A Midsummer's Love Tale
My law examinations had got over in the meantime and I decided it was time to take my annual break. It was the scorching month of May and the weather decided it for me, it was time to head for the lofty misty mountains.
Although I was still blissfully unaware of it, yet it was here that the story of my equally mushy romance was preparing to take off, and it marked the unraveling of my romantic life, a period cherished the most.
I remember my first visit to the beautiful yet romantic hill station of Nainital. This was sometime in the scorching sparkling month of May, when the sun decides to shine in its full glory.
A midsummer month of May meant hot and dry winds, was enough motivation to drive me away to the cooler climes of Nainital, a tiny hill station with a cool natural lake nestled in the lofty Himalayas in the North of India.
I was a collegian and in my last year of college; the ‘heart’ was led astray easily, and the spirit was carefree and flippant so to say. I was staying in a friend’s hotel on a month long visit, as college was closed for summer vacations. So time was not a constraint.
To liven up the evenings there was a ‘live’ band playing at the Boathouse Club, the only posh club available in Naini at that time, and which plays even till today.
Come evening, and the usual crowd used to throng the club, gathering in small minuscule groups at the club bar and the makeshift deck; with the clinking of crystal glasses and plates of ‘chicken tikka’(roasted chicken meat) on the ‘club deck’ from the nearby smoldering barbecue. The aroma of roasting meat and the chilly cold blast outside with the glass to warm the insides was good enough for many a soul.
Now let me reveal something about this ‘club deck’ which I’m referring to. This is the lower balcony or jetty jutting out from the Boat House Club building, very close to the lake. The view from there is fantastic and par excellence. In the late evenings, as the lights of Nainital come alive, one can have an aerial view of the Mall Road as well as the lake all around. Since boating was taboo in the night, the stillness of the water with the shining reflection of the lights of the Mall Road of Nainital falling in it was truly a totally marvelous and unparalleled sight.
On a moonlit night, you could see the distinct reflection of the moon shining in the still waters of the lake and the sight was indeed breath taking and stupendous.
Up on the dance floor, one could hear the live musical band belting out the latest hits both in English and in Hindi, and one could enjoy the view with a glass of Scotch in one’s hand.
One could also interact with the young adventurous lady loves that used to come down to the club deck looking for a bit of privacy, rediscovering their ‘love’ and also looking for a bit of fresh adventure.
This crowd of youngsters was mostly from Delhi but also consisted of the ‘regular crowd’ who had their plush summer homes in Nainital, who used to descend here from surrounding nearby towns in the sultry plains, and wait for the scorching midsummer heat to get over and the monsoons to arrive, before when they would start to leave.
We had formed a group and there were about 30 girls and boys in that group. I was fortunate enough to be a part of that group. There were as many girls as there were boys in it, so pairing was easy, if you understand what I mean.
As I looked around and found most of the girls and guys had picked their favorites who used to hang around with each other. It was then that I noticed a young girl of medium build, with curly hair who looked more like a gypsy with a cherubic dazzling smile and a mischievous glint in her eyes.
She was no stunner, but there was a spark attached to her. She had full lips, spoke immaculate English, later I found out she was studying in the famed Modern School of Delhi.
A schoolgirl, I thought to myself could be immature, dangerous and insolent. But this one was different, as I later came to know; she was more mature than I was, and would regard me with ‘glowing misty eyes’ from afar, which followed me around wherever I went. She regarded my movements around the club, with just a hint of suspicion but I knew instantly by intuition that she was more than interested in me, as I too was in her.
Not that I was immune to ‘female’ attention but this girl was different. She caused a mild sensation in me, whenever she was around, and set off a flutter in my heart. Now even I was conscious of her and would also keep looking out for her continuously and my eyes would try searching her out and eventually spot her out even in a dense crowd.
Somehow, now I had to find out her name. I achieved this simple task without much difficulty and found out her name was Alina Patwardhan. Unknown to me she had already done this exercise and knew my name.
She used to take unusual attention in me and lately I observed she was supporting me in my discussions too. Whenever we were discussing something in a group she used to keep listening and support me in whatever I contributed to the group.
Consider this scenario. We were discussing education in English medium schools, and I happened to blurt out that Modern School Delhi was one of the best.
Immediately she shouted, ‘I totally support Vikas on this. Modern is definitely the best.’ She smiled at me and sportingly came over and stood near me for support. At times such as this my heart used to go gaga over her and I was sure she could hear it thudding away at top speed.
I got my first big chance to really ‘interact’ with Alina at the Boathouse Club musical evening. We had been ‘baiting’ each other for a week now. It was time to explore further, I thought to myself smilingly. It was a May Queen Ball sponsored by one of the liquor companies to promote their brands of premium whiskey. There were prizes for the May Queen and the May Princess. The best dancing couple, the best dressed couple and so many surprise prizes.
It was late evening time, around 8 o’clock. The crowd was at its musical best, the liquor was flowing as usual. The live band was performing at its peak; the youngsters had all taken to the floor and were enjoying themselves to the hilt.
The colorful lights were flashing on the dancing floor and lighting up the ‘couples’. In between, the ‘psychedelic lights’ would come on all of a sudden and the dancers in the crowd would go berserk. Some smoke would also be let off from the smoke machine on and off and it was indeed a ‘beautiful’ sight to behold.
