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Finding Love Again- Chapter 5: Near Zero Visibility

Short story By: Balaji Iyer
Memoir


Chapter 5 of the Finding Love Again series...


Submitted:Oct 19, 2008    Reads: 104    Comments: 3    Likes: 2   


What was I doing? This was not what I should be getting into. Not something that I came here for. I came in pursuit of zero visibility. The climate or whatever you may wish to term it. I leave it up to you. But I was here for precisely that. A time and place where matter ceased and disintegrated. The end of the world from where I could fall-off literally.
I have heard people say that such places do exist. One of the popular citations has crowned a cliff by the sea with this title. But I was sure the end of the world could only be reached through Mussoorie. Some goat path that will lead to the precise spot and from where there was no turning back… no coming back.
But all this is my bitch to deal with.
Currently I had to take stock and deal with a couple of practical worldly issues at hand.
We had reached the Mussoorie library stand and it was raining heavily. We had to find a hotel, a hotel where Shruti would be comfortable and also try and look for a hotel that had two rooms available. Too much consideration for a rainy morning at a hill station.
That's why I said, it was much easier coming alone. You take a pit stop where you wished and not necessarily at a comfortable place. But the kiss was slowly diluting my focus. I wanted more of it… perhaps she too.
Was it obvious? Will we end up in bed tonight and wage war against our senses?
Not very sure…
We quickly took shelter in an over crowded tea stall. The rains ensured brisk business for the rickety tea stall vendor. With hot piping tea, he was selling big fat aloo paranthas - India bread stuffed with boiled and mashed potatoes.
The small enclosure was brimming with passer-bys who were clamoring for shelter from the rain. The sour odor of sweat was overpowering and nauseous. Yet it was our only refuge from rain. Shruti was standing very close to me. Perhaps she was uncomfortable getting close to the taxi drivers who shared the shelter. Her black kurti was half drenched revealing the seams of her innerwear. Her shoulders were wet and strands of hair wound around her neck and made curvy images as if magic fingers were feeling her spine.
It was getting increasingly difficult for me to hold back. My head felt a rush of blood and I was feeling overwhelmed. I could just imagining rushing her to the nice hotel room that we would have hired and start making out.
We could hear each other's breath and sense the restlessness therein.
In about ten minutes the rain dwindled and it was only a slight drizzle. We decided to move out of the pigeon hole without caring for a bite or two of those freshly made paranthas.
The air was nippy, in fact cold. The road was all wet and the slopes full of bottle green palms of nature. It was beautiful as the mist made everything gray. Near zero visibility.
We climbed the steep bend to set foot on the mall road. I told her that I knew the place well enough and it would not be a challenge in getting hotel rooms during this off season time.
It was almost certain that we will check into one hotel.
I took her to a couple of hotels on the mall.
First we checked out "Whispering Windows" and found it too dingy for our tastes. Then we tried our hand at a newly constructed hotel - "Hotel Shilton". The rates blew us off with our modest budgets.
Shruti was now getting restless. Hunger, sticky feeling of being drenched and the cold weather never helps.
We decided to just get into one of the small restaurants and have a cup of tea and breakfast.
Getting inside, we ordered two mix paranthas and tea. The service was prompt and reassuring. We were dead hungry and just wolfed down bite after bite.
Once done with the breakfast, it was time to pay the bill. I reached out to the counter and paid the bill (thirty four rupees to be precise).
I asked the chap at the counter on any reasonable and good hotel. He directed us to a by lane that was just next to his shop. He asked us to try Hotel Ashoka Continental.
We took his advice and strolled down the lane. To start with it was a narrow lane that had a mosque to the left and a small utensil shop on the right.
We walked further and the lane widened up and just ten steps down was the terrace of Hotel Ashoka Continental.
In hilly terrain, hotels have the terrace at the effective ground level and the rooms and amenities in layers of floors below.
We walked in to the reception and an unassuming chap stood up to greet us. A refreshing and crisp "Good Morning" was not at all expected, reassuring nonetheless.
We asked him on room availability and the tariff. He asked us our budget.
The usual trade exchanges.
We just asked him to first show us the rooms, in fact two rooms. He gave us weird look on hearing two rooms but carried on to show us the rooms.
We quietly followed him down the stairs… the walls were well painted with abstract paintings on either side. Every two meters there were earthen pot with money plant growing quite profusely.
Well as a child I always thought money plants would one day grow money and that my father would be very rich. I grew up and no money came out of those plants.
Coming back to the hotel rooms, we entered the first room he showed us. Room No. 1214. Wonder why they keep such room numbers… at best the hotel would have had 30 rooms.
Well the room was reasonably airy, with no visible decay and importantly no overpowering toilet odor. We asked him the tariff. He said, "eight hundred only". I knew it was off season and I could further push down the prices at least down till seven hundred rupees.
We were booking two rooms, so it was big volume in an off season.
We got two rooms for fourteen hundred a night. Through all this I kept wondering were two rooms required… maybe I was too hopeful.
He asked us to wait for fifteen minutes so he could quickly change the linen and clean the rooms for us.
We sat at the reception kept stealing glances at each other. It was so weird even after such good conversations we were still stealing glances. There was still a lot of awkwardness.
Soon the house keeping staff and told us the rooms were ready… We took our respective bags and headed for our rooms. Our rooms were next each other… before entering our respective rooms we smiled at each other and said lets meet in a couple of hours.
I went inside my room. The walls were faded peach in color and the room opened to a valley view through a French window. I neared the window and parted the curtains and outside it was steely grey.
Near zero visibility. Perfect for me to fall off.
Then suddenly I heard a frantic knock on my door. I rushed towards the door and held the door knob and twisted it to open.
The door opened and I didn't know how to react.




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