"You should meet my new girlfriend," said Pankaj, as I tried to concentrate on putting my latest blog idea to words.
"Mm-hm," I responded, trying not to get distracted, and at the same time also trying my best not to seem rude.
"She's a Saudi babe," he went on.
Maybe I'm prejudiced, but the sound of those two words in the same sentence somehow didn't seem right, and as my blog idea evaporated, I turned to look at him. "A what?"
"A Saudi babe," he repeated. "You know."
I had an image in my head of Pankaj dating a woman in a black burqa but somehow the image didn't make sense. Pankaj's girlfriends tended to be women who were interested in the latest fashion trends. They looked at my three-year-old straight-fit jeans with disgust. "They're so nineties," one had said. "They're so out of fashion, if you hold on to them a little longer they'll probably come back." That was good advice. Jeans don't come cheap.
"No I don't know," I said to Pankaj. I don't know why people say "You know" like that. As if saying that will make it come true!
"Man, sometimes you're so dense it's infuriating. Oh, here she comes."
"Hey honey!" he shouted in the direction of the door, and a very Indian looking girl walked in. And she was not wearing a burqa either. Instead, she was dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that must have made it extremely difficult to breathe. And her name was Mohini.
As Pankaj made the introductions and headed towards the counter to get their coffees, Mohini sat down at my table. "Pankaj told me you're a blogger," she said.
"Yes, I am," I replied, wondering if she thought it was a job description. "And you're from the middle-east."
She seemed stunned. "Not at all! In fact I've never been outside India."
"Oh?" I replied, completely confused. Pankaj changed girlfriends practically every week. Was he confusing this one with someone else?
"I'm from Kerala," she said. "I've lived there most of my life."
"Like I was telling you," said Pankaj coming back with two glasses of Cold Coffee in his hands. "A total Southern chick."
She must have liked being called something that's just hatched from an egg, because they both grinned widely at that. I was wondering why Pankaj equated South-Indian women with Saudi women when I realized that he'd being pronouncing the 'th' in 'Southie' like the 'th' in 'Southern', so I just smiled.
"Mohini is a terrific singer," bragged Pankaj.
"Oh, that's nice," I smiled. In that T-shirt? Talk about breath control.
"Yes, she's performed on Radio too!"
"Oh, Pankaaaaj!" she drawled. "You're embarrassing me!"
Ugh! Why do women say things they clearly don't mean? Pankaj knew she was clearly enjoying the bragging, so he went on to talk about how she'd trained as a dancer for years and sung professionally, and won medals for gymnastics, and...
I have an uncle who claims he can sleep with his eyes open. It was very helpful in college, he's told me. I wished I could do that right then.
After what seemed like an eternity, they were done with their coffees (Mohini only had half of hers because she had to 'watch her figure', even though I thought that was Pankaj's job) and the two of them left.
I thought I'd finally be able to get some blogging done when my friend Anil walked in with a girl who must have been his "internet date". She was extremely beautiful and Anil was looking triumphant. If she didn't end up robbing him by the end of the week, he was going to make me eat every single word I had ever uttered against the idea of looking for women in internet chat-rooms.
Luckily for me, he didn't bring her over to my table to brag. I watched them as he pulled out her chair for her, trying to be the perfect gentleman. Relieved, I returned to writing my latest blog post, and reading a dozen others.
After around an hour, Anil sat down at my table. I looked up and noticed that the girl seemed to have left. Anil was grinning ear to ear.
"So?" he asked.
"She looked quite beautiful," I said honestly.
"See?" he beamed. "I told you that you were wrong!"
"Fine," I replied. "So she's probably not a truck driver. But you still don't know anything about her."
"You're such a pessimist!" he laughed. "Don't worry. I'm in no danger of being murdered in the near future. Or being robbed, either. I'm not giving her my address until I have some more background. I'm not stupid, you know."
I was quite surprised. I'd expected Anil to have proposed marriage on the first date. He usually came across as quite a desperate character. I realized it was probably all just an act.
When I didn't say anything, he smiled. "Ah, you don't know."
I smiled too. "I must say that I seem to have misjudged you."
"Yes, you did," he said. Turning to look at Mike the book-lover, Anil shouted, "Mike, my man!"
"Do you have to shout?" muttered Mike who was sitting only one table away.
Anil grinned. "New book, I see? So you finally finished that Pickwick book?"
"The Pickwick Papers. Yes. Finally finished it last night." It had been the first instance we'd known, of Mike taking a week to finish a book.
"And what's that you're reading now?"
"Anurag Mathur's Inscrutable Americans," Mike replied. "I realized that I'd never gotten around to reading it."
"Tell me how you like it when you're done."
"Why?" said Mike. "Don't tell me you actually plan to read the book!"
"No way!" said Anil. "I just want to sound intelligent the next time someone talks about Indian authors!"
I sighed with relief. Now that was the Anil I knew.
Next: Republic Day: The BlogLand Chronicles - 3