Weekends are generally my turn to surprise my wife and daughter. Today, this is what I made. Khaman Dhokla. Here’s a picture of what was expected and what the outcome was. It spoiled my years of reputation as a cook in my house. This is the worst disaster ever in the kitchen for me.
I was trying to multitask, entertain the kid and make lunch as well. And I lost track of time, till I saw smoke coming out of the microwave. The wife burst out in anger, which quickly turned into laughter, when my 2-year-old daughter asked, “Papa, Ye Dhokla Tha?”
This wasn’t the second batch of Dhokla. My wife made the first ones, and my daughter knew what a Dhokla looked and tasted like. It was yummy. Unfortunately, I didn’t click a picture of it.
There were days when I just slept for the weekends. I don’t even remember the last time I slept for an hour during the day. All these days, it’s been late night sleeping, and waking up early, trying to beat the morning traffic to the office. The one good thing about being busy: you are never bored. You are either doing something or sleeping. Your brain is either working or sleeping. It never rests.
I love being busy, as compared to lying on the couch the whole day, and watching those eternally repeating movies on TV. The only time I am relatively less busy is when I am commuting. My commute to the office is about 50 minutes one way. That 100 minutes daily, is the time when I do a lot of thinking, singing and sitting. Oh, and sometimes, just waiting at the red lights, praying and pleading to God to let me move on.
But I also know someone personally who is busier than me. I envy her. Her days are more interesting than mine, or so I feel. She doesn’t tell, but I can feel it. As much I hate going out and getting stuck in the traffic, she loves all the time that she gets to spend at home.
She sleeps as much as she wants. She doesn’t want to sleepy at all, but when she sleeps, even the loudest noises on earth can’t make her turn over. Her days are not monotonous, each day is new experience for her.
Here I am, trying to catch up on all my missed gym routines, sitting on the cycle and finishing my unfinished post that I had started 2 weeks back.
And they burst out into laughter. Keith took a bunch of tissue papers and started drying himself. Veronica wasn’t sure what to do. The initial clumsiness of the first date had gradually settled down. There was an uncomfortable silence around them. Both didn’t know what to start with. After all, they had never talked like this or even met like this before.
Keith finally broke the silence.
Keith: “So, are you angry that I didn’t pick up your calls?”
Veronica: “Not really, but I was worried. But then I figured you must be tired after yesterday night’s long phone call.”
Keith: “Yeah. Sorry about that.”
Veronica smiled. She wasn’t thinking about what had already happened. She was, in her mind, trying to concentrate on something else. She was a bit nervous, which Keith noticed. He was nervous as well. For the first time, they didn’t know what to talk about.
Veronica: “Tell me something which you have never told me.”
Keith looked surprised. What kind of a question was that!
Veronica: “Come on, that’s not a difficult question. There are so many things I don’t yet know about you.”
Keith: “But what exactly you want to know about me?”
Veronica: “I don’t know, anything, that I haven’t heard from you.”, she winked.
Keith knew it was a trick question. He took up the challenge and thought he could defeat her in her own little game. But little did he know that the game Veronica wanted to play had only one outcome. She was going to win anyway.
Keith: “I didn’t like you on the first day I met. You were too rude, and had an attitude.”
Veronica smiled and said, “OK, that hurt a little, but you can carry one. Next.”
Keith was puzzled. He didn’t know this game was going to be a long one. He was now alert, though. He raked up his brain to come up with the next sentence. And at the same time, he was already ready for some more. He started enjoying this game.
Keith: “I felt really bad when you didn’t accept the chocolates that I got for you on your birthday. I threw them away.”
She had no expressions to Keith’s responses. She had only smiled at the beginning of the game. She seemed composed and very serious. She seemed to be waiting for something very specific.
Keith on the other hand, although confused, was more comfortable now. He thought he could just go on and on, and at one point of time, she would be tired, and Keith would win the game. The food came, and they started eating, the game continued. Veronica would just listen to his answers, and ask him to move on to the next one. Keith was pretty fast in the beginning with his responses. He kept talking about things that either made him feel good or bad about Veronica. As the game progressed, Keith felt like he was being overpowered.
Veronica: “Is that all that you haven’t ever told me?”
Keith: “Well, I have at least told you 100 things now. We have just been talking for a few weeks. Let me get ready with the next set of my answers. Give me some time.”
Veronica: “Sure, take your time. I will be right back.”, and walked towards the restroom.
Keith finally realized why he wasn’t winning yet. He had been pitching the wrong answers to her. He smiled and thought that he can win the game now since he knew what he was going to say. After all, the opponent was a girl. He was ready with his next set of responses, eagerly waiting for Veronica. He actually jotted them down on a tissue paper, he didn’t want to take chances this time. Right then, Veronica came behind her, peeping into the notes that he had been making.
Veronica: “What’s that? I see you are concentrating hard on your homework. Good. Let’s resume.”
Keith: “You think you can trap me? Get me some Gulab Jamoons. I guess this game will continue for some more time. I really like Gulab Jamoons.”
Veronica: “Fine, I didn’t know that as well. I will take that as one of the things you never told me. Continue.”
Keith: “When I saw you today, I skipped a beat or two. You are looking so different than usual. You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen.”
Veronica smiled this time, probably because she thought this response was a bit sugar-coated. She didn’t mind and said, “Thanks. Continue please.”
Keith: “I love the way you flick your hair whenever you turn towards me.”
