Sunday, July 18, 2010

Golden Compass

I saw him enter and look in my direction. For a moment I felt, how dare! Then I noticed his soft eyes and a smile at the corner which hadn’t reached his lips. I wished he were the person I was supposed to meet. When I went to Leela Palace to meet my prospective bridegroom, the last thing I expected was a handsome man. My relatives never mentioned his looks. All I learnt from my aunt was that theirs is an extremely

respectable family and I am a very lucky girl. He came straight to our table and his mother introduced him to us. I choked on my glass of water. We were permitted to sit in the lawn and “discuss” our interests! I didn’t know what I said or heard. All I wished for was to get married to this handsome, soft spoken prince. Noon turned into evening and it started to rain. I felt the thrill I never thought I would feel. As a kid, I never liked getting wet in the rain. While with him in that lawn, I did not want to go back in. We finally went back in. There were warm goodbyes. He went back to work and I went back home with my parents. I forgot that I was supposed be mad at him for I had to take leave of absence from office to meet him while he coolly walked down the stairs from his office!

A week later, he called. I went to “Bay Leaf” at Raheja Arcade to meet him. This time, I went alone. I wanted to have lunch but he ordered lemon soda for himself and asked me what I wanted to drink. I too ordered lemon soda. He did not mention food. I didn’t either.

Another week later, my father called his father and learnt that both of us didn’t have the “Chemistry” for marriage. I got mad at my parents for wasting my time. And I wasted one day of my casual leave and everybody at office had already talked and this guy says “no chemistry”?

I was upset for some time and then got back to my hectic work life. My brother finished his M.Tech at IIT, B and took a job in Hyderabad. He wanted my parents to shift to Hyderabad so that he would be home. They shifted to Hyderabad and we all decided that I too shift to Hyderabad.

In May that year I took a transfer to Hyderabad. A different project, a different account, and a different set of people welcomed me. I made many friends at Hyderabad and before I realized I was asked to go to China on a short time assignment in Shenzhen. I had no idea how my life was going to change when I accepted the assignment much to the dismay of my mother and father. They wanted to get me married and were against me traveling but I was not waiting for any prince charming at the cost of denying all onsite opportunities.

I went to Shenzhen in January the next year. The work place at Shenzhen was nothing like I imagined. I was put up in a small rented flat in the market area of “bi cao yan” along with two other colleagues. We used to walk to and from work and our weekends were spent visiting art galleries, ethnic villages, theme parks and sometimes the little pub down the road.

One Friday evening, we got out of office earlier than usual and were walking down the road. At the bus stop, I saw him. He was walking with his friends in the same direction as we were. I told my friends that we would wait for a while before we went further, so that he doesn’t spot me. The fact that we had met and didn’t hit it off was by then history. So, I did not understand why I had become so conscious. My friends too said that I was being silly and so we continued to walk. We got talking and soon I lost track of him and his friends. We went to the market and bought vegetables and fruits for the next week. As we were returning to our flat, I saw him again with his friends. He was standing at the entrance of the Huawei hotel and this time he saw me. I remembered that he worked at Huawei.

As I was about to avert my gaze, I saw him walking towards me. He was smiling, as usual, with his eyes. Those soft beautiful eyes! It was as though an invisible magnetic compass was drawing us towards each other.

We decided to visit the “Windows of the world” the next day. This place has all the world’s seven wonders and more, miniaturized and fit into a single theme park. The Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower, The leaning Tower of Pisa to name a few. If you can take the photos from the right angle, you can make it look like you had really visited these places. In the evening, there was a fabulous show of fireworks, and dance along with a mix of lights with the history of China being played out with a changing background. The show ended at 8:00pm, after which we headed home.

The next weekend we went to the “Village”. It was a laid back park and different from the “Windows of the world”. It had themes of the old China. The hallmark show was the “Horse back battlefield”. We did not want to miss this and we rushed early to the Village and took our seats. Just as the show was about to begin, crowds poured in like ants. Within minutes everyone had settled down like disciplined soldiers taking their positions. Then the horses came in. The stage was a battle ground with a huge real life sized façade of a fort with soldiers patrolling the walls. The Qing fort, as they called it, was under attack by the Mongolian army, which came in from the east of the battlefield. Some soldiers were on horseback and some on foot pulling large cannons behind them. Then it started, the cannons burst open from either side causing enormous damage. The leader of the Qing army declared attack and streamed towards the west and the Mongols responded and streamed towards the east. The two armies clashed near the center of the battleground. A bloody battle ensued with loud fireworks, cannons firing, the horseback soldiers wildly swinging their swords and lances all for the victory of their respective emperors. The archers of the Qing army, stationed on top of the fort, shot down at the Mongols. A wild stream of arrows poured from the top of the fort. The horseback fighters showed off their skills and theatrics, with martial arts, and deftness at handling the sword and the lance. After a while the second wave of soldiers came in from both sides (the reinforcements). The battle continued and the Qing army started making progress. They slowly drove the Mongols back and eventually the Mongols were overpowered and forced to flee and those left surrendered.

