25 September 2006


Every morning, I walk the same route. Pass the same street with garbage can. Even encounter the same passersby heading my way. Occasionally, there is a white van with men hard at work, digging or loading things. Everything is so familiar, that I can even afford to read a book when I am walking (okay, okay I know I should not) before I reach the signal.

This morning, I noticed a new bright blue sign pointing to what looked like a new eating place. It was just outside that little restaurant opposite my workplace. Laila Cafe, the hand painted red letters declared delicately pointing in the opposite direction. Must belong to a rather cheeky competitor, I thought to myself. So I walked on, instead thinking kind thoughts and feeling sympathy and admiration for the little motherless girl in the book I was reading.

Incessant traffic. People on either side, waiting. Cyclists breaking rules. Royal mail van turning up in the corner with one eye flashing. I looked around trying to pass time. I looked back and glanced up at the name of that restaurant whose name I had never seen. Laila Cafe, it read. My head jerked and I blinked trying to sort out why the painted sign which also said Laila Cafe. And it was there, metallic and small, resting on the footpath innocently pointing to the opposite side.

The lights went red and I crossed the road forgetting all about Laila Cafe for a moment. But it nagged me that the sign board was wrong. It gnawed me just as much when my deskphone cord tangles up. The sheer urge to uncoil the mess. It amused me as if I had seen someone wear a pair of socks one white and one red. It also concerned me that hungry people might go in the wrong direction to fill their bellies. So I crossed the road again and went into Laila Cafe in Farringdon Road.