As you know, I’m back on OKC. Yes there are many more 90+% matches than before, but as always I wonder about the logic of their match calculations and really miss the friendship% number. However, I do tend to go look at those high match profiles and just once in a while, ever so rarely, one of them makes my eyes go round and my jaw drop and okay maybe my tongue hang out a little bit. I write to them, but of course these paragons never write back. So imagine my surprise when my ‘Hello, care to chat?’ received an enthusiastic ‘Absolutely’ in response, followed by an actual joke: ‘Your real name isn’t <OKC ID> is it?’. And we launched into gentle banter, which, while less immediately exciting than intense banter, is really the best kind of banter, like caipirinhas on a summer afternoon, as opposed to tequila shots on a Saturday night.
Several OKC messages later we switched to gmail chat, and we always ended up talking ridiculously early in the morning, because he works nights and I’m up at 6. I sent him to the blog and he was most enthused, saying he wanted to be #25. Alas fate conspired otherwise heh. The only time that works is the weekend and the first weekend I have time is this one, so we settled on Sunday night, with a strict injunction to get me home by ten because it’s past my bedtime. Only it turns out he has to work this weekend, so we ended up going out on Thursday.
Right from the start I feel this date is going to be different, but I caution myself to not believe it–burned many times. The thing is though, he’s made a plan. An actual good plan. We’re going to a standup, which will end at ten so we will skate in only a little past curfew. He wants to talk too though, so we decide to meet at Cyber Hub at 5, and since I’m the expert I pick the place. Thursday rolls around and he’s late, moving it to 530 at 450. I haven’t left the office though so I simply settle back to read more. Then I head downstairs and he’s still late, showing up at 545. But he does show up, and he’s tall and wearing a collar and could pass for Tamil, so obviously I’m happy. He’s also pretty hot. And he apologises profusely for being late, telling me he’s really gotten off to a good start hasn’t he, making me wait, with a wry smile. Oh sarcasm!
We end up at Imperfecto, tucked into a corner and he orders some food, which I pass on because I had a late lunch, and we just start talking. I ask him a ton of questions and he answers without protest or complain. I hear about the long relationship, the crazy not-relationship, several travel adventures, school and college and family. He asks about my job, what it entails, why I like it. I tell him stories about my travels and my family–or not. I don’t really remember the details of that happy rambly conversation, mainly that it was happy, and rambly, and snarky, and we laughed a lot.
At one point he’s telling me a story about a bar/restaurant in Goa where he and his friends are and says Cyrus (I don’t remember his surname) owns it, the not Cyrus Broacha guy. And sometimes he’s there, hanging out in his restaurant with his hot girlfriend, it’s disgusting. So I ask him why it’s disgusting, and he has to stop for a minute and think about it. ‘You know,’ he tells me, ‘I have never thought about that before. I guess I was jealous?’ So I tell him about how much I love doing this to people, just asking them why they feel the things they feel.
Soon enough it’s time to go to Manhattan, which is where the show is. I’m quite excited because back in my early lonely days in Delhi I used to be a regular at the Cheese Monkey Mafia open mic nights at the International Diner, and both Mandava and Abhijit Ganguly were on so I was looking forward to hearing them again. As we’re riding down the escalator I say something about being tall and he snorts, looks down at me from 6 feet and 1 inch and says, ‘That’s cute’, which, I’ve come to realise, is his snarkiest dismissal possible. I protest and cite statistics of the heights of Indian women and he nods while I talk, but returns to ‘That’s cute’ at the end. We’re busy rambling and snarking and laughing in the car so we end up on a circuitous route there, but we do get there and as soon as we come to the door Mandava jumps on me to say hi, which is nice. We go in, weigh the risk of being picked on against the possibility that we won’t see much and decide that the back is the better place for us, and settle at a table.
I’m glad that the very loud music and the slightly awkward seating (at right angles, not across the table from each other) give me enough opportunities to lean in and pat him arm and other such things, but he also doesn’t really react. (Which is making me a little nervous as I write this; never has the inequality of this whole deal come home to me as strongly as it does right now.) He teases me about how much I’m yawning, and I swear it’s not him, it’s me. Then he teases me about using cliches. The show starts and it is funny, and then funnier, and then by the end, when Jeeveshu Ahluwalia is on, we’re both in pain from laughing. This despite my missing half the jokes since they’re in such rapid fire Hindi I can’t catch them and then, when I do, I don’t always understand them.
Finally the show’s over and we head out, at ten thirty, eek, and he says he needs to stop off at his place to grab some stuff before he heads out to Delhi, dropping me on the way. We end up taking weird badly paved back roads that don’t have streetlights, and I say to him in mock alarm ‘Kahan le ja rahe ho mujhe!’, which makes him laugh. Only, later, when we’re on a road I expect to recognize and don’t, he grins evilly and says, ‘Maybe I am planning to murder you.’ ‘Just murder na? Then it’s fine,’ I toss back. ‘Well I guess it depends on my mood,’ he shoots back and squeal and smack his thigh.
It’s drizzling and the night is gorgeous as we zip away back towards Delhi. The windows are open a crack and cool air comes pouring in, reeking of petrichor, and the street lights flash by. We talk quietly as he drives. He asks if I like drives, and I tell him I do, especially in this weather. ‘I love taking road trips, but I rarely have anyone to share the driving.’ ‘That’s so sad!’ he exclaims and I agree. I tell him how it feels weird to be going down MG Road in the dark, since I’m usually on it in this direction at 430pm. We continue to chat; I continue to yawn, and eventually we get to my house.
‘Would you like to come up for a bit?’ I ask him. ‘I wouldn’t want to keep you up; it’s past your bedtime.’ ‘Don’t worry; I’ll evict you when I want to sleep,’ I reassure him. He thinks for a bit, but finally declines. ‘I’ll go,’ he tells me, unsnapping his seatbelt for a goodbye hug. ‘Okay,’ I tell him, ‘we should do this again. I had a lovely time,’ and then I kiss his cheek and hop out. ‘Yes we should,’ he says. I head towards my house , pausing to return his wave as he drives by. I skip up the stairs and really really hope he meant it.