Monday, October 5, 2015

The Woman at Cafe Naaz – Romance Story

Short Fiction – A Romance

From my Creative Writing Archives:

Here is a light-hearted Soft Boiled Detective Romance Story I wrote many years ago – in the 1970s – during my Mumbai days. 

I titled the detective fiction story TIME INCLINATION OPPORTUNITY.

Old timers in Mumbai will surely remember the inimitable Cafe Naaz on Malabar Hill overlooking Marine Drive. 

Cafe Naaz was one my favourite hangouts during my early Mumbai days. 

Sadly  Cafe Naaz disappeared many years ago – but memories remain.

So – here is my old fashioned detective fiction story set in Cafe Naaz – revised, updated and abridged. 

Do tell me if you like the story.


A detective always remembers his first case. 

Let me tell you about mine.  

This happened long back – almost 40 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.

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 mobile cellphones  no PCs  no mobile smartphone cameras  no 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 you 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...? Just a name and hotel room number...?” I asked.

“He is a businessman from Mumbai – he drives down to Pune very often – at least once a week – sometimes twice – ostensibly in connection with business – but our client suspects there is some hanky-panky going on…” my uncle said.

One week later  I waited 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 7 PM  and she sat opposite me.

I looked at my client.  

She was a Beauty  a real beauty  35  maybe 40. 

She must have been a stunner in her college days – and she still looked very attractive.

I tried not to stare at her.
“Okay – you tell me...” she said, getting to the point straightaway.
I started reading from my pocket-book: “Thursday morning at 10:15 AM he left his hotel room – he deposited key at reception telling them that he was going for work and he would return in the evening – he started to drive down in his car towards Deccan Gymkhana – on the way he picked up a woman who seemed to be waiting for him – the woman sat next to him – then – they drove off away from the city into the countryside – during the drive  they seemed to be getting amorous – lovey-dovey  you know  a bit of kissing, cuddling…”

She interrupted me: “No...No... – please skip the details – you just tell me – is he or isn’t he…?”
She seemed to be in a hurry. 

Or – maybe  she was not comfortable being seen sitting with me over here at Cafe Naaz  and she wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible.

“I think he is having an affair,” I said.
“You think he 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 an 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 detective uncle had told me  so I asked the woman: “Do you wish to increase the coverage?” 

“Increase the Coverage?” 

“Photographs – receipts – documentary evidence – round the clock 24/7 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 would take me along  and for me  it would be a great learning experience.

“I think you must go in for increased coverage  a full scale investigation,” I said.
“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...” I said.
“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,” she said.
“But we assumed...”
“A good detective should never assume things, isn’t it…? she said.
“But then why did you want that man followed…?” I asked curious.
She looked at me – and she said: “Well that is my private matter  but since you are such a cute boy and I like you  I will tell you the story. It is like this – one day – 15 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.”

I listened to her with interest.

The woman paused for a moment – she had a sip of water  and then she continued talking: “My parents told me to look at the two photos  and choose one of the two boys – so  I made my choice. 

You rejected the man I was following  and selected the other one...?” I asked.

“Yes – I rejected the man you were following. 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 that I made the right choice from the two candidates  and I selected the right husband...” the woman said.
She took out an envelope from her purse  and she 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 I saw that the “little bonus” was much more than the fee.

In fact  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. 

But – the beautiful woman at Cafe Naaz taught me a lesson I will never forget.

Yes – I never forgot the cardinal lesson I learnt from this case – my first independent 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 is why I am such a successful detective.

So  if you are thinking of hiring me for some detective work  maybe for doing a personal investigation  remember  that the first thing I will do  is to check you out – yes – I will thoroughly check you out.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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