Friday, February 1, 2013

A LOVE STORY - THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE


THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE
My Very Own Love Story
By
VIKRAM KARVE

Long back, maybe five years ago, I started writing a short story. 

I named the story THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE .

I don't know why, but I left this story unfinished.

A few moments ago, while browsing around, I suddenly discovered this unfinished love story and wondered why I did not complete this love story.

So I am going to finish this love story and give it a nice happy feel good ending. 

I will do that during this weekend.

Meanwhile, here is my unfinished love story, exactly as I wrote it long back, for you to read

THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE
Part 1
  
Do you remember the happiest day of your life…?

I do.

Here’s how it began.

“Excuse me,” a feminine voice said from behind me. 

I turned around.

“Mr. Avinash…?” she asked.

I stared blankly at the smart young woman, tongue-tied. 

“I’m Sheetal…” she said with a lovely smile.

“Oh, Hi…” I stammered, quickly gathering my wits.

I looked at her. 

Avinash had been terribly wrong. 

This was no plump and podgy pedestrian suburban unpretentious behenji

She was a real beauty, chic, smart, a stunner, and I could not take my eyes off her.

Her eyes were extremely beautiful – enormous, dark, expressive eyes. 

Suddenly her eyes began to dance.

She must have seen the frank look of genuine admiration in my eyes.

And she gave me smile so captivating that I experienced a delightful twinge in my heart.

“You are Mr. Avinash, aren’t you…?” she asked mischievously.

“Yes…” I lied, “How did you recognize me…?”

“You were the only person looking lost and out of place out here…the odd man out…” she laughed vivaciously.

“Oh…” I said unconsciously, mesmerized by her gorgeousness, and by instinct, and almost against my will, I let my eyes linger, travel all over her exquisite body.  

“Hey…are you going to stare at me all day or should we grab a bite…I am hungry…” she said playfully.

“Yes…yes…” I said.

“Okay…come…let’s go to Samovar…we can talk there in peace too…” she said, and led me from the art gallery to the restaurant in the veranda.

Thus began the happiest day of my life. 

Dear Reader, please permit me to tell you a little bit about how it all started.

And to tell you this story I am going to transport you backwards into the past.

Yes, we are going more than 30 years back in time, to the late 1970s, when Pune was a Pensioners’ Paradise.

Yes, my Dear Reader, Pune, the Queen of the Deccan, in the 1960s and 1970s, with its lovely climate, pure fresh air, lush green environs, salubrious, spacious and friendly laid back atmosphere, was indeed a “paradise” – Pune was indeed the best city to live in.

Imagine a Pune without Malls and the Multiplexes, with hardly any traffic on the roads, when the bicycle was the popular mode of travel.

The nearest “city” was Mumbai and the best way of getting there was by the railways, by charming trains like the Deccan Queen, enjoying the scenic beauty of the lush green Sahayadri Ghats while savouring the delicious breakfast served by the restaurant car, since there was no expressway and it sometimes took six hours to drive down the old Poona Bombay Road as the road through the Khandala Ghats was quite treacherous.

Just imagine – there were no mobile cell-phones, no internet, no PCs, no STD (one had to book trunk-calls and wait for hours for the call to materialise or else make expensive "lightening" calls). 

Black and White Television had just arrived. 

TV was a novelty which very few people possessed.

So everyone in the neighborhood barged into the homes of those who had TV to see popular programmes like chitrahaar, chayyageet, or a cricket match. 

The main thing was that there was no internet, and hence there was no email.

So, one had to write letters and put them in a red post box to send them via post as there were no courier services either.

And of course, social interaction was face to face, relishing yummy bhel in the numerous picturesque parks, or over tea, in the Amruttulayas, Irani cafes and Kattas, as there was no Facebook  no Google, no Chatting, no Blogging, no cell phones, no blackberry, no SMS, no MMS, no twitter, nothing.

As I said, way back then, the concepts of “cyberspace” and virtual world and mobile phones just did not exist.

Only the real world existed.

Those days, a B. Tech. from an IIT did not get you a huge pay packet – yes, a degree from an IIT did ensure that you got a good job, but once you were in the job you were on par with the other guys from various Engineering Colleges. 

Yes, only boys did engineering then, maybe there were a few girls, the rare exceptions, but I hardly met any of those rare engineering graduate girls pursuing a career as an engineer, maybe most of them got married, or shifted to softer professions.

My IIT Classmate Avinash and I joined a premier engineering company located in the suburbs of Pune.

Well that was the trend at IITs those days – either you went abroad, to America, to pursue higher studies, or got a good job in the campus interview in a prestigious engineering firm, unless you were one of those few who preferred to be a white-collared manager via the MBA route.

Way back then there were hardly any management institutes. 

You either joined the solitary IIM at Ahmedabad or you did your MBA from FMS at Delhi or Jamnalal Bajaj at Mumbai.

The majority of engineers studied engineering to practice engineering.

So we were quite happy to hit the shop floor doing hard core engineering.

We worked hard, for six days a week including Sundays, and had our off day on Thursdays – the industrial holiday.

We rented a house near Deccan Gymkhana from where we commuted to work and back by the company bus.

Life was good. 

It was easy to be happy. 

Our threshold of happiness was so low that small things made us happy. 

Yes, simple things like a relaxed chat over a cup of tea made you happy.

