Detroit, late February 2016

She let the large suitcase she was carrying rest just by the door even as she dragged her feet into the hotel room and threw her laptop bag on the king sized-bed in front of her. The soft, fluffy mattress looked like it could engulf her and she really didn’t want anything else. The journey of what was now almost thirty hours was beginning to show in the way her bones ached as she moved – even as gently as she now did. Perhaps jet lag also manifested as extreme exhaustion. What would she give to be able to just plonk herself on the bed and fall into deep sleep?

But years of training from her mother was the albatross she carried rather willingly around her neck. As a rule, the Guptas were not allowed to take journey clothes anywhere except the laundry basket. Journey skin and hair were to be scrubbed clean of all possible contamination before they could touch anything living or non-living. And so Khushi knew that even though it was close to midnight and freezing outside, she would be dousing herself with steamy water before she did anything else.

Anything else of course, meant sending an email or a phone text to Arnav that she had reached safely and perhaps even a small explanation on why she was almost eight hours delayed in sending this message.

“You have some very urgent messages here, Ma’am” The girl with ebony skin and glowing eyes, fresh like few others could be at this hour, had said in a half amused and half concerned tone even as she had gone about scanning Khushi’s passport and making entries in the silence of the night. There was absolutely no one else in the little room that served as the reception of the Inn. And yet, this woman, her name still unknown to Khushi though she had said it out loud first thing, was a downright relief for Khushi to see.

As quiet and uneventful as Khushi’s journey from Bangalore to Dubai and eventually to New York had been, the halt at JFK and the journey thereafter to Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County aiport had been unnerving and unsettling. It started with the transit from International Arrivals to the Domestic Departures at JFK which was positively the most confusing transit she was ever going to make in her lifetime. Nothing was labelled or called out. What was this inexplicable dependence on asking for directions, Khushi had asked herself in annoyance even as she had finally found her way to the bus that took her Terminal 2 at JFK?

After that had come the flight to Detroit. First it was more than four hours delayed due to snow in Detroit and the departure gate was a mess with angry passengers on the one side and completely unconcerned travelers on the other. And yet the worst part was that this was the first time Khushi had realized that she was truly a foreigner in this country. Almost all those at the gate waiting to head to Detroit had color of skin entirely different from hers. All of them seemed at ease, even in anger, like they knew what to do, where to go, who to meet. Perhaps, this is how she looked in Bangalore airport.

Shiv-ji, she had missed home then and she wasn’t even properly out of it at the time.

Eventually, they were taken to the aircraft – a seventy seater ATR with wings, for crying out loud. And full of people who seemed to all know each other and were very aware of her as the outsider.

The sight of a snowed runway and gravelly grounds around was only momentary relief given the time of night that it was when the plane touched down at Detroit. Her luggage which unsurprisingly arrived last – gave her enough time to panic and think of all the options she would have if the airline had infact misplaced her bags that were meant to keep her warm, clothed and even fed for the next few weeks.

And finally there was the fact that she was the only one who walked out of the airport and to the taxi stand, aware of every human eye that fell on her as she walked, awkward and unsure yes but fearful and confused more. She was definitely not in her crowded not-so-little country where even at close to midnight, airports remained crowded like they were bus stations plying broken, foul-smelling rattling vehicles to the countryside. She had finally said yes to a taxi service that screamed expensive but looked too polished to be scary. But then, this was America and nothing was really going to look as battered as she was used to. How the hell did people figure out what to trust, she had wondered even as the large man wearing a well groomed chauffeur’s uniform had driven – on the other side of the road – at insane speeds and in less than forty minutes deposited her with a small smile outside the Inn where the lovely receptionist had been waiting with a warm smile and a ready room.

And news that she had urgent messages waiting to be responded to.

Taking a deep breath, Khushi decided that she would call her parents as soon as she took a bath and felt herself seep back into this wide-eyed first time phoren-traveller who was staring back at her in the mirror in the bathroom. She peeled off her clothes, letting them lay strewn on the floor, aware that she would have to wash and iron them on her own here in this strange land of no dhobis and self-service Laundromats. She remained standing under the hot shower till her skin pruned and till steam leaked out of the bathroom into her fairly generous bedroom-cum-living room that was thankfully even equipped with a little kitchenette.

