Vedashree Khambete Sharma
Be Still, My Spleen
Updated: May 30, 2021
Yesterday, in a furious burst of pre-Diwali madness, we ventured to the old furniture market at Oshiwara. The errand was simple: get a new dining table and chairs. Naturally, we picked up random knick-knacks that weren’t on the list. It was blazing hot, as October in Mumbai tends to be. Pookie and Rook were famished. I was hobbling along, because apparently I can now sprain my foot simply while walking in my own house. Incapable of watching my Hunchback of Notre Dame waddle anymore, Rook suggested we get lunch at the nearest restaurant. Which happened to be Tea Villa Cafe.
I’ve been to their outlet at Charni Road. Quiet surroundings, non-intrusive music, passably decent food. Just right for a geriatric like me. This Tea Villa was also quiet. And therein ended the similarities. I will not go on at great length about the food. Suffice to say, half the items were not available and the ones that were, seemed to all be cooked with ketchup or lacking key ingredients. I even sent back an Enchilada because it had paneer in it and like all things dairy, I’m off paneer. The menu hadn’t mentioned that there was cottage cheese in the enchilada, and why would I assume, right?
But my biggest peeve there, was the menu. Specifically the way it had been written. It’s like the writer had said, “Hmm, the English language. Ripe for assault methinks.” And had proceeded to force innocent, well-meaning words into arranged marriages with entirely unlikely suitors.
The Caramel Nut Latte, for instance, was ‘blended with serene/soothing espresso.’ Soothing? SOOTHING espresso? What the fuck kind of person feels calm after a shot of espresso I ask you! Also, THEY LEFT A SLASH IN THE COPY? WHAT IS THIS, CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADJECTIVE DAY?
The Schezwan Dim Sums were ‘Carrot, cabbage and beans assorted with Schezwan sauce’. Because ‘assorted’, an adjective, sounds exactly like ‘sorted’, a verb, which would still be a terrible choice of a word here. Vanilla Chai had a ‘hint of ginger summoned with Vanilla and coconut milk’. And with some kind of warrant, one presumes. The Mochachillo had ‘loyal sweetness’, whatever the hell that is. The Caramel Bolt was a ‘dynamic latte’ with ‘buttery milk’. The Frappe was ‘whizzed with vanilla icecream’, which I hope some food inspector somewhere knows about. The Irish Cream was a ‘piping cool jazzed up coffee’. The Nutella Cappuccino was ‘a dreamful of morning for the coffee lover’. The sentence construction suggests the secret ingredient is hash. The Cookie Crumble had a bunch of things layered over ‘plush straight shots of espresso’. Plush. You know, like sofas. Or apartments. Or things that aren’t espresso.
The mind games simply didn’t end. They misspelled ‘appreciated’ and ‘classic’ while getting ‘connoisseurs’ right. The Irani Chai was ‘a sip of all generations’, which is frankly disgusting, even if it does ‘leave you in a feeling of tranquil and solace’. The Sulemani Tea is ‘a birth from Arabian origin’. The Hazelnut Mousse had been blended ‘until smooth and liquidy’. And then out of nowhere, Assorted Cookies was described simply as ‘a plate of cookies’. It was an emotional roller-coaster, people. One that I wasn’t prepared for that day or indeed, any day.
My point is this: don’t describe, if you can’t. If you think syntax is something that happens to other people, maybe you shouldn’t be doing this. To yourself. To the copy. To me. Reconsider your calling. Because I know nobody reads copy anymore. But goddammit, they read menu cards.