January 18, 2006

Coincidences, Irony, Life and such.

"All of these telephones seem to be out of order.", he tells me, an understanding nod, he knows how it feels to not be able to say goodbye. One more time.

Strange, this need to call back home just after you have said your goodbyes and all. Something about hearing my mom's concerned voice asking if the flight is on time and my dad's gruff voice, trying to hide the pang of separation, yet again...something about the tinny voices that makes me feel that I am still at home, as if still holding on to the sights and sounds that are so familiar to me, sometimes, I fear I have no identity without them...

Ofcourse, the airport with the bizarre sights and sounds that it offers is a place that has an identity of its own. It helps me distract myself from that taut feeling I get, as if I am leaving behind something I never should. The bored looking security guy scanning the luggages in, the loud family of four flying for the first time and unable to hide their excitement, the strikingly beautiful girl who is checking her wrist watch for the third time, an expression on her face that conveys quite clearly, she has done this too often to be interested and finally, the appropriately dressed fifty-something uncle who sits next to me, unperturbed by the announcement that Air India Flight 121 is delayed by forty-five minutes, the same uncle who had tried unsuccessfully to make a phone call earlier. Maybe he did not hear the announcement.

So, I tell him, "Looks like the flight is delayed."

"Flight 121? Oh, I see..."

And then there is a pause, which usually marks the end of these conversations for me. But this time, I am bored and have time to kill, so, I say, "Yes, are you going to Chicago too?"

"No, I catch the connecting flight at Bombay, to Sydney."

And so we exchange such banalities, only partially concentrating on the conversation. We discuss Lexington, H1B visas, cost of living in New York vs Lexington, life in the United States, India and Sydney and I suprise myself by finding topics that I could discuss with this stranger twice my age, for so long. And then the topic takes a turn to marriages because he asks if I am travelling with someone and I tell him, that I just got married and my husband will be joining me at Bombay (that happens, atleast the first few days after you are married, you somehow can't resist the impulse to declare the fact to the world :)

Anyway, he says, "Oh, my son just got married, september 15th, at Geetha Bhawan."

"Oh, I got married on September 14th." (There I go again)

"I see. The boy is also from Madras?" (I should have figured this question was next)

"He is from Bombay."

"I see. He speaks Hindi?"

"Oh, he understands quite a bit of Tamil" (Why? Why the need to convey this bit of information to this random uncle? I will never know)

"My daughter-in-law is not an Indian."

For the first time, I remain silent. I am surprised. He just did not look like the kind of father-in-law who would have a non-Indian daughter-in-law, you know what I mean?

"Yes, she got married Indian style though. She is a vegetarian, which is important to us. We like her, my wife and I. My wife is very religious, she wanted only an Iyer girl."

"I see." (Its my turn for "I see")

And then, on an impulse, I ask, "Your wife...has she adjusted to this marriage?"

"Oh yes. She is very happy now. She took longer than me to adjust ofcourse. But, what does it matter if the girl is a Romanian? My son likes her, she is a vegetarian and she is quite understanding. She even wore a madisar for her wedding and specifically asked my wife for all the Indian-style bridal jewellery..."

And then it strikes me. Of course. When you least expect it, life delivers a delightful little quirk in your lap.

"Are you Narasimhan uncle's friend?"

"Yes, from Indonesia?"

"Yes! Is your son's name Karthik?"

"Yes..." and he looks surprised now.

"Narasimhan uncle...I mean he is my uncle. I am Ramya."

And now you ask me why I brought up my first name in the midst of all this. And I will tell you why. My uncle had sent my jadagam (kundli) to this very same couple to see if I was a likely match for their son, Karthik! We did not hear back from them though. Now, I know why :)

"Oh, you are that Ramya!", he says

And we both laugh.

"And that would make you, my could-have-been father-in-law", I smile mischievously.

He retorts back with, "And now I know what I missed."

We both are silent for sometime, both immersed in our own thoughts. And then he says,

"My wife, she insisted on an Iyer daughter-in-law only. Your aunt told her you were probably more inclined towards an Iyengar style of marriage and so she was hesitant..."

And I muse over the irony of his statement. We talk some more but are now distracted by what we have discovered.

The flight finally does arrive. We leave without saying goodbye.