It was the most fantastic and unique show I had ever seen. We came out of the battlefield and went around the “Village”. We explored the Chinese history, and when it was time, we headed for the last show, which was called “the order of the Phoenix”. The Phoenix is killed and it rises from the ashes to vanquish its enemies and to create a new order. After an exhausting and equally thrilling day we headed home, he to his hotel and me to that little flat in the market street of Shenzhen. During one the shows, we met some people from his company and with their help, we took the company bus home instead of once again taking the Shenzhen underground train.

The next week we decided to see Disney Land at Hong Kong since after two weeks both of us were scheduled to return to India. The journey to Disney Land by the Disney train was exciting and thrilling as the train inside-out was based on the Disney theme. Once we reached Disney Land, we started with adventure island making our way to Fantasy Island and then to the future island. Especially thrilling was the Lion King Show and the roller coaster through space (Space Mountain). We took the roller coaster twice!

while at the Lion King Show, listening to “Hakuna Matata”, I noticed that he held my hand. That was the first time during these two weeks that he had gathered some courage to do that. Once the show was over we went to Magic Mountain. It is another wild roller coaster ride. It was during this ride once we had reached the top of Magic Mountain that I heard the word “marry”. I thought I might have heard it wrong. Amidst the noise made by the high-speed roller coaster and people screaming in excitement, I thought I might have misheard. And then when the roller coaster started climbing down, I heard it clearly. “Marry Me”, he said. The roller coaster dipped into a spin after this and the screaming and adrenalin was back in play. With the excitement of what he said and the adrenalin from the coaster ride, it was a double whammy for me. I screamed out a “Yes” and we both screamed out “yes” “yes” “yes”…

We must have been pretty out of our minds

The next day, I spoke to my parents and my mother coolly told me that they were happy with my decision. I was thinking what to do next when I got a call from him. “Lets get married in Disney Land”. “What?” I exclaimed. He reminded me that Disney Land does host marriage ceremonies. “What about our parents?” I asked. “Let’s ask them to fly down here next week and we can get married on our way back. I have checked the dates and confirmed that the next week is a good date to get married.” It was an interesting idea worth remembering for the rest of our lives.

I called my parents and they were doubly excited but were not sure if time would permit them to make arrangements for travel. After discussions back home, his parents called and said it would be tough to get the visa and tickets so fast, and they suggested, “Go ahead and get married in Disney Land. Once you are back here in India, we will have an Indian wedding.” Well! That was even more interesting. We were to get married in Disney Land on the same day of departure to India. So it was a rush. We made it to Hong Kong again on the day prior to our departure date. We went off to Disney Land and made all the arrangements. Several of our colleagues and friends from the China office came to take part in the celebrations.

The wedding at Disney Land was like a little girl’s dream come true. All the toon characters from Mickey the mouse to Donald the duck to Bugs Bunny attended our wedding. Alice was there with flowers to greet us, and Bugs bunny showered glitters and stars on us. We got lot of souvenirs as presents from all the Disney Land residents (the toon characters) and we rushed to the airport from there to get onto to our respective flights. We bid each other goodbye as he was on his way to Bangalore and I was on the way to Hyderabad!

I sat in the aircraft with a mix of feelings, happiness, excitement, and a deep joy. In a word, I was exulted.

A week later, the official Indian wedding took place in Hyderabad. All our relatives from all around India and from various parts if the world made it!!

Three more years passed, and as I look back on it, it was indeed a fun filled ride, after three years from our first meeting. It was one of fates plays that brought us back together and today, I look back on it with contentment.

I watch you sleep with calm and peace I ponder
over the days of our life and wonder
not until three years ago we were yonder
then came love warmth and amity like  plunder

I then contemplate how our tots will be
If they get your fine Eyes and skin so brite
mellow like you  or naïve will they be
in matters of  mind, your like is but right

I fall asleep after dawn thus brooding
and dream the most charming of all dreams
of you smiling down at me pledging
of eternal love that will reign supreme

And now I know that I have not a care
in this world and I do  not  have a scare

*** This is a work of fiction and any coincidence to any person's life (living or otherwise) except that of mine is unintentional. The poem is my present to my husband for our third wedding anniversary and shall not be copied and used in any form whatsoever. Any email forward or idea harvesting noticed after posting this article shall be understood as breach of confidence on BlogSpot.