I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Monday, August 07, 2006


Rajesh had spent the last summer hunting for a place to live in Bombay. He had moved to the city looking forward to working in one of the largest FMCG companies in India, after completing his MBA from Indian School of Business. He was twenty-six when he moved.

Finding a house in Bombay was tough. The real estate boom was just reaching the peak. "Why do they call it a boom, when really the number of houses on the market actually seem to fall?" questioned Rajesh, forgetting his economic theory. He never really liked Economics though. Too unstructured. Too few equations. And that silly assumption of ceteris paribus. Which seemed honourable only because it was said in Latin.

If finding a house was tough then finding a wife was even tougher. At that age of twenty-seven, which is neither here nor there, he was under constant pressure from his newly-married friends and soon-to-become-frantic parents.

Hence, this summer, Rajesh decided to look for a wife. Rajesh, being a typical 'one who is trained or professionally engaged in a branch of engineering', was not as socially adept as a twenty-seven year old Texan should be. Furthermore, he was not a Texan. His friends in B-school had assumed that a laterals FMCG hire would bring in riches, future fame and women. Unfortunately, rent had taken a toll on the riches, though his NPV was still high. Future fame was well, in the future - that too in the pages of Business World. As far as women is concerned, Rajesh was the latest victim of the common myth on B-school campuses, that plum jobs have a causal relationship with 'plummer' women.

Ananya had graduated from a prestigious private engineering school located in Rajasthan last year. She had topped her dual degree class and had gone through two breakups in college. She was keen to focus on her career now.

She was what one would call a hot South Mumbai girl and she knew it. She was surely set for a course widely taken - two years in the MNC IT firm, MBA from one of the IIMs (if lucky, then Harvard like her brother) and then a plum investment bank posting in London. However, her parents had other ideas. They wanted the daughter to get married, now that she was twenty-three.

She initially resisted, but her fragile defence already damaged by the second breakup, couldn't put a really spirited fight. She agreed to see the shortlisted boys at least. It can't be that bad, can it?

Her only condition was that she should meet the guys one-on-one. Like a date. Her parents, feeling surprised that Ananya had given in without a fight, were only too happy to oblige.

First Date
What Rajesh couldn't see, but Ananya could, like many girls before her, was that Rajesh was handsome. In fact, take away his wispy moustache and get him a snazzier pair of glasses and he could almost look like a Milind Soman. Yes, that handsome.

Second Date
They went to Gangar Opticians, Warden Road and got Rajesh what he called, Preity Zinta glasses. Ananya called it geek chic.

Third Date
"My parents have asked for a horoscope."
"What? How did they come to know? I thought that you were doing this on your own."
"I was, but yesterday, they called from Bangalore and I was not feeling too well. I told them. I am sorry."

"No, don't be.... It's okay. We'll manage."
Rajesh didn't quite like the tone of that. What Ananya did next made up for it. First hug.

Fourth 'Date'
Thousands of people who travel to South Bombay every day, look at this blue dome, just opposite Haji Ali. It stands out in regal splendour against the bakdrop of tall multi-storey apartments. Most people don't know what it is. Neither did Rajesh, when he got a place just below it.

It was a large one room place, with a small balcony which overlooked the sea. Literally. You could jump out and dive straight into the water. The place had a Bohemian appeal that Sherlock Holmes would have appreciated, if he moved to Worli. So, Rajesh thought, when he littered the floor with cigarette butts and stacked old alcohol bottles next to the wall.

Rajesh and Ananya entered this room on August 7th to talk. For a couple seeing each other for the fourth time, the comfort level was huge. Hence, talk they did.

"My parents want to meet you."
"Can you meet on Tuesday?"
"Only in the evening."
"Yes, let's meet at Crossword. We'll take it from there."

If there was someone waiting outside Rajesh's door when Ananya walked out, he would have seen a smile of content walking out at seven-thirty in the evening. Inside, Rajesh had a similar look, having finally being able to resolve his issues.

Meet the Parents
Four dates had passed and the parents had started becoming anxious. However, the outward look that Mr. and Mrs. Rao had, was one of pure anticipation.

Ananya had met five guys till today, and she had rejected all of them, on some pretext. It was quite clear that they were not finding the suitable boy who could serve as a soulmate. This Rajesh was different. Ananya seemed happy to meet him. While only one other boy had managed to meet Ananya twice, Rajesh had already spent a month with their daughter.

The sense of anticipation was such that they had scripted the conversation on typical lines. Both Mr. Rao and his wife had a interview-guide. Both were also ready to start cultivating the candidate the moment they got convinced that he was the one.

Ananya and Rajesh walked hand in hand. Rajesh was wearing the Preity Zinta glasses.
"Ma, meet the brother who I didn't have till today".

Rajesh extended his hand. A nice slim rakhi was tied on it.


Blogger silbil said...

happy rakshabandhan to to you dhoomk2!!!!
you need horoscopes for brother sister deals too?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 4:47:00 AM

Anonymous saikat said...

man this is something...for everyone who has just made that start of a friendship last sunday...would be dead scared to even venture out of their house after reading this till maybe a week after rakshabandhan...forgat dates...i doubt whether they will even take their calls...

but the question remains...horoscope for bro-sis..what next dna testing before getting married !!!!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 6:45:00 AM

Anonymous bongopondit said...

Good one !

DNA testing before marraige is actually not a bad idea from a scientific point of view.

I suspect the horoscope was a classic short-story red-herring.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 6:52:00 AM

Blogger Falstaff said...

"He never really liked Economics though. Too unstructured. Too few equations."

Hah! *bitter laugh* Little does he know. I can think of few things more structured or more equation heavy than modern micro-economics.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 6:58:00 AM

Anonymous Tanmay Sharma said...

thats cruel man...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 9:39:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice. Nice. I thought you were upto your usual engineer-bashing bs, but you've done well, my boy :)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 10:20:00 AM

Anonymous ramesh said...


Tuesday, August 08, 2006 1:10:00 PM

Blogger Perspective Inc. said...

And perfect timing too!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 10:52:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Outstanding. And well-written too.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006 10:54:00 PM

Blogger Mr. D said...

"He never really liked Economics though. Too unstructured. Too few equations."


Wednesday, August 09, 2006 12:05:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Silbil, Thanks, Same to you. The parents were actually trying to fix a marriage, but Ananya had other ideas.

Saikat, Sorry! I hope nothing as scary happens to you...

Bongopondit, Thanks. The horoscope wasn't really a red herring. The parents really did want a marriage.

Falstaff, I was trying to relate the economic experience in B-schools. Agree with you in principle. Sympathise.

Tanmay, Anon, Ramesh, Perspective Inc., Anon2, thanks!

Mr. D, that wasn't for you. Truly. Though, on second thoughts....!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006 1:47:00 AM

Anonymous Maksood said...

Happy rakshabandhan, dhoomk2... Is this a real story? :)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006 9:43:00 AM

Anonymous wimpy said...

good stuff dude...

actually i had a similar story ready in my head - different ending of course (and not the happily ever after thingy)... you stole it...

Thursday, August 10, 2006 4:10:00 AM

Blogger Happy-Go-Lucky said...

Kahani ke climax ka satyanash kar diya!!!

Poor Rajesh!

Saturday, August 12, 2006 4:22:00 PM

Blogger Am Not Who U Think I Am said...

cruel ending man........rather cruel

Sunday, August 13, 2006 1:04:00 AM


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