Tough week it was! What commenced with a quagmire of a Data Structures assignment (where we had to submit research papers, quite literally!) culminated in a momentous climax – a succulently-harrowing series examination. To top it all, I had a harrowing backache, not to mention stodgy denigrations by eternally-disappointed parents! Thankfully, the exams on Friday were postponed to Tuesday (1st July) due to another instance of Kerala’s new-found fête: the ‘Harthal’. All my nerve endings from head to toe were in a state of frazzle as I opened my eyes that morning. I could feel the blankets of smoke puffing out of my ears – effluents of a bitter fracas in my brain, perhaps! I decided to take a well-deserved break that extended weekend. The prime reason was to give my ailing back some much-needed rest. Besides, whiling time away in bliss seemed an invigorating activity especially after a week of nerve-wracking stress. All the ‘rest’ despite the impending exam on Tuesday! Now, there’s one thing engineering education drives into your psyche, however prompt & punctual you may be till you join up: ‘Last Minute study’.
The brief self-imposed hibernation soothed my back-pain and by Sunday morning I was back in action. I woke up as late as 9:30 AM, only to be reminded about my class in ‘Time’ at 10:15. I couldn’t afford to be late for the first class! So I rushed like hell, proroguing a bath to hasten things; for dad refused a lift since he and mom were dressing up for a wedding. Somehow, I managed to reach on time, (if you will pardon the pun), only to learn from friends that it was just an introductory class which I had attended the previous week at a different centre. Customary expressions of dissatisfaction/anger at having salvaged our morning nap for the redundant exercise; we left the place after collecting the first module of study material. As my bus barely crossed Sreekariyam (the junction close to my home), I remembered that Dad might’ve left for the wedding and I would have no way to get home without keys. But dad had just started from home when I called him, and he picked me up en-route. And that meant I had no choice but to attend that wedding!
I’m against the very concept of the quintessential ‘elaborate’ nuptial. Apart from good-looking girls and good food, (both of which depend heavily on the vicissitudes of fate, I might add) I’ve always found marriages a tad too tedious. But this was a wedding I was really looking forward to attend. For, the bride, my mom’s colleague’s daughter, topped the list of my ‘sisters’. Well, as a matter of fact, half the girls I know consider me as their ‘brother’. 😐 It’s not something I have a say on. It is like, when you’re in talking terms with a girl, she turns the tables one fine morn with that quick sentence: “I’ve always loved you like my bro!” The logic behind this brother-ization has baffled me for a long, long time. Someone cleared my doubt bluntly by saying that a girl is actually fending off possible ‘romantic’ pursuits with or related to you by making you a ‘brother’. Duh! Not that I mind, but, erm, having too many siblings has its technical problems, no? I find respite in our national ‘Pledge’ declaring all Indians as my rightful siblings! When I have one billion odd Indians jostling for space to be my sibs, a few ‘exclusive’ sisters definitely won’t hurt. 😉
Image Courtesy: http://www.allposters.com/
Back to the wedding; it was a jamboree even in its comparatively-minimal proportions. Being a Muslim marriage, it had all the toppings and nuances of one. Cars huge enough to accommodate their equally huge occupants, steamy non-veg food and purdah-clad women abounded. Being family friends of the bride’s kin, we were given VIP treatment and I managed to get a good, uncompromising seat in the dining area way ahead of my parents (whose own idiosyncratic appetite forbade them from eating ab initio). A bird’s eye view of the entire guest list drove in the realization that I was pretty underdressed for the occasion. The ragged shirt, worn-out jeans, sandals, unshaven face, disheveled hair-combo raised quite a lot of eyebrows. “Another ostentatiously hopeless gate-crasher!” the snooty A-list guests muttered staring at me. The feeling you go through at being stared at by hundred pairs of eyes… It’s something!! I swore the moment I chose the random pair of clothes for the occasion over the good ones.
I had an acquaintance, son of another colleague of mom’s, seated next to me at the dining area. His presence helped me ignore the icy stares of all and sundry. As we were talking away, I noticed this cute, bespectacled girl sitting right beside me. Normally, she would have been the first person I would’ve noticed in a group of random people (being a hot-blooded male myself!); evidently the attention I ‘commanded’ had worked its way into my observations. The girl wore a pair of dark jeans accompanied by a stylish, matching coffee-colored top. She had a pleasing complexion accentuated by a pretty face and silky, straightened hair that was cut short to her shoulders. She was intermittently staring at me, but would turn her face away when I look back. Now, I was feeling uneasy; I didn’t have problems with fastidious elders’ stares, but glares from a teen actually left my skin burning. C’mon, I’m not a ghoulish devil or something… I’m just another living breathing human being! What’s so disgusting about me, apart from my just-up-from-bed looks, anyway?
As I was lost in thoughts, half-listening to my acquaintance, half thinking about ways to groom myself for public outings, I heard her speak for the first time.
“I know you.”
Me: “Huh?” (I turned at her. Yeah, she meant me.)
She: “Have we studied at the same tuitions? Your face looks so familiar!”
Me: “Erm… I was at JK’s, KK’s & Saramma Ma’am’s place in the twelfth, but I don’t remember having seen you there…”
She: “Hey, no, it’s not tuitions… and yeah, your voice too… Aaargh, it sounds SO familiar!! Just can’t place you!”
