Happy Holi! May colors stay bright in your lives always!

 

4 months later

Bangalore, late January 2016

 

“Happy new year!”

Khushi looked up and bit her teeth as she saw Arjun literally waltz into the large team room that was her “seat” in the office. “It is the almost the end of January.” She said wryly even as she forced her eyes back to the spreadsheet model that she was building.

“Well, how would you know given you missed the New Year’s Eve party. And every other celebration – no, make that you’ve missed every little non-work related session and celebration.” Arjun said as he sat himself down on the seat in front of hers across the table and put his elbows up to hold his face between his palms. “Seriously, Kavi. RDX is killing you. I mean you don’t have a life beyond this team room…”

She placed her palm on the table, a little too forcefully she realized when the slap rang out aloud in the empty room. “Do you want to see me cry?” She interjected. “No seriously. Is that what you want? First things first, despite all the shit that has happened, you miss no opportunity to tell me just how awesome your project with “him” is. And then to make matters worse, you are rubbing in my face, rather shamelessly, the fact that my life has been a shit-hole for the last three months?”

Khushi couldn’t help the little quiver in her voice even as she kept her volume muted despite the rising frustration in her blood-stream. None of which had anything to do with Arjun, of course. Or the absolutely baseless argument that she had just levelled at him.

He leaned in and pulled her other hand away from the mouse she was holding on to as if to dear life itself. “I asked you if my talking about AV was bothering you. I wasn’t talking at all till you asked me questions.” He pointed out firmly. This was part of their deal. Neither of them got to walk all over the other anymore. “I really thought you were okay with all that. And I think you still are. How much have you slept in the last week?”

Khushi’s shoulders slumped as she allowed her face to crumple. Arjun was right. It had been she who had forced him to tell her stories about his project despite it being liberally peppered with Arnav references. Arjun, on his part, had been too cautious initially, even hesitant in his mention of his assignment to an AV project. It had been so stupid especially given Arnav was for all practical purposes just a name. The man had been in the US for four months and she hadn’t seen or heard him except in one brief practice “huddle” about two months ago.

“No, it’s not…” She took a deep breath and slumped back in her chair. “I’m so tired. I haven’t slept properly in three weeks, not just this one. This project just won’t end. I feel like I am all done and then the requirement changes. Data is all screwed up. Everytime I think we are set to start building the model, someone comes up with an issue. I am…Sometimes, I think this is just a ploy for RDX to keep something churning, whether it adds any value or not.”

Arjun looked at her with a small, sad smile. Theirs was a profession of extremes and Khushi was stuck in the wrong end. Everyone knew it. The only silver lining was that it couldn’t get much worse. Not that Khushi would allow herself to challenge fate by sauing that aloud.

“Chal, we’ll go get coffee. And not the breakout area-wala stupid machine coffee. Tell you what,” He said, his eyes shining, “We’ll get hot chocolate from the Café. Your favorite.” Arjun offered.

It was so tempting. But there was so much to be done…

“Come on, Kavi. You haven’t taken a proper break in days. And I miss you….”

Khushi rolled her eyes and whispered “Nautanki” under her breath.  But not without smiling. Taking a deep breath. She hit Ctrl+Alt+Del on her laptop forcefully and got up much to the evident surprise in Arjun’s face. But she was almost done with her deliverable and a small break wasn’t going to kill her. “You are paying.” She said as she walked out of the team room. “You owe me one anyway.”

“That bet was not counted,” Arjun protested as he rose too. “I got confused between Vishwatma and Tridev. It’s an honest mistake.”

“Honest-wonest, I don’t care. The question was about Sonam being Rajiv Rai’s wife. That had nothing to do with either films.”

“On the contrary,” Arjun said as he caught up with her as she entered the elevator, already feeling refreshed just having gotten up from her seat. “The question has everything to do with both films. I mean who else would cast Sonam – tell me do you remember her from any other movie?”

“Ajooba. She is better than her namesake of the modern times.” She quipped. “And do you want to lose some more? How many times have I asked you to not challenge my Bollywood knowledge?”

“Seriously, Kavi. How did you manage to come first all those years in school? We really thought that with IT-profs for parents and those grades, Bollywood was the last thing on your mind.”

“Kya faayda hua? I lost the gold medal to you in college of all people.”

“Such a terrible loser, tch tch.” Arjun mocked even as they walked out of the elevator and walked briskly to the adjoining building which housed the café.

The little break was exactly what Khushi needed. The inane banter with Arjun, his stories from projects not just his own that he was working with Arnav on but also from around the practice, eased her mind and made her wonder why she hadn’t done this more often. As always, she had needed Arjun to forcibly help. And yet, unlike before, she was assured in the knowledge that she in her own way, was to Arjun what he was to her. She listened when he talked about things – everything and nothing in equal measure. She offered her opinions without filtering them based on her expected reception of her comments. She even pointed out her disagreements with equal candor just like he did his. The only aspect of his life that she wasn’t fully aware of was his romantic situation. While they both knew that she was aware of something bubbling in the background, neither pushed to bring it out in the open. Arjun had lightly indicated he needed time and space to be able to talk to her about it and Khushi had acknowledged that this time he was serious and possibly finally taking very defined steps towards completely putting his romantic feelings for her behind. Her own love life, however,…

“What happened to the ladka dekho program?” Arjun asked as they were sipping their final dregs of hot chocolate down.

Khushi shook her head with a smile. “On hold. I don’t have the time to meet or write to anyone.”

“But that person – what was his name?”

“Rajat Garg.”

“Haan, Rajat Garg. Waise naam hi boring hai if you ask me but…You spoke to him a few times? What happened after that?”

