Jodhpur Diaries #2

I hated my sister, officially now. I hated mom. How could they do this to me? They had created a profile with my details in, without my knowledge and shared all my interests with Mr.Chauhan, from among all the prospective grooms who had requested attention. I cringed with embarrassment when I saw chats about our favorite food, color, book and movie genre, season, holiday destination, childhood memories, and even political and religious inclination. And just thank god, there were no cheesy lines included. I replied out of courtesy that I would clarify the day’s problem when we met later. I would have to explain it to him, lest he should misunderstand.

‘You said you wanted a prince, I actually got a prince for you,’ my sister, Laxmi retorted over the phone. We called her Lux, as did her group of cool sophisticated friends. I tried to scold her but in vain. Mom was always at her rescue, taking her side. Getting me married and settled was her lifelong dream. So I gave up and started planning ways to revert whatever they had done. I could not admit that it was my sister and mother whom he was chatting to. That would not be appropriate. I grabbed my handbag, smoothened my skirt in front of the mirror, sprayed my favorite sweet pea sunscreen, and tried deciding the lines I was going to speak to him.

I was at the same café after about an hour. I waited for about five minutes, before he entered the door. I was nervous. My hands wouldn’t stop fidgeting. I couldn’t believe it; I was never nervous in the recent past. Perhaps the prospect of marriage with this handsome young man with a regal blood line has got into my head. He gave me a genuine smile, ‘Hi’. ‘Hello’ ‘Your memory faculties seem to be fine today,’ he added with another mocking look. ‘Yah, I’m sorry for yesterday,’ I added with a laugh. And so went our casual talks and our conversation was sailing well on calm waters.

* **

‘No, don’t,’ I said covering my face with one hand. I am photo shy; I can’t really pose that well if the photographer is not that close to me, and my facial expressions become pitiful. ‘It’s just one live pic I want, just to make my mother believe that I met you. She likes you so much,’ Mr.Chauhan requested. ‘But she doesn’t even know me, nor do you. How can you be so sure about me just from a matrimonial site? Didn’t you ever think that, perhaps, I may not be worth your time?’ I asked intrigued. He looked at me, an expression I couldn’t place, searching and guessing how much of what I said did I really believe. His stare gave me goose bumps, I averted my eyes. But he didn’t. He was still looking into my eyes, still searching. ‘You are worth all my time,’ he said in a husky tone, a bit louder than a whisper. For some reason that made me smile as I tried not to blush and looked away, everywhere except his eyes.

And there went Click!

He had taken his snapshot, without my permission. Bad guy!

* * *

Mr.Chauhan was the second cousin to the Maharaja, and so his family too was considered royalty. A Havard graduate, he came back to India a year back to take care of the businesses that the extended families shared, and to be near to his family that he loved so much. His mother Gayetri Devakumari was an amicable personality, yet strict in upbringing of her children. He had an older brother and a younger sister too- Shivam P Chauhan and Nandini D Chauhan. The siblings were quite famous here, though not that much known in the eastern parts of our country.

I browsed more about the family history, about the childhoods of Mr.Shantanu, his brother and sister. I liked the family photographs; I found nothing fake in their smiles, as I had perhaps expected. I didn’t understand why a prince had to rely on matrimonial sites for a potential bride. More surprising is the fact that I was to be the One. I had nothing extraordinary in me, except that my great great grandfather was somehow related to the lineage of the Bengal royal family. That explained our unusual surnames.

A ping drove my attention to my email inbox. A mail from Mr.Shantanu was staring at me. I could call him Shaan, he had said, as he called me Rano, but I decided against it. Increasing informality and encouraging familiarity would be futile in the end.

It was a mail from Rani Sa herself, his mother Gayetri Devi had invited me to pay her a visit. I don’t know how to address her- Her highness, or her Excellency- had cordially invited me to have a chat, or perhaps a long discussion over a cup of tea, or a royal beverage in silver polished intricately designed cup and saucers.

Oh, I am a bundle of nerves already!!!


Jodhpur Diaries #1

the palace
the palace

I finished my research work for the day and went downstairs. The weather outside was good. A cup of coffee should rejuvenate my weary nerves, I decided.