(My acquaintance stares open-mouthedly and angrily at having his ,monologue suspended)
Me: 😐 “Oh… Actually, I don’t remember you at all! If you could…”
She: “Ah!! Got you!! You’re Hari right? THE blogger? Hari of ‘I chose the red pill’?”
Me: 😮 (Dumbstruck)“Yes, I am! Ever read my blog before?”
She: “Read your blog? I devour your blog!! Have read every single post you’ve written! The one about the first date was too good! I still read it often. You’re a Chetan Bhagat in the making! And btw, is your copy of ‘The Three Mistakes’ free? I’ve been dying to lay my hands on it after reading your review. It’s simply not available at any sto
re, these days.”
(She said all that in a single breath and that too, at breakneck speed!)
Me: “Gee, thanks! But ‘The Three Mistakes’ is in circulation at the moment. I already have some 10-20 advance bookings on it. Maybe, considering the fact that you are my fan, I can try to expedite things!”
She: “Oh, so being your fan has its pros. Oops, forgot about introductions! Hi, I’m Priya (name changed for personal reasons) I’m doing my B.Tech at Mar Baselios College.”
(She offers me her hand, I’m only too glad to shake it.)
Me: “Good, and as you already may know, I’m Hari Shanker; another hapless B.Tech student like you. And I’m in GEC Barton Hill. Pleasure to have met my first fan! Great to know someone reads my blog.”
She: “Hapless B.Tech student, hah! Even your tone matches your blog! Actually, you’re pretty famous around these parts. At least 3 people suggested your blog to me! And I’m making you famous by forwarding your link…”
Me: “Thanks again! But I don’t write that well. My posts are just arbit-crap. I write to de-stress basically. There’s an entire world of bloggers who’re miles ahead of me. You just put me on top of the world with what you just said!”
(And I wasn’t bluffing at all! Cute girls are reading my blog. This is cool!)
She: “Heh. Now don’t put on that ‘I’m-so-humble’ attitude! Accept facts. And yeah, you’re a great singer. Guess what, I’ve a copy of your ‘Tum Se Hi’ in my mobile. Wanna hear?”
(She thrusts her w810i playing the song on my hand. I’m seriously blushing now! I couldn’t help but notice my acquaintance’s steely stare coupled with a raised eyebrow at all the sudden hubbub!)
Me: (In an attempt to change the topic)“Erm, I think food’s up there. Let’s…”
She: “Hey, how’s Radhika now?”
(It took me a few moments of thought to realize that she was referring to a female protagonist in an earlier post)
He: “Oh, so you weren’t bluffing about having read all the posts!”*sheepish grin* “But I have to disappoint you. She simply doesn’t exist! The story was inspired from a real-life meeting with another female friend, yes. But the kiss and stuff was pure hyperbole! I thought that was quite obvious!”
She: “Duh! And you had me envying you for a LONG time! Sheesh! But it looked so bloody real…”
Me: “The prowess of my narrative, needless to say! ;-)”
She: “And yeah, felt really sorry for you about the break-up. Never mind, man! A guy like you will get better girls any day, as you ‘made’ Radhika say in that post! ;-)”, she chuckled. “ And, what’s the funda with your unshaven face and stuff? Still brooding over the Love failure eh?…”
Me: “Err… why don’t we change the topic, please? That’s something I’m trying to keep off my mind But yeah, I didn’t actually expect to end up in this wedding. Just a matter of chance, so I didn’t exactly dress up, you see…”
She: “Ew. Sorry. I forgot my limits momentarily. People say I butt in others’ issues quite a lot. Maybe, I should learn to control.”
Me: “Oh, please don’t feel so. That’s a different matter altogether. Maybe I’ll tell you the story someday. Ah, the food has come. Why don’t we dig our teeth in…?”
And thus, we talked non-stop for about half an hour about ourselves, families, life in general and stuff. She knew almost everything about me from the blog, so she did most of the talking. I ate the food mechanically, and forgot all about my hunger at having ‘hit-on’ a new-found cutie! All the while, the dude sitting next to me was totally pissed off at the non-inclusive topics. Nevertheless, I did my bit by speaking ‘highly’ about him to Priya, which suitably impressed the guy. Priya and I exchanged contact numbers. After introducing me to her parents, (who apparently weren’t too enamored with me either) we left with a shake-hand pact to keep in touch often.
The rest of the wedding was a bit boring. Muslim wedding ceremonies have a lot of discourse in Arabic between the bride’s dad and the groom. I couldn’t make head or tail out of it and slept all through. A long while later, we met the bride and groom, handed over our gift, posed for a photo and were about to leave when I met a horde of guys. Two of them again rightly recognized me as a blogger! (“Hey, aren’t you that guy who blogged about getting ‘ragged’ and stuff, eh?”) As I walked away from the auditorium, dodging all those ‘Skoda Octavia’s and ‘Honda City’s I realized a sense of mild-euphoria tide over me. Ceasefire was declared between the warring factions of my mind.
3 anonymous readers at one wedding-reception; and one among them a cutie! Whoa, I’m famous, almost!