Khushi shrugged. “I spoke to him twice – five minutes each time and perhaps texted a couple of more times. But…” She took a deep breath as she recalled her conversation with her mother about the Rajat-issue. Gayatri Gupta, broad-minded as she was in most matters, wasn’t quite sure of what Khushi was looking for. Unfortunately for both mother and daughter, Khushi herself wasn’t sure what she was looking for either. And hence any conversation in the matrimonial vein, augured only failure.

“Look, I don’t know but….is there any chance…”

“No, Arjun.” She said softly, knowing what Arjun was about to say.

“He is not married, you know.”

“Yes. I know given you were very clear you wanted me to know that. But that topic is closed. And I know I said his presence at Week Zero made me uncomfortable but that’s not because I still have feelings for…”

“You never stop having feelings for someone you love, Kavi. They may change in nature. But they stay unless you resolve them.” Arjun said as he drained his hot chocolate.

Khushi looked at him with fondness that on occasion, still surprised her with its intensity.

“I had the luxury of having you around – even if not physically then just a phone call away. We worked to be where we are. Knowing and being reminded – even if just subtly – on a daily basis that you didn’t love me the way I thought I loved you, was a big help.”

“Arjun,”

“Maybe…and don’t freak out…but maybe you should just get a project with him. Avoiding him for all these years hasn’t worked. Maybe the trick is to be around him and let yourself realize that it is not going to work.”

Yeah, right. Khushi said wryly to herself. Because he will magically turn out to be the person who picks his nose, burps in public, is a cruel, insensitive manager. Even contemplating possible character flaws was ludicrous. “No. Absolutely not. I am okay with Raghuranjan Dixit and his ridiculously crude ways. I do not…and Arjun – I am telling you – if I end up on a project with him, I will murder you.”

“Arre see this is why I put the disclaimer with you every time. It was just an idea. And I think we have established that I am not particularly sensible when it comes to thinking of plans.”

Khushi smiled and shook her head. “Particularly sensible is a gross understatement.”

The two of them put their paper cups away and walked back to their respective day-jobs, the conversation easily shifting back to more mundane topics.

The universe, however, had apparently made a note of Arjun’s suggestion.

————-

Khushi was shutting down her laptop, ending her day for the first time in days before ten in the evening – RDX was finally pleased with the output – both spreadsheet model and PowerPoint document; when her phone rang. Seeing the A&M board number flashing on the screen, she immediately answered only to be stumped by Shyam Anandraman’s voice on the other end. While A&M was a relatively flat organization and Partners and Senior Managers were very accessible and unlike equivalent levels at Speed Motors, Khushi knew that Shyam Anandraman calling her late on a Thursday, was a big deal.

“I am so sorry for calling this late in the evening, Kaveri. Can we chat for a few minutes?”

Khushi was almost tempted to tell him that she had been working way beyond the current hour of day for months now. That this was, at least in RDX’s world, just side effects of being part of a global firm where someone, somewhere was always in front of a client and hence always waiting for output to be delivered by the “worker-bees” (she hated it when he referred to them like that). Theirs was after all an organization that had recognized the “talent” arbitrage where others were still hung up on mediocre issues like cost.

“Of course, Shyam. Please tell me.” She offered softly.

“You aren’t by any chance in the office right now, are you?”

Khushi winced and then sighed inaudibly. “I am, Shyam. Would you like me to come over to your office?”

“If you don’t mind, Kaveri. Please do.”

Khushi disconnected with a quick yes, stuffed her laptop into her bag, keeping her diary and pen ready in her hand and headed to Shyam’s office. As the head of A&M’s management consulting division, Shyam’s office – a corner one – was separated from the rest of the practice by a couple of floors vertically – upwards of course. Khushi had only been in his cabin once before – the day they had landed in Bangalore for the first time to get settled into their jobs. Riding the elevator in relative silence at this time of day, Khushi felt a flutter of nervous excitement.

When she walked into Shyam’s cabin which was open, as it was rumored to be at all times of day except during annual performance reviews, Shyam was on the phone going by the red light that was blinking quietly on the machine by his side.

“Come,” Shyam said as he half rose from his chair, surprising Khushi will the gesture before he took his seat and spoke into the phone. “She’s here with me now AV. Let me just give her context and we’ll pick up the discussion.”

“Sure. Hi Kaveri.”

Khushi’s chest rumbled as something within flipped and turned on its head, sudden and unexpected. She muttered a quick hi at the machine without calling him by his name and settled into the chair in front of Shyam’s. She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose and looked at Shyam, consciously ignoring the red light on the phone – which now for her was AV himself for all practical purposes.

“So, AV is on the verge of selling his first big deal as Senior Manager.”

“Let’s not jinx it yet, Shyam.” The voice on the other side intruded into Khushi’s quickly constructed invisible fortress of detachment.

“You better get Jen to sign the Statement of Work in four weeks from now, AV.”

Arnav chuckled on the other end but said nothing. Shyam, however, went on to describe the nature of the opportunity with one of the world’s largest car manufacturers. “The client – Wyatt Inc. – has indicated in the past they we are their preferred partners for any operations consulting work, given our past performance. However, this time it is a China market entry strategy piece – which typically has been Murphy’s domain. AV has convinced them, we can do a better job. We need to put together a quick proposal document to take to Jen – she is VP of strategic planning based out of the company headquarters in Detroit. We need someone to hold the proposal together. Wyatt is very particular about the people who work on the account. Given your Speed Motors background, you have the right skill and credentials. Send AV an updated profile for him to share with the client. For the proposal, you will need to coordinate with a number of folks. Both AV and I will work with you to identify who you need to reach out for content, pricing, etc. We’ll need morning evening checkpoints so that we can stay productive around the clock till we get this done.”

Khushi nodded even as the volley of information Shyam was throwing at her settled down in her brain.

