Naina entered the cafe in quick strides; a little out of breath she perused the tables. “There he is”, she thought spotting a well-dressed, bespectacled man with his nose buried in a book by the window seat. “He managed to bag it. Thank god,I had mentioned it to him while chatting”. She gave him a quick look over and approved of what she saw.
“Hi. Pratyush?”, she enquired softly as she approached the table. “Naina.”
He looked up in surprise and was taken aback by the vision of loveliness that greeted him. Wild medusa curls bunched up loosely behind her head and held by a paintbrush; some had come loose framing a beautiful strong face, a perfectly shaped cupid’s bow lips which were curved in a smile while the large almond-shaped, Kohl ringed eyes lit up with an inner energy, looked inquiringly at him. A bright pink saree draped tight to show off her perfect petite figure.
She pulled out the chair to sit, while he hurriedly got up. He quickly looked over at his friend who was watching with a dead-set expression from the table at the opposite end of the cafe.
“Should he tell her?”, he wondered guilty.
“Sorry about my tardiness, I am generally a very punctual person”, she spoke before he could make up his mind.
“You are forgiven. Coffee?”, he queried politely, while his mind buzzed with the situation at hand. His friend looked even more mutinous, if possible.
17 days ago Pratyush and Vishwas , best friends since college made a pact to find a date for each other. Going by trends and analysis, they zeroed in on Truly Madly – a popular dating app, made profiles and started chatting with probable dating creatures. Today was to be a double date, albeit at separate tables. They were to check out their as well each other’s dates and then compare notes later.
“So what’s Dan Brown’s hero up to this time?”, She asked.(Aww his dimple is adorable. Fingers crossed please God let this not be a disaster)
He stared at her blankly. (Damn, what is she talking about? This is a bad idea. Tell her dude.)
She pointed to his book , looking slightly puzzled. ( He looks zoned out. Please tell me he is just dazzled by my looks and is generally more animated. Or do I have something in my teeth!!!!!)
“Oh yeah, the book. Ofcourse, he is up to the usual”, He said casually. (Weird. He had mentioned he was a die-hard fan on this series.)
Do you like reading him? (Good job, put the ball in her court )
“Oh I am not into reading fiction at all, as I had mentioned on the chat.” (Damn! He doesn’t even remember our conversations or is he nervous?)
Right, right. (Shit! Tell her now. But then she will leave and I can’t let her go. The breeze playing with her curls, was driving him insane. He was possessed with a mad desire to reach out and grab a fistful. )
Naina smiled politely, picking her cup for a sip. (Is he on drugs? Oh god please no. Such a cute looking guy, love the hair flopping on this forehead.)
“So what do you do?” (Idiot! They must have discussed this while chatting. It’s that damned nose ring of hers which seemed to be flirting with him as it glinted in the sunlight every time she moved her head)
“I am an artist, working in oils, like Van Gogh – your favourite,” she stated with an imperious lift of her right eyebrow . (What is it with this guy? Dear god, what do you have in store for me again)
“I just adore Van Gogh – his work with the sunflowers is stunning. I have a magnet of it on my fridge,” he finished off lamely. (Great. I am sounding like a spaz more and more as we are talking)
He looked over to his friend who sat with arms akimbo and a I-give-up look on his face. “Why the hell hasnt his date turned up? Please god don’t let her change her mind and stand him up!”
Naina was super perplexed by now; for a photographer this guy had been very attuned to the creative arts on the chat. “Magnet of Van Gogh – seriously??? “Had he been googling his answers to impress her. Oh God! Why must you insist on such psychotic adventures?”
“I want this window seat as I have it from a very respected source that soft sunlight falling on one face, makes the profile look romantic. My plan is to make a fabulous first impression to this fox I have been chatting with. Swear man, she is super hot.”
“So take the other one. I want this window seat as she mentioned it’s her favourite.”
“No ways, I like the light coming in from this one more.”
“Come on dude, she is expecting it. And that’s the impression I want to make. And leave my book alone, it’s a code we agreed on – I carry a book, she will carry a paintbrush.”
They bickered endlessly and each knew who would win. He always let him win.
Naina wondered why her date was dressed so formally, looking more like a banker than a wildlife photographer. “Did you have a client meeting today?”
“I had several actually.”
“Oh work is picking up? That’s good. You had mentioned how freelance work had been slow this year.”
” Ah hum”, he grunted non-committal, flipping the pages of the book and wondering what to talk about next.
“So where are you travelling to for your next assignment? I am so envious of all the nature travels you get to indulge in courtesy your work. Patagonia sounded so exotic, you heading back there soon?”
“Nothing planned out as yet. I will take a holiday to Bali on the new year my annual party and serious hangover time. Patagonia is not exactly my scene,” he grinned and said.
“Oh! I thought new years was with your family every year at the ancestral home in the village?”
Damn! This was going from bad to worse and totally unfair to her. “I should tell her.”
Just then he espied a lady walking up to his friend’s table and greet him. “This is the fox???”, he thought in utter disbelief at the well-built large woman, dressed in a pair of ill-fitting jeans, paired with a man’s shirt with the tails hanging loose and shortly cropped hair. He didn’t know whether to be relieved or pity his friend who was not looking very happy with the way things had turned out.
Naina was mentally groaning at her ill luck. “Struck out again. Damn the chats are always so much fun than meeting the guys in person. This guy either said too much on the chat to impress her or doesn’t remember what he said to her.” And she really had a good feeling about this one. “Why the hell does he keep eyeing every woman who walks in the cafe? He has been constantly checking out something or someone behind her head – whats up with that? Time to run……”
“Well Pratyush, its been lovely meeting you but I must confess I had more fun on the chat than in meeting with you in person. You and I had so much to talk about that I was looking forward to carrying the conversation in person but this hasn’t gone as expected. I feel its best to wind this up and say our goodbyes.” Naina said, smiling her best smile.
“Actually Naina, I have a confession to make too – I am not Pratyush!”
I am greatly in love with the works of Roald Dahl – a master of twists and tales in story telling. Today’s post is named after one of his very famous tales “The Great Switcheroo” and the content too is “inspired” somewhat from it. I have taken the liberty of again splitting this story into two and the second part will be up tomorrow.
Posting my day 15 post for #Dailychatter Here as I take my blog to the next level with #Blogchatter and #UBC – the ultimate blog challenge in October 2016 through fictional series which will become a regular feature on my blog under #FridayFiction