Unlike today, where you can find a girl even if you are a tourist guide, our times’ bankers and government employees got better marriage proposals and the best of girls. We were bought up in times where movies made you believe that the aim of your life should be Roti (food to eat), Kapda (clothes good enough to cover your body and make you look decent) and Makaan (a house of your own). Rest assured if these 3 are met you would get a decent girl selected by your family. So to make sure you get a chance to be on this side of the table where a girl walks in with a tray of samosas and tea (prepared by her), you must have these 3 most important things in life.
In school, my entire focus was on my shiny black shoes (which I polished myself every day) and my grades. The holiday destination was ‘Vaishno Devi’, so there was hardly a chance I would find a girl and ask for a date with my entire family with me. College was no different. In college, the focus was shifted slightly from grades to topping the class and making sure Hemant (my classmate and friend) doesn’t score more grades than me. Holiday destination – still the same.
We had landlines, so even if I asked for a girls numbers there was a lot of brains required – what time will I call that she picks the phone? What do I tell my mother, who am I calling? What if her dad or mom picks the phone? Should I call from a PCO (public calling operator)? What time I won’t bump into Deepa aunty at the PCO, because she would announce to the entire world that I’m doing ‘Ladki Baazi’ (chasing girls) instead of focusing on Roti, Kapda and Makaan. So I thought to solve mathematical equations was much easier and I chose to do that only.
90% of affairs reached the execution stage (from a simple crush to go and talk to the girl) because of that one friend who would say “Man, she’s looking at you”. “Brother, don’t be scared, today you are looking amazing so you should go and ask her number.” On the contrary, I had friends who asked “Man, I missed the chemistry class, please share the notes.” “Brother, Hemant got 2 marks extra in that last questions, that’s why you came second.” “Let’s play table tennis, loser to treat winners with coca cola.” As a result, even today my school or college reunions have only IT professionals or businessmen or teachers, that too ‘only boys’.
By the time I finished my graduation, movies started scaring us that our future would be running with degrees after one company to another, with no job security. After Roti, Kapda and Makaan, it was time for “Employment”. My worst nightmare was sitting in a shop with my dad and manufacturing bangles in Chandni Chowk. Sitting in a vest, in scorching heat and a belly; bigger than a full-term pregnant woman. So rather than chasing a girl in a DTC (local) bus, I decided to chase my dream. I wanted a job where I could meet different people, know what’s happening around, have intelligent conversations and compete with talented people.
At 25, when I finally got Roti, Kapda and a good job, it was time to select a girl who makes the best samosas. Makaan was already supplied by my father.
While the weekends were booked to visit and meet prospective samosa girls, the office was picking pace too. I got promoted as the manager and was asked to expand my team. It was time to hire people. Time for my first interview as the new boss. It was my first time so I was all charged to grill the first person who walks in.
A girl walks in. So slim that at first, I thought “Am I hiring a kid or someone suffering from malnutrition?” She was holding a file with her resume, just out of college. Her big eyes made me nervous. When I looked at her I felt this soft corner in my heart just emerged, like I want to protect her from this cruel world.
The interview begins with basic questions like “Tell me about yourself, why you wish to join us etc. The next moment I tried to impress her with my sense of humour. So I asked her.
“I will ask you only one question, and then you can go.”
She gave a nervous smile and said “Ok”.
“What is the centre of this table?” I pointed my figure at the table in between us.
She thought for a few seconds, looking at the table she pointed her finger somewhere on the table in said “This?”
“What makes you think this is the centre?” I got excited as I knew I got her.
She looked at the table, trying to reason her decision. “I just guessed it, I think this should be.”
Feeling very proud of myself and my intelligence, I said: “I told you I will ask you only one question but you didn’t notice that I asked two.”
She giggled and her million dollar smile got me, “I didn’t think about it.” Her smile was like a waterfall that’s as simple as water falling on a rock, yet so pure and peaceful. There was something that was drawing me towards her. I hired her.
“And kids, that’s how I met your mother.”
“A girl who didn’t even know how to make rice, forget about samosas.”
Ria, my 12 years old just giggled “But she’s an awesome cook today.”
“But pa what happened to samosa girls?” my curious son asks me. I am sure he’s wondering whether he will also see some, one day.
“I was still meeting them on weekends.” A smile just appeared on my face and both Ria and Atharv got that.
“So how did you ask ma out?”
“Did she also like you?”
I just remembered, by that time, Yash Chopra magic has started running on screens and our minds. And I decided to try it out. I also thought, why only arrange marriage, why not love?
“I and your mother were the last ones to leave office. So I thought let me check why she leaves so late.”
“Was she sitting late because of you?” Atharv, as usual, started talking like ‘momma’s boy’. But that’s what I also thought when I noticed her sitting late every day.
“That’s what I also wanted to ask her, but couldn’t just walk to her and say “hey what’s up”. Like you guys do these days.”
“Then how did you ask her?” kids are excited as they are hearing this story for the first time.
“I used Yahoo Messenger”
The kids busted in laughter.
“I am serious, I pinged her, why she is still in office.”
“I was about to leave.” She replied
“Did you offer her a lift back home?” Ria enquires to find out whether I was a gentleman back then too.
“Not that day. But that was just the beginning of our long chats after office on messenger.” I ensured Ria.
While I was sharing the story with the kids an image just flashed in front of me, back from the days when we used to work together. I used to sit in a cabin which had a window overlooking the room where the rest of the team sat. I often used to stare at her from that window. And I knew she could feel me watching her.
“Pa, what happened next, who asked for the first date?” Atharv’s curiosity is building up.
“Do you want to go for coffee or beer?”
Kids are confused. “Oh my god, did you actually asked her with this line?” Atharv asks me wondering.
“Yes. And guess, what was your mother’s response?”
“Did she say “beer”?” Ria asks with the same spark as her mother has in her eyes.
Without me saying anything, all three of us started laughing. Listening to our laughter Meera enters the room.
She suspiciously asks “What’s cooking here?”
I put my arms around the two sweethearts “And kids, that’s how I met your mother. That’s what happened 15 years back that we are still bearing the aftermath of.”
A pillow came flying right at us from Meera.