If we win the deal, this will also mean travel to Detroit. I assume you are visa ready and have no travel constraints?”

The entire batch joining A&M in the current fiscal had applied for their work-visas before they joined and while only fifty percent had their applications come through in the lottery, Khushi had been one of them.

“Ok. Then that’s settled. AV, send Kaveri the client communication and deliverable from the project we did for America Motors. I’ll share the latest pricing toolkit with both of you. Put a storyboard and send by the end of your day. We’ll pick it up and let’s start reviewing progress starting tomorrow evening in India.”

“Sure, Shyam. Khushi, I’ll send you the material tonight. And I’ll also send you my conference bridge details. Can you please set up the calls?”

Taken aback that he had called her Khushi, she once again muttered a quick “sure” and hoped fervently that Shyam had missed Arnav’s lapse.

No such luck.

“Who’s Khushi?”

“It is my middle name.”

“It’s her middle name.”

Both Khushi and Arnav spoke at the same time, cutting Shyam off hilariously enough for the older man to chuckle out loudly.

“Ah! Are we all supposed to call you Khushi, then?” Shyam asked her to which Khushi smiled but shrugged, unsure of what to say especially given…

“Shyam, I have to hang up. I can see Jen in her office. Let me call you back.”

“Ok. Bye.” Shyam said as he disconnected and then turned to look at her. “This will be interesting but high burn. I know you are already getting killed by Raghu…”

Khushi smiled but said nothing. Clearly RDX was RDX for a reason and everyone in the practice seemed to know. Why that was good enough for the man to act like a jerk, she didn’t know but clearly it took all kinds of people to make up a firm. And given everyone else she had had the chance to work with so far, RDX was more of an exception than the norm. “Should I tell him that I will be required to work on this?” She asked.

“Let me handle him. I know AV has already dropped him a note.”

“The model I was building with him is finally done.” She said and then added a caveat, “Or so I think. I guess, it shouldn’t be a problem.”

“Knowing RDX, it is always a problem when one of his resources is pulled away for something else. If he hasn’t rolled you off his project in the first four days, it means he expects you to be on his team for a lifetime.” Shyam said with a smile. “He is intense but he knows his work. And he takes care of those he likes. AV is his protégé too.”

She had no idea what to feel about that so she stayed silent.

“Okay, Kaveri – or should I call you Khushi now?”

She shook her head. “Kaveri is fine.”

“It is definitely more suited for Bangalore.” Shyam chuckled. “Anyway, I’ll let you go now. Set up the calls in your morning and let’s see how this goes.”

———

Later that night, Khushi was sitting in front of her laptop in the small one BHK she rented, staring at the unread email from Arnav Varun – clearly work related – and still disconcerting enough to make her forget about everything else. She had set up recurring calls with Shyam, AV and a business analyst from the US who was working in Arnav’s time zone. Arnav’s acceptance to the meeting invite had come almost as soon as she had sent it out. Now, there was a green dot against his name indicating that he was online on their internal messenger system and Khushi help but wonder what the universe and Shiv-ji had planned for her.

Shutting the laptop with a decision to look at the documents only in the morning, she picked up her phone and dialed Tripti’s number.

Thankfully her sister answered almost immediately.

“Arre how come you are calling at eleven today, Di? RDX pe police raid ho gayi kya?”

Khushi groaned with a smile. “Seriously Trip, your jokes are as bad Arjun’s”

Tripti cleared her throat. “I obviously take offense to that statement.”

“You are mad. And as much as he is. Offense or not.” She countered wryly. “What are you doing?”

“Group Assignment. And the groups are selected at random. I hate mine. All idiots. No one wants to do anything. Everyone is ready to give gyaan.”

Khushi chuckled. “I am glad that phase is over, yes. Which subject is this?”

“Private Equity”

“Aur karo Finance mein major. Arjun ki unofficial chamchi”

“It’s not the subject. It’s just this idiot who interned with DB’s trading desk and thinks he is God’s gift to mankind. And obviously this assignment is child’s play. Talking about his big gamble that led to a huge payout is more fun.”

“Hot hai?”

Tripti snorted. “He has a goatee and uses the F word in every sentence. So yeah by his own standards, he is God’s gift to womenkind.”

“Please tell me this is not your version of having a crush,”

“Di, grow up. I do not have a crush on this person of all people. I don’t like jerks. And speaking of crushes, when were you going to tell me that your guitar wala senior is at A&M too?”

Khushi blinked in surprise. “How did you know?”

“There is this friend of mine who really wants to join A&M. She was searching the alum database and saw Arnav Varun’s name and his current employer listed as A&M. I happened to be around. I mean, why wouldn’t you tell me? Your idiot friend didn’t tell me either.”

“What’s there to tell?”

“Your first louuuu that man is. Between the three of you, you guys had a achcha-khaasa love triangle. Saajan picture bana daali tum logon ne. And now he is back in the news. Why wouldn’t you tell me?”

“Kuch bhi, Trip. Saajan! Ridiculous. At least pick a better movie.” Khushi said as her cheeks flushed.

“All love triangle films are crap. Pick any.”

“There is no triangle. Arjun Agarwal, I am happy to report is I am sure involved with someone and super secretive about it.”

“Toh?”

Khushi shrugged. “Toh nothing. I am just telling you. GK improvement. Ammunition for your next fight.”

“I have enough material to work with as it is,” Tripti muttered.

Khushi chuckled. Somedays, she really wished that innocent crush Tripti had once had on Arjun had morphed into something concrete. The two of them were so…matched – for the lack of a better word. If only Arjun hadn’t been in love with her….Now the idea just seemed wrong. No…not wrong…just weird. Isn’t that why she had never actively tried her hand at match-making despite permanently being a state of temptation to do something about sparks she was sure she could see around them. Every single time. She shook her head to clear her mind. “Is your trip final? I haven’t seen a debit on my card yet?”