Zeppelin said...


but the only thing i really felt was... "am i reading rs's short story blog ?" ..and i actually checked the URL twice to make sure.. :)

RTD2 said...

Is this for real? It sure reads like it. If so, the truth sure is stranger than fiction...and more magical, huh?

Saranya Kishore said...

wow! Nice coincidence :)

Subha said...

Another airport experience...:)) I also find I can talk some random things to strangers at airports..never have found a reason..!

hellboy said...

ok, i am going to assume that this is a work of fiction.

if its not, then...WOW. I mean, what are the odds? cool:-)

TJ said...

RS delivers a piece better than done before by Whimsical Raconteur :)

The 'impulse to declare ' :), first when the love get through, it is time for declaring to the friends. When it is accepted by folks and u get engaged it is time to declare to all the known faces. When it is marriage, it is time for the world to know.. rite. :D
wait a sec, did i impulsively declare anything?? :P

Prabu Karthik said...

ennamo padmashri K ketta nerama? illa karthik nalla nerama? onnumey purilaye :D

just kidding..

And i too feel it looks more appropriate in whimsicalraconteur than mosakutti :)

Priyamvada_K said...

Oh, how sweet: could-have-been-FIL. Very endearing conversation!


dinesh said...

Like arun, I checked the URL 2-3 times too. 1, to make sure that this wasn;t your short story and 2, to make sure I wasn't reading an old post by mistake :). Made a good read though ! Did you really take the liberty and say the "could have been FIL" thing ? If you did, I am surprised because it doesnt sound like something you'd do ! And finally, why did you leave without saying good bye ? seemed like a friendly enough conversation ?

RS said...

arun - nope, not a short story :)

rtd2 - Very real. I meant to write this up long back. My mom recently told me that my uncle got to "hear" about this "conversation" and that reminded me of this incident :)

saranya - sure is! strange though!

subha - yes, you think you are never going to meet them again and ramble on... :)

hellboy - I know! When he told me, "Romanian", I was just speechless for sometime! It immediately rang a bell - as if the pieces suddenly fell together :))

tj - thanks :) Well, did you ;) ?

p~k - nope, truth goes here, fiction goes at whimsical... :)

priyamvada - :)

dinesh - I don't know...for some reason, I assumed I could take that liberty. And now months later, I get feedback for it, from this uncle's mouth to my uncle's ears to my mom's ears to mine - "This girl has so much guts! She called me her could-have-been FIL!" :)

Well, I dont know why we left without goodbyes...cant explain. Just an impulsive thing. We just did.

subramoni said...

Nice read. Something like this(maybe not as "bizarre" as yours) happened to me too a few months ago. One of my best pals from high school found me on Orkut and mailed me. We were getting in touch after 16 years of absolutely no contact. :). Now I am in touch with a few more of my pals from that time.

IBH said...

that is interesting...!!!!mine was not this coincidental but my very good friend from my college turned out to be a distant relative of mine...:) we talked so much that we caught on to the common point and realised that we are actually related :)

but we both prefer to be close friends than relatives now though!

Anonymous said...

"We leave without saying goodbye."

so typically typically south indian & tamil..


Rubic_Cube said...

Well, first timer here I guess. But I get a vague sense of deja vu after having come here before. Anyways... just started blogrolling you. When did you pass out of BITS?

I had written a lil' piece way back in 2003 - has a strange tune of similarity with your real life experience. About strangers meeting up in the oddest of circumstances and striking up a conversation and only to realise by surprise much later that there is infact an invisible link linking them together. Coincidence or destiny, it may be too far fetched to argue. I am more inclined to favor with destiny though. Check this post.

Baejaar said...

I think you need to change the font which you are currently using. The tamil alphabets for the currently playing song isnt right. Infact it took me some time to figure out as to which one you are referring to.

RS said...

subu - Thanks. Its always fun to run into familiar and forgotten faces, I guess :)

IBH - amen :)

~!r (wow, that was tricky to type) - true, I guess.

Eshwar said...

ah ! small world aint it!?

RS said...

rubic_cube - you do sound familiar. Will read your post soon!

baejaar - oops, need to look into that. Thanks.

eshwar - Indeed :)

Aditi said...

I just discovered your blog. I like your style of writing.

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