When love swipes right!

Tanya got off the car and rushed towards the coffee shop. It was drizzling, winter rains, she was walking as fast as she could to avoid getting drenched. When she reached the covered porch she stopped, took a breath and tried to calm herself. “Maybe I should have cancelled this”, she thought. “It’ll take me ages to drive back in the rains, and all this for a Tinder date.” She ran her fingers through her hair and smoothed her jacket and started walking slowly towards the coffee shop.

love swipes

Confident, happy and single Tanya logged on to Tinder sometime back, maybe out of curiosity, maybe out of loneliness, maybe it was a bit of both. She has been in love before, has broken her heart, she still believes in love and could be hopelessly romantic at times. Though her romantic quests didn’t go the way she had hoped, Tanya was a positive and a happy woman, doing well in her job, popular with her friends. She had pushed back all thoughts of love for a while and seemed to be doing a good job of it. Then, one Sunday afternoon, while flipping through TV channels to kill time, she was suddenly gripped by loneliness and boredom. Her friends, most of whom are married, were caught up with their family or in some other errand. “Maybe I should try Tinder,” she thought, “who knows maybe there are interesting men out there.”

She downloaded Tinder on a whim and started swiping right and left. To her surprise, she matched with every man she fancied, and all of whom seemed eager to meet her and take things forward. The initial response was overwhelming and exhilarating, ‘maybe I will meet someone nice here,’ she thought. She was not unattractive she knew, but the men out there made her feel like a beauty queen. Her optimism, however, was short lived, when most of her tinder matches seemed to be only interested in sex or one-night stands. Some of them were married as well, looking for ‘a true friend.’  “I was really naïve,” she thought “to think dating still meant coffee, good conversations and sweet romance.  Holding hands and walking in the moonlit nights, like college times.”

As she was about to delete the Tinder app, the message notification blinked, “How about coffee on Monday?”  asked an almost forgotten Tinder match, Abir. “Well one coffee shouldn’t hurt,” thought Tanya. “Fine, let’s meet at 7,” she wrote.

When Tanya stepped out of office that Monday evening it was drizzling, and she had a good mind to call off her Tinder date. “It’s too late for that now, it would be rude,” she thought, as she drove to meet Abir on a rainy December night.

As Tanya, walked towards the coffee shop, she found Abir waiting for her outside, he came forward and shook her hands warmly. By the time they sat down they were already talking, like they have known each other for a while. They talked endlessly for hours, till Tanya realized it was late and she had to get back home. Traffic was crazy on the way back, but she didn’t mind. There was something about Abir that was so different from the all the men who cross her path, on Tinder or otherwise. He was sweet, charming, polite, a little shy and seemed genuinely interested in knowing her.

So, they kept meeting and talking and before they knew they were dating. “Watch out,” her friends warned, “not so fast. You met him on Tinder, at best he’s looking for a casual fling.” Tanya took a step back only to realize that they were both drawn to each other hopelessly and there was no looking back. Neither Tanya nor Abir had thought that they would find something so beautiful on Tinder, so they plunged right into it – into a journey of love, friendship and companionship!

The train ride to Lucknow

The train ride to Lucknow every summer! That was our annual ritual. Our dadur bari (maternal grandfather’s house) was in Lucknow. During the summer breaks, my mom would head there with her three little girls in tow (my twin sisters and me) – two identical 2-year olds and one 5-year old. Those times are etched in my memory, travelling to Lucknow in the first-class coach of a coal engine train, a journey that I used to so enjoy!

train

Train ride was a ritual then. We would first fly to Kolkata from Agartala, stay with our boro pishi (bari bua) for a couple of days before boarding the train to Lucknow from Howrah station. I remember my mom and boro pishi staying up late the night before, preparing food for the long train ride – tiffin carriers full of puri, sukha aloo sabzi & achaar and home-made sweets. And of course, there would be bread, cakes, biscuits, toffees, powder milk and what not. Our older cousins, who would come to see us off, would buy a ghara from the station that would be washed and filled with drinking water and placed in our first-class compartment. Clamouring with excitement we would board the train with mom, all set for the journey that used to take two days and one night then.

I remember waving happily at our cousins as the train would start moving. “The station is moving back,” my sisters would excitedly yell. I would wait for the train to move out of the city to the country side – trees, mud houses, acres and acres of rice or some other crop growing in the fields, cattle’s grazing. I remember trying to imagine the lives of the people living in those villages and small towns that the train would pass through. I remember imagining, even wishing, I could live in small hut in one of those villages. Viewed through the window of the train, those green villages looked so beautiful and perfect. Sometimes I would crane my neck out of the window, lost in those sceneries, to be chided by my mom. Sometimes, flying fragments of coal from the engine would get stuck in my eyes, much to my mom’s annoyance. I didn’t mind the discomfort though.

We would go to bed after a delicious puri sabzi dinner in the moving training. Somehow nothing can match the taste of that cold puri sabzi & achaar. Mom would make beds, railways didn’t provide beddings then, so she used to carry bed sheets and air pillows. After a dreamy night in the moving and whistling train we would be woken up in the morning by tea vendors and various other hawkers. Queuing up before the washroom in the morning, brushing our teeth in the steel wash basin before a breakfast of bread butter, there’s something unforgettable about those train rides. Something unforgettable about those villages and towns that I will probably never get to visit, those small stations, strangers waiting for their trains at those station looking at us or maybe through us.

tangaFinally, our destination would arrive. We would jump at joy as dadu (nanaji) would approach our coach, get us off the train and take us home in a horse drawn tanga.