Very often, you can smell beauty even before you can see it. Just like I smelt her now, as she stood just barely inches ahead of me in the bus that was taking us from the airport terminal to the tarmac. Perhaps the aircraft was still being cleaned of the bottles and paper cups and napkins that people leave behind in the seat pockets, so the bus stood on the tarmac for an interminably long time. Passengers stood inside like cattle, but I did not mind one bit. For, she stood right in front of me, so close that I could tell that she had washed her hair with Sunsilk shampoo that morning and was wearing Jovan Musk.
She had earphones plugged, and the source of music was tucked inside her hip pocket, where she would reach every now and then, maybe to skip songs. But in the process, she would repeatedly draw my attention to her sculpted posterior, which did complete justice to the shape of her black jeans. I prayed they take another hour to ready the plane. Durga Puja could wait, so what if it was already ashtami and it would be almost noon by the time I landed in Kolkata? But before some good things can begin, some other good things must come to an end. The door of the bus slid open and she stepped out, putting her hand one more time on her hip pocket.
She headed for the rear door of the plane and I for the front. But before we began walking diagonally apart, she looked at me. It was a proper look that she gave, that lasted for a few seconds. Taken aback, I involuntarily ran my fingers through my hair, only to realise I have no hair now: it will be several weeks before my pate returns to normal. "But she still looked at me, not bad!" I smiled to myself and climbed up the steps.
It is rare for a Bengali man to run into a Bengali woman in Chennai, unless the two are already related, mostly by way of marriage, or are already friends. It is, however, not so uncommon for one Bengali man to run into another Bengali man in Chennai, but then, what does one do with a Bengali man? It is one thing to be a Bengali man and quite another to be a Bengali woman. The former can be irritating, but the latter is always irresistible.
It is with theese thoughts I boarded the phlight to Kolkata. My next seat neighbhaar ooaas, as usual, a man. God has been so aan-kind to me. He ooaas a north Indiaan man, the man next to me. Ebhen bephore he ooaas required to tie the seat-belt, he had opened a tiffin-box and phinished four alu porotas. I kaarsed God. One, he makes a man sit next to me, nebhar a oo-man. On top oph eet, he makes that man eat alu porotas, which is my all-time phebareet, right in phrant of my eyez. There is a limit to tolaarance. What the phaak? Tempted by the smell of his porotas, I ordered porota roll that happened to be on the menu oph the ayaarlines. They gave me leathery porotas philled with dry poneer. And on top oph it, charged me one hundred and twenty rupees for the stoopid phood. What the phaak was going on? The only thought that kept my spirits phlying ooaas the thought oph the garl who I met in the ayaarport baas -- the one who wore black jeans and who had taacked haar iPod in haar hip pockeyt. I could not see haar now, baat I knew she was somewhere theyar. And the phaarst thing I did on landing ooaas to look phor haar.
Didn't I just tell you that Bengali men -- and that includes me -- can be highly irritating, while Bengali woman -- whether they are residents of Kankurgachhi in Kolkata or K.K. Nagar in Chennai -- are always irresistible? Ms Black Jeans, however, lives in Kodamabakkam, as I learned upon reaching Kolkata airport, where we got a chance to make small talk while waiting for the conveyor belt to spit out our respective bags. Kodambakkam is a stone's throw from my place in Chennai, and she said she has been living there for five years now, all by herself, in the flat of a family friend who lived far away in Hyderabad. And then I wondered: where the phaak was I all these yeeaars?