After their tour in the Millennium wheel (London Eye) was over, they all decided to get something to eat.
"Paas hi mein ek Punjabi restaurant hai….any one interested?" Angad asked, hoping everyone would just follow.
"Haan…jahan tum kaho…." Suryabhan followed
"Parr….papa….wahan vegetarian choices shayad zyaada na ho…" Kripa whined
"kahin aur chaltey hain….jahan bhi Kripa chahey…" Prithvi spoke up finally
"Guys….don't worry…yadi Kripa vegetarian hai tho main usska intezaam karwa doonga.." Angad said
"Yeh Mumbai nahin hai Angad jo sab tumhari baat maan jaayengey…" Prithvi was worried
'Yaar Prithvi…tussi tension mat liya karo…..main hoon na!" Angad led the way to the restaurant. Kripa frowned, "yeh apni baat manwa kerr hi rehta hai….at least Prithvi was considerate enough"
They settled down in a corner in the cozy restaurant. The aroma of the delicious spices act as an appetizer for all of them. Angad went inside the kitchen, like he owned the restaurant, to the amazement of Kripa and Suryabhan. He came a few minutes later, "kaam ho gaya…."
Prithvi smiled, "Angad….tu bhi har jagah apna kaam banaa hi leta hai…"
The waiter came in to take their orders for drinks.
"A beer please" Suryabhan ordered
"Me too….Beer…" Prithvi repeated
"Water…." Both Angad and Kripa said simultaneously.
"Tum beer nahi peetey….tumharey tandoori chicken ke saath bahut jamegi?" Suryabhan was surprised.
"Nahin uncle…..main sharaab nahi peeta….waise hi itni behki-behki baatein karta hoon…..peeloonga tho pata nahin kya-kya bak doonga…." Angad, of course did not mention the real reason-his alcoholic dad had turned him away from alcohol for the rest of his life.
Kripa looked up as Angad spoke; she was surprised too….Angad just did not look like a teetotaler!
When the food was served, Kripa was shocked to see the variety of vegetarian dishes the cook had whipped up for her.
"Main yeh sab kaise khaaungi?" she asked
"Don't worry….the cook is doing a favor to us…..these are just samplers….you can eat all you want…." Angad answered
Suryabhan and Kripa were surprised at how Angad had managed to talk the cook into making so many special vegetarian dishes for them, without even charging!
Kripa had never tasted such good food before, "Angad….maan na padhega…..aap ney kuch tho jaadu kiya hai cook parr…" she complimented him.
"Angad ka jaadu tho saari duniya parr chaya huya hai…." Prithvi patted Angad's back as they walked out of the restaurant.
Angad and Prithvi dropped Suryabhan and Kripa at their hotel in the evening
'Uncle….we will see you in the morning…..let's all spend another day, sightseeing together…."Angad waved them good bye
"Sounds like a plan son!" Suryabhan waved back
Angad hit the bed and was fast asleep within minutes
Prithvi tossed and turned as he remembered the day with Kripa; he had never seen such a beautiful girl before…..he looked forward to seeing her again the next morning.
Kripa tossed and turned as she tried to understand what Angad was all about?….was he really as loud and obnoxious as he appeared on the outside, or was he hiding some pain deep inside by behaving outrageously?…….why was she so conscious about herself when she was near Angad……why did he make her aware of her being a woman and he a man, each time he looked at her…..why
She thought about Prithvi-he seemed sweet, patient, understanding, sensitive…..and she felt comfortable with him…..she felt like she could be herself with him…..just like she would with any good friend…..how could two brothers be so different???
Kripa woke up early and was ready to leave, but was surprised to see her dad still in bed. She went close to him, "Arre…papa…aap ko tho bukhaar hai….." she took out her medicine kit and checked his temperature, "103!…Papa…aap kahin nahin jaayengey…."
"Beti…main rest karr loonga…Angad aur Prithvi aaney waale honge…..tum unkey saath chali jaao…"
"Nahin papa….main aap ko chhod karr nahin jaaoongi…." Kripa argued.
