Vantage point

Saturday, February 22, 2003

A friend of mine yesterday asked me to post a love story on my blog. So this morning I got up and wrote this. It is just the first part, and if it does not seem too puerile, maybe I will write 2 or 3 parts more.


It all started at the Karve Road traffic signal one morning. He had gone cycling in the university campus in the morning and was returning home. It was around 8 in the morning and the winter sun was sending its tender rays in every direction. As Amar sped down the Law College Road towards Karve Road, he could see that the traffic light was red. But since it was early morning, traffic was sparse and no one was really obeying the signals. Amar too would usually ignore the red light in the morning and take a right turn up the slope. However, today he saw a sight that intrigued him. Even as the few vehicles that morning were zooming away, regardless of the traffic light, one person was obediently waiting for it to turn green. It was a girl on her Kinetic Honda, her head wrapped in a scarf. Amar still isn't sure exactly what made him stop right next to her that morning. At times he thinks it was out of the desire to emulate the law-abiding act of the girl and respect traffic rules. At other times, he thinks it was because he found her body stunning. Whatever the reason was, he braked and stopped right next to her. Now this habit of wrapping a scarf around your head while driving in a way that only your eyes are seen, is peculiar to Pune girls. So all that Amar could see of her face was her big black eyes. She was a bit surprised to see someone else also obeying the law, and looked at Amar. He kept staring at the traffic signal, aware of the fact that she was studying his face. As they were caught in this strange moment, the signal turned green. Amar saw that, turned towards the girl, smiled and indicated with a shake of his head that the signal was go. Tiny wrinkles formed at the edge of her eyes, indicating that she was smiling, and she sped off to the left, as Amar turned to the right.

Amar did not attach much importance to this incident. After all, Pune was full of both girls with great bodies, as well as people who obeyed the law scrupulously. But about 4 days later, he again saw her waiting at the signal. He repeated the routine, stopping next to her. He ignored her this time, hoping that maybe she would look at him again. Lofty hopes, for he was no Brad Pitt (or whoever girls find attractive these days), and if her eyes and body were anything to go by, she was good looking. She had looked at him once, and she had intention of giving him any wrong ideas by doing it again this time. She stood there ignoring his presence. The signal turned green, she turned left, and he turned right.

This scene repeated itself twice more over the next fortnight, with both Amar and the girl ignoring each other. But one thing that changed was that now Amar started obeying the signal everyday, regardless of whether the girl was there or not. A fortnight later, Amar's engineering exams started and he stopped cycling every morning. The exams went well, and Amar started cycling again. However a month went by without any sight of the girl.

"Amar, today is our college fund raiser and you have to come" Amit said over the phone. Amit studied in an management college and the student body held a fete of sorts every year to raise funds for the community service they indulged in. The event was two fold, since besides raising funds, it also gave the students a practical experience of managing an event, as well as selling, since there would be a lot of stalls handled by students.

Amar went to the college that evening with his friend Suraj. They both strolled around, spent some money at the games stalls, ate some junk food, and were about to leave when Suraj said

"Hey we haven't been to that part of the ground. I think they have merchandise stalls there."

"Oh come on, Suraj" Amar said "We are not going to buy anything from here that is of long term use. What are regular shops for? We have already spent about 100 bucks each on silly games and bad food. Considering that we don't earn, that is a pretty lavish donation, don't you think?"

"Who says we have to buy anything, ass?" Suraj replied "But managing the stalls will be girls from this college, and you know how hot they are. We can just go and schlooze around."

"Schlooze? With your GRE just a month away, I get worried when you use such non-words" Amar laughed "But I see your point. Let us go and check the merchandise out."

"Pun very much intended?" Suraj winked and got punched on his arm.

All the girls working at the stalls were wearing black saris, and almost each one of them was looking wonderful. Suraj and Amar 'schloozed' around for about half an hour, just asking questions, and tactfully ogling at girls, but not buying anything. Finally they reached the last stall which was selling calculators and digital diaries. Three girls welcomed them. One of them was Nitya. Nitya saw Amar and recognised him at once as the traffic signal guy. She also remembered the words of her marketing professor,

"To sell unsolicited products, you need a hook. Try to appeal to something in the customer. If you think he is of the same ethnic origin as you, talk to him in your native tongue. If he shows interest in sports, use some sports imagery. A good salesperson is one who makes the customer perceive him as a friend, someone you can trust, because you have something in common."

