It is safe to say that every guy in India knows who she is and deep down, however many times they deny it, each one of them wishes that she in turn knows them. An extremely attractive young lady blessed with a smile that could make your heart melt in an instant, Jennifer made anything but a low profile entry into the hearts and minds of India by bludgeoning the established pecking order in the ever burgeoning movie industry by starring in one huge hit after the other. Every major company wanted her as their brand ambassador and with no known godfather or industry contacts to boast of, her rise to super-stardom was meteoric and at the same time puzzling to those who failed to realize that God given talent coupled with a unique look certainly can take you places in an industry obsessed with a casting couch.
And yet despite all her success, people knew next to nothing about her other than what stories the vivid imaginations of stoned and/or inebriated film journalists churned out in the tabloids. Truth be told, I’m not the biggest follower of the Indian movie industry and had only seen one of her critically acclaimed movies in which she did an excellent job of proving to the world that heroines in Indian movies need not be relegated to just looking pretty and playing dumb. Which was all I knew about her.
Life as I knew it, took an unexpected twist a couple of months ago when I dropped into a friend’s place for a dinner party of sorts to celebrate his first wedding anniversary. As fate would have it, I didn’t really know anyone else there and as I stood out there in the balcony waiting for dinner to get served, I was joined by a very familiar looking lady who as it turned out was an old school friend of the happily married first anniversary celebrating bride and happened to be in town and coincidentally didn’t know anyone else at the party either. For once I actually thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with a stranger and as I went to get her a drink I bumped into the host for the evening and asked him who the pretty girl on the balcony is.
“That’s a good one, man. You think I don’t know that you know who she is? I’m not as drunk as you think I am.”
“Honest to God, I don’t know. I’ve been talking to her for a while now and she’s really swell. But I kinda didn’t get around to asking her her name. And why does she look so familiar?”
“You daft idiot! You really don’t know who she is? Guess what’s common between the 3 Khan’s of Bollywood?”
“Errrr, their last name begins with K and ends with N?”
“Moron! She was the lead heroine in each of their latest blockbuster releases. You, my friend, have been talking to THE Jennifer that India has been talking about for the last few months. Every guy in here, single or married has hit on her without any success and you apparently have something that none of the other guys in here don’t. Now be a good boy and have fun! I have to get back to my other guests”
With a pat on my back, he moved on to meeting and greeting the other guests and I walked back to the balcony with my usually indolent mind racing while trying to comprehend what I had just heard. Taking a deep breath, I shut out everything else and over the next couple of hours proceeded to talk and laugh about everything under the sun with a lady who didn’t even know my name.
As much as I didn’t want to accept it, it was eventually time to leave and as I walked her back to her car, I wondered over and over again whether I should ask her for her number. If it was any consolation, by now she at least knew my name and I hers but that was all that was exchanged in terms of an introduction. Well of course I should ask her for her number, said one side of my brain, when was the last time you actually had such a wonderful time? I was also distinctly aware of the other side of my brain that kept reminding me that even though Notting Hill was my favourite movie, it was after all a movie. Make believe. These things don’t happen in real life to ordinary people. For all I know, I could just have been a conversation partner for someone who was bored at a party and who met people smarter, funnier, better looking and wealthier than me every day.
This is it, take a chance, you idiot, screamed my mind as I shut her door with a smile and watched her car pull away. As I walked back to my bike, I turned around to see if she had stopped her car and had returned to get my number. Of course she hadn’t. That happens only in the movies. Predictably my roommates didn’t believe a word of what I said when I told them about my company for the evening.
“You ******* ****! How did you do it?”
“Now don’t play I don’t know what you’re talking about, you lucky ******! She called my wife and wanted your number and my better half has given it to her”
Of course I knew who he was talking about. Why else would my friend call me during trading hours to shower abuses on me when he could be making lakhs off the stock market instead?
“You ******* know who I am talking about. She’s going to call you. Soon. Looks like she fancies you. Not sure why. Thought she was the smart kind. Word of warning though, don’t get too involved. Remember she’s high class; you’re a commoner like all of us. She could dump you with the snap of her fingers and walk away with any of the big industrialists or movie stars who are vying for her attention. Just like that. And you’re the one that’s going to be nursing a broken heart. There’s a reason nice guys finish last mate. It’s because they attract the wrong sort of women. Have your fun but don’t get too involved.”
Not that he knew anything about women, he ended up marrying his college sweetheart and hence had no clue what women other than his wife think. But I had to admit, the part about being sensible about the whole thing did make a lot of errr sense.
She did call me later that day and after talking for a while asked me if we could meet up for dinner. Thankfully this time my brain decided not to play devil’s advocate and we agreed to catch up on Friday. Finalizing the location though, proved to be a bit of a bother because she wasn’t used to going to the places that I frequented and vice versa. I offered to pick her up but then I realized she probably wasn’t going to be too comfortable on the back seat of my bike and so we finally decided that she would pick me up by 8 in her car and dinner was to be at a place of her choice. Predictably my roommates didn’t believe a word of what I said when I told them about my plan for Friday evening.
( Read Part II here )