This is a piece I wrote as part of a university assignment for my life writing module. The idea was to conjour up atmosphere in under 300 words. The inspiration for the piece was an Indian restaurant which I used to pass late on a Monday evening on my way home from a late class. It was situated right next to the traffic lights which I inevitably caught on red. Although it didn’t open for business on Mondays there was always a light which glowed orange at the back of the restaurant and a lone elderly man could be seen on a low seat.
Mr Rajapoori, proprietor and proud host of the Raj Tandoori Restaurant shares stories. Not stories of the ‘Once upon a time, happy ever after’ variety, but stories told with such eloquence that they bear no resemblance to any tale you heard before.
“Welcome to the most splendid Raj Tandoori Restaurant. Come in, sit down,” says Mr Rajapoori.
Rest in the luxuriant magnificence of jewelled cushions: rich reds run through with shimmering gold and purples so deep they might almost be black – shot silk glinting with the bluest of greens.
The lights are low, the music a background sound; a melodious harmony of sitar and the tinntinabulation of the ghungharu. Dancers move gracefully amongst you, entrancing, ethereal in their gossamer fine saris of silk in amethyst and azure, carmine and crimson, drifting weightlessly as they glide past.
There is no menu; you cannot know before you enter which tasty morsels might be proffered. Arrive, be seated, and when Mr Rajapoori deems a sufficiency of diners, he will begin, mesmerising with hypnotic voice – tales of childhood, of luck and love, temples and treasures, intrigue and suspense , his words as rich and sweet as honey. Prepare for enchantment; be amazed. Relish the heavenly offerings, rich with saffron, fragrant spices to ignite your tastebuds, coriander and cumin, the aroma of clove, the piquancy of hot and fiery ginger. Each dish an aromatic masterpiece.
And much later, leave rested; equilibrium magically restored.
So where might you find this cornucopia of epicurean delight? I cannot tell you for it exists only for those prepared to chance labyrinthine alleys not taken before, those who are open to untried avenues might serendipitously happen upon it. Close your eyes, breathe slowly and dream.