All of a sudden I realized that Alina was NOT on the floor.
My heart almost missed a beat with joy and anticipation. This was surely my chance to ask her out for a dance with me.
My mind told me repeatedly I shouldn't miss out on this opportunity. We had had enough of ‘mating’ with the eyes, and the time for hide and seek was perhaps over. It was now or never, I thought to myself.
My eyes searched her out and sure enough she was sitting in a corner and I could see she was tapping her feet and was all but ready to break out in a dance. She was just ‘waiting’ for the right person to come along and ask for her ‘hand’ to dance with her. Maybe that lucky person was me. I had to however make it happen.
Why I was feeling so gullible, I thought to myself, and so much like a ‘school boy’ that I couldn't go and ask her for a dance, the girl with whom I was supposedly enamored with.
So ultimately I kicked myself into action, gathered courage and that was only after she had given me at least a hundred cursory glances, asking the fateful question and daring me, saying “Are you ‘man’ enough?”
When I reached her, her eyes it seemed, were laughing at me, not mockingly, but longingly, as if to say, “OK, here comes my knight in shining armor, shining in all his glory, to ask for her hand, for a ‘dance”.
“Hey Alina, could I have the pleasure of dancing with you?” I shouted to make myself heard over the din and the noise.
“What? I can’t hear you?” she replied laughingly.
“Oh God, let’s dance,” I shouted again, and before she realized, I brought my mouth close to her ears and shouted, “Can we dance together Alina ?”
I almost kissed her ear in the process and while bending over to shout, almost falling on to her waiting lap.
So here I was at last, my wish fulfilled, on the dance floor, as SHE ‘readily and smilingly’ agreed as if she was just waiting for me to come and ask her hand out to the waiting floor. The hall was packed with mostly youngsters and nothing much could be made out who was who on the dance floor.
It was really divine, this ‘feeling’, the feeling of being in love. It can’t be described, it can only be felt.
Feel it I did, as immediately after the dance number currently playing, there was a request for a slow number and the couples had to do a waltz. What bliss. Here I was, with the lady of my dreams finally in my arms about to dance the waltz with her.
However at first I was actually pretty awkward taking her in my arms, and doing the waltz with her. In fact I didn't know where to begin, where to hold her from.
One hand on her shoulder, or both hands around her waist and really ‘up close’.
I had one hand on her shoulder and one hand was gingerly guiding her around her waist. But she was having ‘none’ of that. The bright Modernite (no affront) took the hand down from her shoulder and placed it around her waist, so effectively now we were facing each other and she had her arms around me and I had mine around her waist, and we were moving in unison, really up close, oblivious to the watching ‘world’ around us.
The lights were dim, and we were trying to move to the music, but actually we were simply drawing ourselves closer to each other. As if to say, ‘thank you for the music’ and the whole thing was so mushy and moony transporting me as if in heaven.
If at all there was paradise anywhere, today it was here, it was here, it was indeed all here. Nainital……Sheer bliss.
Finally the music stopped, and the couple next to us tapped me on my shoulder, as if to awaken me from my ‘stupor’. And boy was it splendor unfolded before me.
The next dance was ‘NOT’ a waltz; it was definitely a faster number. However both of us had tasted ‘blood’ and cupid had already struck, and found its mark, and nothing could do us apart now.
Both of us decided to carry on with our ‘clinging to each other’ exercise and to hell with the music. We were transported in heaven both of us, the ecstasy and excitement of being in each other’s arms and holding each other tight, as if proclaiming to the world – till death do us apart.
I suddenly noticed Alina. Her eyes were closed and her head was resting against my chest. I realized then and there, how much I loved this irresistible girl, and the sudden urge to ‘kiss’ her was so strong that I nearly succumbed to it.
However, suddenly the music stopped and it was time for the band to ‘break up’ for the night, little realizing that they had ‘broken’ our hearts’ in the process. However time was the essence and the band had been contracted to play for a particular time, in this case 11 o’clock, and they had already extended by more than half an hour. So rules had already been flouted, and really couldn't be broken any further.
I thanked Alina for the ‘lovely’ dance, and promising to meet up the next day, she headed home with her cousin with whom she was staying in Naini.
I meanwhile was in a daze and it would take me some time to gather my wits and come back to my original state. I was not drunk on liquor but love…was I dreaming or was it happening for real? Well, indeed it was, as I pinched myself. For me however, it was a dream come true. Back home in Allahabad, I could have never imagined myself dancing like this with the girl of my dreams, in my arms and without a thousand questions being raised.
“Welcome to the new life”, I thought to myself. It was my awakening too.
A bumpkin from a small town in love with an upscale bohemian girl from a place like Delhi, who knew and spoke her mind. She was actually in love with me and had danced with me unmindful of the people all around. What more could I want?
These thoughts were uppermost in my mind as I nibbled on my food sitting in the club premises, and they were still flooding my mind, as I finally made my way back to the hotel in which I was staying. There were stars in my eyes, and a song on my lips.
What…..? Was I in love? ……….:) Maybe yes!
Yes, yes, yes! Of course! A big yes!
End of Chapter Three - A Midsummer's Love Tale
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