The Uniform

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You can never guess what's in line for you! A tale of humor, friendship and love!

Part I

Discussions.....Discussions of aunties discussing other aunties’ jewelry, uncles discussing the bad condition of roads, kids discussing the new toys their classmates have, teenage girls discussing the new range of Lakme lipsticks, the bandwalas discussing what song to play next etc etc.

Everyone was busy discussing something. But I, being quite an introvert and bored to the limits, was not a part of any discussion. In fact I didn’t even want my mom to be a part of any. I wished to leave and take my mom with me, out of here ASAP. But it was not possible as yet. The most important part of a wedding (yes, I’m in a wedding, as if that was not clear yet!!!) the FOOD, was not available yet because the rituals were not over. Some of them were still remaining.

This is the reason I’m not a fan of weddings. All there is, is inconvenience. Especially for guys…Besides the food, I don’t think guys have any interest in weddings.

Since there was some time to kill, I was just sitting in a corner of the large fully air conditioned hall (thank God for that!) and observing everyone. It’s my favorite thing to do when I’m idle. I seriously believe you get to know a person better if you observe and pay attention to the smallest thing a person does.

Like for example, an uncle sitting in front of me is just looking here and there. That means he has neither the idea nor the interest in whatever his wife is narrating to him (slowly avoiding pointing fingers at some woman whose sari she is talking about). That uncle is waiting for the buffet to open up as well. Well, it’s good to know I’m not the only one.

Next I see an old couple. The old man is looking at the old lady slowly and smiling. She smiles too. The lady gives the old man a very mature smile, the one you can do after being together for lots of years. Perhaps she understands what he wants to say. I think they are remembering their wedding day. How some things never change! The guests, the rituals the food…This couple is nostalgic and sentimental. So am I, I guess. Amidst all this chaos, this couple can have a dainty little private, silently. This is what is love, probably.

But there is one thing that I suddenly realize. I am concentrating more on this couple rather than the happy couple on stage, who is getting married, about whom the whole function is. They are so busy in doing the things the Pandit orders them to do, that they don’t even get noticed in their own wedding! Poor Things!

“Rishi!! Rishi?...I think the buffet has opened up! You can go there.” Said my mom, interrupting my chain of thoughts. Yes, my name is Rishi, short for Rishikesh. I am so glad for this update. I get up, straighten my jeans. I start walking towards the buffet when my mom says, “Rishi, will you take your grandfather with you…hold his hand na beta and walk him with with you”. And she smiles. Bravo mom! Moms are always good at manipulating. They always get their way. Even what she said just now, was so clever. First, she told me something that I wanted to hear, then she requested me and finally she ordered. Classic!

Anyway, I took my grandfather’s hand and started walking towards the buffet. Mind you, he was not my own grandfather. He was a distant relative whom we just meet at weddings or birthdays. Anyway during our three minute walk from our seats to the buffet, he complained about his arthritis twice and said his son never holds his hand anymore. Then he asked me to fill up his food plate along with me. He told me to fill his plate with one part of khichadi, some ghee on it, and two parts of the dessert. (He was considering him as the winner between the other elderlies and him because he didn’t have diabetes and hence could eat any dessert he wished to.)

I gave grandfather his plate and sat him in a corner. Then I joined the queue for my plate. It wasn’t a long one. I started with salt, a piece of lime, green salad and some green chutney. I was leaning forward to get a sneak peek of the dessert when I heard a giggling gang of some girls entering the hall. Everyone looked at them. All of them were clad in anarkali suits, bindis, bangles, heels and were wearing makeup. They were smiling, laughing and giggling. One or two of them roamed the hall and touched feet of the elderlies. Everyone was happy to see them. People also felt glad to bless them. What’s up with the female laughter anyways!

I was still in the queue, filling up my plate with the extra-calorie items such as the jalebis, puris, paneer etc when three of those girls joined the queue. They were still talking, laughing and giggling. Why are girls always doing this? Nothing could be that funny that these girls laugh about it 24*7! I’m positive about that. One particular girl from them came right behind me, in the queue. I don’t know how she got here so fast, considering I’d taken nearly ten minutes to get here. God knows what girls can do!

