I saw her tucking her homemade roll in what looked like a kerchief, sandwiched between a book and her spectacles’ case. Looking around stealthily and finding no curious onlooker, she pushed it in her purse, disguised and supposedly safe from the hostile scrutiny of the security person. Most times we get away with just a cursory glance by those who check our rotis and rolls outside the theaters who make sure we aren’t carrying our phaphdas, bhujia or chocolates but she wasn’t so lucky. So, out came her food which she thought was as fool proof as the money parked in Swiss bank. She looked at me sheepishly, ‘but I don’t have outside food after the sun sets so I have to carry my food’. ‘Tell her that’, I urge her. And she does. The security lady gave a blank stare and sensing the religious undertone, allowed her with a warning, ‘you allow one, you have to allow many. Make sure no one sees you taking a bite into your homemade goody’. A little nod of her head and the lady ahead of me in the queue was free! Free to eat her rolls, free from the burden of spending a bomb for the food that is not of her choice, free from breaking her diet with the junk that’s available in the counters and free to enjoy the movie without staying hungry and breaking religious mores. It was a victory of sorts for her! She passed a triumphant look when she saw me standing morosely at the food counter as I was reading and re reading the menu board, hoping that something healthy and cheap will suddenly pop up!   I asked for chilly cheese toast that was mentioned.

‘Sorry, not there’.

‘Fresh juice?’

‘Not available, no!’

‘There’s cold coffee also on the menu. Surely you have that.’

‘Machine not working’

And then exasperatedly, ‘we have coke, sprite, burger, popcorn and tacos with dip, that’s what we have’, this with a take it or leave it look.

I was hungry and I wanted to munch. I fell in line and so popcorn and coke it was for me. Not crispy, not fluffy and when I complained, he muttered, ‘all are fresh. You can see.  This is what we have.’

As I sat in the movie hall, the plight of the blind woman in the story didn’t move me, the romance between the actors didn’t fill me with passion, and the revenge drama didn’t excite me. Instead my mind was mulling these thoughts as I munched the stale popcorns.

Why can’t there be healthy, fresh food options available in the cinema halls?

Why can’t we have a variety of food options, surely we all love our entertainment without having to worry about what to eat and ‘how’ to eat (keeping in mind the poor taste)?

Why can’t the food expense be within reasonable limits so we aren’t forced to smuggle our own food, sometimes lending to red face embarrassment?

The lights came on; I broke away from my nation building thoughts and walked out of the cinema hall, feeling guilty as I dumped the barely eaten popcorn in the bin!




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