We all wish that we had boundless time and space in our lives, that we were not bound by the mortal ropes, that we did not have things to answer for and things to tie us down. If that were the case, more of us would probably had become nomads living recklessly under the tropical sun, not hankered after worldly shackles but spent time with those we love the most and valued deeply and earnestly things that truly matter.
Thankfully having gone through my so-called youth learning all those lessons, and now in my middle years I am at a liberty to apply those learnings. Even if a lot of times what I say does not make sense to youngsters around me, whether children of my relatives or even my own, kids in my housing colony or those who reach out to me through my blog; still I continue to share my lessons with whoever cares to hear and hope that they will help people live better by not repeating mistakes that I already made.
Anyhow my lessons help me live much better now and that’s what matters the most! Now, I make a lot of time for my dearest ones, that is my family, and most essentially my better half! I have been recently writing a lot of posts about him, so most of you may already be familiar and in fact now writing about him seems to be coming naturally to me. But today I want to avoid taking that meandering emotional route into my heart that you have witnessed in some of my recent posts, and show you a delightfully funny side by sharing one of the most amusing experiences that my husband and I have shared in our married life together so far.
So this happened many many years ago, during our honeymoon! Like most newly married couples of my generation, we had both grown up on a heady dose of Yash Chopra couples romancing in the surreal flora of the stunning state of Jammu and Kashmir (yes, Switzerland came into his movies much later, perhaps around the Chandni days). So it was natural that we wanted to visit Kashmir for our honeymoon. After two days of tiring rituals and events, we finally packed our bags, said hurried goodbyes to our respective families and boarded the train from Delhi.
Once in Srinagar, we could not believe what we saw around. It was a place that even the prettiest story book cannot capture or the most eloquent of fairytales cannot describe. Lush meadows, majestic mountain peaks, clear turquoise waters and kind generous people – this is the least I can tell you but it was much much more than this! We rushed into the nearest hotel because we could not wait to start exploring the place together! At the reception, we met another couple who seemed to be slightly older and more familiar with each other. They appeared friendly from the word go. The man instantly offered help to my husband through some knowledge he had gathered on his previous trip to Kashmir and the woman smiled at me so amply that I almost felt lucky.
They made sure that we booked the room right opposite theirs and even helped us carry our luggage up. Then they suggested that we all have breakfast together like a big happy family before venturing out to explore the gorgeous vistas that Srinagar offered us. Looking back, I feel that we experience a mix of confusion and thankfulness, and before we could process our feelings or consult with each other, this generous couple was all over our lives. They surveyed our room and approved of it, and then quickly helped us lock and guided us to a delicious breakfast joint nearby. We spent a reasonably nice day in their company eating fresh apples from the orchards, taking pictures in Kashmiri dresses and enjoying a wonderful weather. Since we hardly had any opportunity to spend alone time with each other, like normal honeymooning couples are supposed to do, we did not even know what we were really missing. In fact when we managed to get five minutes alone with each other, since the couple had to step into a phone booth to make a call back home, we told each other that we were truly fortunate to meet people who felt like family so far away from home, took care of us so well and were truly reincarnations of some holy couple. We did not know how to prostrate ourselves in front of them to thank them enough and wanted to write songs in their honor or dance to celebrate their divine presence. But thankfully we did none of that and just continued the rest of the day in a nice comfortable coziness.
Now before I go any further, I would like to remind you that this was somewhere in the 1980s. Yes, my dear readers, please pay attention: this was the 80s.
So after a long tiring, but beautifully packed day of sceneries, yummy food and refreshing weather, we got back to our hotel. We were quite exhausted but wanted to take nice hot baths before a long leisurely goodnight’s sleep. My husband and I shyly held hands and started walking towards our room. We were so happy that we couldn’t stop smiling. This was like the best honeymoon ever!
Within two minutes, no make it one minute, in fact a fraction of a minute, there was a knock on the door. We looked at each other. Who could it be at this time? We had told the receptionist that we had had our dinner and requested for breakfast at 8 AM in the morning. My husband opened the door. It was the couple armed with their best smiles. Wait, there’s more. They were in their night dresses. Wait, I didn’t finish. They had their blankets and pillows. And to top it all, their smile had something fishy and not altogether innocent. It was definitely now ‘let’s all crash together tonight and tell ghost stories’.
My husband and I looked at each other. We were young and inexperienced and confused. We had absolutely no idea what was going on. Both of us had almost just finished college and this was pretty much our first experience in the real world by ourselves. Was this normal? Did these bizarre things happen and we did not know? Anyhow, I had the good sense to smile and inquire normally what the matter was. To this, the husband of the other couple said in a tone that seemed like a mix of hush and conspiratorial, “Oh, we though you’ll like company.”
“Huh? That means?” My husband said.
The wife walked close to him, winked and said, “You know…”
By now the husband had walked closer to me and was looking at me affectionately. He said, “We can go back to our room…”
And then it hit us like hammer!
They had come to our room to swap wives!
In the 1980s!
In the beautiful Srinagar!
AND ON OUR HONEYMOON!
YES, ON OUR HONEYMOON!
Honestly, looking back now, we definitely did not understand exactly what was happening. Wife swapping and all these terms are things we had never heard of, in fact would not hear of for the next few decades. I think the first time I heard the term was two years, in an American sitcom. But we did, clearly, transparently, thankfully, understand that this was something extremely fishy, there was something terribly terribly wrong in what they were trying to say, and disastrous consequences would follow if we did not do something, smart but not dramatic, quickly.
I stepped in (because my husband looked too shocked and too taken aback, apart from still being unsure about what exactly was happening). “Very nice and thoughtful of you people. Really. But we are sooo tired right now! Our feet our killing us!” I looked at my husband for support and he nodded, though not very convincingly, “Maybe we should plan everything well tomorrow morning over breakfast?”
They did not look too pleased. They exchanged a long and sad glance with each other. Then the wife said, “We are tired too, but…”
The husband said, “In fact, we can…”
“No, I think she has a point.” My husband tried to catch on. “Let’s get refreshed and talk tomorrow morning and make detailed plans.”
“That actually sounds nice.” The husband agreed thoughtfully.
“Okay, good night then?”
“Okay, sleep well… and see you soon…” They both said with Bollywood sleaziness and left.
I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story because it all happened so fast I do not clearly remember it myself. Within the next ten minutes, we both were packed and ready. Then we left the room as surreptitiously as we could, paid for our room and were out on the streets in a flat fifteen. We took a taxi and asked the guy to take us to a far corner to the city because we had no idea really where to go or what to do at that time. Our current hotel was somewhere around the Dal lake and we started dirivng towards Anantnag. We got down in front of another hotel after we felt we reasonably far away and quickly checked in. We were so shaken that by the time we reached our room, both of us had not spoken a word to each other, our hearts were beating faster than a factory siren and our mouths were dry with fear. We flopped down on the bed.
Then after a good five minutes we looked at each other.
The next we knew we were laughing so hard that the entire hotel could have heard us. I do not know what was happened or what each of us were thinking. But one minute he was holding his stomach and rolling on the floor, I was covering my mouth and chuckling hysterically. One minute he was thumping on the side table and going hohohoho, and my hand was on my head and I was guffawing at the top of my voice.
We laughed so much that day, that for the rest of the trip our cheeks hurt. Thankfully, we never ran into that sleazy slimy couple again, though thanks to them the newly-married awkward ice between my husband and I had crashed hard and forever. It was certainly the best honeymoon ever!
See the light wonders of love here… wish you all a happy Valentine’s day 🙂