Summer time in the pre-teen years was defined by our regular trips to Prithvi. Theater workshops, brownie treats and some fabulous performance – that’s how I’d like to remember that place always. And I thought it would be easy enough. But I was in for a big surprise.
The baingan ka bharta, phalka and brownie soon made way for a revised menu of pastas and grilled sandwiches. Soon after it got that reduced to a counter selling croissants, pastries and packaged iced tea. Mawa cake from Merwans and the ginger drink provided some respite but that didn’t last too long.
But since they still started their shows on time and allowed free seating, we still chose to go. Bookmyshow.com simplified our lives to a great extent and I’m grateful for that. But I still preferred to buy tickets from the man at the counter, who was now a familiar face. We’d exchange greetings; he’d update us about the new plays and so on.
Things got even better when those folks insisted that we queue up while entering the theatre. It was a lot of incentive to come in early and stand in the line only to get the coveted center seat, with additional leg space. By then, we had stopped frequenting the café save for an occasional drink or samosa. We’d buy the tickets, form the queue, watch the play and leave. It was as simple.
Until last week, when the man at the counter messed up with a transaction. To begin with, it was an error on my part; I handed him extra cash. But I realized it before I left the counter but he denied every bit of it. The amount was 300 but I handed 600. He refused to return the balance back. Said it was his daily job, he couldn’t have made a mistake. I retreated, not wanting to make a scene. But I got thinking. If the amount was indeed 300, in order to complete the transaction, I would have to give minimum three 100-ruppe notes or a 500-ruppee note. But I gave him only two notes – a 500 and 100. Since it was his every-day job, he’d have noticed the amount had it been the former. So it had to be the latter.
I approached him again, this time with the father in tow. He denied accepting a 500-ruppee note. Said I gave three 100-ruppee notes, which I didn’t have in the first place. He said he’d recount the cash. This time I threatened to create a scene. After a little cajoling, he returned Rs. 200 as if he was doing me a favor. I persisted a little while longer, and he finally relented. His words: “Theek hai, aap jao. Mera loss hoga.” It was rather tempting to turn back and retort to him but common sense prevailed. I collected the cash and stomped off.
I wonder if Prithvi will ever be the same again.