Black Friday shopping spree begins the day following Thanksgiving—the fourth Thursday of November every year. In the recent past, this terrific weekend sale has been the curtain raiser for the upcoming Christmas season. Every high street business looks up to the arrival of this occasion to compensate for the ups and downs of the whole year, especially this time, as the market, including the restaurants, was a little bleak till November.
With Christmas lights switched on, Oxford Street looked stunning and cheered the arrival of fabulous festive crowd in style. Every store offered attractive discounts to their patrons, all the eateries were equally geared up for a full-blown trade before New Year. Late in the afternoon on Black Friday, there was an unexpected panic following a shooting incident around the Regent Street in London. In apprehension, people ran all over the place, many sneaked in through our restaurant doors too and hid beneath tables with panic-stricken faces.
Restaurant staff was asked to stay indoors as it was a total nightmare, not knowing what was happening outside. In the next half an hour, the Oxford Street was evacuated, and the police took control of the whole area. Everyone was glued to the TV screens to figure out the situation. Fortunately, the situation was brought under control soon. After the police confirmed that it was a false alarm, restaurants were back in action and we had a great weekend crowd. Among many rejuvenated people who showed up for dinner, Christina was a single customer at table no. 10 on the ground floor.
Our young waiter Mohammad Alam served the delicious tilapia fish curry on a flat platter to Christina, and he attempted a little chitchat as she looked very excited about our food. With a candid smile, Alam asked her, “You look so happy in spite of today’s incident?” She answered cheerfully, “You know, what happened today is unfortunate but I am on a mission with this meal. I had a tough time in life and often failed as a person, and it has affected my health deeply. I have heard a lot about the healing properties of Indian spices and their spiritual influence. So, I need to explore the Indian food. This is my first curry in life, and I can’t wait to try this.”
Looking gleefully at Christina, Alam articulated a momentary philosophy on Indian food, “Look at this dish, a delicious fish’s floating in a river of flavours supported by vibrant spices, all evenly poised and individually adding their therapeutic essence to make this preparation a divine experience—both in taste and goodness. Your life’s like the story of this fish, the wonderful combination of spices in it makes the fish exceptional. It is important for us to realise the wonders of the cosy world around and how lucky we are to be blessed. Every flavour brings something to the totality of the taste and we cannot ignore any ingredient based on our dislike, that’s what my Bengali grandmother taught me.”
Christina looked joyful. With a positive radiance on her face, she said to him, “This is exactly what I wanted to hear today. Our sweet conversation is as important as this dish. I feel very confident now and look forward to enjoying my life by being fascinated with people around me, just like your spices. Thank you.” Alam was amazed at what he heard from a guest, he kept on talking about it all evening till the staff dinner.On the days that followed, Oxford street was busy again, and with a united effort Londoners pulled everything back to normality once again, just like all ingredients contribute to a dish and bring a miraculous harmony called taste.The author runs the London-based Rasa chain of restaurants