It was already 10 pm, and the waiter asked them if they wanted something else, prompting them to leave. Veronica and Keith looked irritated. Both wanted to continue their game. But they had to leave now. Keith was starting to flirt with her and was in a romantic mood. Veronica was loving all the attention and compliments from him. They were enjoying each other’s company. But as every good thing has an end, their first date came to an end, on a happy note of course. It was a bit chilly outside. Keith took out his jacket and put it on her shoulders. Veronica turned towards him, flicked her hair and said, “Thanks for the lovely date.”
Keith: “I should thank you. You had planned the date, and I really loved it.”
They didn’t know each other for long. It’s just been about 3 weeks that they had been talking to each other regularly. He was a bit shy and reluctant to ask her out yet. Veronica somehow knew it, but was hoping that he would make the first move. Although Keith wanted to spend some time with her outside of office hours, he was terrified of the thought of a date with her. Everyday, Keith would try to ask her out on their first date, but he just couldn’t do it.
It had been a lazy Sunday. Keith had been sleeping all day. They had been talking over the phone for 6 hours straight the previous night. Both knew they were just not friends anymore. Yet, they talked about all the other things in the world but themselves.
Keith’s phone rang while he was still in deep sleep. He thought it must be the alarm, and fumbled for his phone, muted it, and went back to sleep. He woke up at 3:00pm in the evening, tired of oversleeping. He was hungry. He fetched his snacks box from the cupboard, opened up a packet of biscuits and started munching on them. He picked up his phone and unlocked it. There were 60 missed calls and a message from Veronica. Keith opened the message which read:
“I am hungry. Let’s meet at 6pm at the Desho’s Lounge”.
Keith looked at his watch. It was already 4. Desho’s Lounge was about 30 kms from his house. He wasn’t sure if he could make it on time. Keith called Veronica to check where she was. Her phone rang, but got disconnected. He called again, Veronica didn’t answer. Thinking she might be busy with something, Keith got up to get dressed. He was ready in about 10 minutes flat. His phone beeped. It was a message from Veronica:
“Sorry, Change of plans. Let’s meet for dinner at 8, The High Bar”.
He tried calling Veronica again, but all his calls went unanswered. He was getting nervous, not knowing what to do, he turned on the television, and started browsing through the channels. He kept on looking at his phone impatiently, wondering why wouldn’t she answer his calls, and why did she change the meeting place. He kept on thinking about all possibilities, everything that they talked about last night. Was it about the last night’s conversation? Did he say something weird or inappropriate to her? Was she angry with him for not answering her calls while he was sleeping? He was so desperate to talk to her now.
It was 6 now. He turned off the TV, picked up his keys, and was about to leave for “The High Bar” when his phone beeped again. It was Veronica. Another message:
“Sorry Love. Change of plans again. Let’s meet at the “Ebony with a view(The 13th Floor)” at 8:30″.
His heart started pounding. His eyes couldn’t turn away from his phone. “Love” was the word he was staring at. She had never done that before. He knew she would never say something casually, even in messages, if she didn’t mean it. He had never had this feeling. What was it? He had been staring at his phone for more than 5 minutes now. The phone beeped again. Another message from Veronica.
“Let me know when you start from your house. It will take me about 30 minutes from my house”.
He came back to his senses. It wasn’t a dream. He smiled and messaged her back.
“Sure Love. I will be starting in 10 minutes. See you at the restaurant. Good choice.”
He didn’t know why he typed in the “Love” word in the message. But he thought he would pass it as a joke in response to her “Love” in her message. Keith was very happy now. He started going through all that had happened since last night, in his mind. Why did she change the meeting place twice. Why did she choose Ebony after all. He knew it was one of the most romantic restaurants nearby, while the other places were just usual hangouts. It was pricey too.
Keith reached on time. He parked his car, and went on to the reception to check if she already had a reservation. The receptionist ushered him to a table where he could see Veronica flipping through a magazine, seemingly bored of waiting for a long time.
Keith: “Hi Veronica. What’s all this about? Why wouldn’t you answer my calls? Why are we having dinner here?”
Veronica: “Calm down Keith. Take a breath. Have some water, sit down, and then we will talk.”
Keith sat down, took a deep breath, and looked at Veronica. She looked different. She was wearing a red top and a long black skirt. Keith had never seen her wear a skirt before. She was looking lovely. Was it her birthday? Why would she want to celebrate her birthday with him.
Keith: “You are looking different. Looking lovely. Is it your birthday? Why didn’t you tell me before.”
Veronica: “No Keith. If it were my birthday, I would have asked you to get a gift for me. I just wanted to have dinner with you today. I was a bit confused about the place, but finally settled for this. Do you like it? By the way, thanks for the compliment.”
Keith: “We will see. We have the whole night to arrive at any conclusions about your choice. Let’s just get started with the dinner. I am hungry. I guess, you are too.”
Veronica: “Of course I am. I haven’t eaten since 4. By the way, how come you missed all of my calls?”
Keith: “Oh, I was sleeping. Sorry about that. I never sleep so late. Anyway, tell me, what’s the special occasion.”
Veronica: “Come on, do I have to spell it out? Are you that dumb? It’s our “First Date” you idiot.”
Keith couldn’t take in the words. Although he knew it was the first time they were meeting outside office, it never occurred to him that it could be a date. He was also surprised at the blunt response from Veronica. And he really felt like an idiot right now. It was a little too much for him, all the things that had been happening today and the yesterday night. They stared at each other, until a loud voice startled both of them.
It was the waiter. He pointed to the glass of water in Keith’s hand, from which water was spilling over onto his shirt.