There was a knock at the door. Kripa opened the door to find Angad and Prithvi staring at her. She was dressed in a long skirt with a halter neck top with matching high heels, purse and scarf….she was aware both the men found her attractive, but she turned away and said, "sorry…papa bimaar hai…aap log jaaiye….main yahin rahoongi…"
"No way…you can't be sitting inside on this beautiful day…" Angad protested, "Main uncle ke saath bait tha hoon…waise bhi sightseeing is not my cup of tea….aaj India England ka one day match bhi hai….uncle do you like cricket?"
"Sure beta….paar tum teeno chaley jao ghoomney…..I will be fine….I just need some rest…yeh sab tumharey tandoori chicken sey hua hai.." Suryabhan laughed
Prithvi intervened, "Nahin….main uncle ke saath reh jaata hoon…"
The 3 of them started arguing about who would stay and who would go.
Kripa finally put her foot down, "OK..OK…I have a suggestion….main aadha din Prithvi ke saath jaaoongi aur phir lunch ke baad Angad ke saath….will that work?"
They all agreed to the arrangement. Kripa and Prithvi left after saying goodbye, "see you after lunch, Angad!"
Prithvi and Kripa roamed around in some of the museums and palaces. Kripa was fascinated by the queen's and princess Diana's collection of garments, jewelry, accessories. Prithvi followed her wherever she wanted to go.
Once they were trying to cross a street, but Prithvi was busy taking photographs. He tried to capture Kripa in every photograph he clicked. Kripa saw a bus approaching them very closely; she grabbed Prithvi's hand and pulled him back to the street. "Prithvi! Be careful…abhi bus ke neeche aa jaate!"
Prithvi was dumb struck….no girl had ever held his hand before…..he looked at Kripa and then at his hand where she had touched him…..he was really happy.
Kripa did not notice Prithvi caressing his hand, where she had touched him. She was interested in getting across the street, so she would not miss the show at their next museum.
They had lunch together. Kripa noticed that Prithvi had scribbled something on a notepad. She turned her face and started reading, "Prithvi….yeh tumney likhi hai?"
Prithvi nodded. He had written a beautiful poem (in reality composed by our very talented Pallavi from TCC)
Fizayen sur bhi haseen ho gayi
Tera jo haseen saath ho
Sheher yeh aur bhi rangeen ho gayi
Haathon mein jab tera haath ho
Saath chaltey chaltey
Safar aisey hi kat jaye
Din yeh dhaltey dhaltey
Per shaam Kabhi na aaye
Yun hi chaltey rahey
Mulaqaton ka silsila
Teri nazdeekion mein
Mujhko apna kinara mila!
Kripa smiled and said, "I did not know business school mein poetry bhi sikhaatey hain…."
Prithvi said shyly, "wo …bas…kabhi kabhi….likh leta hoon"
Kripa asked him to recite some of his other poems, which he did. Prithvi took time to open up with people, but there was something about Kripa that made him very comfortable. She was not judgmental about him; she respected him for what he was-something he had not experienced with too many people except perhaps, Angad. There was no one who understood Prithvi better than Angad….no one…not even Prithvi himself….
They got back to the hotel after lunch to find Suryabhan napping and Angad watching the cricket match on TV
"arre…you guys are back so soon?" Angad opened the door.
"Kya score chal raha hai?" Prithvi asked curiously
"Usual story….India all out for 210 runs…Englad has just started batting….." Angad sounded disheartened at his home team's performance.
Angad and Kripa left Prithvi with Suryabhan and ventured out into the streets of London.
"Chalo…bus ya subway le lete hain.." Kripa suggested
"Nahin…c'mon…let's walk….paidal chalney se hi shahar achche se ghoom saktey hain…"
"Parr..Angad hum sab cheezen nahin dek sakengey……London is so big!"
"Koyi homework poora thode hi karna hai…don't check the boxes Kripa….let's enjoy the city" he pulled her hand and started crossing the street. Kripa's face turned red as soon as he touched her; she just followed him, unaware of where they were going.
They came to the famous 'Tower of London," Kripa was really interested in going there. They purchased tickets and went inside.
Angad barely stayed inside for 5 minutes; he went out and sat on a bench in the beautiful lawns of the monument. Kripa stayed back, as she enjoyed observing all the artifacts and jewels and crowns of the old world.
