Wednesday, January 11th 2017, Prithvi Cafe, Juhu, Mumbai
“Come near the flute guy”, she instructed as I entered the arena. Prithvi cafe always fills me up with positivity. It’s the most European-style cafe that I have ever been to; it feels like I am sitting across a street in a crowded European neighborhood with hordes of creative people around me who are discussing esoteric things like art and philosophy. Maybe because it is situated next to Prithvi Theatre is why it attracts such intellectual crowd, or maybe I just think they are intellectual and they are rather discussing a fight with their neighbors or perhaps their dogs.
May the odds be in my favor.
“Tall Guy, White Shirt.” replied I as I walked through the entry.
“How tall?” came the prompt reply.
“6 feet exactly.” I was quick too.
Dusty light brown sweater
Saw”, came 4 messages in quick succession.
As soon as I read ‘saw’, my heart skipped a beat. It is happening.
I wasn’t wearing my eye glasses and I was afraid I would not be able to identify her. Thankfully, I had an idea of what I was looking for. I noted that I just have to find the flute guy. So I started looking for him instead. How can someone mess up spotting a flute guy? Prithvi Cafe is such that the counter is on the one side, people wait there for the table, alongside a street-looking aisle that is usually crowded. The sitting area is across that street-looking aisle, opposite the counter. I was making my way through that aisle as I struggled to find the flute guy.
I am habitual to looking down as I walk and I couldn’t even see any guy standing and playing a flute. But it so happened, I looked up, trying to make my way, and I saw a bearded guy sitting under a tree (yes, there are trees at Prithvi Cafe), holding a flute, reveling in his solitude. It was not something that I had expected while searching for the ‘flute guy’. Habitual, I looked down again, mind kicking along that he might be him. In a succession of eye movements in the next few microseconds, I looked up again, mentally confirmed that the guy had a flute, as my eyeballs shifted gaze to realize that there was a girl sitting next to him. She waived as our eyes met. And there she was. Shining. Beholding what would change me – her smile. So perfect. How could I have not identified her? How can somebody not notice her?
I walked up to her. Calm. Steady. Nervous. Thrilled. Enchanted – as I went closer. Heart pounding. Like you have been hearing the sound of the waves all along from a distant ocean not visible to you. Sounds that inspired you. Touched you. Moved you. Captivated you. And now you are walking down to the ocean to feel the waves. That kinda thrilled. Heart filling up. Anticipating.
“I am so sorry” was the first thing I said to her in person. These had to be my first words. She had been waiting for me for over an hour. Patient wolf – she acknowledged. We have been talking for almost two weeks now and not one day passed without she impressing me with yet another amazing shade of her. She was so many things in just the right proportions. Ambitious, passionate, writer, traveler, collector of memories, adventurous, spontaneous, drawn more towards nature than people, insightful, expressive. Everything. Like a lost star in the cosmic world. Existing. Making everything better.
Or maybe everything was not in the right proportion. There was no way for me to find out. Rather, I had to unravel it like a secret wrapped under layers; the secret that everyone wants to know. Like a treasure buried deep beneath the earth; but a treasure after all.
I ventured on what I am sure would turn out to be the best adventure of my life.
We started talking. It was surprising that even after talking so much online we never ran out of things to share. Her energy wouldn’t die and with every word that came out of her mouth, I would fall for her even more. It was happening. Two hours went by within seconds. I don’t remember what all things we talked about. I don’t remember how we started either. I just remember being astounded by the incredible person that this totally-misinterpreted, utterly beautiful life had gifted me. She is a gift. Like a book your wellwisher gives you. The book that will change your life. The book that will expand your mental horizon. The book that will transform you to your core.
I was willing to get beneath her beautiful. I so desperately wanted to know what makes her who she is today. I want to do everything she has done and I want to do all of them with her. As a guide. Like the Pole Star guiding the lost travelers. Like a guide for the seamen who get lost in the humongous ocean that life is.
Metaphorically it all fits. She fits.
After that meeting, I am sure of just one thing. For the journey that I have started, I have only one road map: Instincts. She is like a banyan tree – with far-reaching branches, reaching everywhere, in so many directions. The closer I go, the more there is to explore. And her roots, deeply entrenched, in a handful people she holds closest to her, and in her beliefs that the beautiful life has taught her. She is a believer. Her company is benign. Being with her is like reveling under the shade of the same tree that I am willing to explore in so many ways.
Counting on it to literally fit.
Seemingly disparate, deeply coherent: Pieces of a puzzle – She and i.