Now Nitya had only 15 minutes of her shift left and she had sold 9 items by then. On completing the number of 10, the company had promised to gift an mp3 player to the salesperson. She had to make one sale in the next 15 minutes to win the mp3 player.

"Hey, don't you recognise me?" Nitya said as she walked up to Amar. He was pretending to take interest in some digital diary another girl was showing him. Hearing Nitya's voice he looked at her, trying to wonder if he had seen her before. Her eyes! Yes, it was the girl from the traffic signal. He beamed and said

"Hey, you are the traffic signal girl!"

"Yes, and you are the traffic signal guy. It's ok, Preeti, I know him, you can attend to other customers" she said to the girl at the counter who reluctantly left. Then she turned to Amar and said, "I am Nitya."

"I am Amar. Haven't seen you at the traffic signal. You stopped obeying the rules?"

"No, no, We had the first lecture off for a month so I went to college an hour later, but it will start again tomorrow. You still go cycling?" she said as she grabbed the digital diary and before Amar could reply said "By the way, you must buy this digital diary. It costs just 700 rupees, subsidised for students, and it comes with a 2 year guarantee. And if you are not satisfied with it, you can return it to us within a week."

"Oh, no thanks, I really don't know what I would do with a digital diary" Amar said, thinking of what a big hole 700 rupees would make in his pocket.

"Are you kidding? It is a must for students and professionals nowadays. Everyone in our college has one. You can use it to remember what all you have to do everyday, plan study schedules, you can use it as a calculator, and it is the biggest pocket address book you can have."

"Address book?" Amar showed interest "How does that work?"

"See, you press this button, and enter someone's name, then hit return and enter their phone number and address, and then you store it using this button." Nitya explained.

"Okay, I think I will buy it." Amar said

"WHAT???" yelled Suraj who had till then been stealing glances at the other girls in the stall.

"Yes, Suraj, I am convinced it is very useful" Amar said "For instance if I meet someone and want to take down their phone number, I usually do it on my hand, and then forget about it. This IS useful."

"I am glad you think so." Nitya said "Here, I will put it in its box and give it to you so that you can make the payment and take it home."

"Not so fast" he said "First I want to test this address feature."

"OK, go ahead"

"OK, Name - Nitya. Phone number?" Amar raised his eyebrows and looked at her.

"My phone number? Why do you want my phone number?" she said taken aback.

"To call you if I ever feel like meeting you at places other than the traffic signal" he smiled. "And remember, if the phone number is not correct, I will just return this diary back."

"So you are buying this only to put my phone number in it?" she said in an irritated voice. "Go to hell. I am not giving you my number, I don't even know you. If you don't want to buy it, I am fine with it. What kind of a cheap trick is this?"

That was when Preeti approached them and said "Nitya, your shift is almost over and the next batch is here. Did you get the tenth sale you needed for an mp3 player? You will be the first one to do that since no one has managed to sell more than 7 so far."

"No, I did not." Nitya said as she walked off towards the cash counter to sign off her shift

Amar picked up the digital diary, put it in the cardboard box nearby and took it to the cash counter. Nitya was still there signing some stuff. He said to the woman at the cash counter,

"This girl here just sold me this digital diary. 700 rupees right?"

"Yes, 700 rupees. Thank you" the woman said taking the money from Amar's hand. Then she mumbled, "Sale made by Nitya. Hey Nitya, you got ten sales, congrats! here is your receipt, Sir."

Nitya looked at Amar silently, as he took the recepit and the digital diary, smiled at her, and left the stall.

"You are stupid, Amar. You paid 700 rupees for something you probably won't use and did not even get that girl's phone number. You are stupid. When will you ever learn?" Suraj chided him.


The next morning as Amar came to the end of Law College Road, he saw Nitya wating at the signal which was red. He stopped his bicycle right next to her. Before he could decide whether to smile at her or ignore her, she looked at him and said,


"What?" Amar asked in a startled voice.

"3-6-3-2-4-5-3, that is my phone number. You can enter that in your digital diary." she said as she removed the part of the scarf covering her face and smiled.

"Nah, I don't need a digital diary to remember you phone number. I have it memorised already. 3632453, right?"

"Yes" she said, still smiling.

"And is this phone number only for entering in the diary, or can I make other novel used of it as well, like, you know, dialing it?"

"Sure. I am generally home in the afternoon after 2." she said as the signal turned green. "Bye, Amar"

"Bye Nitya" he said, as she turned left and he turned right.