“Not yet. I am not going to use your card this time, Di. I’ll use the Papa’s.”

“Why?”

“One, you have already funded my Bangalore trip once. Two, you are not my parent. Don’t fund my necessities. Buy frivolous stuff for me. Plus, don’t let the parents forget that they have two children. Not one.”

“Don’t be silly. Like anyone can ever forget about you. And I earn and I have nothing to spend on…”

“Which is exactly the problem. Why aren’t you partying and buying clothes and new phones…achcha at least buy that car you said you wanted to buy”

“At least buy the car? It’s not a packet of Maggi noodles, you know?”

“Well, you asked me to remind you that Maggi is poison.”

“Trip, this conversation is boring me. So I am going to hang up.”

“Haan haan, as soon as I start talking about important stuff you start getting bored.”

“Bye, Krishna.”

“Bye, Kaveri.”

 

River Song, Music and Lyrics:

Song Title: Yun Hi Chala Chal Rahi

Album: Swades

Singer(s): Udit Narayan, Hariharan, Kailash Kher

Music: A. R. Rahman

Lyrics: Javed Akhtar

Dekhoon Jidhar Bhi In Raahon Mein,

Rang Pighalte Hain Nigaahon Mein

Thandi Hawa Hai, Thandi Chaanv Hai,

Door Woh Jaane Kiska Gaanv Hai?

Badal Yeh Kaisa Chaya? Dil Yeh Kahan Le Aaya?

Sapna Yeh Kya Dikhlaya Hai Mujhko?

Note:

  1. And we are back to Monday updates! Thank you for waiting last week
  2. Next Update: Monday, Mar 20, 2017

366 thoughts on “Chapter Five: Strange Tidings

  1. I’ll be honest, Meera. I am not a fan of work place romance. I lived all my life avoiding it at all costs. Hell, I didn’t even want Pam to be with Roy or Jim. And they were not even real people.

    But that’s just me and my pragmatism. I agree that you can’t help who you fall in love with. Also, Arnav and Kaveri have a history much before they started working together. And like Arjun said….you never stop having feelings for someone who you loved. It can turn into something bitter, sweet or even both. Looking forward to reading and knowing more.

    I will say one thing though…. If having Kavi in Detroit was his plan all the way, then well done Arnav babu. Well done. So brilliant and sneaky at the same time. And my goodness….. so patient!

    Liked by 12 people

    1. Missed reading your sharp, witty comments😄
      I’m currently on the fence regarding whether there was a master plan by Arnav babu, since one master plan created whole lotta mess in the first place!
      Hope to see more of you here and read more in the vein of “creepy song about being here, here and here”😂

      Liked by 9 people

      1. @ladkikijhy: Aww Priya, thank you for being so wonderful always. You still like me in spite of me ruining what was quite the romantic song from Veer Zaara. Maybe I am not such a bore like how my asli duniya friends tell me.

        I really wish I had more time to stick around and participate in reader interaction here. But, responsibilities of asli duniya keep me away. Hope to be able to stick around more. I do make it a point to read every chapter, because priorities! :)

        Liked by 4 people

  2. Now begins the real fun!! I am such impatient soul that I could not have waited for so long to have a conversation that has been waiting for so long but I guess Khushi is different blood. Eagerly waiting for these to be in same geography…let the fireworks begin…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. You have befome the witchy witch. Leaving us at such crucial junctions. Whether to look onto the email or not or whether to start conference call or not.

    How wicked one can be.

    Were you trying to let us at sleep deprive till 20th?

    The speculation is going innthe correct way?
    Were you trying to hint us something? But the spart between Arjun Tripri?

    She is upto date with all the happening at Khushi’s side. Who else can be apart from the CNN reporter the Arjun.

    I wish to see a glimpse of AV’s email…

    Hold on.. The email hanging in the air till 20th, is an apology for slip of the tongue?

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Won;t he give a hint in the email? or would it be purely professional?

        The speculation about Tripti-Arjun, is likely going in right direction.

        I wish for an early update.. So badly wanting to skipped Thursday, Fri, Sat and Sunday of this week. and jump straight into Monday…..

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Ah, the sparks! So eagerly weren’t we waiting for this! Now we can’t wait for the fire. Smoldering fire that we are expecting. It’s holi time, the springy weather and love couldn’t have found a better time to make an appearance.

    Love,
    Reveur.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. I’ll start from the end..I simply loved the sibling talk! I still think Tripti is the secret love of Arjun..let’s wait and watch..

    You jumped 4 months? Didn’t expect that.. but there wouldn’t have been anything to tell with no AV in the background..
    Ooohhhh so finally these two are thrown together again.. ab aayega maza..
    Arnav hasn’t gotten rid of his habit of calling her Khushi and he couldn’t help calling her that..and I’m sure “I see Jen” is just an excuse to escape, from an awkward situation OR from the painful memories of being given the privilege to call her that.. That whole scene spelled A-W-K-W-A-R-D!
    Arjun pls leave all future plannings to the Fates…look how you messed up in the past, and look how they are doing a perfect job now… ;)

    Liked by 5 people

  6. Hi meera😃
    Thanks for the lovely interesting update 😃
    I am so exciting that khushi will working av😃😋
    Let see where it goes 😃
    I liked Arjun view and putting some sense in khushi 😃
    I am waiting for arshi meeting 😃
    Update soon 😃
    Tc😃

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Apologies for the delay…in reading…in responding…
    hmmm….so finally the twain shall meet,
    Silly me, the first question which came to my mind was Detroit mein kaun sa river hain…
    Loved the comfort which has developed between Arjun and Khushi.
    Kaveri and Krishna’s conversations are hilarious…just like siblings…
    Thanks for the beautiful chapter and now I go and search for a river in Detroit…

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Meera sorry I could comment on 2previous chapters. I excited and impatient to read your update.You always surprises me with the way you make the river flow, Beautiful Meera!!!.
    You amaze me every single time.
    Your story make me visualise very single word in it and it stays in my mind.
    It is something which makes me forget my worries.
    I read this beautiful story every night before I fall asleep and it helps me to clam down.
    Thank you Meera.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Aha! Another beautiful chapter, Meera!

