I'm sitting at Avan right now, waiting for my Laotisches Curry and wondering why I haven't already posted this. A little more than a year of getting to know Avan, lunchtime here has become some sort of a weekly ritual, like that of bachelors and the Andhra messes around the bend of Ameerpet. Van Huy may as well send me a daily lunchbox.
On the top floor of a Japanese concept store, the first time I visited Avan was a cold winter afternoon early last year, soon after I’d moved to Berlin for my new job. I remember sitting across the table from my new colleagues and ordering the Laotisches Curry, conversation still dotted with awkward pauses. One bite and it seemed to ease me instantly. I remember exclaiming, "Oh, this is SO good!" On our way out was the first time I met Van Huy Martin- his upbeat vibe and friendly smile sealed the deal.
A hundred odd visits now and I continue to enjoy many a chatty lunch with my beloved colleagues. I'm going to admit the exchanges with Van Huy are often no more than a smile, a hello and a goodbye. But there's a certain blend of warmth and genuine humility in his interaction that makes you feel at home each and every time. It's easy to sense that he really cares for his guests and their experience as he moves around helping them get seated and get served. And he always remembers to make sure my meal arrives with the special chilli sauce I can't do without. It's this kind of an experience, steady over time that feels so natural to me even when I'm just by myself in many a bustling rush hour.
In our limited exchanges though, Van Huy will once in a while say these little things that always make me laugh in delight.
Like, shame on you.
I'd forgotten to bring my card to get stamped three times in a row, and the third time it happened, he exclaimed those words that made me laugh out loud! It took me back a couple of decades instantly! I hadn't heard it since leaving India. Then it made me wonder why, haha. Perhaps it's part of the Asian (India being part of Asia, by the way) upbringing- this phrase possibly picked up from colonial textbooks? Who knows, but it was funny!
So, back to this instant. While I'm enjoying my curry, a little bowl of glass noodles arrives. I am told it’s from the Chef and he wants me to try it. I am pleasantly surprised, also a bit puzzled.
On my way out, I went to thank Van Huy for the little sampler. Pat came the earnest response, "You're always having the same thing. I would like you to try something else!" Made me laugh again! I didn't expect that. He really makes note of things.
I can't promise anything, but I'll try to try something else next time (blame the Laotisches Curry!)