Sunday, 27 August 2006

Arun Thai is a restaurant on Macleay Street, Potts Point. To get there, after I was invited on Thursday night by my friend Grant, I decided to avoid parking troubles and catch the train. It's only the third time since I moved to this flat that I've taken the train.

Packed in my bag were a swathe of magazines to entertain me on the trip. I needn't have bothered. It takes only about 30 minutes, with the house lights flaring in the blackness as the trees run past before them, although it's disorientating, travelling on an unknown trajectory at night. Sydenham station is painted orange, so I stood there waiting for my connecting train colour-matched in my heavy winter jacket. It would be too hot. Many times I would wish I'd chosen something more suited to the weather of late August.

I saw a young woman descending the staircase holding a lit cigarette, so I snuck in behind the stairs and lit up myself. The train arrived. I got on board. Kings Cross station was soon signed in the window and I got off.

Outside the restaurant there seemed to suddenly be a hundred, or at least dozens of, young women walking down the pavement. I was early, and slipped inside to order a beer while waiting. A friend I'd not seen for twenty years arrived. We shook hands. Others filed into the bar area at the front of the restaurant, and we sat down at a long table set for about twelve.

The food is nothing special, the wine horribly expensive. Corkage for bring-your-own wine is $15 a bottle. All up the account came to about $40 per person. Since I buy my cigarettes by the carton that amount of money would normally last me a week, besides groceries. Much too much for the quality and volume of food served. The conversation was not much better. I spilled a glass of wine into the lap of my old friend, Rahul.

It turns out he's gone mystical in his middle age. He talked about the Devas, the Hindu scriptures, and how he is studying them. Rahul is a doctor. He talked about getting a locum for two days a week and taking a creative writing course, since he wants to write a guide book to good living that would include spiritual as well as lifestyle advice.

I went off about my wife and our hassles. The evening ended. We're all getting old, set in our ways. The spark of youth is gone. "Let's get together," said Rahul before giving me advice about exercising regularly, and we agreed to meet some time for dinner in Campsie.


Ron said...

$15 corkage? Phew ... What do they charge for the new screw top bottles? :-)

These days I tend to avoid encounters with old friends, schoolmates etc. whom I haven't seen for many years. I find it can damage good memories (and re-ignite bad ones) when confronted with reality.

As Hartley said, "the past is another country, they do things differently there."

Matthew da Silva said...

It was good to see Rahul, but the tone of the evening was slack. I don't know why. The food wasn't plentiful, nobody got enough to drink because the prices were so high. It could ahve been much better.