Saturday, June 3, 2017

Niche Dating

Short Fiction Story – A Love Story

After retirement – once in a while – I hark back to my wonderful Navy days – like I did this morning. 

And – while on my morning walk – I recalled this delightful “memoir” – which happened more than 40 years ago – in early 1977 to be precise – when I was a raw “Subbie” on my first sea tenure on a frontline warship based at Mumbai

At the time of the story (1977) – “Mumbai” was called “Bombay” – so  I shall use the old name “Bombay” in the story. 

Also – I will use the old city names Madras and Calcutta – prevalent at that time – the cities are now called Chennai and Kolkata respectively.

So – the moment I returned from my walk – I sat down on my laptop to write this love story...

Enjoy the Love Story….

Mumbai (then called Bombay)
Circa 1977

I stepped off the ship onto the ship’s gangway – I saluted – and – I walked down to the jetty.

After nearly a month at sea – I stood on solid ground – wondering what to do on my first evening ashore in Mumbai.

I saw Lieutenant “Q” walk down the gangway to the jetty – he was carrying a packet in his left hand.

I saluted Lieutenant “Q”  

(Yes – in the Navy – we saluted in “Civvies” too)

Lieutenant “Q” returned my salute – and – he said to me: 

“So – you’re off to paint the town red…?”

“No, Sir…” I said.

“So – what are your plans for the evening…?” Lieutenant “Q” asked me.

“I don’t know, Sir…” I said.

“If you’ve got nothing better to do – why don’t you come with me…?” Lieutenant “Q”said.

“Thank you, Sir…” I said – and I started walking with Lieutenant “Q” – careful to keep in step with him – since he was the senior officer.

Yes – Lieutenant “Q” was the senior-most in-living officer on our ship – a “specialist” officer who was more than 6 years senior to me.

(Those days – after being commissioned as an Officer in the Navy – it took you 3 years to become a Lieutenant – and then – you remained a Lieutenant for 8 long years – before being promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander after a total of 11 years of commissioned service – unlike today – when you see “greenhorns” – who haven’t yet fully grown their whiskers – strutting around wearing “two and a half stripes” of a Lieutenant Commander after just 6 years of commissioned service – thanks to the benevolent Ajai Vikram Singh Cadre Review Report aka AVS 2006 – which has reduced the value of senior ranks to subaltern status…)

Soon – we – Lieutenant “Q” and me – we were out of the Dockyard – and – I kept pace with Lieutenant “Q” as crossed the road and walked towards Kalaghoda.

“Sir – if I may ask – where are you going…?” I hesitatingly asked Lieutenant “Q”.

“I am going to meet my ‘girlfriend’…” Lieutenant “Q” said.

“Oh – you have a “date” with your girlfriend…?” I asked.

“Yes – you can say that – I have a “date” with my girlfriend…” he said.

“Oh – you have a date with your girlfriend – Sir – in that case – I will like to excuse myself…” I said. 


“Sir – I don’t want to be a “Kabab Mein Haddi” – a “Threesome”…” I said.

Lieutenant “Q” burst out laughing: 

“Ha Ha – “Threesome” – Ha Ha. Your imagination seems to be running wild. Don’t worry – it’s not that type of “date” – you come along – my girlfriend would love to meet you…”

We walked past the Wayside Inn, Rhythm House (opposite the Jehangir Art Gallery) – crossed the road – walked ahead on the street between the Sessions Court and the University – turned right on Mayo Road (adjacent the Oval Maidan) – and soon – we were outside the Bombay University Library below the iconic Rajabai Tower.

From the foyer – a girl waved out to Lieutenant “Q”.

Lieutenant “Q” waved back at the girl.

The girl came running towards us.

The girl was quite pretty – and – she seemed very excited to see Lieutenant “Q”.

“I am so happy to see you after a long time…” she said.

“Yes – it’s been 3 months – we had quite a long stint in the East…” Lieutenant “Q”said to her.

“I was so happy when you called this morning – I was waiting for you – and – I knew you would be dot on time – as always…” the girl said.

“Yes – the moment we tied up alongside and the shore-phone got connected – the first person I called was you – and luckily – you picked up – not your Library In-Charge…”Lieutenant “Q” said to her.

“That’s good – she’s quite a nosey-parker – she would have guessed why I wanted the “half-day” off…”

“It’s good we had a “make and mend” too – we deserved it – returning to harbour after a really long and arduous sailing…”

“Where all did you go…?”

“All over the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal – and we touched Madras (Chennai), Port Blair, Vizag, Calcutta (Kolkata) – even some small ports like Pondicherry, Tuticorin, Paradip etc…”

“Wow – it must have been exciting…?”

“Actually – it is quite a relief to be back in Bombay…” Lieutenant “Q” said.

Then – Lieutenant “Q” gave her the packet he was carrying – and he said to the girl: 

“I have got your books…”

The girl opened the packet – and – as she saw the books – her face was filled with joy.