    Although Khushi was the constant fixture in this chapter, it felt as though the ‘guests’ stole the show ;)

    To begin with, Arjun hit the bullseye when he said that you never stop having feelings for a person. For starters, there’s no switch to turn it off, and although time helps in blurring things, that’s what it does…just blur.

    Worker bees…hmm, Khushi should be thankful that the term used by her project head/manager is a compliment. I was once a part of the coterie which was referred to as donkeys with horsepower!

    So the new project begins. I’m crossing my fingers on Khushi being needed on-site soon ;) And internal server chats can be a boon or a bane. That green light will be looked forward to by both of them I suppose

    And finally we have the conversation between the sisters. It served to allay my fears about Khushi’s reaction to Tripti and Arjun (or should I say Krishna and Parth’s relationship), but more than that I realized how much I missed the banter between the siblings

    Also…Saajan? Eww!

    Liked by 9 people

  10. Meera di Mr AV is still playing hide and seek 😼 Not fair huh

    Poor Khushi 😂 What a fix she’s in

    Trust Arjun to predict exactly what’ was going rubber happening 😁🤣

    Tripti and Arjun 😁😏

    Excited to read about the mysterious AV😈😜

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Meera…. curious if Tripti’s batchmate interned in Deutsche’s trading desk… did Arjun and Khushi do a internship after first year? I am just curious if it is mandatory to find a internship after first year MBA in India like it is in US. (Nothing to do with the story :)

    Liked by 8 people

  12. Ab aur maza ayega !! Super excited for this new project that Khushi will be coordinating with Arnav. May be a trip to US for Khushi…. Shiv ji has finally decided to his magic on Arnav and Khushi.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Fabulous update.
    Some times I think what are these two doing. No one is trying to take first step. Only Arjun is there being the only link.
    See how easily he called her Khushi, forgetting they are not talking .
    If not for Arjun she might have ended in mental hospital by now. Clearly she is avoiding him yet want to know every little detail about him. And Arjun didn’t shy away in sharing too.
    Seriously this girl will die in her ego.. Arjun is right until she face Arnav she can’t get over him. Both are waiting for other one to take first step. Yes only universe can bring them together and face reality. Let’s see how this opportunity works out.
    Loved conversation between both sisters. You are building this suspense about Arjun and his secret love story so well. And I want Arjun and tripti together. They compliment each other.
    I am loving this phase of the story very much. Thank for giving beautiful update. Meera.

    Archna

    Liked by 6 people

  14. Laughter, tears, frustration, and exhaustion aplenty, but I do not think she will have it any other way. She’s loving it all and the added thrill a loved and valued job can bring. She’s seeking perfection and won’t quit until she achieves it. She doesn’t let her aching heart or her chaotic thoughts stand in the way of her goals, even if she has to work with ‘him’. Arjun may be killed, but only after this challenge that has presented itself is dealt with…and who knows once she’s done she may just not be in a mood to kill anymore, and hopefully for Arjun, won’t even remember it 😉.

    Not sure where I stand with Arjun and Tripti, so I’ll carefully tip toe around them for now. Individually Khushi’s conversation with both of them was fun and frolicky. Just what the doctor ordered. I must add that the 3 of them do know some very scary actors, movies, and songs 😖 😖.

    “Hope is the thing with feathers
    That perches in the soul
    And sings the tune without the words
    And never stops at all.” ― Emily Dickinson

    Coming to the crux of the chapter, she is so afraid of her own heart, is paranoid that it will stray. And she’s afraid because she dares to hope subconsciously. So although I’m usually skeptical about people holding on to lost loves for that long, in her case, Arjun is spot on. She is not over Arnav, is heartsick, and it’s on her face for everyone to see. She’s trying so hard to be bitter and suppress all that she feels, but it presents itself as curiosity, convoluted thoughts, and overall distress. Arrghhhh Khushi, is it really such a dreadful thing if it happens?

    Curious to see where they are headed from here. Detroit or Bangalore or wherever, a change of scene will help them both and us ;-) Still not decided on if this was planned and executed by AV. The romantic in me would like to believe so, but the skeptic in me who always trumps the romantic, thinks it’s just a natural progression of work. The skeptic is so boring. Call me cruel, but distance from Arjun is needed. She shields his heart as much as she does hers, perhaps even more so. I get this feeling that she doesn’t want to even acknowledge Arnav because she fears for Arjun, who not surprisingly has moved on. But how will she tame a heart that lives in the past?

    “The music in my heart I bore
    Long after it was heard no more.” ― William Wordsworth

    All the little details you peppered this chapter with were lovely. I almost felt like I was working 😳. And I’m so late to comment. I took advantage of Khushi’s exhaustion to remember how exhausted I felt myself. Meera, thank you so very much. This is so beautiful. It lifted my spirits today. We lost a little trooper over the weekend and I was a little broken. Sigh…“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul”…Take care and much love to everyone :)

    Liked by 15 people

    1. What a delight! Might I say I like the naughty romantic in your more than the pragmatist :)

      Here is to hoping! While we are going bonkers over impending somethings, here you with a sane voice – logic, verses and all!!!!

