If I really had to pin point the moment I fell for her it would have to be the first night our group went to Tavern after work. Tavern was a recently opened watering hole and everyone was raving about the great ambience and the wonderful bands that performed there.
“Ajoy! Can’t believe you haven’t tried out the place!” exclaimed an enthusiastic colleague! So that evening he insisted on taking our bunch of IT nerds. It was a lively place with dim lights and with a lit up stage at the far corner and a well stocked bar next to it with glistening bottles in the light. The tables were booked so we took up our places at the bar stool and started surveying the place.
A band had just got on “That band is amazing they do wonderful rendition of Coldplay” enthused Sen. My knowledge of rock bands was beyond pathetic!
It was then I heard that throaty laugh which would break into tinkling soft giggles. I looked around to find her laughing, throwing her head back, her hair catching the red dim light in the background giving it a purple hue, she looked magical. She was sitting with the some musicians; they were cradling their guitars and were probably in line to perform. I thought she was a musician too. In her leather jacket and high boots she looked liked those artists Sen kept raving about.
“Ajoy my dear friend she is galaxies beyond your league, so forget about it” said Mohit catching my eye. “Hey c’mon, what does beyond your league even mean?” “I’m sure I can have a conversation with her”
“Oh ya? About what? How fun the IT sector is?” joined in Sen “Or tell her about the classical singer you are named after” they burst out laughing.
But I knew I had to see her again, even if it was to just creepily stare!
So I quickly made Tavern the official celebration place for Persistent Systems Private Limited. I ensured every department came there for something or the other and I ensured I follow them too!
Before long I was a regular and on first name basis with the manager Roy! I soon found out her name was Donna and she was the music manager at Tavern.
“Hey Ajoy have you met Donna” asked Roy. As usual I was at a birthday celebration of someone I didn’t know from my company!
“Hey A…Joy” laughed Donna “I have seen you around; you’re one of the regulars” “So you enjoying the music?”
“It’s cool,” I mumbled.
She smiled and walked away.
Oh my god! What was wrong with me? I’m from IIT Kharagpur, I did my internship in Germany I am a Manager at a prestigious IT company and all I could manage was ‘cool’! And to think I had imagined all the great and interesting things I would talk to her about. I had even researched on the rock music scene in India!
One day as I was leaving the pub at closing hours like nearly every day I saw Donna waiting outside, she was looking for a cab.
“Hey it’s a JOY” she exclaimed when she saw me.
“Hi where is your car? I asked.
“It’s not returned from servicing it seems they will deliver it tomorrow”
“I can drop you, where do you stay?”
“I stay at Emerald Park, is it on your way?”
We drove on.
“So what are your favourite rock bands?” she asked.
Before I could open my mouth and shoot out well rehearsed rock bands, she opened the glove compartment going through my CDs of Hindustani classical music.
“Oh my god what is this? Are you some famous classical singer?”
“If that was true I’d be a well preserved 60 year old” I laughed showing her the back of the CD which had the photo of Pandit Ajoy Chakroborty.
“My parents were a big fan and they named me after him and coincidentally I’m also Chakroborty”
“Wow! You don’t have a single rock cd in here” “So what you doing at Tavern every day?”
“I am broadening my musical palette” I replied with all the sincerity I had practiced.
She burst out laughing.
“So do you stay with your parents?” I asked in desperate attempt to change the topic.
“My parents stay in Bangalore; I stay here with two of my friends. One is a flight attendant and the other is a PR manager.
Unfortunately we reached her building too soon.
“Why don’t you come up?” she asked
“No, it’s ok some other time” the fact Donna was talking to me, coupled with the fact she wanted to spend more time just froze my feet and my brain and I went on auto pilot!
Just then one of her roommates came out. “Hi who is this?”
“Ukti meet Ajoy, Ajoy meet Ukti, and she is the PR manager I was telling you about.
We chatted near her gate for a while on random stuff; I don’t recollect what I said or did as I was on auto pilot mode.
The next time I was at Taverns, Donna came up to me “Hey you seeing anyone?” I was taken aback “I..mmm I mm”
“Oh god! I didn’t ask if you are a virgin!” she laughed out loud. “You remember Ukti?
Well she was asking about you, so I thought I’d try and set you guys up!
“Umm thanks Donna but I’m actually not dating anyone right now” I stammered
“Saving yourself for marriage are you?” she laughed teasingly and walked away.
Thankfully she never brought up Ukti again.
We continued having our little chats in the pub. She would come and sit with me whenever she had a little time, sometimes she would join for a drink.
“Hey you know Arkas? They have a concert coming up, they are very happy we gave them their first break! So they gave us free passes. You want to come? Improve your musical palette? She winked at me.
We went to the concert.
There was the lead singer Ryan in his tattoos and leather pants and flowing hair flaying his guitar all over the stage.
“Isn’t he just amazing!” exclaimed Donna she along with the entire crowd were cheering with their arms outstretched and swaying to the loud noise which was supposed to be music.
“Ya he is amazing alright” I said shrugging my shoulders, trying to sound earnest.
She smiled. She blushed. We kissed.
That was 5 years ago, the most beautiful and painful times of my life. I got sent to US for a project. Donna left Tavern and joined a media company in Mumbai.
Our relationship went through many ups and downs. It underwent the test of long distance relationship. It made us realize that we loved each other and like the famous line in the movie
When Harry met Sally “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”