May 25 , 2016
Hi, it’s Niki.
Always say meow instead of hello. The best things in the world are felines, chocolates, mermaids and beaches.
“If I had an empty head, as some folks say I do,
I’d sweep out all the cobwebs and rent it out to you,
And have you fill it up with all the things you say and do,
Then I’d offer twice the price, and rent it back from you.”
So after dating this guy for two years, always long distance (we met at a party and kept in touch over email, and yes, I know, it’s not technically dating), I was going to finally meet him, in Delhi. Oh, and I’m a small town island girl from Penang, very much Indian, but never lived in the Motherland.
Riding off on a Vespa, getting drunk on cheap alcohol, eating burgers and fires, dirty dancing in ghetto clubs and a long quiet moonlit walk constitute as my dream date. So cliché, I know, but what can I say? I am a sucker for literary romance. I had no idea what Mr. Delhi guy would bring to the table.
The day finally arrived, unsure of what to expect on a first date in a big city, and nervous as hell, I put on a little black dress (you can never go wrong), sky high heels and trained my insanely frizzy hair to sit, stay and be good for the entire evening (thank you L’Oreal Elnette).
8.45 – he is forty-five minutes late – it’s okay, I’ve heard Delhi traffic is one ghost short of a horror story. 9pm, should I call him? I don’t want to sound worried or needy, not my style. 9.15, now I’m starting to lose it and don’t even bother touching up the lipper when the door bell impatiently buzzes an hour and a half late.
Awkward cheek kisses and an elaborate apology later, we get to the car, I stop to take in the waxed shininess of the three series. I can almost see my pores in its mirror-like chrome finish. Swanky, but I’m not sold. Out comes a chauffeur and holds the door open, and my lack of a filter asks if he will be with us the whole evening – “Yes, if we drink, it’s unsafe at the check posts”. I make a joke about his car being a bat mobile, but he doesn’t get it, or doesn’t think it’s funny. My bad. I slide into the car and the am assaulted by the smell of its plush leather interiors.
So this is how Mr. Delhi Guy dates. I quickly scan his attire. Suede shoes, Tods, Armani jeans. The shirt is crisp and white without a single crease and the sharp navy sports jacket, a Ted Baker. I look at my own crushed (from the waiting) black non designer (but really cute) dress and for the first time feel a tiny hint of uh-oh. We exchange small talk and hold hands, my palms are sweaty and I have so lost my cool. This isn’t my league, my style or my type. Two years of emailing and I never got a hint of this side of Mr. Fancy Pants. Oh well, I decide to wing it.
We arrive at a fancy hotel, and the staff literally trip over themselves to welcome us in. The marble in the foyer is so spanking clean I can lick it. I try to be nonchalant as I’m guided into a restaurant, “Mr. Fancy Pants, reservation for two?” A table, with wayyy too many glasses, knives and forks than I know what to do with. I say, “Exquisite”, because “wtf is this?” would have been a tad rude.
Wine lists. I know my cabernet sauvignon from my sauvignon blanc, but that’s it. I tell him to pick for me, he swirls and tastes a few. I’m still not impressed. He picks a Rioja he thinks I would like. He isn’t wrong.
Dinner comes in pretentious tiny courses, five of them in total, and to my utter surprise, he’s ordered fusion renditions of Malaysian street food served gourmet style whipped up the Michelin way. Now this really is exquisite. I can’t help but feel a little impressed. Conversation is light and interesting and the mango sticky rice for desert, phenomenal.
After the check is picked and generous tips laid, we head to a ‘members only’ night club. A little too exclusive for me, but I don’t complain. He orders me a margarita without asking, bold, but I’m glad he remembers my favourite. The music is some EDM and the DJ some celebrity one from Amsterdam I’m told. I nod, feigning interest. I survey the crowd, Chanels, Christian Louboutins and I’m pretty sure the blow dried brunette sipping a mojito is wearing Marchesa. I feel really out of place so bob my head to the heavily remixed beats, he doesn’t know what to do either; maybe this is his watering hole and I’m the kill joy?
After sensing my gauche attitude in this elusive environment, he kindly steers me out back to the car. He drops the chauffeur at a point he can get home and takes over the wheel. I feel a little more comfortable with this privacy. Finally, we’re alone. No overbearing Maitre d’’s, no friendly bartenders and no drivers. This feels better. He puts on Jason Mraz (my favourite), in the cockpit that is his car and parks it curb side. A flick of a button and the sunroof whirrs open showcasing the late night polluted Delhi skies. Nice. No really, I like it. He pulls out a rectangle ribboned package from the glove compartment and gives it to me, tells me to open it. He says, “it’s Cartier” and inadvertently my face falls. I don’t like jewellery; I especially do not like diamonds. The disappointment shows on my face, and unexpectedly, elation on his. I carefully open up the wrapping and oh my god! It’s a first edition of Franz Kafka’s, The Castle! One of my favourite books! I smell its vintage pages and I’ve never smelt anything as good before. I’m ecstatic, beyond overjoyed and I kiss him hard. Delhi boy or no Delhi boy, he’s just won me over with this thoughtful gesture.
He drives me home, a good drive, and for the first time all evening I’m sure it was a fantastic one. This is him, fancy cars, elegant dinners, expensive alcohol and designer clothes. But that’s okay, because at the end of the day, the boy did know how to sweep a girl of her feet, the little but grand gestures of attentiveness he kept surprising me with all evening, were ammo to breaking down my pre conceived ideas about the city boy-island girl dating disaster I was fearing. Kisses and promises to see me soon, I tell him we’ll do it my way next time, shorts and t-shirts, street food, art galleries and a walk in the gardens, get ready Delhi boy, some bohemian coming your way. He says he can’t wait, and I know under that layer of shine and fancy, the boy actually means it.
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