around it.
Shalini, her mother and two cousins caught up with Chitra. Chitra had sat down on the ottoman, nostrils flaring ready to send out the next batch of coded messages. Shalini’s iPhone came to Chitra’s rescue. Peep, a Thai fusion restaurant was around the next block.
Shalini had a particular interest in taking the group to a Thai restaurant. Her mother, Padmini, was shy when it comes to tasting cuisines other than vegetarian S. Indian fare. She also wanted to introduce her Canadian cousins to authentic Thai food. At this late hour, Shalini would have to compromise on Thai fusion.
This time Shalini walked around the bowed hostess straight into the Peep kitchen. When Shalini walked into the restaurant, Chitra came out of the kitchen with a grinning chef behind her holding a ladle. The chef came to their table and made sure that Chitra got a starter immediately.
When her other senses got back their feeling, Chitra looked around. There were mirrors all around except for the wall behind her. The ceiling reflected the young couple sitting two tables away and an older couple at the bar. Chitra ordered a martini and sat back.
A martini later Chitra looked around for the restroom. There were two handles on the mirrored wall. Chitra pushed the handle and opened the door. The restroom had very faint lighting. She got in and locked the door. It was big. The facing wall also had mirrors. She turned around. She watched the people in the restaurant. One could sit in the restroom and watch the people outside without them knowing it. Peep. What a name for a restaurant.