Thursday, October 14, 2010


This one’s difficult… I’m going to be telling on my friends. But don’t worry; they’re ok with sharing a bit of their lives if those bits could help you out with yours.

It’s the story of two brothers, both good friends of mine, who met two exceptionally attractive ladies, and fell in love with them at a wedding. Today, all four are good friends of mine, but while one couple is happy, together and totally in love, the other couple has fallen out… of love, and with each other. So what went wrong? And what went right? Are there lessons to be learnt, or are all tales of togetherness mere puppets in the hands of fate and chance? Well, here’s a ringside peep into four lives, with insights that could help your loves and mine. And it’ll help if we approach their lives seeking not to judge but to understand.

Rehan and Rohit Gadgil played cricket with me in college. Their father was working with a merchant ship and spent a lot of time sailing. But their mother, a homemaker, has done a very good job of bringing up the boys. Blessed with sharp wits and kind hearts, Rehan and Rohit never lacked for company and yet, as far as we know, have always respected every relationship. Rehan is 29 years old today and works in Glasgow. Rohit is a 27 year old banker, currently living in Delhi but will move to Michigan any of these days. About three years ago, their cousin sister who’d studied with us was getting married to this boy from Kolkata, and celebrations were planned over ten days; wedding in Delhi and reception in Kolkata with parties and ceremonies sprinkled between the two big days.

The Gadgils are a popular family and had a long list of invitees. Since I also happened to be on that list, I took time off and hopped on to the wedding wagon. And there we encountered the other two protagonists of this story – Chhaya and Samaira, the groom’s colleagues and good friends. Rehan and Chhaya got along like a house on fire. They talked, they laughed, they danced and the evenings oft en found them taking long walks in the lawns. Rehan was mature, worldly-wise and elegant. Successful and suave, he had the bearing of a prince. Chhaya on the other hand had the irresistible charm of a child who knows she’s cute. When she smiles, her eyes would sparkle like diamonds under soft white light. Her bubbly effervescence was contagious. They were opposites that attracted each other with a strange playful intensity.

It was like a story unfolding out of a movie script. All of us friends would see them as they walked away, their heads tilted gently towards each other as they spoke, saw and felt what they thought to be the very essence of the other. Chhaya had a half smile that never seemed to leave her mouth. And her eyes… they danced and laughed and revealed a thousand secrets whenever Rehan was around. And Rehan, the quiet and reserved gentleman who was brilliant at his job, played golf to ‘contemplate’ and went camping on the weekends, had evolved into this live-wire who couldn’t stop talking animatedly. It was as if he’d suddenly found wings. He floated around all day, laughing and talking. And in the evening, when Chhaya was around, he was sweet and charming, and opened up to her like a tulip to the sun. That day on the terrace, those of us who saw their silhouettes disappear against the moonlit night on the eve of the wedding knew that this was a match that was made in heaven. In fact, we still talk about that magical moment… all of us but for two others…

Samaira and Rohit were there all right but they were usually just too busy in the kitchen to notice. No, no it isn’t what you are thinking… that came much later. For what was brewing between them in the beginning was not romance but intense competition. Samaira in her younger days, was, to put it plainly, rather obese. Looking at her statuesque proportions today, you’d never guess that she was once the rather grotesque, hulking figure in the photograph she carries in the flap of her phone (a reminder in case she drift s too close to the desserts). Since she couldn’t run around much with that weight in school, she picked up the shot put during her “games period (!)”. Eventually she got to be good at it. As her confidence soared, she started training for her sport. She’d always been good with books but the shot-put gave her physicality a new-found confidence. She could now hurl the put further than most of the guys in her class could and all that training in the weight room had sculpted a whole new person out of her.

Samaira now worked in publishing and was a supremely confident individual. Rohit was perhaps a little intimidated by her in the beginning. She was elder to him by a couple of years and though attractive and sweet natured, the two of them got off on the wrong foot. Actually what took off when they met was this little debate. You see, Rohit was once an aspiring fashion model. He’d sculpted his physique to a fair degree of perfection and done a few shows. He wanted to be the next Milind Soman, a male super-model, but alas it wasn’t to be; he wasn’t willing to make “the required compromises” he said. But he’s still passionate about the industry and his workouts. So when Samaira and Rohit got talking about their fitness regimens and Rohit tried to exchange notes, Samaira ribbed him a bit and said that male models were ‘pansies’ with ‘worthless bodies that looked too fluffy to be any good’. Sensitive and mild-mannered, Rohit was shocked and confused. He didn’t know how to respond without being rude to someone he’d just met. They were at a wedding after all. He avoided conversations with Samaira from then on…

But Samaira had meant no harm. So she apologized and invited him to join her for an early morning run through the city-forest. Things got a little better from there. They jogged and trained together in the mornings and played squash in the evenings. And they spent the rest of the day in the kitchen ‘experimenting’ with that rare and elusive (and some might say mythical) food-group called the ‘lick-a-licious health foods’. You could tell though that even when they’d run and made up, there was always this undercurrent of intense but cordial competition between the two.

All through the ceremonies, the families were happily speculating about a good time for a Chhaya-Rehan wedding, and at the same time bracing themselves for a moment when the veneer of cordial competition between Samaira and Rohit might collapse and they might have to intervene before things got a little unpleasant which might embarrass the families. However, the wedding week ended without incident and we went back to our old lives, richer and rounder for the experience.

Chhaya and Rehan however picked up from where they had left off in Kolkata. And while we were waiting for them to announce their ‘next step’, like a bolt from the blue, Rohit and Samaira announced their engagement…

But all that happened three years ago. Today, one couple is still inseparable while for the other, love disappeared like dew in the desert.

What is the glue that holds one together, and which is the river that divides the other? The answers…? Next week….!


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