The Khanar-Pinar friends of the Mandli requested Meherbai to organise a thali-lunch.
Gooli Google: It will be a change to eat from a silver thali. It’s so boring to eat out of kaanch-ni-plate day after day!
Rarto Rohan: No thali business! We men like to eat motta-motta- gosh-na-bota!
Mai-Kanglo-Minoo: I call it ramakra, just as I call my Dinoo ramakroo!
Meherbai: Call them what you want, but in a thali you’ll get only pure vegetarian food.
Pilamai Pehelwan: Ghas-phoos? Bakri-nu-bhonu?
Vegetarian Viloo: Yup! Ghas-phoos! A thali is a finely balanced meal, supplying your body with every vitamin and micro-mineral that it needs. It’s healthy and that’s the best thing about it.
Meherwanji: And the second-best thing about a thali is that you don’t have to study the menu to decide what you want since it’s all decided for you. Usually, there’s a rotation of different vegetables that are put in the thali, with emphasis on seasonal ones.
The Mandli was still divided as half the members kept pressing for non-veg food. Do Parsis really agree on anything?
Meherbai: Those in favour of thali, raise your hands!
All the ladies raised their hands.
Meherbai: Now those not in favour of a thali, raise your hands.
All the husbands raised their hands.
The ladies protested and refused to go and enjoy without their bitter-halves.
Dolly Ding-Dong: Dolla dear, in 57 years of marriage, have I gone out anywhere to enjoy anything, without you?
Dolla (actually Dorab): Darling, I’ll come for a Thali lunch, but only for your sake! (Actually, Dolly goes everywhere – Daar-aney-dodhi ma, and enjoys everything selfishly, dumping poor Dolla at home!)
Hasti Hilla (to her husband, Rarto Rohan): If Dolla can come, even you can! You won’t perish if you are deprived of your ramakras for one meal!
Rohan: Alright! Count me in.
Henpecked Hormusji: I’ll also come, otherwise for the next few days gherey bhona bundh aney khali khit-pit chaloo!
One by one, all husbands meekly put their hoshiyari ‘down’ and hands ‘up’.
A whole week went in deciding where to go. Finally, they settled on a vegetarian restaurant which was newly renovated and the thali was reported to be sumptuous. They all settled down comfily on the long table, wives on one side and their corresponding counterparts on the other.
Head-Waiter: Water? Bottled or ordinary?
Sooni Sample: We are ordinary people, so ordinary water.
Waiter: Matlab sada pani?
Firdos Fituri: Arrey, we are all saada-maada, simple people, so of course saada-pani.
Then came buttermilk and farsaan and the Mandli demolished it all, like they had come from a famine-hit area. The masala-papads, cocktail-samosas and steaming hot dhoklas, kachoris and sabudana-vadas disappeared faster than they came. Later, the ladies relished the veggies with bajra and jowar chapatis while the men went for rice and sweet dal or khichdi-kadhi, with tons of pure ghee poured over it while the wives screamed: Soo karoj? Ketlu ghee? Badhana cholestrol vadhi jasey!
The Husbands: Gher jainey double-dose of blood-thinners laisoo!
The husbands became defiant and paid no heed to the wives. Their dal-chaval looked like a swimming -pool of pure-ghee and they all dived into it, spoonful by spoonful. The sweets arrived last. Piping-hot gulab jumuns, jalebis, shrikhand and melt-in-the-mouth malpuas. The entire Mandli had a sweet-tooth, so they enjoyed the mouth-repair (monu-samarvanu) like there’s no tomorrow.
Stuffed with food up to their eye-balls, the Mandli decided to go home and sleep after devouring the Thali as their eye-lids and stomach get connected!! They found it difficult to keep their eyes open. Suddenly Firdos Fituri put his hand on his heart saying, “Oh! Oh! Oh!!” Everybody in the Mandli thought it was a heart-attack, except Hormusji who was used to this naatak for several years now.
Bomi Bevdo: Call a doctor! Waiter, kitchen ma doctor chey?
Waiter: Saab, yeh restaurant hai, hospital nahin! Kitchen mein toh Maharaj (cook) hai!
Rumi Romeo: Maharaja toh Air-India ka hai. Aur abhi toh karka ho gaya hai! Once, Air India had fatakri Air-Hostesses but now they have quite different!
Now coming back to our main topic, Firdos Fituri twisted and turned like a circus acrobat and gave out a thunderous belch, as he always did. Hormusji said this was his usual style after a heavy meal at home but this was his first public performance!!
Hearing this belch, the kitchen-staff came out thinking it was an earth-quake! The Mandli pacified them and went home, too heavy to walk and so they got into their respective cars.
Firdos Fituri was fast asleep, snoring like a donkey in the car driven by Hormusji. He was taken to his house on the second floor, with the help of his two neighbours – Sammy-six-pack and Piroj Pehelwan. When he got up the next morning, he said he had a dream wherein he was gorging like mad at a thali-restaurant. Hormusji informed that it wasn’t a dream and he embarrassed the whole Mandli with his belching!
Soon, Keks (Khadro Keki) came to Meherbai’s house, saying that he has brought breakfast! When Meherbai opened Kek’s meli-gheli bajaar ni theli, she found every starter that was served with the thali! Meherbai returned the theli, saying, “Keks dikra, we don’t eat chori-no-maal!”
And there ends the story of the Mandli’s thali lunch!
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