“Hey babe!” she called out. I turned and waved to her in answer. “Where are you going?” she asked me. “Nowhere in particular, just taking a walk,” I replied. “Ok, I’ll join you. It’s been ages since we’ve chatted,” she smiled. I shrugged and smiled in response and we unanimously began walking towards our favorite walking place – the lake.

“I am getting married!” she said, excited. “Wow! Who is he? What is his name? How does he look? What does he do? How did you two meet?” my excitement equaled hers. We were both fresh out of college and were into our first jobs. The heady joys of new workplace, own salaries, newfound independence were still seeping into our systems.

“He is a friend of my cousin’s friend. He saw me at some party and after seeking information, contacted me. As luck would have it, his family and mine have known each other since some time and our parents readily agreed to our relationship,” she almost danced. “That is great news!” I was happy for her.

“What about you? Have you met anyone yet?” she asked. “No no, not at all,” I blushed. “But why not? You are good looking, smart, intelligent and financially independent!” she pushed on. “Well, there have been a few who have shown interest,” I commenced. “But?” she questioned me. “But none of them have clicked enough for me to feel like getting romantically involved,” I replied.

“What?” she almost shouted. “Will you please stop with your monosyllabic questions?” I was annoyed. “Ok sorry sorry. But your office has so many hotties! How can you not feel romantic with any of them?” she was truly puzzled. “Darling girl! The ‘hotties’ as you are ‘oh-so-affectionately’ calling them are my colleagues! I definitely don’t want to be involved with someone who works in the same office as I!” I retorted.

“Oh God! She’s so choosy!” muttered my friend. “Well, so what’s your idea of an ideal guy?” she asked. I was thrown. I had never given much thought to my ideal guy. I had heard that prospective brides and grooms these days met up with ready check lists of questions to tick off! And here I was, the quintessential dimwit, who did not even know the kind of person she wanted to spend her life with. I began to think.

“Let’s see, he should NOT be in the same organization as I. Not just that, I am in IT, and the industry has inhuman working hours, so my guy should not even be from this industry. I want to be able to spend some quality time with my partner,” I ventured parroting some lines I had heard in my favorite dopey soap – F.R.I.E.N.D.S. “Yes. That does make sense in a twisted sort of way,” she agreed.

“What else?” she was my best friend and wanted me to be sure about the kind of partner I’d be interested in. “Well, I am a true-blue Thane-Mumbaite, and I most definitely don’t wish to have a third world war by marrying a Puneri. Mumbaikars and Puneris just can’t ever get along!” I declared with the power of knowledge, and I should know… I am a Maharashtrian, and the ‘war’ between the Puneri Maharashtrians versus rest of Maharashtra is never-ending.

“Moreover, his job shouldn’t require him to keep moving every two years. He can travel a few days or weeks for work, but he can’t expect me to pack my bags and follow him like a loyal little pup. I have my own career, and I am ambitious. I want to break the glass ceiling!” I was yet to remove the rose-tinted glasses that I’d put over my eyes on the day I first set foot into college of M.B.A.

My best friend was now staring at me, “Wow! You really know your mind.” She encouraged. “And of course, I have no intention of leaving India. I want a guy very much rooted and settled in India,” I concluded. My friend all but applauded me then and there. “There are so many guys in Thane and Mumbai that I am sure you’ll soon find a perfect partner.”

Little did I know that that day, there were not one, but two ladies listening to me talk about the man of my dreams… One was my friend, and the other lady was Destiny. And She, with Her twisted sense of humor just had to have the last laugh.

One day, at workplace, a colleague of mine introduced me to her colleague. And the rest is NOT history. He saw me, I saw him and…nothing happened. I said hello, he said hello, and we walked our ways. The guy and I chatted with each other occasionally on the office communicator. I was in India and he was on project in Scandinavia, Europe. We had become ‘good friends’. (pun unintended).

We were both single and of marriageable age and our parents were on a perpetual look-out for suitable partners for us. Over the next few months, he saw a few girls, I saw a few guys, but none clicked. And yes, just to douse your curiosity, I did come across a few prospective fellows who had come with a huge list of questions to be ticked off! I’ll share the hilarious details of the checklists in another blog on another day.

While we were both suffering the unending lists of questions, we would crack a few jokes about them on the OC and share a good laugh or two. And one day, just as the levers of a lock and key make a perfect fit, we clicked. Destiny had Her final laugh. He was a true-blue Puneri, I, a good-as-gold Thaneite. We both worked in the same organization albeit different departments. And, like a final blow to my oh-so-fragile ego, SHE dealt the final trump card – the nature of his job meant he had to keep shifting places/geographies depending on his project.

But we both come from the old-school. Despite our misgivings, we both worked at the huge bucket of problems that lay in front of us. He sacrificed some, I sacrificed some. And our combined sacrifices ironed out many a problem. There were gigantic unremovable knots at times and tears in the fabric at others. But we joined our hands together and overcame it all – we still are.

The journey has been arduous, but fun too. Something in our bond has held us firmly together. We have had a long distance marriage, and also sometimes been blessed enough to live in the same home for more than a few months.

I did have to eventually give up my job, but today, I realize that the ‘sacrifice’ was in fact a blessing in disguise. I found my passion – teaching languages. All the ladies in my family have been teachers, how… how then could I have ever thought of escaping my calling?

Steering my mind back to the topic… I am eternally grateful to Destiny for listening in to my conversation with my friend that evening, and more importantly, for deciding to have the last laugh. She gave me the kind of man I did not want. I never knew he was exactly what and who I needed.

He has been my biggest strength, my rock when the waters ran deep, my anchor when the seas were too rough. He has pampered all my demands, be it enjoying the roadside pani-puri, to accompanying me to a not-so-near place when the mood to eat conti-conti as opposed to desi-conti strikes.

He is man enough to take a back foot when my ego needs a boost. He is man enough to be a hands-on father to our little one. If I don’t feel like cooking some day, the guy doesn’t shy away from picking up the spatula and dishing up my favorite scrambled egg, which to my great misfortune, I have never been able to master.

He makes me feel loved even while giving me the space I constantly crave.  He’s handled my tantrums like a pro. And rarely ever complained – yes rarely… today he’s my husband and I am going to stick by the golden rule here too – never say never.

The man is my Adonis, my tall, dark and handsome fellow. Today I realize how much like my dad he is – I am unashamedly, even today, my daddy’s little princess. My guy treats me like a queen – his queen, and makes sure he pampers me with his loving gestures every single day – whether he’s here with me in Thane, or whether he’s travelling.

He’s fought with me, apologized, bought me flowers and chocolates, surprised me with his love and attention despite being extremely busy on the work front. He has accepted his mistake when there was none. Of course, getting him to do all this took time, and patience, but we have finally and successfully reached a plateau of understanding each other’s wishes and needs – unspoken. He’s not perfect, but he’s my guy, and to me, he’s the best there can ever be.

Advait – you complete me. I love you. Happy Anniversary darling!