It still seems like a pleasant dream to me…my trip to Shimla in the winter of 2009. It has to be, undoubtedly, one of the best memories I have.
As I looked out the window of our car, I couldn’t help marveling at the scenery outside. No wonder nearly everyone I know had been to Shimla and loved it here.
A journey often comes with a story of its own. This journey surely has one. That day, the 21st of November, as I walked into the hotel room and collapsed into bed, I wondered whether this trip would be as good as I hoped it would be. Little did I know then that I had a huge surprise in store for me…
Keeping a close eye on my little sister, I followed my parents into the dining hall. As we sank into the sofa and Ashley was immediately absorbed into watching a cartoon, my eyes fell on a corner of the room…and I kept gawking like an idiot.
There was a breathtaking, gorgeous idol of Lord Krishna, on a slightly raised platform. It looked so beautiful, I could hardly take my eyes off it. I was mesmerized. And it seemed like a wonderful coincidence that I happened to spot an idol of Krishna, of all the Gods I worship. I was elated.
Then someone broke into my thoughts with a, “ Pooja, tie up your hair. HOW many times do I have to tell you?!”
Mum. Of course. I sighed. WHY do I have to tie up my hair, may I know? It’s not like I’m going to win a Nobel Prize for making my hair look tame. I dragged my feet to the table, sat down and tied my hair up before I could get another reminder. I sighed again when I heard Ashley squeal with excitement, out of the blue. What NOW?! I turned my head towards where she was pointing and OH.MY.GOD.
This just HAS to happen to me. I saw my so-called best friend from school, Kajal, enter the dining hall with her family. As if I really needed any cause for humiliation, I found out that my unfairly stylish, perfectly dressed, Barbie doll-like friend would be staying in THIS VERY HOTEL ( of all places in the world) for as long as we were staying. Wonderful.
“Oh, this has GOT to be my lucky day,” I grumbled.
“I know! Isn’t it great? Now you have company!” said Mum.
People have completely lost their sense of sarcasm, if you ask me. Thankfully, she quickly interpreted my silence. Thank god my parents know me so well that it’s scary.
Ashley went back to watching Ben10, Dad and Kajal’s father started discussing world politics while my mum and aunty began talking about the shopping prospects at Mall Road. I greeted Kajal and her elder brother, Varun, with fake enthusiasm. I didn’t see why she should be so happy to see me when she never bothered to get in touch after school, except whenever she needed help with her boyfriend.
We made small talk through dinner and finally decided to go shopping together the next day. For the first time in my entire life, I wasn’t psyched about shopping. This just kept getting better and better.
On Sunday, our families met at the lobby and, of course, Kajal looked perfect. She and I hung back and walked behind the group as the conversation turned to her boyfriend for the seven hundred and twenty sixth time. Believe me, her entire life revolves around the sad dude.
Thankfully, retail therapy always works for me. So my mood lifted when I rushed into the nearest bookstore. Aaah…I know it sounds totally weird, but it smelled really good. While Kajal was having a look at the M & B’s, I was drooling near the Mario Puzo section. We are so different, it’s a miracle we get along quite well. I checked out some other books as well. I looked up from the book I was ( already ) reading called My Friend Sancho, when I heard a guy’s voice.
He looked a little older than I am, and was he drop-dead-gorgeous! He had this really calm and sophisticated aura about him. But that wasn’t exactly why I was fascinated by him. I was, because he’d asked for a copy of the Bhagwad Gita.
I eves-dropped on his conversation with the shopkeeper and heard him tell the guy that he’d given his own copy to his grandfather and that he wanted to get another for himself.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t find a lot of guys like this one. I was so overwhelmed that I didn’t even look away when he caught me staring at him. He smiled at me ( and my heart stopped) and then he left the store with his book in hand. I stood frozen ‘til I heard Kajal call me. I told her about the guy, nearly hopping on the spot. She asked me a string of questions about him till we joined our families at the local coffee shop. I thought about the guy all night and wished I could get to know him somehow. But that was nearly impossible.
The next day, we went sight-seeing at Kufri on horseback. The ‘rents were loving the cool breeze and warm sun and we were enjoying posing for pictures with a Python. Kajal was too scared to hold him so she sat at my feet while I wrapped the snake in my arms. I was having fun as it was, and to add to my joy, I saw the same guy walking our way!
I was so surprised, I nearly dropped the snake on Kajal. As its tail touched her shoulder, she jumped like a terrified rabbit and I burst out laughing. Better still, HE was laughing too!
Throughout our time at Kufri, I kept shooting glances at him. But I didn’t kid myself into believing that he’d actually be “interested” in me. I’m the kind of girl guys love being pals with. But I’m SO not girlfriend material. Before leaving, we decided to get something to eat. I was waiting in line when a guy came up to me and told me that his friend Mehul likes me and wants to be friends with me. HUH?! Where did THIS come from? I was sure this was some kind of a stupid joke-- or most probably a dare. I told him I wasn’t interested and that he could go and tell this Mehul that I said so. I didn’t say anything to Kajal. No need to embarrass myself when I was sure this was a prank.
That evening when Kajal and I were taking a walk near the hotel, another guy came to me and said the same damn thing. What was going ON here?! This was getting extremely annoying. Especially because Kajal was getting a real kick out of this. I sent the moron away and wished these guys would leave me in peace. I heard a phone ring, and while Kajal answered her boyfriend’s call ( yet again ) I looked in the direction the guy had called out to, and I stiffened.
He was talking to THAT guy. HE was Mehul
I felt my heart sink. I was sure he could see the extreme frustration and disappointment on my face. I couldn’t bare to stand there any longer. I told Kajal I was going to my room to pack my stuff. She nodded.
I nearly cried on my way up. I stood in the elevator with a morbid, defeated look on my face and kept staring at my feet. I didn’t even look up when the doors opened. So I nearly fainted when he said my name.
“ So you’re not scared of snakes?” said Mehul.
I cracked up. I couldn’t believe THIS was the first thing he’d thought of saying to me. That night, we sat in the lobby, chatting until it was time for dinner. I learnt that he too was in DU, that he was staying in Shimla for another two days, and that he’d found out my name from Kajal before talking to me. I was delighted to know that he lives in Delhi.
We exchanged phone numbers right then and promised to stay in touch, since I was to leave the next morning. I was happy to meet such an exceptional, chivalrous, SPIRITUAL guy. Before leaving for his hotel, he handed me a plastic bag which he’d been carrying with him. Mehul waved at me and left.
I opened the bag, and inside it was a copy of My Friend Sancho.
- PS - Written By Arpita! My younger sis! - word count - 1480 so definately not eligible for the contest but still it suit the theme and I wanted to share her first story with u, Thanks!