Project Run-Away!


It’s funny how cafés have turned out to be more than just places serving coffee and brownies. It has evolved into a hub where secretive ideas, egoistic gossips, ‘world-revolutionizing’ decisions, nefarious plots, heart-aching breakups and innumerable other things take place on a daily basis.

I was recently at a café in Khan Market (who’d want to miss out a lovely November late afternoon in Khan Market?!). For those who don’t breathe about much in New Delhi, Khan Market is one of the posh shopping and hanging-out areas of the capital, and oh my, it’s a place worth gallivanting around.

Khan Market at night

So coming back to the incident, I was at Café Coffee Day in Khan Market and I was sitting alone at a side table with my copy of Ashwin Sanghi’s famous The Krishna Key, when a woman, probably in her early twenties, came and sat on the table beside mine. I glanced at the pretty woman’s face and noticed an anxious, frantic look. Sweat bubbles freckled her forehead even though it was a chilly November afternoon. Whoa, must be a tough day for her, I said to myself, and went back to reading my book.

A little while later, a guy came up to her table and sat down. Ah, enter Boyfriend.  He held her hand in his and then they started talking to each other in a low voice. Now as protective and law-enforcing as we all are about our privacies, we just HAVE to let out our ‘inner-spy’ when it comes to knowing about other people’s thrilling matters. So, we peck our little pointy ears out and we eavesdrop. But don’t judge me. As intended as the intention seems, it was already quite natural that I hear their ‘fascinating’ conversation since our tables were merely three feet apart. Anyway since I was shelved into my book, I couldn’t pick up words from their low voices but it went somewhat like this :

“….nahi ho paayega.. papa ..”   [ …Won’t be possible….. Dad…]

“Kyun? Bataya tune? ….. Yaar, ab kaise chalega?” [ Why? Did you tell them? ….. Now how will it work out?] 

“… Toh bas ek hi upaay hai – bhaag chalte hain. Project Run-Away.” [ So then that leaves us with only one option – Lets run away.” ]

Yep. That pretty much ended my interest in the book and aroused one in their conversation. Running away? Eloping? Seriously?

“Nahi! Paagal hai? I can’t leave.” [ No! Are you mad? I can’t leave]


“I’m sorry to do this. But I think if you are going to work in Bangalore, we must end our stuff today right here right now.” 

“What? Paagal ho gyi hai kya? Chal le mere saath? Baad mein baaki dekh lenge.” [ Are you insane? Come with me? We’ll deal with stuff later.]

” Rohit, 3rd year college hai. Aise nahi chhod sakti. And you need the job…… cmon..” [I’m in Junior year, Rohit. Can’t just leave like this…..] 

“Jaa Jaa break-up kar le. Aaj ke baad baat mat kariyo mujhse. Bye.” [ Go on, breakup with me. But then don’t ever talk to me again. Bye] 

Before the woman could say anything, the guy stood up and stomped out of the café. I turned to the girl and saw her heaving a huge sigh – a sigh I’m not sure was one of relief or one of regret.

“Waiter, can I have a veg. submarine sandwich and one cup of Mocha, please?” she said as the waiter came up to my table to pick up the plates. As I stood up, the girl and I exchanged looks for a moment and gave each other stranger-friendly smiles (you know the kind that strangers give each other but with  no exuding of emotion as such).

I walked out of the café door and said to myself, “Guess the café’s tagline IS true – A lot CAN happen over coffee!”

Note: This short story was written in response to the Tuesday Writing Challenge: , on The Daily Post.

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