Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rendezvous at Café Naaz

RENDEZVOUS AT CAFE NAAZ 
Fiction Short Story - Detective Fiction 
By 
VIKRAM KARVE

From my Creative Writing Archives: 

For a change, here is a Detective Story I wrote recently. Old timers in Mumbai will surely remember the inimitable Cafe Naaz on Malabar Hill overlooking Marine Drive. Well Cafe Naaz is no longer there, but memories remain!


A detective always remembers his first case. 

Let me tell you about mine.  

This happened long back – more than thirty years ago – in the 1970s – when Pune was a salubrious pensioners’ paradise – a cosy laid back friendly town where everybody knew everybody. 
 
And let me tell you – at the time of this story – I was not even a full fledged detective – but I was just a rookie part-time amateur self-styled sleuth – studying in college – skylarking in my spare time as a private detective – masquerading as a Private Investigator for my uncle who ran a private detective agency.

Dear Reader, please remember that way back then, in good old days of the 1970s, there were no cell-phones, no PCs, no mobile cameras, handy cams or digital cameras, no modern technology gadgets, not even things like email and the internet that you take for granted today and the only method of investigation was the tried and tested good old physical surveillance where one spent hours and hours patiently shadowing and tailing your target.
 
“A woman wants her husband watched,” my uncle said giving me a slip of paper with a name and the room number of a well-known hotel in Pune.
 
“That’s all...?” I asked.

“He is a businessman from Mumbai…drives down to Pune very often…at least once a week…sometimes twice…ostensibly in connection with business…but she suspects there is some hanky-panky going on…”

One week later, waiting for the client to arrive at our planned rendezvous, I sat on the balcony of Café Naaz atop Malabar Hill sipping a cup of delicious Chai and enjoying the breathtaking sunset as the Arabian Sea devoured the orange sun followed by spectacular view of the Queen’s Necklace as the lights lit up Marine Drive.

She arrived on the dot at seven and sat opposite me.

I looked at my client.  She was a Beauty, a real beauty, 35… maybe 40… must have been a stunner in her college days…I tried not to stare at her.
  
“Okay…Tell me...” she said, getting to the point straightaway.
 
I started reading from my pocket-book, “Thursday morning at ten fifteen he left his hotel room…deposited key at reception telling them that he was going for work would return in the evening…started to drive down in his car towards Deccan…picked up a female who seemed to be waiting for him…she sat next to him…and as they drove off away from the city into the countryside they seemed to be getting amorous…lovey-dovey, you know, a bit of kissing, cuddling…”

“No…No…skip the details…just tell me…is he or isn’t he…?” she interrupted me. 
  
She seemed to be in a hurry. Maybe she was not comfortable being seen sitting with me over here and wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.

“I think he is having an affair,” I said.
  
“You think my husband is having an affair?” 

“Yes. I am pretty sure he is having an affair.”

“How can you be so sure...?”

“Well we look for three things.

“Three things?
  
“Yes, the three key ingredients required to have a affair - Time, Inclination, Opportunity.”

“Time … Inclination … Opportunity…” she repeated looking quite perplexed.
 
“Well they certainly had the Time … they spent the whole day together in seclusion … and they certainly had the Opportunity … behind the privacy of closed doors in that lonely discreet motel hidden in the back of beyond … and as far as the Inclination part is concerned … well, the way they were behaving with each other … well, I have no doubt about it….”

A smile broke out on her face. 

I was flabbergasted. Now tell me dear reader – what would your reaction be if you came to know that your spouse was having an affair? Would you just smile? 

Suddenly I remembered what my uncle had told me, so I asked the woman, “Do you wish to increase coverage?” 

“Coverage?” 

“Photographs...receipts…documentary evidence…round the clock surveillance…full explicit details….the works...” I elaborated. Of course all this detailed investigation would be personally handled in a professional manner by my experienced uncle and his agency. I was very keen that this woman ask us to do a comprehensive investigation. My uncle would be pleased with me and maybe he’d take me along and for me it would be a great learning experience.
  
“I don’t think so,” the woman said.
 
“No?” I said perplexed, “but you will require all this as evidence to establish that your husband is committing adultery.”
 
“Husband? Who said that man is my husband?” she said grinning like a Cheshire cat.
 
“You said so - to the head of the detective agency.”
 
“No, I did not tell your boss that the man was my husband - I never said that he was my husband. I just told him that I wanted that man followed.
  
“But we assumed...”
  
“A good detective shouldn’t assume things, isn’t it…?
 
“But then why did you want that man followed…?” I asked curious.
  
“Well that’s my private matter,” she said, “but since you are such a cute boy and I like you, I will tell you. It is like this - One day, fifteen years ago, the day I completed my graduation, my parents showed me two photographs. The first photo was of the man you were following and the second photo was of the man who is now my husband.”

The woman paused for a moment, had a sip of water, and continued, “My parents told me to choose one, and I made my choice, but ever since then, during all these years of my married life, I was always tormented by the thought that I had made the wrong choice. But now, thanks to you, I know I made the right choice.”
 
She took out an envelope from her purse and gave it to me. “Here is your fee, and I have put in a little bonus for you for doing such an excellent job, she said. 

The woman patted my hand, then she got up and walked away into the enveloping darkness.
  
I opened the envelope and saw that the “little bonus” was much more than the fee - in fact, the bonus for me was more than double the fee for the entire investigation. 

I wondered whether she had two envelopes in her purse, one for each eventuality.

So my first case was over. 

I never forgot the cardinal lesson I learnt from this case. 

Since then, I never assume anything or presume anything - I never take anything for granted. Before I start a new investigation, the first thing I do is to carry out a background check of my client. Maybe that's why I am such a successful detective.

So if you are thinking of hiring me, remember that the first thing I will do is to check you out.


VIKRAM KARVE

Copyright © Vikram Karve 2011
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

Did you like this story?
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About Vikram Karve 

A creative person with a zest for life, Vikram Karve is a retired Naval Officer turned full time writer. Educated at IIT Delhi, ITBHU Varanasi, The Lawrence School Lovedale and Bishops School Pune, Vikram has published two books: COCKTAIL a collection of fiction short stories about relationships (2011) and APPETITE FOR A STROLL a book of Foodie Adventures(2008) and is currently working on his novel and a book of vignettes and short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories, creative non-fiction articles on a variety of topics including food, travel, philosophy, academics, technology, management, health, pet parenting, teaching stories and self help in magazines and published a large number of professional research papers in journals and edited in-house journals for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for almost 14 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing. Vikram lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts. 

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Email: vikramkarve@sify.com          
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