In early eighties, I was in my twenties, and an eligible bachelor – as the term goes for a young man of marriageable age . However, at that time, I had no intentions of getting tethered to a peg , though this did not prevent me at times from fantasizing about marriage and whatever it meant . Apart from my ten- to -five Bank job, reading, listening to music and ‘malling’ on the mall were my favourite pastime.
On a bright sunny winter Sunday, as I was having a stroll on the mall , in my hometown Shimla, suddenly, my eyes caught sight of a visage with shoulder length golden tresses . At once I was reminded of Della, the heroine of O Henry’s famous story “ The Gift of the Magi ” , who sells her Golden tresses to buy a wristwatch chain for her beloved and loving husband Jim , as a Christmas present.
Out of curiosity , to know who the owner of the golden tresses was, I headed towards the bench where the person was sitting under a rain shelter only to find that that it was ‘ he’ and not ‘she ‘ as I had guessed. I sat beside him and in no time we were engaged in a conversation exchanging bits of information about the lifestyle and culture of our respective countries. As it turned out, he was Ron - short for Ronald - from Netherlands, touring India like most other Europeans. He accepted my offer of tea and snacks in a nearby restaurant , where we spent quite some time. We parted for the day but only after he had had a promise from me that we would be together for afternoon refreshments the next day and that he would play the host.
The next day, true to his word, he was at my Bank at 2 P. M. on dot and we had some refreshments. He was to leave for Delhi the next day and complimented me on two things, one that I knew much more about his country than an average Indian and secondly, I was not after any of his personal things like Jacket, Glasses etc. etc. I had the satisfaction of acquitting myself well as the self- appointed ambassador of my country before a foreigner . Unfortunately, those were not the days of computer, internet or e-mail otherwise we would have been in contact even to this day !
May he be happy wherever he is !