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April 16, 2004 13:36 IST

What do you think?

Like most eligible young Indians in America, I was looking for a like-minded Indian bride. My search, though, had not borne any fruit.

So when my boss unexpectedly informed me I would have to leave for Bangalore on a business trip, I was elated. Maybe, this trip would prove lucky.

My parents, who lived in Kolkata, spoke to the families of two girls working in Bangalore and arranged for me to meet them. Unfortunately, things did not click between us.

I was becoming despondent. Then, just two days before I was to return to Santa Clara, there was a surprise in my mailbox. A girl, whom I had contacted a while ago through a matrimonial web site, had replied. She was based in Delhi but was, coincidentally, visiting Kolkata the weekend I was there.

We met and talked. When it was time to say goodbye, I knew I was smitten.

I think she liked me too because we decided to keep in touch. As the days passed, our friendship grew deeper. When I could contain no longer myself, I picked up the phone and asked her, "So, what do you think?"

"About what?" she asked confused.

"About us," I said. I asked her to think about it seriously before she replied. It would mean a huge change; she would have to quit her job and move to a new country. Two days later, my cell phone rang early in the morning. Even before I could recognise her voice, she said, "I have resigned. So, what do you think?"

"About what?" I asked sleepily. Her words still had to register.

"About us," she said.

There was deafening silence for few seconds; suddenly, I understood what she was saying.

"Well," I grinned, "I think it is time to act then."

We are getting married next month.

Soumen Chatterjee, Santa Clara

Dhoti dhamaka

My folks celebrated my thread ceremony last week. Yes, I know it's a tad late at 25, but I am getting married soon and this ceremony, apparently, is one of the prerequisites. Since I had avoided it as a child because I hated the concept of shaving my head, here I was.

This time, I was able to put my foot down about the shaving the head bit, but the priest insisted I wear a dhoti.

"Poppa," I wailed in desperation. "This dhoti keeps slipping! Besides, I don't know how to wear it."

Pop helped, but he made no effort to hide his grin. Actually, wearing a dhoti is pretty easy -- you need to measure how much cloth you need on either side, then knot the cloth near the navel, a series of folds on the right and tuck it at your waist, a series of folds to the left, take the folded cloth from between your legs and tuck it above your behind. Voila!

Post the ceremony, I was in no mood to abandon the dhoti which, I discovered, was the perfect sartorial garment for Mumbai's hot summer. It became my preferred nightwear, but not everyone was as happy about it as I was. "It may be comfortable for you," Mom finally let the cat out of the bag, "but we sure don't like seeing you in that flimsy material." Hmm, do I stick to my traditional guns or opt for my shorts?

Rohan Sonalkar, Mumbai

The summer of 1995

We were studying at Patnagar University near Nainital. We had a week off in the month of May (1995) and decided to spend it at our University's campus on the hill at Ranichauri near Dehradun.

We were having a great time. One night, we were enjoying some drinks with some of the local students, when in walked one of our younger teachers. Since he was known to be friendly, we asked him to join us. He agreed and asked for a 'Patiala (extra-large) peg.'

My friend, who is a teetotaller, replied seriously, "Sorry sir, Patiala nahin hai [we don't have Patiala]. Hamare paas to bus rum hai [We only have rum]. Rum ka peg chalega [Will a peg of rum do]?"

Sandeep Dhaka, New Delhi

The Chinese are coming...

It was, I decided, time to get fit. But before I began my jogging-exercise regimen, I needed to get the essentials -- shoes, a tracksuit and cap. I made for the big shopping mall in town.

All through my selection routine, I caught this good-looking Indian lady staring at me. When I reached the cash counter, she was right behind me. We smiled at each other and exchanged hellos. After some small talk, she asked if I was Indian. I told her I was from Mumbai.

"No, I mean: Are you INDIAN?" she demanded.

"I already told you I am from Mumbai and, as far as I know, Mumbai is India," I replied irritated.

"Then why are you buying Chinese goods?" she asked as she walked away.

Ivan D'Souza, Dubai

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Illustrations: Uttam Ghosh


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