Kripa joined him after an hour, "kya hua? Itni jaldi kaise aa gaye? They have a very exquisite collection here…"
"You know Kripa, jab main chhota tha….main bhi ek chor tha.." Kripa was shocked to hear that. She said, "Chor?"
"Haan..chor…jab main ghar se bhaaga tha tho chori karney laga tha…parr main un logon sey chori karta tha jo mujh sey bahut zyaada amir the….parr us zurm ke liya bhi mujhey juvenile court mein jaana padha tha……yahan is tower mein ek amir desh ney, ek gharib desh ka saaman chura karr rakha hai…..aur saari duniya sey yahan log aakar un precious cheezon ko aakar appreciate kartey hain…..yahan ke chor kisi court mein kyon nahin pesh hotey?" Angad's voice was trembling in anger and he got up from the bench to leave.
Kripa got up and followed him to the exit gate, "Angad….I had no idea you are so patriotic…."
"Kyon? Do I have to wear a dhoti-kurta to be one?" they both started laughing. Angad's comments and views on different issues always amazed Kripa…..he was full of contradictions……Jaisa lagta hai…shayad waisa hai nahin….
"Chalo…coffee peetey hain" Angad suggested.
They sat down and ordered coffee. Kripa looked at Angad, who was still wearing his dark glasses indoors, "Angad, aap andar bhi kaala chashma pehney hain?"
He laughed, "Oh yeh….main nahin chahta koyi meri aankhon mein dekhey,,,iss liye…"
he took them off and looked at her, pointing to his glasses, "these are like curtains…..no one has ever looked inside my window,"
he winked at her as he sipped his coffee. Kripa was confused at his comment again and changed the subject, "aap ney bataaya nahin…Prithvi kitni achchi kavita likhtey hain…."
"Oh Ya…Prithvi gaana bhi bahut achcha gaata hai….aap bhi tho gaati hai na?"
"Haan…kabhie kabhie…but do you also write poetry?"
Angad laughed out loudly, "poetry or main?….mujhey kabhi samajh nahin aaya poets kehna kya chahtey hain…for instance…..kavi kehtey hain badal jaise ghaney baal….." he looked at her thick open straight hair admiringly, and continued, "ab dekhiye…aap ke baalon ko main yadi ghaney badal kahun tho aapkey baalon ki insult hogi….ghaney badal are like a old woman's thatch of grey hair…your hair are way prettier than that…..and then my favorite is chaand jaisa mukhda…..aapke face ko main yadi chaand kahoon, that would be an insult…..chaand ko paas sey dekho tho kitney gaddhey hain uss par….aapkey chehrey par tho ek pimple bh nahin hai…"
" "Angad…you are too much…" she laughed
Angad looked into her eyes, "another one….kavi kehtey hain uski aankhey machli jaisi hain….yadi aapki aankhein machli jaisi hoti, tho kya main unkey andar jhaank kar aapke dil ki baat jaan paata…sirf scales and fins hi dikhtey" Kripa's face turned red at that comment and she lowered her eyes.
"kavi yeh bhi kehtey hain ki uskey honth gulab ke phool ki tarah hai…." She looked up at him trying to understand what he was really saying…was he making fun of poets or indirectly complimenting her looks and features…..
Angad continued, "I think that is a wrong analogy….when I kiss a woman, I just don't kiss her lips…I work all around her face…her neck and ehem..ehem….but if I were to kiss a rose, it is surrounded by thorns every where….I think that is an insult to woman's beauty…" Kripa was completely red now…..she felt like had actually been kissed by him at all those spots.
"Sorry! I did not mean to insult poets…"Angad saw the expression on her face-a mixture of horror and shock-he loved seeing such expressions on people, specially her!
He tried to lighten up the air, "waise…main ek analogy dey sakta hoon….you know I am not a poet………jab aap hansti hain na….tab aisa lagta hai…aisa lagta hai ki ek banjar zameen parr baarish ki pehli boondein gir rahi ho….wohi khushi aap ki muskurahat bhi mere….mera matlab hai aur sab logon ko bhi milti hogi…"
Kripa looked at him, trying to understand him again, but before she could look into his eyes for answers, Angad got up and put his dark glasses back on, "Let's go Kripa….."
…to be continued…