The stairs were made of teak from Burma- exquisite looking and very much royal. The hall was furnitured with big vases, motifs, statues and paintings on the walls from all around the world. And one couldn’t miss the intricate design of the heavy entrance doors and the architecture of the pillars outside. No doubt these people did good business turning the big palace into lodgings and guest houses. They don’t like to call it a hotel.

I walked to the open café just outside the building, ordered a cappuccino and rested my exhausted self on an ebony colored chair. The sun had already set perhaps; it would take time to get dark. My phone had been vibrating all afternoon. I checked Whatsapp messages, emails and made some pending calls home. It had been a week since I last called mom. Calls didn’t last more than just a few minutes, just the usual- are you eating well?, how’s work?, and other things.

My coffee didn’t come yet. The customer numbers must have increased, as it was almost evening. I thought to check on it at the counter when someone took the chair opposite mine and placed two coffee cups on the table.

‘Hi,’ he smiled an earnest disarming smile, ‘Surprise! Here’s your coffee Rano, um, I can call you Rano, right? Ratirano is a big name.’
I was staring at him. Did I know him? I couldn’t place him anywhere. But he knew my complete name. Everybody here addressed me as Ms.Devi.  Was he in the research team, was he an assistant, or a hotel manager? He looked a well groomed man of manners and no less than royalty. His dressing was impeccable. And this was no place for random flirtatious people.

‘Sorry, but do I know you?’ I asked politely.

He looked, I don’t know, a bit astonished. Taking a sip he said sarcastically, ‘Aw, that hurt.’ He looked me straight waiting, and continued when I didn’t reply,’ Do I look so different now, that you don’t even recognise me?’ I tried remembering the faces of my old friends, school mates, college buddies, and colleagues- couldn’t find him anywhere.

‘I don’t seem to remember,’ I offered. He seemed genuinely hurt, ’Ok, I’ll make your acquaintance later then, when you tend to recall. It has just been a month, and you seem to have forgotten everything. Tell me, do you have a case of amnesia? Ah, never mind,’ he said getting up with his cup.

I felt foolish and stupid. Having made someone feel embarrassed did no good either. Not that I have encountered many flirtatious perverts in my teenage days to be able to identify with their looks, but this person didn’t seem like one. I racked my brains to recall what happened one month back. I left home in Shillong for a research assignment in Jodhpur, a month back. Mom had been suggesting that I married and got settled, but I still had a few other ambitions.

And I haven’t even asked him his name, I realised. Well, how could I ask- it would have made him just more miserable, perhaps, that is if he was sincere.

I finished my coffee and went to my room, deliberately removing all unwanted stuff from my brain. I had come to love my room in a month. At first I found the place alien and uncomfortable, but then slowly the place accomodated me and made me its own.
Getting a good night’s sleep has been easier these days, than it was earlier. But today I couldn’t sleep peacefully. I decided to check my mail and my blog, that I had neglected for almost a year. The rankings must have come down, along with the page views, I thought. My personal gmail account hadn’t been opened for more than a month. I wondered if there were any mails from friends, or mails worth my curiosity, instead of the usual spams.

An invitation for the college alumni party was there- beautifuly designed. New friend requests from facebook, linkedin, glassdoor, twitter, etc. were among the other lots. But something peculiar caught my interest. Some Mr.Shantanu P Chauhan had left me 6 messages in, and it was dated today, just an hour ago. I clicked on the link. Oh my, it was the same person- sleek tailored suit, gorgeous smile and a clean shaved version of what I saw today. Even the picture gave a regal aura. I almost panicked at the never ending chats and conversations between us on the page, which I don’t remember having at all.

The recent message said- hope you remember me soon. I intend to change my display pic if you don’t. I have come to like you very much. Don’t push me out now.

My heart skipped a beat. I don’t remember anyone having enough courage to even say that to me. I think they thought me unapproachable, well, to my own advantage.

I believed my intuitions and sixth sense a hundred percent, and something told me my life was going to change- but I still doubted, for the better or for the worse.