(Based on a true incident that took place outside Tul’skaya Metro, Moscow City on the 11th of August, 2008)
The gigantic building in the city center stood haughtily, its condescending signage daring me to ‘Enter’. I took the challenge! ‘The time will come’, I muttered to the building as I passed its ominous glass paneled gates, ‘the time will come when you will be reduced to rubble and dust, your metal sold as scrap to third world countries!’ I was ofcourse, referring to this ingenious technique called implosion, where a building can be demolished without…. Eh? Fine, we will post the ‘implosion’ discussion for later.
The arrogant edifice provided shelter to an arrogant enterprise - McDonald’s, an import from a supercilious land that bullies the entire world! ‘You too’, I whispered scornfully as I entered it for my evening refreshments, ‘you too will meet your end one day and sink into the slimy waters of sewage!’ Well, most of what is sold in this shop ends up daily in slimy sewage waters anyway, owing to the metabolism of human body, which does an amazing job of breaking up bit by bit, every molecule…. Pardon me? Ok, we’ll drop that ‘metabolism’ topic for now, if you wish!
I walked up to the ordering counter and sized up the face behind it. A blonde girl, apparently in her teens, stared back at me. She appeared as apprehensive of me, as I was of her. ‘A Foreigner!’ she seemed to be thinking, I suspect because of my dark skin. ‘A Foreigner!’ I observed inwardly too. I mean, she would have been a foreigner in my country!
I looked around and frowned at the lofty vinyl posters of fattening food designed to clog your arteries and inflate your waists disproportionately until you look like the cheap Matryoshksa dolls in souvenir shops. ‘By God!’, I said to myself, ‘these Americans will stop at nothing for world domination! They want all of us to look like them now!’ I looked at the menu for a while and chose wisely.
‘Chicken McFresh’ I bellowed at the bewildered counter girl. I beat McDonald’s at its own game! If they will feed me fat, I won’t take it without some healthy greens - rich in fibre and iron-source to help my digestion and enrich my bones!
‘Ah!’ I snouted my nose at the large McDonald’s signage behind the counter. ‘Come get me now!’
The girl finished punching my order in her cash machine and said, ‘Vsyo?’
I nodded, ‘Yes, that’s all!’
She readied herself to get rid of me and I suddenly remembered that I needed some beverage to wash down the filthy, fat-filled burger. ‘Oh, odno Coca-Cola pozhalusta!’ I added hastily!
She punched in the second order, slower this time, and raised her eyes suspiciously.
‘Vsyo?’ she said again, with her finger poised above the cash machine, like a cowboy in a sphagetti western movie, on full alert before drawing a quick gun to put a bullet into the bad Mexican’s side ribs. She expected me to add some potato fries may be!
I met her gaze and said, ‘Vsyo!’ confidently. I won’t get bullied by a teenaged blonde!
She admitted defeat and made her calculation. I paid the money as demanded, but with all the spite the occasion deserved. She brought forth a tray and placed the Chicken McFresh on it. I didn’t budge an inch, knowing fully well that she owed me a Coke more. She went back to the food counter, no doubt disappointed that her trick didn’t work, and returned with a glass of Coke and a straw.
I left the shop triumphantly and sat myself down at a table laid out in the Verandah outside. That’s when I noticed the deception played on me! She has given me an 800ml Coke! ‘The wily witch!’ I thought. I actually thought something else; something that rhymes with the last word, but it isn’t printable. Ladies might be reading this!
I can never drink more than 330 ml of coke, but the girl slipped in the largest glass possible! ‘I’m doomed!’ I said to myself. I wavered a bit, like a soldier in the battlefield. I knew I couldn’t finish it all. I looked back and faced the portentous building and the evil grin of Ronald McDonald! Oh, the decadent debauchery! I realized what they were upto!
I drew in a deep breath and braced up for the challenge like a man. I munched through the burger with steady, even bites. Though it was rather juicy and delectable, I never forgot for once that it represented the obstinate will of an imperialist force. I drank the Coke in double gulps.
The burger soon vanished and I checked the glass for progress. Hardly a quarter of its contents gone! ‘Oh Fate!’, I exclaimed – as the exclamation mark would have given you a hint already – and sipped a little more, fighting back the urge to abandon. Fifteen minutes later, the glass was still half full, as an optimist would have put it. And I saw that I was losing the battle. The devious juvenile, egged on by the wily Ronald and the evil spirit of the concrete building, had done me in! I will now have to leave the place, with no option but to commit the criminal act of wasting some food on my plate! My mum would be aghast!
Failure looming large, my spirit sagged. And I resigned myself to an ignoble defeat. But just then, providence sent me an archangel to guide me through to victory!
‘Mozhno siditch, da?’I heard someone saying. I looked up to see a sad looking man, carrying a parcel of some vile produce, labeled with a big M all over. ‘No Russian!’ I said, in no mood to practice my elemental language skills at that moment of distress. He spoke again, this time in broken english, ‘I sit please?’
‘Please’, I replied.
He sat down next to me on the table. He pulled out a Big Mac and potato wedges from his mysteriously labeled bag. Before long, he clumsily gobbled through half of his stock of food.
Then he turned to me, goggled greedily at my tray and said, ‘Mozhno treetsatch rublei …’
‘No Russian!’ I interrupted rudely before he could form a full sentence. I, ofcourse didn’t recognize him to be my guardian angel even then, judging him rather by his shabby clothes and uncouth eating habits.
He said in splintered English again, ‘Can you 30 roubles me? Peitch. Drink…’, pointing to my coke glass.
‘Oh, you want to drink Coke?’ I screamed! I saw a ray of hope being offered to me! He was an angel disguised as a drug-wasted vagabond, I realized by then, begging his way for a square meal. ‘You can have mine!’ I said with a choking voice and wet eyes! I pushed the glass towards him.
‘Spaseeba!’ he said gratefully and snatched the glass with 400ml still remaining in it.
I stood up to go. ‘So dobro!’ he wished me.
‘Thanks!’, I replied and added a smile to underscore the point. I walked away from the place with relieved thoughts about the narrow escape.
Just around the corner, I looked back. The building seemed to have shrunk in size. Ronald had his back towards me, and the girl was not visible through the concrete walls. But I knew what they were thinking right at that moment! Vengeance! But today, I had the upper hand!
‘Ah!’ I said to myself. ‘I’ve done enough charity in my life. My noble deeds have no doubt saved scores of souls! But today, Lady Charity made me a full pay-back!'