Seeing my friend's face as she walked through the door of the restaurant was a picture worthy of pride of place. It was her birthday and she knew nothing of the surprise that awaited her arrival. Twelve of her closest friends all stood, raised their glasses and sung Happy Birthday. She stood motionless with a dropped jaw and tearful eyes -- this is my best friend, my closest pal, my adopted sister.
After the intial shock, she sat shaking with emotion as everyone gave her presents and cards. There were numerous alcoholic beverages in front of her, so many that if I'd have drunk half of them I'd have been comatose! Friends she hadn't seen for years and friends who had only spoke to her a couple of hours previous all laughed and talked like it was an old school reunion and the atmosphere was electric.
Her 91 year old Aunt and her 87 year old friend, had never been to an Indian Restaurant, in fact they'd never been to a foreign restaurant before in their life and it was a totaly new experience for them. The menu was rather confusing, they couldn't pronounce half of it and didn't have a clue about the cuisine. They had plenty of help of course but the spicy dishes and the garlic smell didn't whip up much of an appetite with them and they casually asked for chips! Chips (or French fries) with a nice steak definately wasn't on the menu, so they settled for poppadums and chutney for starters and something mild for the main course.
The wine and the beer was flowing. I just sat with a soft fizzy drink and decided to share the meal my husband ordered. I can't eat really but I can have a taste as long as I don't have to chew anything. I'm kind of okay with a little rice and a bit of sauce but after that, that's about it! I knew that I'd be awake for most of the night, but this was my friend's birthday and it gives her great pleasure to see me joining in with the meal.
"These poppawatsits are really nice they're like a big crisp," piped up Auntie Betty.
"I like that magno chutney," said her friend!
Everone erupted with laughter. "Well you've just had your first Indian meal at 91 and it's mango chutney," said my friend.
The night went really well. My friend was in tears for most of the evening but they were tears of joy. "I'll never forget my 59th birthday!" she said.
It gave me great pleasure and satisfaction knowing that I gave her the best present ever. I haven't been able to do much in the last 3 years and somehow always gave her a paltry treat. Most likely it was a CD or a bunch of flowers and I always felt I could have done more because she's worth so much more than that! How do you top that next year? She's 60 next time and that in itself is a celebration worth a fuss. I guess we'll think of something.