Anatomy of a Brick Lane curry night

  1. Make a huge facebook/whatsapp messaging group with all your friends. Bandy about the idea for curry and beers. Send lots of happy or thumbs up or vomming emojis/gifs. Everyone suggests the soonest possible weekend, and the soonest possible weekend wil be inevitably shot down for a weekday or compromise weekend date.
  2. Three people drop out of the whatsapp/facebook messaging group before curry day, or message to say that they can’t make it.
  3. Everyone comes from different directions on different trains/buses/bikes/super-jumps and meets somewhere in the middle of Brick Lane. It is raining, and nobody has brought an umbrella.
  4. Since you haven’t obtained a quorum yet, go to the Pride of Spitalfields for a pre-dinner drink. The Pride of Spitalfields is a tiny pub full of armchairs, framed black and white pictures of pancake-necked men, and wall-to-wall red carpets stained with centuries of dried alcohol. Stand outside in the rain and drink your beer with the three other people who are on time.
  5. Four other people arrive, and everyone decides they are hungry enough to deny any stragglers a vote in which restaurant we end up going to.
  6. Start shopping for a deal. Brick Lane, before becoming a gentrified street-art-covered hipster demilitarized zone, first was a Bangla community. Every family opened up their own curry restaurant along Brick Lane, and each restaurant offers a “set menu” deal — for in between nine and twenty pounds you can get an appetizer, curry, rice, naan, and some quantity of beer. Outside each restaurant, a buyruncu will try to talk you into coming in, and bargain with you to reach a good price. The trick is to get three courses and at least two big beers for less than 13 pounds. Bargain down until you feel your guts wrench with the absolute shamelessness of what kind of a deal you’re asking for. But if you go too low, you risk creating an adversarial relationship between you and the restaurant staff. Who’s ripping who off?
  7. Always refuse the first deal you get and look somewhere else.
  8. Unless you’re me, and starving, in which case vociferously recommend that everyone take the very first restaurant you can.
  9. Get seated in a large group, realize there aren’t enough seats available in the restaurant for your large party, and then negotiate with the other patrons/waiters to move everyone around in a logistical curry shuffle.
  10. Receive a text from the last person in your group, cancelling because something came up at the last minute.
  11. Order. Ask for really spicy, because remember that they had to tailor their food for English people, who did not natively eat spicy food. Do not, under any circumstances, order the Tikka Masala or Butter Chicken. Again, they were created for an english palate, and taste like chicken in fancy ketchup. Get the pilau rice and the garlic naan.
  12. Your starters and beer arrive. Everyone is in a great mood and talking loudly/yelling. The other patrons begin to eat faster in order to escape the drunken revelery they see coming from your end of the restaurant. Half of the starters are incredible homemade bhajis or samosas, and half are from a frozen packet bought down the street. There is no way to predict which starter will be which.
  13. The waiters come by and try to upsell you on pappadams. You decline.
  14. The mains arrive. Everyone either says this is the worst or the best dish they’ve ever gotten on Brick Lane. None of them are truly spicy. You flag down a waiter and remind him of your deal, and that it included a second big beer. You feast
  15. The bollywood music kicks up. It is awesome.
  16. You are all impossibly stuffed, due to several meals’ worth of curry and fried things, combined with dense starchy carbohydrates.
  17. Get up one by one to pay by card, or be a lazy fatass and wait for them to bring you the card reader.
  18. Everyone heads to the Pride of Spitalfields for a post-curry drink. Brendon buys everyone beers and tries to get the karaoke piano guy to sing Tutira Mai Nga Iwi, which he doesn’t know, so we all settle for Piano Man. It is great.
  19. The next morning, a sludgy hangover. Questionable bowel movements for a day or so.

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