Friday, 1 July 2011


Six p.m., and he is obviously running late, she thinks as she patiently waits for him by the sea shore. It is a rainy evening, with a strong breeze and a wild sea vying for attention against the heavy grey skies, promising even more rain in the hours to follow. Shivering, she pulls her stole closer, and sits herself on an empty space on the low stone wall separating the sea from the pavement and the road beyond. Watching the vendors, cajoling people to purchase paper cones full of hot gram spiced up with sea salt and a twist of lime, she idly contemplates giving in and buying one. Just the vague thought of spoiling dinner stops her.

Some distance away, a man casually dressed in faded denims and a plaid shirt hurriedly steps off a bus, umbrella in hand, and starts to walk briskly towards the sea. Mr Mehta from Kumar's Coffee Shop waves out a greeting as he passes by. At the traffic lights, a young boy in a dirty but cheerful blue-and-white striped tee shirt weaves quickly between cars, exchanging copies of the evening papers for a couple of coins. He calls out to the boy, purchases a paper and continues to walk ahead.

There she waits without complaint, he thinks guiltily, and quickly hurries to her. With the familiarity of practice, he reaches out and weaves a small garland of fragrant jasmine flowers into her wind-swept braid. She turns around at the gesture, smiles and moves over for him to sit beside her.

Together, they open up the papers, and scan the Apartments Available section in the Classifieds. Until then, they make do with the privacy the sea and a low stone wall have to offer them in the bustling city of Mumbai.

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