I can never forget those happy moments. 

Yes, every evening after work, we would get down from the bus, relax over a Bun Maska and Chai at CafĂ© Good Luck or Lucky Restaurant, and then walk down to our place on Bhandarkar Road nearby.

One of our most enjoyable highlights was our weekly Thursday visit to Pune Camp – to see the latest Hollywood Movie in royal style relaxing on those unique easy chairs at the inimitable West End Cinema, relishing tasty mouth-watering bites and soothing thirst-quenching sips at the Soda Fountain during the interval, followed by delectable Mutton Samosas, Bun Maska and refreshing Irani style Chai at Naaz, then a leisurely stroll on Main Street (MG Road) and East Street, window-shopping, bird-watching and snacking, sandwiches and cold coffee at Marz-o-rin, maybe a browse at Manney’s bookstore, and then a hearty Chinese meal of Fried Rice and Chop Suey at Kamling or Chung Fa, or a Mughlai repast at Latif, or Punjabi Food at Kwality, Biryani at Dorabjee or George, or Sizzlers at The Place (arguably the first Sizzler Place in India) next to Manney’s.

And at the end we enjoyed a Meetha Masala Pan at George to carry home the lingering flavour and fragrance of the delightful evening.

When there are two close friends, one assumes the role of a leader and the other a follower. 

Amongst the two of us, Avinash, a tall, strapping, confident, flamboyant, handsome man endowed with an excellent physique with a dominating personality, was the natural leader. 

“Shekhar,” Avinash said to me one Wednesday evening while we were sipping chai at Good Luck cafe in Deccan, “Please Shekhar…I want you to do me a favour…”

“What…”? I asked.

“Go down to Mumbai tomorrow and see a girl in my place…” he said.

"See a girl...?" I looked at him, confused.

“It’s like this yaar…there is some behenji type girl from my place my parents want me to see…she is working in Mumbai…I am least interested… so you go and see her and come back…and I’ll tell my parents I didn’t like her…” he said.

“But why don’t you go and meet her…?” I asked.

“Listen yaar…I’ve managed to patao a solid cheez I met her during that management seminar I had gone for last week…” he said.

“But you didn’t tell me…” I said.

Arre Bhai…kuch hone to do…but uske liye you’ll have to help me out…I’ve fixed up a solid date with her tomorrow taking her for a drive on my bike around Lonavala and Khandala…we planned it during the seminar…and suddenly my mom rang up in the office this morning... please yaarShekhar …just go to Mumbai tomorrow and see the girl…” Avinash said.

“But how…?” I protested.

“I have already booked your ticket both ways by Deccan Queen…just go in the morning and come back in the evening…this back-home-type is called Sheetal and she will meet you in the Jehangir Art Gallery at eleven…”

“But how can I masquerade as you…she must be having your photo…I’ll get caught…” I said.

“There is no photo, nothing…she doesn’t know how I look like and I don’t know how she looks like...it all happened so suddenly…just our parents got talking back home last evening and my mother rang up this morning to go and see the girl tomorrow as the girl is going back to her hometown in the mofussil near our place by tomorrow evening’s train…” he said.

“No…No…I am not going…the whole thing is preposterous…I can’t do this…” I protested.

Yaar please…don’t ditch me…I have already sent her a telegram to meet at 11 AM in Jehangir Art Gallery…” he said.

“I don’t understand all this…” I said.

“My mother said her office is in Kalaghoda…so this is the nearest and best place…there in Mumbai they work on Thursdays… only we here in Pune have industrial off on Thursdays…so they fixed up tomorrow…as she has to leave for her place in the evening on holiday…don’t argue…just get it over with…after you come back I’ll ring up  my mom tomorrow evening and tell her I didn’t like the girl and the whole thing is a closed chapter…” Avinash said. 

Then he put his arm around my shoulder and pleaded, “Please Shekhar...I have to go for this Lonavala date...it's a solid opportunity...I promise you Shekhar... agar woh pat gayee...if things work out and my Lonavala romance succeeds... I’ll give you a big treat…”

So, for the sake of friendship, early next morning I boarded the Deccan Queen to Mumbai masquerading as Avinash for my rendezvous with Sheetal ...

To be continued in Part 2 of  THE HAPPIEST DAY OF MY LIFE

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 2013
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?  
I am sure you will like the 27 short stories from my recently published anthology of Short Fiction COCKTAIL
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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 and blogger. Educated at IIT Delhi, IIT (BHU) 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 an anthology of short fiction. An avid blogger, he has written a number of fiction short stories and 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  and academic research papers in journals and edited in-house journals and magazines for many years, before the advent of blogging. Vikram has taught at a University as a Professor for 15 years and now teaches as a visiting faculty and devotes most of his time to creative writing and blogging. Vikram Karve lives in Pune India with his family and muse - his pet dog Sherry with whom he takes long walks thinking creative thoughts.

Vikram Karve Academic and Creative Writing Journal: http://karvediat.blogspot.com
Professional Profile Vikram Karve: http://www.linkedin.com/in/karve
Vikram Karve Facebook Page:  https://www.facebook.com/vikramkarve
Vikram Karve Creative Writing Blog: http://vikramkarve.sulekha.com/blog/posts.htm
Email: vikramkarve@hotmail.com
      
© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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