My sister and I drove to the Easton Mall to do a bit of shopping for the New Year.
My feet were galactic when trying on a pair of boots glittering like the night sky. I couldn’t reason wearing high heels at any point in my future. In the store mirror, it seemed reasonable for a moment. $35? I can’t afford shoes I might wear once.
I pulled clothes off the clearance racks and athletic equipment from an area designed for January gym motivation.
I was reminded of how my sweater is old and frayed. My jeans are from Goodwill. I haven’t purchased a new set of clothes for myself since high school. I’m a senior in college.
Removing the maroon ski cap I’ve lived in for the past week, just invited static cling into the changing room. Everything is one size too small. In the moment, I feel one size too large.
Everything that I’ve spent an hour searching for, returns to a rack. I’m back to the shelves. Feeling forlorn. It’s a frustrating cycle. Do people find peace in this? Isn’t shopping meant to be relaxing? Maybe not to me.
I found something that’s a color mirage. It fits. I get to the cash register with that, a moonchild necklace, and a orange $3 button-up.
My sister and I stop to ogle Tesla cars and a red phone booth. By the time that we get to the car, I realized the assumed $20 purchase, is actually $5. Additionally, the $3 button-up is actually $15. I really am lost in the area of purchasing clothes.
Then we stop by an Indian restaurant since my mom bought me a Groupon voucher for a free birthday dinner at Banana Leaf.
We get there one hour before closing. I choose an appetizer, entree and dessert. My sister selects the buffet option and grabs a glassful from the mango lassi pitcher.
I try pani puri for the first time. They serve it cold here. I was thrown by the temperature. Though I researched later, and found that street marts in India can serve this food cold or hot. Little puffed cream of wheat crackers are cups for potatoes and chickpeas. Filled at the table with a water mixture made from tamarind juice and cilantro, and then consumed in a single bite.
My main entree was undhiypuri is a mix of exotic vegetables with spices. My eyes water at the spices. I can’t make out distinct items in the mix. Only the lentils. It’s a bit off-putting. I eat ten bites. It’s served with jasmine rice and two puris. I suspect the rice is instant.
My sister has a sample tray of appetizers. Bhel puri which is a puffed crisp rice mix in sauce and dahi vada, which is explained as a deep fried fritter covered in yogurt. Her favorite of the tray was the ragda patti, which was a potato cake simmered and covered in a green pea gravy…until she found a hair. The rest of her appetizers were cold. The dosais with the mango chutney were passable.
She gathered food from the buffet. Dal and samosas. All cold. I take a spoonful of the seasoned rice. Too cold. She leaves the food uneaten. I nibble at the semolina dessert we’re sharing.
We take spoonfuls of my made-to-order food home in the one take-out box. The waitress pauses by our table to mention we can take anything from the buffet home with us, as it’s the closing hour.
It would have made sense to us to mention our distaste of the food. But we don’t. We’re so non-confrontational. And my meal was free.
We leave and deposit the take out in the garbage.
I dislike wasting food, but there’s not much to say to redeem food that may have been made in unsanitary conditions and served at cold temperatures. For those travelling within Columbus, Ohio: I would discourage visiting Banana Leaf.
At one time, it was a highly rated restaurant that vegan meetups would highlight as a rendezvous point. Times have changed, and a few of my friends came out of the community woodwork in the last few days to share the same opinion on the establishment.
In a day of shopping, there’s button-ups and cold rice. Still, an adventure in 10 degree weather.