The girl behind me was filling her plate with some pakodas. By the way, she was quite interesting, from what I could see, looking at her from only one angle, that too for a few seconds.

“Excuse me!” she said. Oopsie! She caught me, looking at her, or was I staring? I got ready to take some harsh words from her, when she said, “Can you please hold my plate for a second. I’ve got to take a call.” I noticed phone blinking in her other hand.

“Yeah, sure!” I said.

“Thanks, I’ll be back in a jiffy haan”, she said and ran towards the door as if there was going to be 30% extra signal there.

Anyway, I kind of felt like a loser holding her plate for nearly six minutes (of course, she didn’t come back in a jiffy!) Meanwhile, ten people behind us filled their plates and the nearby chairs as well. I was wondering where to sit when she came back, running (exactly, like she’d gone).

“I’m so sorry! I know I took very long, I’m sorry!” she said. While saying that she shrinked her eyes, showed me both her palms. Her red and orange bangles jingled.

“Yeah, no, it’s OK”, I said handing her plate back to her.

“Thank you!” she said and smiled. Wow!!!!! How did she do that? Smile again, please I said in my mind. But she wasn’t smiling. She was looking somewhere else. “Umm, there’s no place to sit yaar. My friends have also disappeared. Shall we find a place to sit?” she asked.

“Yeah, OK I guess…”, I said thinking if she actually said that. “See there’s a place there, in that corner”, she said pointing with her little finger. We walked together to the corner where there were three empty chairs. I sat in one chair, she in the other. She pulled the third chair close and put her cell phone and her small purse, clutch, as they call it, on it.

I started with my pakoda and she said, “Start with the jalebi na, it’s yum! Her eyes widened and her lips lengthened. Without saying a word, I dropped my pakoda and took a piece of the jalebi. It was OK, I guess. Her eyes widened and her lips lengthened, without saying a word. I dropped my Pakoda and ate the Jalebi. It was ok, I guess.

“By the way, I’m Ruchi. What’s your name?” She said. She flipped her Puri and tore it in half.

“I’m Rishi” I said.

“What do you do, Rishi?” Ruchi said. And thus began my interview. My degree, age, relatives and all... Ruchi had a lot of questions for me which I assured dutifully.

She also told me a lot about herself even though I hadn’t asked. I figured she was going to talk anyways. Ruchi, age 21, BBA Student. She likes reading, swimming, soft music and Ranbir Kapoor. She was also quite looking forward to the release of Ranbir’s new movie. This was all the information she provided me with in the course of our meal. I quite liked her actually, not at first but gradually. She was not exactly the definition of pretty but was close enough. Her kohl eyes were like elastic. Literally, they used to shrink and enhance and get back to normal in any second. She constantly used her hands while talking. They closed & opened. She dropped her wrist sometimes while she talked. She constantly looked at her nails as if they were recently painted. Then she smiled. Wow!! Her smile was pure unadulterated magic. It was so energetic, so playful. Her smile bought out all the youth in her which was amazing. I decided it was at least fifteen times better than any normal smile. “Are you going to talk at all?” Ruchi asked. It broke my chain of thoughts and I realized she had judged me as an arrogant guy.

“Your smile is nice”, I said. Then I realized what I’d just said. Ruchi looked at me for a whole second and then looked down. Did she just blush? I would never find out. Because I’d been so embarrassed that I got up with my plate and went to the water cooler. Although I hadn’t done anything wrong, just complimented her. Still, It was huge for me. I’d never done that before. I decided I would go back and apologize. I put my plate away, drank two glasses of water and come back to my seat.

Ruchi was gone.

