I was home visiting ageing grandma last weekend and instead of the break I needed the trip was full of sleep deprivation and work, so I was cranky as hell on Friday. I logged into OKC and had, as usual, a set of annoying and hope destroying emails. Irritated, because I was sitting in a bank waiting for stuff to get done and I needed the entertainment, I went into my visitors list–not something I often do. And out popped a face that was magnetic enough to make me click even though he didn’t live in Delhi. It helped that we had a cray high match percentage. His profile only exacerbated the effect and I sighed at the fact that so many of the interesting boys don’t actually live in Delhi. (Of the 5 really good dates I’ve had, only one lives in Delhi.) I dashed off an email of appreciation, regardless, because it’s lovely to get an email out of the blue from someone telling you they think you’re awesome.
sigh. why couldn’t you live between < > and delhi? or < > and delhi to keep the alliteration?
no reply expected. just a cri de coeur.
Lo and behold, shortly after, I got this:
Well :-) turns out I’m in Delhi until Tuesday evening. Would love to grab a bite together if you’re up for it.
I cursed my luck because not only was I out all weekend, I had work drinks on Monday. But then fate intervened and my drinks were cancelled and so we decided to meet at 9pm in HKV. Yes, on a weeknight. The things I do for this blog =D We switched to whatsapp, and his profile picture is a very cute cat. We proceed to talk for about twenty minutes about cats, his and mine, and then decided to adjourn further discussion for when we actually met.
Monday arrived and I was racking my brain to pick a place because I had just been told I always go to the same places. What to do I’m fussy, and I don’t see the point is paying tons of money for mediocre product, which is effectively the definition of Hauz Khas Village. But that is where we had to meet, because hello 9pm and it was close to where his work was. So I Zomatoed the life out HKV and decided on Mia Bella. Good call.
It’s 9pm and I’ve just parked the car, so I call him. He’s just downstairs he says, so I tell him to wait. ‘I hope it’s not too fancy; I’m still in the shorts I’ve been wearing all day,’ he texts me and I’m amused because I have actually put on lipstick. ‘You should give me more notice about clothes,’ I tell him after he hugs me hello. ‘I’d already left. But it’s ok; I didn’t really dress up.’ What he notices though is the dress I’m wearing, and he pronounces me dressed up. (Why are dresses so dressy? It was just a sundress, nothing fancy. But whenever I wear a dress to a date they see it as dressed up.)
We clamber all the way to the terrace of Mia Bella, which is quite nice. There’s a big blue bar at one end of the room and we step out onto the terrace to be greeted by the darkness of the lake set of by the lit up tombs. And some loud throbby music. We sit down and I pant for about five minutes, while asking the stand fan to stop swinging and stay focussed on me. He leaps up and makes it do just that, thereby winning eleventy million points. We cajole the waiter into drastically lowering the volume and then settle back, drinks ordered, to enjoy the evening.
Unsurprisingly, we first talk about cats. He has four. I am jealous. I tell him how my adolescent cat has been very sweet all evening, and show him the set of portraits I’ve taken. He tells me stories of how he sort of ends up attracting cats and then has to work out flat and cat sitters for when he’s dashing off to the other country every few months for long stretches. We then move on to his story, which is fascinating, before he stops and says hey, wait, tell me about you.
I laugh and launch into my now ready spiel about who I am, where I’m from and so on. I also ask him if he read the blog, and he’s ok with being written about. ‘Oh yeah, I forgot to reply to that message of yours, but it’s a funny thing. I found out about your blog about 12 hours before you wrote to me.’ It turns out that his friends back home were out drinking and bitching out the difficulty of dating when someone said hey have you heard of this girl in Delhi? From which it was a short step to you’re going to Delhi, ask her out. Which led to him running a search on OKC and me turning up in his top 5 matches, and well you know the rest.
I’m both flattered and slightly shocked that random people in Bangalore are talking about me. But then I soon realise we actually have a lot of people in common, because of the his work and the fact that he used to live in Delhi. Turns out he knows my favourite living Indian writer (in India), so I gush about that for a bit. Then we talk about his work, which has to do with digital security, making this all a little funny for me, because I am living a big part of my private life online.
‘I have to feed you,’ he says every time the conversation turns to food. ‘No, I have to feed you,’ I shoot back, because hello, I’m the cook! Eventually we decide we’ll leave it to fate to see who is in who’s town next and take it from there. He then tells me about having vegan flatmates for a while and being unable to deal with the judgement in the morning when making his eggs. I tell him about my recent rage at all non vegetarians who are obnoxious and evangelical about it, and how I enjoy explaining to them that they are not, in fact, carnivores, since carnivores don’t eat plants at all.
The staff at Mia Bella is insanely attentive while managing to leave us alone. Once he registers that we’re going to keep drinking what we’re drinking, the waiter seamlessly appears every time a drink is finished, carrying a replacement. But that’s the only time we see him.
I take a pee break and am charmed by the loo that’s papered in the pages of a novel. (Stray is the title I discovered after peering at a peeled off corner, since of course I couldn’t not know that!) When I return he’s checking his phone, and he apologises, saying he’s got to be attentive as long as it’s working hours in the other country. He tells me how his work means he’s always stopped at immigration. ‘I’m telling you, they track me. Now my phone’s been on and near yours for two hours, they’ll track you too.’ ‘I’ve always wanted to be an international woman of mystery,’ I tell him, giggling.
And so we continue, with gentle banter and gentle disagreement, gentle laughter and gentle silence. And then it’s 1130, I realise with a shock, and we decide to wrap up and head home, thanking Virender the waiter profusely before we go. We stroll down and out to where my car is parked–I’m giving him a ride to his office so he can pick up a colleague. My passenger door isn’t working and so I get to watch him fold himself, long legs and backpack and all, into the driver’s side and manage to limit myself to a grin at the sight. ‘This is nothing,’ he says. ‘I used to have a Rewa.’
At the gate to the colony I pull over and get out so he can reverse the insertion process, and he gives me a warm goodbye hug, promising that he will be in touch.