That is what I thought the young gentleman asked as we ran past each other in the trail yesterday. I was not too sure since I had the Airpods on. He did look somewhat familiar as he passed me – but I was not sure at all.
But I heard the voice again a couple of seconds after he had passed me. I looked back to realize that I was clearly the subject of his address.
My mind was racing to map that face to all the Avijits I knew. Somewhere from the subconscious, bits of memory started flying around – beer, gin, airport, long hair… Finally, I thought I had pinned that face down. But I still had lingering doubts.
“I could not recognize you past your hair band”, I finally told him.
“Yes, the hair has grown too long in this virus season”.
This is the second time in my life I met Avijit.
Nine months back. It was end of October. I had a whirlwind trip to India to check on my parents, mother in law and the family. I remember checking in for my return flight a little early (the flight is at a God-awful hour of 3:30 in the morning or something) at Kolkata airport and heading straight to the business lounge. Whereas everybody was enjoying the sofa, lounge chairs and food there, I went and occupied one of the two chairs at the bar.
I was too tired. I just wanted to sit down by myself and enjoy a gin. There was absolutely nobody at the bar.
Eventually, the bar person showed up.
“Apni? Kemon aachhen? Kobey elen?”, he recognized me straightaway from all my quarterly visits. Apparently, I visit bars too often! After exchanging pleasantries and enquiring after his family, I asked for my gin and tonic.
Now if you ever go to that bar, you will notice that there is beer, wine and vodka in the shelf but no gin. But I knew what I was doing.
“Sure!”, he said and fished the one bottle of gin he keeps stacked underneath a hidden shelf. It is not the best gin – but it is gin alright. With Schweppes.
So, there I was. Finally united with my gin and tonic and catching up on my blog writing, when another young guy came up and sat at the other chair. And he got himself a beer.
I am not sure who opened the conversation (99% chance it was me) but soon I found out that he was in the same flight as I. I figured he was going to Doha and then like me will be flying to his work / home… I was headed to Atlanta.
“Where are you headed to?”
“Do you live there?”
“Which flight from Doha?”
“You live there? Or are you heading out to somewhere from there?”
“No, I live in Atlanta”
By this time he was a little bemused at my inquisitiveness. To ease things, I let him know that I lived in Atlanta area too!
Well, that was a surprise! What is the chance I would sitting in a bar in Kolkata airport by myself and the guy sitting next to me was also heading to the same destination?
As the evening progressed, we found out that Avijit – he had introduced himself as Avijit – lived in Sandy Springs (about 10 miles from where I live) and that we had a few common friends.
Also, I found out that he preferred gin and tonic too but never realized that there was hidden stash and he simply had to ask for it!!
In fact, I remember that Sharmila and I had dropped him and his wife and daughter at their house. (They had come by train to pick him up). So all of us got to meet each other.
And that was that.
Till I heard that familiar voice calling out “Rajib-da!” again yesterday!!
It was good running into you Avijit again. I think two chance meetings should be hint enough. Next one, we probably should plan out, what do you say?