BACKGROUND. Before the start of GOAFEST 2017, in my article “GOAFEST- expected to surpass expectations ! I shared a small secret and an expectation. “2016, the after hours party on the last day was in full swing. It was around 2 A.m, and I was a bit tipsy. Right outside the party area, where the registration counters are, I met a lady. It started with borrowing of a smoke that extended into highly engrossing conversation on nothing in particular. Here is the rider, I don’t know who she was, and it is equally likely that she may not remember me. So, dear young lady, if you are attending Goafest this year too, do connect. And yes, you can find me around 1230, you know where.”
FOLLOWUP. In the post Goafest follow-up article (GOAFEST 2017- 13 constructive suggestions because PERFECTION is always WORK-IN-PROGRESS.) I did not mention how the story moved forward. No, it was not like ‘What happens at Goafest, remains at Goafest’. I would have kept it to myself but for two things. Someone I met asked me ‘So what happened’, as per him the readers and followers have the right to know. Another friend in her message from Geneva hinted, ‘there is never anything unintentional with you, and as a grownup boy, you find it out’
So, here am I, sharing the experience. It went beyond expectation and yes, there is a twist in the tale.
THE COMMENTARY FROM GOAFEST 2017. THE STORY
When I landed at Goa on the 6th of April 2017 and checked at the Grand Hyatt, I was not expecting much. To me, the cryptic message I had weaved into my blog, and weekly column was addressing an audience of one. It was anyway a wild idea. Forget about the reaction, I had no way to know if the message reached the intended target. if the message reached. Was it going to be a case of many a miss between cup and the lips. Probability of me meeting her was not worth calculating. Nevertheless, as a optimist human, there were expectations and few questions that kept raising their nasty naughty heads.
Nothing happened on 8th March. True to my promise, I was there between 1130 p.m. to 1230 a.m., And she did not come. Or if she did, she did not connect with me. I tweeted the updated.
Here was a complex situation. My identity was out in the open. My tweets as well as the article carried my not so interesting my mugshot. I on the other side had no way to tag her. All I had was a faint memory of a overtly tipsy person. I could sense her standing in her light-coloured lovely dress, smoking the stick she borrowed from me and that killer of a dimple on her left cheek. I do remember her sharing the name, but it failed to register. Blame it on few more beers and vodka that night. I only knew she was not in creative department, but I again drew a blank on her agency’s or the organiSation’s name. All I remembered was her wanting to further study and do an MBA from one of the IIM’s.
Waiting has its own excitement. With me, it was now a game.
On 7th, things moved. In the late afternoon, I got two mails landing in my inbox. Both messages hinting at possibilities were full with cryptic clues. They suggest meeting up. I was confused. The mails originated from two IDs and landed in my inbox at more than a two-hour gap. The writing style and sentence construct suggested they were not sent by the same person. Was someone making a fool of me? Whatever, it did turn me on.
Men will be men, and I am no different. The challenge or rather an invitee had been thrown my way, and I was happy accepting it.
That Thursday night, I left the awards function after the artist finished his performance. Had a luxurious bath, changed and made my way to the bait area. Remember the registration area. I continued with small swigs from the beer bottle and lazy drags on my cigarette. I cautiously scanned the arena for a clue. I waited for three bottles of beer and four cigarettes. I like that way of measuring time.
I was sure; it was a prank. Someone right now was laughing at my cost, and I did not like that. I was dejected and ended up questioning my expectation. It was a long walk back to the room.
As, I was getting ready to sleep, the e-mail hit me on my mobile. It was simple but equally cryptic. It said what I already knew. Nevertheless, it had a promise built in. The mail told me that she did come to meet me. However, there were friends she could not shake. And tomorrow, she promised to meet at midnight. Same place.
And there was a short SMS. ‘Meet me tomorrow the same place. Do not reply or call. I have left for my hotel’. 😉 .
The true caller was not much of help. The name Angali( name changed to protect identity) popped up in the window. I was tempted to send some witty SMS late in the night, but something stopped me from doing so. She had requested ( rater demanded would be right ) me not to send a message and not to call. I like a gentleman decided to follow her unilateral instructions.
Now, there was nothing to do but wait. The last night and maybe the last chance to meet-up.
Day 3, 8th April went in a furry of sessions. Two developments almost derailed my plans.
My friend of Engineering college, Shailendra Singh, posted at GOA with Indian Navy, came to meet me with his lovely wife. I as worried that he may ask me for dinner at his home, and I will have no way to duck. Fortunately, as they had another function to attend they left by 6 PM.
My friend Satinder Pal Singh (IIM Ahmedabad 87 batch) working with Nestle; Goa came over. He was more than an hour late from his scheduled time. I was not wanting to take any chance. Hence, I met him at the room and without any delay opened beer. Sometime later he suggested going out for Dinner. He came more than 20 KM to meet me. How could I say no to him? The only condition, I needed to be back by 1130 p.m.
I knew nothing much was to come out of the email and SMS. However, I was not the one to leave it
with pregnant possibilities of ‘What-if’. While I went with him to a food joint called ‘Junction’ at the Mall near Dona Paula, my heart and mind were at the Goafest. The beer and food took its time between two friends sharing new developments and future plans. It was a few minutes past midnight when he dropped me at the hotel.
Time was of essence. I changed, splashed some perfume, redid my pony tail, checked my stock of cigarettes and then hurriedly made my way to the reception area. It was 1215 a.m. There was this girl sitting in the corner alone. I took my position and lit the first cigarette. She walked up to me and asked if she could borrow one. It was like a code word. My eyes lit up. However, I knew she was not the girl I met in 2016, yet I did not then let her know that I knew what she anyway knew.
We started talking. Two delegates at Goafest rambling about work, Goa, IPL, creativity, knowledge session, women empowerment and what all. It was then that Angali came out. She looked around and seeing us announced with a flair ‘Finally, so do you have a smoke to spare’. We did the introduction, and it was clear Anngali and Meeta both were meeting for the first time.
I smiled and pushed the pack forward. She was definitely not MISS2016.
We chatted for some time and later went for a short walk. These two girls were with friends but were bored with their office talk. I anyway was alone and had not much of a company. Finally, they agreed that they wanted to play a prank, and that’s why they sent the e-mail in reply to my tweet and the cryptic message in the article. If I was to ask my mathematician friends to calculate the probability of two girls independently deciding to play a prank on a guy like me at Goafest! He will not have to calculate.
They then had observed me last night and were touched by my harmless dedication, that they decided to meet. Thanks Pratap Bose for that single re-tweet.
The walk ended in my room. We made ourselves comfortable at the balcony. There were beer bottles in the freezer. Three people who have just met for the first time ended up chatting and laughing till 2:30 a.m. It was time for them to leave. It was getting late, and they had an early flight to Mumbai.
Angali was the girl who sent me the SMS. The other girl Meeta ( name changed) was the one who sent the email. Did my original MISS2016 attend the 2017 edition of Goafest. I believe she did not, otherwise she would have met me! I like that dose of self-confidence.
I may have to wait until 2018. And she may not be the only reason for me to attend Goafest next year. I have two new friends Angali and Meeta.
BLOG/34/2017— NOT THE COMPLETE STORY AND NOT COMPLETELY TRUE