 

PART II

Thirteen days, four hours and twenty nine minutes it’s been. Still my quest for Ruchi hasn’t come to an end. How can it come to an end if I haven’t found her yet!! Perhaps it is the saddest thing that’s happened to me. To anyone! OK, not any one but surely to me. I mean I was watching her, and her dancing eyes, her jingling bangles, and every other accessory of hers. She still is so vivid and clear in front of my eyes, as if it happened a minute ago. And all of it happened so suddenly. For one minute I go to the water cooler. I was thinking about what to say to her after I see her again. I turn around and she wasn’t there. She’s gone. Hello? How’s that even possible! I mean it was obvious that she was going to leave sometime or the other. But so suddenly? Why?

I wouldn’t have been that bad. Or was I? No! No! Ruchi is the last person who I wish to have a bad opinion of me. I wanted her to like to me, not run away from me!

I don’t know what else to do, now… I want to meet her again; I want to see her awesome smile. That smile, it’s the best thing in the world. Just a flash and people leave behind their worries for sure. Not just her smile. I want to hear her talk, hear her bangles jingle, see her eyes dance while she talks.

But no! I guess I’m just not lucky enough to have a revision of it. I don’t know when would I get that experience again or even get it again at all.

But one thing that I do know is that I’m going to find her. I want to find her and talk to her at least one last time. I have no idea as to what & how I would say anything to her. I just know and have got to meet her one more time.

But how? I have naturally tried the obvious ways like asking both the families from the wedding how she is related to them. But the surprising thing is nobody can say for sure how they are related to her or know her. I am pretty shocked by this and tried to describe Ruchi by her description and her friends and the vague memory of their outfits. Of course I don’t remember any of their clothes and accessories like I do Ruchi’s but I tried. It all went in vain.

Hearing all the above things, my totally useless friends spared no room of mocking me. They teased me about Ruchi constantly. Any topic was linked to her name, as if it was mandatory.

But one thing I noticed about my friends during this time. They teased me about Ruchi before. But when they got to know about the fact that I was unable to find her, they tortured me!

Also, when I told them that none of the relatives could tell me about Ruchi, their immediate conclusion was that she was a ghost!

I know, friends! My friends are always doing this kind of stupidity.

There are no words to describe them. They make life hell but still, they are the life I have. They are the most important and awesome part of my life. They even almost convinced me that Ruchi was a ghost! I mean I know it was an ‘out of world’ experience. But Ruchi couldn’t be a ghost. How could someone who has that smile….Gosh! Her smile! It wasn’t going to let me think clearly. Thus I’m not thinking about it. Anyway my friends are crazy and Ruchi is not a ghost.

But one interesting idea that my friends suggest is to go online and search her, on social networking sites and stuff. Yes! Of course! Now why didn’t I think of that before? Duh!

Anyhow, I hurriedly takeout my laptop and enter the virtual reality. I enter in words like, ‘Ruchi’, BBA students. But I couldn’t find her. I try searching her on some groups or pages like ‘I love weddings’, ‘Anarkali suits <3’, #weddingsarefun etc…God knows what cheesy things girls do on the internet! Still, I could not find her. I realized Ruchi hadn’t neither told me her surname nor the name of her college where she was doing BBA from. It was not easy finding her. Why was it that difficult? I don’t understand.

I think it is karma! Yeah, it sure is karma. Some stupid mistakes I did in the past must be coming to terms with me in this way. I end my Ruchi quest. Who knows if she would recognize me or not, the next time she meets me. Maybe yes, maybe no! Nobody can tell. I am only going to try to keep her out of my mind from now, and I know it’s going to be hard.

 

Part III

Damn right! It is super hard to not think about Ruchi. First of all, the wedding season is still going on. Everywhere I go, there are the same old saris and the shervanis, the bandwalas and the flowers. Ugh! For a moment, I was starting to have a good feeling about weddings but no! Weddings are clearly not my cup of tea. Weddings remind me of Ruchi, and as I have not met her since the previous wedding, it makes me sad.

Not only weddings but also the anarkali suits and the laughter similar to hers or whatever it may be…anything can remind me of her.