      Liked by 10 people

    2. Sorry to hear about the little trooper. There’s a star shining bright somewhere.
      I was just thinking that I hadn’t seen your comment and there it was! As always its a pleasure to read.
      Twice when she let hope rise and flutter its wings, things happened that made it seem misplaced. So you sort of get that need to protect herself, that fear of letting go…
      “There was only one person she owed anything too. And it was herself. Her – the fat girl who had always wondered what being loved by someone other than family would be like, the new teen who had been laughed at when her crush had been discovered in school. The sounds of laughter as the object of her affection had scoffed at the possibility of her crushing on him years ago echoed in her head. It was not a memory she had allowed back into her consciousness even though she knew it was what drove her and her reactions.”
      That new teen is still there, buried underneath the confident successful woman of today.
      The guys realised the impact of those songs that evening, but not the depth of it nor the significance.
      And whether there is master plan in action currently, well like you I’m sceptical😄
      You take care

      Liked by 12 people

      1. Me too — Like you and Kriskles — the romantic in me hopes there is a master plan in action! Is convinced that there actually is!!
        However unlike you both, the romantic in me, always overshadows the skeptic me!! :)

        Liked by 12 people

        1. Star light star bright may the lil tropper always shine at night.
          Sad to hear of a life so young ending too soon. Yet when you add in that bit about her suffering, wishing she rests in peace. It was time as you said.

          Liked by 6 people

    3. There you are!! Was wondering whether AD kept you away!!
      So sorry about your lil trooper!

      Lovely comment!! Again — with you on so many of your thoughts, and yet the romantic in me overtakes the skeptic in me!!
      So I will continue to believe there is some masterplan playing out its way!!

      Liked by 11 people

    4. Sorry for your loss, Sapna. True she is ‘afraid of her own heart’.. ..and yes we hope for both of them that ‘the music in my heart I bore….long after it was not heard no more’

      Liked by 10 people

    5. Big hug to you, sorry to hear about your lil trooper Saps. A painful reminder of the fragility of life, lots of love to you sweetie.

      Beautiful comment as usual. I agree with what you say. She is afraid and honestly, now she really needs to be on her own. Period. Hiding behind education, sister, friend, sorrow, self pity, she’s come a long way but has not discovered herself yet. The fear and insecurities have driven her up the wall, and I don’t think she is in any position to do anything for herself anymore. Reminds me of Newton’s law of Inertia….’every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force’! :D

      She can still get away without listening to herself, and I think the beautiful relationship she now shares with Arjun is in a way hindering her own personal growth. In a tricky or difficult situation, she can get away with I can’t do this on my own and Arjun is there! That, to me, is a huge problem. She and Arnav(who she has loved all her growing up years) have reached an impasse.

      Either the person realises things on his/her own… or needs to be thrown into a situation where you are forced to deal with yourself, almost cornered with nowhere to go and no place to run. I think, and I am hoping, Detroit is the answer to everything, cus its just him and her, which should have always been the case. Everything was always complex because Arjun and Saira were always lingering in the background, they never really got time to think about each other. She could get away with not listening to him, not giving him time and he could get away by not addressing his feelings towards her earlier and then giving it all up because she wanted it that way.

      I don’t know if Arnav has realised this need, which makes me think that this is a setup to pull her out of her comfort zone and face him, all alone without any strings attached. If he has, this man is brilliant! If he has that kind of clarity and perceptivity, he is God’s gift to womankind! And if he hasn’t, then the universe had indeed rightfully FINALLY intervened out of sheer frustration! :D So, here’s to hoping for all the madness to be unleashed in the future updates!

      The stage is set(up!)… bring it on Meeru, can’t wait anymore! No, seriously, can’t wait anymore! :D

      Liked by 15 people

      1. I hope there is a KK interlude…what are her thoughts ( she can skip Arnav :) in general. How has she changed..not changed..grown as a person. Her early morning musings when she does not like to talk to anyone.

        Liked by 6 people

      2. Sohni,

        I would be happy to know that Arnav realizes that Khushi needs to step up and face so many things but I sincerely don’t want him to be planning anything this time. No master plan. So if Khushi wonders, he can honestly say he did not pull strings. Things happened. Life happened. Else she will keep getting excuses to hide behind.
        When things tossed up and they needed someone in a hurry, Shyam could have suggested names and given her background at Speed Motors, Arnav could have suggested Khushi given she was also coming off a project. Keep it professional. (I know I know romance ka r bhi nahi hai but I am so scared that at the slightest whiff Khushi will bolt!)

        The thought about how Arjun always being around maybe a deterrent to Khushi moving on blew me away. Somehow I never thought of things that way. A whole new world that.

        Arnav told Arjun he is doing nothing and saying nothing and I feel like taking his words literally. But his interactions in the coming days are going to show he cares.

        AV ke mann ki baat is gaane ke saath:

        Tere Bina Seene Vich Sau Ruk Gaye Ne
        Tu Jo Gaya toh Mere Rah Ruk Gaye Ne

        Paake Jo Tenu Mere Dil Ne Gavaaya Hai
        Dard Judaai Waala Naina Vich Chhaaya Hai
        Rab Kare Tenu Koi Gham Tadpaave Na
        Baarishaan Da Mausam Teri Ankh Val Jaave Na

        Sadeya Naseeba Vich Likhiya Judaiyaa ve
        Kado duur honiya ne e tanhaiyaan

        Teri Kahir Mangdi
        Main Mangaa Na Kush Aur
        Ik Teri Khair Mangdi

        Liked by 7 people

  15. Awesome update👍🏻👌🏻👏🏻
    Arjun-Tripti is there something going on??? Arjun being secretive about his girlfriend is like confirms it abit more.

