In the Mood for Love
Was it that shy glance, the clever line -- or an internet romance? As our readers' stories attest, lightning often strikes when you least expect it.
He was this lanky Sardar, carrying a rose for the bride, when I first saw him. I was 23, lived in Jaipur and was attending the wedding of my best friend's brother. He was the groom's best friend and had come from Delhi for the ceremony. He was a pilot. I was training to be one. Flying was our thing.
He had showered me with attention all evening, and in the end offered to drop me home. He seemed nice. So, I agreed. Midway he proposed a visit to Nahargarh, a little away from the city. This spontaneity thrilled me.
When we pulled up at the fort around 1 a.m., the courtyard was awash in moonlight, and the city glimmered below us. He stood too close to me, and I stiffened. Sensing it immediately he said, "I want to spend the entire night here with you but if you're uncomfortable, I'll take you home right away." We left soon after but that did it for me. Five years later, we got married and I continue to bask in the warmth of his love.
-- Sangita Menon Malhan, New Delhi
THEN CAME LOVE
"He is not my type at all," I told my sister after our first call.
"Come on, give it a shot. If you don't like him, we can go on with the hunt. A lot of people have liked your profile on the site after all," she said.
So we continued with the chats, even though we had little in common. I am an extrovert: I love travel, Hollywood and sitcoms. He is an introvert -- a cricket- and-stock-market kind of guy, whose idea of a perfect weekend is lazing in bed, watching crappy Hindi comedy shows or Tollywood movies.
This went on for about a month until it was Diwali time and he was in town. We decided to meet. More precisely, he decided we should meet. Before leaving home I told mum, "I'll go tell him this won't work and come back in 30 minutes -- maximum!" I walked into the coffee place, 45 minutes late and found him waiting there, patiently. We talked. Sorry, he talked and I listened, for a couple of hours. We realized we had lingered a bit too long and decided to go out for a drive. We had been together for about four hours when I got a call from home. "Coming in some time," I texted Papa.
We've spent many more hours together since then. Did I tell you, we fell in love and are getting hitched?
-- Ayushi Thapliyal, Chandigarh
HOW I MET MY MOTHER
My father, at 24, was an Indian Navy officer, posted miles away from home. My grandfather, also in the Navy, invited my father over for dinner one evening, out of courtesy. My mother, a shy young woman, entered the living room to greet him and -- wham! It was love at first sight.
These living room meetings with Mum continued, while my grandmother kept a not-so-subtle watch. On one such occasion, Papa scribbled '143' on a sheet of paper. Mum knew exactly what it meant. Grandpa's house was next to the train tracks. While returning from Lonavala, Papa would wave at her from the train, fixing the time beforehand.
Papa's family was dead set against the match, though. He loved his family but stood his ground -- Papa wanted to spend the rest of his life with Mum and nothing could change that. His family finally acquiesced.
My parents' love story is nothing short of a blockbuster, running for 31 years, getting better each year. My brother and I are truly blessed to have witnessed it.
-- Jijivisha Ghosh, Mumbai
Nandini is typing …
Arjun takes a quick look at the browser tabs. Jacobin, Salon and The Onion, of course.
Nandini is typing …
Arjun looks at the last message in the chat window. An article from a daily discussing economic reforms. He gazes again at the tabs, trying to find something suitable. After all, this was the entirety of their bond. Although they met in the most real-world way possible, at a party hosted by mutual friends, the nature of their courtship was strange.
He didn't want to come across as bland, nor as someone who was too eager to hook up with the witty girl from the party.
So he shared an article that would be sharp, of current interest, though not loaded with opinion. Artificial intelligence was a near-perfect theme, something that could spark off a conversation perhaps? Instead, she sent another link, rather urgently, on an imagined love story between two AIs. That was a month ago, before some 367 links had been exchanged between them.
Arjun: "Are you manually typing out a really long link?"
Nandini: "No. Actually I was going to ask you out on a date, and add a line about bringing magazines and newspapers that we can exchange, instead of talking. But I can't. So, I will just ask."
Arjun: "Ask away."
Nandini is typing …
-- Shiralie Chaturvedi, New Delhi
How many rooms do you have in your house?
Strange question to ask a girl, while swigging beers at a party, by the side of a dried up pool, on a clear starlit night. I wondered why I was sitting with this slightly earnest, handsome, bespectacled young man. More such questions followed, and I don't remember now if I found them funny or intriguing, but I didn't move away, even as the others around us grew louder. Maybe I liked hearing him talk. And I was in no hurry to go back. We were high on conversation.
We left when the sky began to pale. He walked me to my hostel. We didn't say it yet, but I think we hoped this was the beginning of many long conversations. We're older now, and we are hardly ever awake to see the sky grow paler, and while we do have long conversations, I'm not always sure if he's listening!
-- Irene Dhar Malik, Mumbai
Click-clack. I knew that sound, it was her stilettos. I looked up at her confident gait and perfect demeanour, her hair pulled back in a tight bun. My heart raced in sync with her stilettos. She would simply wave, smile shyly and walk on.
During lunch break, I would end up near her to make her laugh. When I told her that her laughter was like a flowing silver stream, she would flutter her eyelashes and vanish.
I was besotted by then. Scented cards would be discreetly placed in her drawer, followed by red roses and long chats. She would give me a knowing look, a lingering smile playing on her lips. Then on Valentine's Day in 1987, I went down on my knee before her, red roses in hand. Her face turned the colour of the flowers. "Talk to my brother," she whispered, between short gasps of breath.
Inquiries about her brother turned my spine to jelly. But he conceded and forgetting everything, I did a whoopee. She joined me, literally letting her hair down. It was then that I noticed it -- her soft, long and silky hair. We got married that July. It has been 30 years. She still stumps me with her little surprises.
-- John Methuselah, Secunderabad, Telangana
A STRANGER CALLS
It was my first day of college in Bhubaneswar. Returning to my hostel room, I realized I had left my file along with Shaw's Arms and the Man at the bus stop. Just then a girl knocked on my door and said I had a visitor. At the hall, another girl handed over my file. Apparently my "boyfriend" had left it and said he would call tonight.
I was relieved to have my file back, although the book was missing, so I waited for the call. Eventually when it came I thanked the stranger profusely. He said it was his duty, and enquired about my courses, hostel life and future plans. He then said goodbye, saying he would call again.
I had blabbered away about myself, yet not even asked his name. When he called again, I was better prepared. But he tricked me again, mentioning my book, then chatting about good libraries and places to buy second-hand books. He promised to call again and reveal his identity, however this never happened in my three years of college.
His calls calmed me down during homesickness, misunderstandings with friends or exam stress. I admired the wise stranger but never really got to know him. On my last day at the hostel, Swagatika, a day-scholar friend invited me home.
The previous night I had cried myself to sleep as my phone friend had ditched me after promising to meet up. After I met Swagatika's parents we went to her brother's room. There on his desk lay my copy of Arms and the Man! The young man, whose room it was, looked happy being introduced. I had imagined this meeting about a thousand times, but now I trembled -- with anger and joy.
We married two years later and are now blessed with a girl.
-- Nivedita Das, Hyderabad