On top of that my mom wants to attend one more wedding with her. I mean, come on! How do moms always find out about the things you like the least and make you do it anyways? I guess, moms have a natural talent of dominance. I think the ‘dominant gene’ is dominant in every mother. Anyways, as usual I surrender to my mother’s wishes. I put on a nice black shirt (yes, black, to protest my mother’s wish) and go to the wedding with my mom. The previous wedding was from my maternal family but this time it is my paternal cousin’s wedding. My father is always on some or the other business tour so I have to accompany my mom to all these functions.

Again, I go to one corner of the wedding hall to do my favorite timpeass i.e. observe people. Unnecessarily my eyes search for Ruchi. But duh! Of course she is not going to be here. Why would she! Suddenly my phone rings.. It’s Rohan, one of my friends from college. Before coming here I’d told him that I was going to attend another wedding. I couldn’t hear Rohan properly because of the weak signal, hence I went outside the hall. As it turns out, Rohan was asking me the same thing that was crossing my mind a few seconds ago. He asked me if I saw Ruchi in this wedding and sadly I had to answer ‘no’. And then I said ‘yes’.

What happened was, while talking to Rohan someone tapped me on my shoulder. I turned around and saw Ruchi!!!

“Rishi! It’s so good to see you!!!” Ruchi says, very happily. Red anarkali suit, golden bangles, golden stilettoes and that amazing smile of hers. Everything of Ruchi and Ruchi herself was present right in front of me! I was totally overwhelmed.

I was very happy but there were a thousand questions popping in my head. What was she doing here? Where did she go that day? How is she related to this couple or even the couple from the previous wedding? But of course before I said something, she started talking.

“I’m so sorry Rishi, I couldn’t say a proper goodbye to you that day during the wedding!” she said.

“No, it’s OK…” I said. I didn’t know why I said that when clearly I meant the opposite.

“No Rishi, I know it wasn’t OK. I must have scared you yaar, disappearing that way, like a ghost. Anyway, I’m really sorry about that day. But tell me, what are you doing here?” Ruchi asks.

“It’s my cousin’s wedding. The groom, Aditya, is my one of my uncle’s son.” I answer. “But what are you doing here? Are you from the bride’s side?”

“Actually neither the bride nor the groom’s side. I’m from nobody’s side.” Ruchi said, blushing.

“What, how come?” I ask curiously.

“Actually this is just a fun thing we do. Me and some of my friends, we just dress up in all these functional clothes. We call these clothes as, ‘The Uniform’. We wear it and we come to a hall where there is a wedding taking place. We come here, meet a few of the guests, and compliment some aunties on their saris. We also dance in the baraat sometimes. But the main reason we do this is for the food. Believe me Rishi, food tastes awesome when it’s free.” Ruchi explained.

I was stunned. “What? That’s crazy!” I said to her, laughing.

“I know it’s crazy, that’s why we do it. Crazy things are totally fun.” Ruchi said, grinning. You could tell that she really enjoys this thing she and her friends do too. You could see the excitement in her movements.

“So, you just come to these weddings even though you don’t know anybody?” I asked.

“Yeah. All of them are strangers. I know it seems strange, but it really feels awesome to do something like this.” Ruchi said.

I am totally surprised by this information Ruchi has provided me with. This girl is not only funny and good looking but she is the most awesome girl I have ever come across.

“Please don’t tell anyone about this haan.” Ruchi says with the utmost sincerity. “By the way, nice shirt, Rishi. Black is cool, one of my favorite colors.”

Black is my favorite color from now on!

“Anyway, I have to go now. We don’t stay for long at these weddings. There’s always a risk of running into someone familiar. We have to avoid that otherwise it won’t be fun na. Anyway just give me your number. I will Whatsapp you.” Ruchi says with urgency in her voice.

“Yeah, my number is 9764225500. Whatsapp me for sure, Ruchi” I say. I feel like I have taken this huge step in my life by saying it, even though she asked me for my number.

“Yes Rishi, sure! “ Ruchi says. “Bye now! See ya!” And she departs.

“Bye!” I say watching her leave with her friends.

Life is good again. I love weddings again. I love my mom for bringing me here. Like Aamir Khan says in the movie 3 Idiots, to fit into any place, all you need is a uniform!

Surely, All is Well!!!!

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