    But can’t beat AV as something telling he has planned beautifully to transport Khushi to Detroit…..haha smart move!! He is brilliant making it look utterly professional….his nonchalant way of addressing her with her middle name Khushi was damn good 😊….he makes it look really professional and work related but am sure he has his own motives! Good luck AV…..hope they can sort whatever differences and move ahead this time!😉

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Meera, Love reading each update of this story. Arjun’s words are true, you can’t stop having feelings for the one whom you loved. In someway or the other it’s going to be there. Krishna is really a breath of fresh air. Her comment about Saajan movie…. She’s cool. Wish we can get more glimpse of her. Arnav mentioning as Khushi instead of her first name, that says it all. But I will settle with Universe theory for now. Let’s see what you have in store for us. Can’t wait to read:)

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Woww…Arjun saw& still seeing the sparks between Arnav& Khushi…
    &
    Khushi saw the sparks between Arjun&Tripti…

    Despite the Mechanics& all Mechanisms of their work front… I m looking forward for their official “Professional ” meeting in Detroit!!

    Superbbbbb!!!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Ohh.. the sista love… How I wish I had a sister…. Absolutely loved and enjoyed Trip and Kaveri’s chat….

    Arjun and Trip ka definitely kuch scene hain… Batabhi dalo meera, how , when and where?? :)
    Arjun and Kaveri ..such a nice bonding… Am jealous.. not a single friend is here with me anymore.. all moved on to different locations… :(..
    And finally the crux of the matter.. Kaveri and AV are back in the same sphere… Let’s see how the sparks fly.. I had goosebumps when he called her khushi… Dear me…

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I feel Arnav had come all the way just for a glimpse of Khushi and having seen her and knowing khushi still has feelings for him he has planned this project to be with her so that he gets another chance . Hope atleast they both move forward putting back all their ego and differences.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Finally, the wheel is in motion……With many thing happening around them….on professional level, with their friends…only thing that was stagnant was how kHushi felt…no change of heart….nothing…quite stubborn i tell you….I won’t blame Arnav here since he was told to stay away..so he is doing that…
    But my girl, you need to do something about it, as Arjun says….either get over him…find a way to deal with that or give him a chance which he deserves….
    I love Arjun and khushi’s friendship too much..they have got each other, always….I am just waiting for Arjun to buckle up and to tell Khushi about his lady love…..Will be hell of a interesting update….
    Great great one….

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I just loved this chapter Meera. It felt refreshing like a cup of hot ginger tea on a chilli winter morning.

    Khushi was so exhausted she took her frustration on Arjun in the beginning. Good thing he just knew what to do to cheer her up. I liked their conversation.

    When Arnav said Hi Kaveri… my heart was really fluttering :-). Then when said “that’s the middle name”… or when Arnav immediately accepted the meeting request… I liked it very much. I am very happy, and very excited that there will be more Arnav and Khushi’s interaction in the coming chapters.

    Does Arjun have feelings for Tripti? Will wait for coming chapters to know about this…

    Wonderful chapter. I liked it very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Sigh!!! Tried reaaaallllyyy hard to wait till atleast the weekend to read the update so that I don’t have wait too long for the next one. That didn’t go too well. Now back to counting days for the next one. Fantastic flow of conversations and story. Storytelling at its best…….ok …… dil sambhal….less than 5 days to go……..No use…. I want more😩!

    Liked by 2 people

  23. Meera – loved the gritty reality of workplace including the Statement of Work that has to be signed….and those around the world teams….all so real. Now we will see what Shivji has planned.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Loved that convo between Tripti and Khushi!!!!
    Reminded me of the convos between me and my sister!!!!!
    Most of the times she acts smart and tries to torture me over the phone!!!!!
    And i love her for it!!!!

    Seriously we all need a friend like Arjun, someone who relives you from the stress of life when staying alone!!!!

    Hmmm!!!
    Back to Khushi from Kaveri,
    Working together far far away from home!!!!!!
    While still hung up on the one pain both never overcame!!!!!
    Can’t wait for it!!!!
    Take Care!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Happy Birthday Arnav Varun!
    With a wish for a happy world, I hope this year, she is where she belongs. With you; by choice, by dreams and by heart.
    ~~~
    Phew, I survived! Will be back to catching up with the comments in a while.
    PS: Now, you can go ahead and call me mad.

    Liked by 10 people

      1. You can count on me. Always.

        And hey, madness has no half measures, so why stop when with every step we seek inundation.

        Aur waise bhi, kisi ko bola gaya tha –
        ‘Aisi deewaangi, dekhi nahi kahin,
        Maine isliye, Jaanejaana,
        Deewaana, tera naam rakh diya.’

        I aim for such a naamkaran. So… ;)

        Liked by 6 people

      1. Oh, then I’m oddly proud that I remembered. Starry night, the tent, cassette, Linda Goodman,….

        By choice is key for both, Lavz. If one feels differently or just willing to tempt fate, I’d like to see them battle the inevitable. :)

        PS: Petty me: Was I the first to wish? :D

        Liked by 9 people

      1. Of course P! Magic it will be, and it’s also wished for in abundance. Maybe the universe is listening to them, or in the very least, wants us off its back and hence will be forced to oblige. XD

        Liked by 8 people

    1. 😄
      The foremost deewani is currently doing puja, praying to nandkissore, Shivji, bhaguji, for the health, wealth, prosperity of her object of deewanappan, will be here shortly. And I better run, ’cause I’ll be killed for sure today. It was nice knowing all of you

      Liked by 7 people

  26. Saalgirah mubarak ho gul-e-gulzar jaan-e-tamanna sukoon-e-dil jaan-e-bahaar arzoo-e-dil!!! 😘😘😘😘🤗🤗🤗

    Har khwaaish harr tamanna harr aarzoo poori ho!
    Zindagi mein sirf Khushi hi Khushi ho!

