We met after so many months. In fact, we planned this one-day meeting so many months in advance!We both were not in Delhi and yet fixed the venue to be CP.
I stood inside the Metro train, squished against the glass door, by the Trade Fair crowd. Going from station to station at snail’s pace, I worried I would make him wait — as always. It’s not like I plan it that ways. But something always comes up. There was this one time when I reached the spot bang on time. But still I kept him waiting — because he got there BEFORE time.
When we finally met, he was wearing a light colored jacket. Reasonably dressed for a November in Delhi, I thought. Look at me in my crumply old kurta! We hugged and continued an old conversation wherever we had last left it. It did not feel like we were meeting after ages. We walked past Wengers. He was hurrying me towards the new Bercos.
“PK, please can we eat first? I am hungry!”
Sitting in Bercos in familiar ambience, I munched on crispy honey chicken with seasame seeds on top. I gulped down some fruit beer. Oh this was heavenly, I thought. We spoke about things, this and that, and people. We spoke about life in general. Then, chewing on a toothpick, I walked around in the inner circle of CP. He and I browsed over those pirated books. They have become really expensive, I lamented. He told me to not buy these books. He always tells me. I always stop by these books. It is a ritual we always did.
We walked towards Janpath and realised that the Snow White store was missing from the inner circle. I have found out that they have closed down. Not that I ever bought anything from there but I still missed it. I bought some gifts for the new friends I had made. We shopped at the Hidesign store. We walked through the smelly subway tunnels. We passed beggar children and hawkers selling us tiny white hankerchiefs. We walked past the expensive Khadi shop and Regal cinema hall. It was playing 2012. In Hindi.
We walked down one of the radials and went into that Barista located next to People Tree. Mighty expensive everything has become, I commented like an outsider. In there, I tasted heaven in the form of a cup of hot cafe mocha. We exchanged gifts, unwrapped them, admired them, thanked each other, repacked them. We spoke nonstop. About what, I wouldn’t remember now.
Towards the end of the day, we walked towards Shivaji Stadium. The familiar bus terminal with all those rickety buses and the shady bus drivers. One by one, the buses came and went. We sat in the bus stop drinking from a bottle of Bisleri. It was getting dark and he told me I should go home soon. His bus was also here. I saw a DTC 910 coming and heard the radio blaring some Himesh number. After a moment of hesitation, I jumped onto its footboard. He was startled for a second and then smiled in approval.
I thanked him for a beautiful CP day, found a seat, adjusted my scarf and looked out of the window. Without a second thought, he took out his cell phone and called out to me, “PK, smile”.