Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fragrant Harbour Part I

"I will have a strawberry margharita", Mitul said. Viral looked at him quizically, as if to make sure he had heard it right. Mitul leaned back on the sofa, the faintest hint of a smile on his face. His eyes had that dreamy look once again, after many years.

He reflected on the days that had passed by. The days of his first foreign trip, to a beautiful place named Hong Kong. He had fallen in love with it - the sights, the sounds the smells; The crowded night bazaars, the skyscrapers, the magnificent views of the harbour, the walks along the steep bylanes, even the double-decker buses. It had the essential character which defined any great city - the protection of one's individuality without the need for its assertion. Everyone was someone. Free to carve out his own little world.

"I honestly don't remember the last time you had a drink. I thought you don't drink.You never liked the idea of losing control over yourself, did you?" Viral said, some lines of discomfort still visible on his forehead.

"A fair point. But the need for control is an outcome of fear. Fear of where the lack of control will take us. But when there is no fear, there is no need for control." Mitul smiled again as he spoke those words.

"Yeah yeah, I know its your last night in Hong Kong." Viral followed his gaze and couldn't help breaking into a smile himself. "You know what? I think she's pretty too" he whispered, with a wink.

Pretty was not the word, Mitul thought. There was a powerful connect beyond mere physical appearance. As she went about the restaurant, serving people, taking orders, cleaning tables, he could feel the pride she was taking in her work. It commanded his respect. Her serene face had a glow which was made more radiant by the candles in and around. Now and then, an insolent tuft of hair would brush against her cheeks, only to be resolutely pushed back.

"More?" She asked looking at Mitul & Viral alternatively. "Lin get bill for you?"

"Yes, please." Viral said, as Mitul sat completely transfixed. Suddenly, he broke out of his stupor and stood up."

"Lin, would you mind it if I took a picture of you?" he asked.

"Peechar?" Lin responded, clearly bemused.

Viral started gesturing to explain. "Picture, you know. Photo. Photo. Camera"

"Oh. Photo. Ok." She smiled sweetly, the relief evident on her face.

As they were leaving, she said "Kung Hei Fat Choi!"

"What does that mean?" Mitul asked.

"Its the traditional greeting for the Chinese New Year. I had told you, remember?" Viral snapped.

"Its really cold tonight, isn't it?" Viral asked Mitul. They were walking back from the restaurant to the hotel where Mitul was staying. Mitul continued to walk silently. He didn't respond.

"Dude, you seem to have really fallen for her. Or was it the margharita?" Viral persisted.

Mitul looked at him. "We alway thrive on possibility, don't we? We always seek to change, to modify, to extend the possibilities that life presents. Why do we not accept the possibility as an end in itself? That the possibility existed only for the sake of being a possibility - not for materializing into an end result?"