    Shivji rehem karna, khayaal rakhna, sukoon bakshna…aur harr dua qubool karna! 😋

    Liked by 8 people

  27. Arnav’s acceptance to the meeting invite had come almost as soon as she had sent it
    I imagine him walking along restlessly in room in front of work desk, glancing at laptop every other sec.. jacket discarded, tie loose, sleeves rolled, hair messed up a bit, pen snapping between fingers non stop.. after forever.. bam .. the invite came and immediate click on acceptance button as if get delayed by few sec she may take back the invite.. and then long exheale.. relief peace sound of river..
    Meera hope you know how you made me insane n I’m loving it 😀

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Another beautiful chapter and a hopeful one….. Hopefully being in same space will perhaps jolt Khushi into taking some action.
    Also some very beautiful and insightful comments
    1 Khushi does need to go away from Arjun.
    2 Let Arnav not plan anything. It is Khushi’s journey and she has to climb the mountains and cross the valleys of her own insecurities and ego to reach her ocean. However i would not mind if Arnav does not take his sainthood too seriously. Poor guy has apologised enough for no real fault of his own.
    Waiting for the next update

    Liked by 1 person

  29. awesome update.. loved it..
    thanks to the universe for taking note of arjun’s suggestion :)
    looking fwd to their project together.. hoping they get to spend some time alone in US..

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Hiiiii meera.. I know I am very late for the comment…. I am very sorry for the delay… I wanted to comment earlier but didn’t know what exactly I should be saying…. This update left me with mixed feelings…. I enjoyed every bit of the update but at the same time I felt something was missing… That feel of the “River” was missing… Maybe because Arnav is not here in India and this long distance thing is causing all this… But still that feel and emotions, all that romance and passion in the air wasn’t there… Maybe I am jumping into conclusions too soon but I can’t lie to my favorite writer… That will be cheating on my part…
    I am waiting for that feel to return…. For that I am looking forward to read today’s update…
    P. S SORRY IF I HAVE HURT YOU…BUT I LOVE YOU AND THIS STORY WAY TO MUCH TO LIE….😘😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I apologize for not being regular with my comments despite reading the updates as soon as you post them. Its unfair to you and I’ll try my best to remedy this.

    I love the pace of the story and very unlike me, I love all your characters in this story equally, especially AV sir, Khushi, Arjun and Tripti. I have a hunch that Arjun’s mystery girlfriend is Tripti…but I’ll wait and watch. I love how detailed you are about the management consulting world…makes me think that you are also a management consultant.:)

    Cannot wait to see how the story flows…waiting for this week’s update with bated breath!

    Liked by 2 people

  32. There it is. God loves Arjun n so do we. The set up has been laid for the exciting events to follow. How much ever turmoil/hard it is for Khushi to confront the current situation , m beyond excited!! The space Arjun n Khushi r in , right now is cozy n enjoyable. Kaveri n Krishna’s seemless banter was super fun!

    Liked by 2 people

  33. Maybe not a set up- set up but Arnav has definitely nudged Khushi and nudged hard towards himself.Good for him
    enjoyed the sisters conversation towards the end, only if you have sisters can you understand this particular bond .

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Sister’s banter and their bonding..so cute and fun.

    So khushi finally lands in a project with Arnav. So according to Arjun, feelings never go away and khushi is successfully avoiding it and probably even arnav? As we don’t know his version of the story or longing?

    Looking forward to see how their journey meets again.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Khushi misses Arnav…don’t want to admit it but internally she does. Well fate, destiny, Khushi’s hard work, or Arnav’s hand may be to bring Khushi onboard with him on the project. Time to face her own demon and slay them down.

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Their careers at A&M sounds grueling. Atleast Arjun lucked out by having to get to work with AV. Khushi is stuck at the wrong end (but only until the end of the chapter). Wasn’t it just the same day that she was arguing against working with Arnav. Oh, destiny has a special place for these two or did Arnav make this happen. Hopefully not, I would like Khushi to get selected for a project based on her credentials rather than Arnav pulling the strings.
    “You never stop having feelings for someone you love, Kavi. They may change in nature. But they stay unless you resolve them.” – These are my favorite lines in this chapter. Seriously Meera, only you can write down such simple lines which carry the most intense feelings.
    Arjun and Khushi still bet on bollywood films, this part of them never changes. Khushi also seems to think that Arjun and Tripti make a good pair.
    Waiting for Khushi to board the flight to Detriot.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Arjun still loves Khushi but not romantically..
    Now he’s after the junior Gupta..the smarter one..
    While Khushi can feel some sparks between them,she can’t voice out it..
    But our parallel lead is definitely going to give her a pleasant surprise ..

    Arjun asks Khushi about any chance to consider Arnav once but she denies forcefully..
    Now she’is going to work with him..
    Arjun is not behind it..
    Whether it’s Fate or AV himself is yet to be seen ..

    Shyam …
    I think he can guess what’s brewing between them..

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Khushi was taken out of RDX’s clutches, but whose ideas was that to add Khushi in this project along with AV?
    Who is Arjun’s secret girlfriend? Is it by any chance Tripti? If I have to make guess I am 80% sure.
    Cheers……

    Liked by 2 people

  39. Yun hi chala Chal Rahi – Mohan Bhargava with no fitted suit, alps & designerwala heroine in chiffon
    Love SRK in any roop / form
    Though AV is in trump land , he is working with K.K. in a project , RDX khatam
    Did Shyam suspect something between the two, did he make something out of AV s Khushi ?
    Kaveri in Bangalore , Shyam couldn’t help the jibe just like most tamizhs
    Something positive after Kh / AV face off

    Liked by 1 person

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