Vantage point

Friday, December 26, 2008

Interesting Dinner at Mahesh

Paras, Maithili, Rupal and I got our table in Mahesh. In a few minutes, some folks came and sat at the table next to us. And when I say "next" to us, those that have been to Bombay restaurants in general and Mahesh in particular will know that tables are placed really close. Paras said "We are lucky to be here today", so I looked over and spotted Naseeruddin Shah seated at the table, barely two feet away from Maithili. The four of us whispered excitedly amongst each other, stole a few glances at him, noticed that his wife Ratna Pathak Shah was also with him, as was a kid who was presumably his son, and two other folks.

Now, anyone who has dined in the Juhu area knows that spotting some Bollywood celebrity in restaurants there is a fairly commonplace occurrence. The norm is to not "disturb" them, and "respect their privacy" and so on. So we did that, despite being huge fans of Naseer. No gushing or fawning. No omigawdyouarethegreatestactoreverrrr!!-ing happened, neither did any sosososorrybutcanipleasegetanautoandphotographnaseersirji-ing take place. We went back to studying the menu, with the occasional quick glances out of the corner of our eye. After a while my eye wandered to the other side of the table which was occupied by what I presumed were two random young people. There was a young woman sitting almost right next to me, whom I did not recognize. And some dude sitting next to her whom I had not noticed. Till then.

I looked at him...stared a bit... he looked by and also stared... and gave a tentative half-smile as if to say 'why is this creep staring at me?' I leaned towards my wife the other way and whispered to her "Is that Aasif Mandvi from The Daily Show?". She looked over, and yelled out "O MI GAWD, ARE YOU AASIF MANDVI!??" Their table suddenly started looking at us, and the wife and I both started gushing and fawning at him. How we are big fans of him, The Daily Show, Jon Stewart.... so on and so forth. He thanked us, smiled, then asked us where we were from, because I am sure it must be pretty rare for him to be recognized in Bombay. All this while, Naseer and his wife seemed to have a clearly amused expression on their faces. I am sure they found it hilarious that a bunch of folks in India kinda ignored Naseer's presence, but went gaga over some random ABCD actor. I later overheard Naseer asking what we were talking about, and the woman with Aasif explaining what The Daily Show is and so on.

We all returned to ordering our meals, and no more conversation happened for a while. In the end when we were leaving, Aasif very nicely called us over, shook our hands, said goodbye-take-care etc. Some more gushing happened again from Rupal and me. I believe I also said rather doltishly "Say hi to Jon for me" (yeah right!). Paras says that Naseer was laughing again.

I think we inadvertently made Aasif Mandvi's day. Being out at a table with Naseeruddin Shah in India, and then being fawned over by a bunch of Indians who ignore Naseer completely? That's gotta boost his ego at least a little. It's not that we wanted to ignore Naseer. He is of course Da Man. But spotting Aasif Mandvi was such an unexpected surprise, that it made the wife and I react like complete nerds.

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