The girl held a book in her hand – looked at Lieutenant “Q” with curiosity – and – she asked him: 

“How did you manage to get this rare “gem”…? It’s an “out of print” book – I never imagined that I would ever get to read this book. Where did you get it…?”

“College Street – Calcutta...” Lieutenant “Q” said, “You can get any book over there – if a book exists – you will find it at ‘College Street’…”

“Wow – look at this…” the girl said excitedly, holding another book, “It’s a “first edition” – I must say that you are really great – thank you so much for getting me all these books that I so desperately wanted…”

“Come on – don’t say “Thank You” and all that – it is the least I could do for my favourite girlfriend – and – by the way – this is a gift from me – so…”

“Okay – you are a real darling…” the girl said lovingly to Lieutenant “Q”.

All this while – I was standing like a “mute spectator”.

Lieutenant “Q” must have realized his gaffe – so he quickly introduced us – me and the girl – to each other. 

The girl – who had just joined as a Librarian – she said to me: 

“I always loved books – so – after my graduation – I followed my passion – I did my ‘Library Science’ Course – and now – I am among books all day…”

“So – what are the plans for the evening…?” Lieutenant “Q” asked the girl.

“Let’s go “Bookshop Crawling”…” she said.

I had heard of “Pub Crawling”.

But – this “Bookshop Crawling” was a new experience for me.

But – I quite enjoyed it.

We walked out of the University gate – turned right – passed the resplendent Gothic Style High Court Building – and then – started browsing books on the pavement book-stalls near the Central Telegraph Officer (CTO) on the road from Churchgate to Flora Fountain. 

Then – we “bookshop crawled” – from Bookstore to Bookstore – on DN Road, PM Road, opposite VT – till we landed up at the iconic Secondhand Bookshop at Dhobi Talao on Kalbadevi Road.

It was a unique date. 

And – like the cliché saying – Lieutenant “Q” and his Girlfriend – they “walked” books and they “talked” books – and – I tried to get in a word too – whenever I got a chance.

In one of the book-stores – I noticed that the Girl liked a book – but – when she saw the price – she hesitated.

So – like a chivalrous “Knight in Shining Armour” – with a flourish – I pulled out my wallet – I bought the book – and – I presented it to her.

“No. No. How can I take this…?” the girl protested.

“Oh – so you are “bribing” her with a book…? Are you trying to steal my girlfriend…?” Lieutenant “Q” said to me – looking miffed.

I blushed red with embarrassment.

“Ha Ha – it’s okay…” Lieutenant “Q” said to the girl, breaking into a smile, “Take the book – he’s a nice guy – he really wants you to have the book…”

Lieutenant Q’s Girlfriend gave me a loving smile – and she said to me: 

“Thank you so much…”

We were enjoying “Book Crawling” so much – that – time passed in a jiffy – and – I did not realize that almost 4 hours had passed.

Suddenly the girl looked at her watch – and she said: 

“Oh My God – it’s past 8 – I have to go home…”

We walked via Metro – to Marine Lines – turned left – and walked towards Churchgate Station where she would catch a local to her home in Bandra.

“Hey – remember – I told you on the phone – we have got a “date” next week – on Saturday…” the girl said to Lieutenant “Q”.

“Of course I remember – the “Book Fair”…” Lieutenant “Q” said to her.

“We’ll really have a good time…” the girl said to Lieutenant “Q” 

Then – the girl looked at me – and – she said to me: 

“Why don’t you come along too…? You like books – don’t you…? Yes – you also come. We’ll all have a good time at the “Book Fair”…”

“I would love to come – if…” I hesitated – and I looked at Lieutenant “Q”

“You are most welcome to join us…” Lieutenant “Q” said to me, “I am sure you will enjoy the “Book Fair”…”

“Yes, Sir…” I said.

Then – we waved good-bye to Lieutenant Q’s Girlfriend at Churchgate.

After she left – we walked back to our ship.

“So…” Lieutenant “Q” said to me, “did you like my Girlfriend…?”

“Yes…” I said, “She is cute…”

“Ha Ha – cute…” Lieutenant “Q” laughed.

“She is really passionate about books…” I said.

“Yes – she is a true bibliophile…” Lieutenant “Q” said.

“Sir – I never imagined that you would be such a booklover…” I said.

“Really…? Why…?” Lieutenant “Q” asked me.

Sir – you look so rough and tough…” I said.

“Ha Ha – well – things are not always as they look from outside. There are many facets about me that you do not know…” Lieutenant “Q” said, 

For some time – we walked in silence.

Then – as we approached our ship – Lieutenant “Q” said to me: 

“It was a good gesture of you to gift her that book. I hope you remember that we have got a “threesome date” next week…”

“Of course I remember, Sir – we are going to the “Book Fair”…” I said.

To Be Continued… 

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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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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No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

This Blog Post is a repost of my story A “THREESOME” DATE written by me Vikram Karve 6 months ago in Jan 2017 and posted by me online earlier in my blogs at urls:  and etc 

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