There are many things we fear, many things we’d rather not get into. And yet, many things we could never think of. Among them was the fear and anxiety of dining alone. Jeez. Who does that? Lonely souls who want to get stared at? Why waste a table on one person? A couple of my Facebook ‘friends’ would often update how they had gone to the movies alone and spent an entire day in their company, having lunch, all alone. They claimed it was quite an experience. But how?
Two years ago I had the good fortune to travel to Dubai for work. I was alone. I had four days in that blessed Emirate with nothing to do post five in the evening. Thankfully, there was a mall nearby, where I found myself heading towards on my first day. Walking miles and miles in that huge mall, window shopping, trying on armful of clothes, was quite fun to say the least. I even asked strangers in the neighbouring stalls to help me decide if a certain silhouette suited me, or a certain shade of grey. And not to mention the umpteen meals I had all alone.
While I enjoyed my short time there, once I came back it never occurred to me to give it a shot here in Delhi. So last year, I decided to take a day off from work, and charted an entire day’s itinerary with myself. I landed up at Saket mall, bought a ticket for the ‘foodie’ film Burnt and waltzed my way through the stores. Only a couple and I were seated in an empty hall watching the film and pretty sure they were the ones making ‘weird’ noises throughout. That day, I set myself up for lunch at an Italian café, and luxuriously spent time digging into my Prawn linguine slathered in herbed tomato sauce. Delish. It was one of the best days I had ever spent out under the sun, and it thrilled me to the bone. After all, I’m left with me all the time. I’d rather make myself comfortable with me out in public. While I dined, many stared. But I didn’t care. I didn’t even read. I was prepared to submerge myself in enjoying my meal sans any distractions.
And since then, I’ve done this at least twice over. Whether enjoying my meal at Chi-Asian Cookhouse while shopping at Janpath, before heading over to Oxford Bookstore for the Crime Writers’ Festival (again, alone) to the heavenly dining experience at the new Mamagoto in Noida – this has now become quite an addiction. I even struck gold when the restaurant manager at Mamagoto decided to give me a fifty percent discount. I was ecstatic. Who does that anymore?
Having a meal with myself, in public, has been one of the most liberating experiences ever. No need for small talk, no need to bicker about the cuisine and what to eat, no need to share fries or feel guilty for ordering dessert. But most importantly, being at ease with myself, anywhere.