Saturday, August 05, 2006

Antidote to loneliness

Some weeks ago a lady chatting with me asked me how could I manage to handle 450 friends at Ryze network [I didn't tell her about my 352 friends at Gather network], and I vaguely answered they don't write to me nor chat with me daily. Some haven't written for two years... thus friend management is easy.

Since I have failed to make a single friend from the opposite sex here for the past four month, I mean the sort of friend who could accompany me to places, enjoy Chettinaad cuisine, discuss books and music, perhaps share her latest writings with me, go for walks on the beach, so on and so forth, I shall refer to her as 'She'. There is no other 'she' in my group of friends as yet.

Little did I realize that she was herself planning to be the antidote for my loneliness. It worked out very fast indeed... in a matter of few weeks she was already here, having joined India's largest software company in its travel and hospitality section. No that is neither Wipro nor Infosys. Well, during a chat she mentioned she may perhaps be the only family I have here, and I said the same to her too. To cap it all, she can speak Gujarati since her Dad is one, though she has not learnt Konkani which her Mom speaks. But looks like once she gets her kitchen going I am going to be treated royally with Guju dishes, especially Guju Muslim delicacies like Khichdo. Wow, thinking about it makes my mouth water. That's as close to a family as it can get, I presume.

Went to the airport to fetch her, and having once had coffee with her at Mumbai during my last disastrous trip that began with the bomb blasts, we clicked as anticipated. Took her to a Chettinaad restaurant en route to her hotel in Nungambakkam but she kept nibbling at the food, seemingly worked up about lack of accommodation. Having no house to live in for nearly six weeks didn't drive me up trees as three days of staying in a hotel did to her. Set me thinking, and I told her too, women are homemakers and they can think straight only when they are at home... give a man most uncomfortable quarters with an interesting day job and he will scarcely notice. Generalizations are dangerous I know but he means me here and she means her. The rest if the homo sapiens has gone to sleep.

Since she was traveling light we saw no point in driving to her hotel just to dump two small suitcases there. We therefore drove off to Thiruvanmiyur onwards to her office at Karapakkam, in the fabled IT corridor. I chose not to get inside for the high security and other irritants. Having driven quite some distance, my limbs needed stretching so I went for a walk and a coffee. A mobile demo van was exhibiting Lenovo laptops, with fancy music and decor, the whole setting on the highway was so full of incongruity, I wished for a camera...must buy one soon. I am missing some real action that I could have captured on digital scape for the posterity. Youngsters or geeks with jaws dropping, blank expression behind thick glasses -ravenously ogling the laptops, with the dhabas selling snacks and savories in their wholly unorganized glory right behind them...what a scene.

She finished her courtesy call and we drove off to meet a colleague who didn't actually meet us but sent us to see a flat that may be getting vacated, in Jayaram street, in Thiruvanmiyur. It took us quite a while to locate it. By then my poor back was in need of a longer rest, after having driven for nearly a hundred kilometers so far... the owner of the flat and his wife were very sweet to her, who went and explained her predicament. I guess the only unforced faux pas on her part was that she told them she loved the smell of fish coming from the sea hardly five minute's walk and that she would cook non vegetarian meals herself once in a while. This was received by the chatty hosts with a chilling silence and looks that could penetrate inches of steel. I thought the chance was gone, she was hopeful.

Finally we went for a walk to the beach. It was fairly clean, though in some place it stank of human shit since there was a village of fisherfolk that we had driven through by mistake, having missed the cluster of flats with copious greenery hiding its own name too. We walked about for half an hour and I had to finally sit on the slightly wet sand as she stood and tried to fathom the sea... inbetween her long spurts of chatting and loud thinking. By the time we returned to the car parked off the road it was probably eight in the night and we still had to find our way back to the heart of the city.

The drive back was nearly a nightmare, we had to stop at a hundred places and ask for directions. I usually switch my mind off on such occasions, tending to suffer from low sugar problems. It seemed like ages, driving through the maddening traffic that plagues the mid city in areas like T.Nagar, Teynampet and on to Nungambakkam. We found the hotel, she checked in and after freshening up we decided not to go for another walk with the horrid traffic outside the hotel. We crossed the road into a fast food joint and had some quick food over a leisurely chat.

Bidding her goodbye, I drove back home, managing to lose my way from Nungambakkam and turning up at Ashok Nagar and reaching home when it was nearly midnight. I just crashed into bed, realizing the antidote to loneliness had sapped my strength in a way. I had nice dreams, for a change, I thought.


At 5:28 AM, Blogger Shirazi said...

So that is where we shall meet. You will find me here often.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger david raphael israel said...

Reading your narrative makes me want to read more . . . Glad you've returned to the mode here.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger Hershal said...

excellent narration.....lovely

have u read rosie? alan titchmarsh(*spellcheck!)? there also the author does excellent narration of the scene....same way as u do....its a beautiful book..... try and see if u can get it...its small and beautiful!

and i must say......u make me refer dictionary!

lovely, lovely, lovely work!

thank you!


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