Do not let best friends organise outings. Otherwise, trust me, the event that was organised with wishful thinking in mind will quickly turn ominous. Take my best friend: After four years of friendship, I take him to be sane of mind. There may be something seriously psychologically wrong with him since he is my bestie, but other than that minor hitch, he seems a rational human being. So, at the suggestion to go out I was very obliging. He had (apparently) found a great deal online that would bestow upon us cheap wholesome Indian food. I was over the moon, since being a student means frugality often must be adopted when it comes to dire straits financially. No more raiding of the piggy bank, no more being a squandering shopaholic – if it’s time to go out for a meal then best save a quid or two alongside stellar company.
It was a good plan, thoroughly thought out, so where did it all go wrong?
Before the occasion, I endeavoured to find out where the place was and this is the moment when the boy hits me up and informs me that it’s at the other end of town. Be it a teensy town I would get over it, but this is London and travel is a pain. I could not convey the vexation I felt over social media after he said Catford Bridge. All I could think was, ‘Where?’ That’s when the alarm bells in my head started blaring. I tried to block the cautionary anxiety that was creeping in by reassuring myself of the fact that I love this boy, he has thought this through, I can trust him. Either way, my erratic mind was already inclining towards murder. ‘Just because it’s in the middle of nowhere and a thousand miles from where we both live doesn’t mean it’ll be awful’; my rambling mind was running off with the thought, no going back now. I got on the train.
We arrived and the area did not look like a place where a secret gem of a restaurant secretly hides away waiting to be recognised for its brilliance. Alas, my hopes had not diminished, I still wanted to give this place a go. We wandered back and forth aimlessly in the freezing wind until we finally deciphered Google Maps. We were stressed and starving students retiring from our schedules – we needed the solace of spice.
The expression on our faces at the sight of the place is postcard worthy. A cramped takeaway joint with three Indian middle-aged men crowding at the till trying to lure some unsuspecting bugger into the deserted eatery. Our hearts sank, we were to be said buggers. We came in, took our pick of the seven or so tables available and plopped our heavy bottoms down along with our weary hearts.
Most unsettling was the fact that my best friend – the person who set this whole disastrous plan into motion – then dared to utter the phrase: ‘I hope they don’t poison us.’ We ordered and prayed for our lives.
Suddenly, a monotonous drone came out of a receipt printer with the charming tacky chic of 1980s technology, it bleeped out: ‘Incoming order from Hungry House.’ To say that the atmosphere of the place was suffocating would be an understatement.
Then came the food and the conversation, and I must tell you, to our astonishment, the food was great. The Gurkha’s Flavour might look like a local dingy takeaway place, but the grub on offer was actually half decent. I had a tender lamb-on-the-bone curry that was lightly seasoned with mint, herbs and a tinge of spices served with fluffy rice. The spice did not erupt a burning wave of heat into my mouth as I have come to expect from a curry, but instead invigorated my senses and filled my belly heartily.
Initially dreading the place, my expectations were then subverted. With someone to have daft but comforting laughs with, and food that turns out to be surprisingly good, then the outing works itself out. Next time though, maybe I’ll have a turn planning something.