Her hair was hanging loose around her face in wet wisps, her face shining pink like it had never before – thanks to all the scrubbing she had subjected it to; when the phone in the room rang out shrilly. It was then, as the sound pierced the silence of the night, that she truly realized how late in the day – rather night – it was. It had to be her parents calling her, she was sure. After all, her no-panic instructions had run out almost eight hours ago. She padded across the room and picked up the phone, her voice almost a whisper as she allowed for the possibility of it being someone from this new land who didn’t really deserve her bored drawling.

“Hello?”

“Are you okay?”

She bristled at the edge in the voice she knew she was actually expecting to hear even before she answered the call. How? Why? There were too many questions and her teeth were already grinding against each other – loudly enough for her head to throb in pain. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“You are eight hours late.” Arnav said in an undeniably angry voice.

“I wasn’t partying,” She bit out instinctively and then regretted the slip. She didn’t talk to anyone like that. Even Tripti and Arjun got the best side of her despite the stress she was feeling internally at her low moments. So she breathed in sharply and quickly intervened before he could take offense. “I mean, the flight from New York was delayed and I had no way to let anyone know. I placed an international roaming activation request before I left but clearly it hasn’t worked. I need to fix it.” Her voice was breathy from speaking too fast. She needed to sip some water and calm her heartbeat to normal levels. Over the last few weeks she had gotten used to the butterflies in her stomach enough to not notice consciously and to not let it affect her reactions. This call was rattling her nerves because it was sudden even if expected sub-consciously; and it wasn’t a good sign. She couldn’t behave like this when her career and her life both depended on her ability to keep things sane.

“Have you called your parents?”

“I just reached. I was about to call them when you did.” She stated more calmly this time.

He took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap. I just….Anyway, I’d recommend sleeping now even if you don’t feel like sleeping. The sooner you get your body accustomed to the revised timing, the faster you will get over jet lag. The good thing is tomorrow is still Sunday and you have enough time to be rested before we start on Monday.”

Khushi swallowed and felt silly and stupid for snapping right back. “Yes,” She replied even as she sat on the bed, suddenly tired like she hadn’t been all this time. “That was the plan – to reach on Saturday so I wouldn’t be jetlagged.” All she wanted to do now was hang up, curl into a ball and sleep.

“If you want to make a trip to Walmart – there is one close by, I can take you tomorrow.”

“No,” She said hurriedly. “I don’t need anything this week.”

“Ok. I’m in 1425 – it’s on the first floor on the other end of the parking lot. Call me if you need anything.”

“Thank you.”

“Good night.”

Before she could reply, the line had been disconnected. Letting out the breath she had been holding, she let the phone settle back into its nook even as she threw herself back on the bed and closed her eyes. This was going to be tough unless she snapped out it. And she needed to snap out of it.

As if on cue, the phone rang again, shrill and loud. This time, she was friendlier in her greeting. But clearly Shiv-ji was also kinder in his ministrations of the universe, she realized, as she heard her mother’s voice on the other side.

————–

 

 

By the time she reached the buffet breakfast next morning, the place had already cleared out except for a couple of folks who seemed to be lingering over their coffee. A quick, discreet look at her fellow boarders at the Inn, told her that this was no high end, upscale hotel despite the hotel chain it claimed allegiance to. The same chain in India was all gleaming glass and polished marble. This on the other hand was worn out tables and weathered occupants. Nevertheless, the people she met, called out greetings – something she had been given to expect in a travel briefing she’d attended on the last day of office at Bangalore. Even so, it unnerved her to have strangers greet her with wide smiles and offhand comments about the weather – which was downright unbearable.It hadn’t snowed in the night but the Inn-roads and pavements were full of slush on the sides. It was nothing compared to the mess that was Bangalore or worse Benaras after even just one spell of rain. Yet, amidst everything that was as manicured and deliberate as the US had been to her at first sight, the sludge stood out and added to a sense of unbelonging disorder. Back at home, even chaos seemed to have an unspoken order, like things just fit like pieces of a worn out cardboard jigsaw.

She picked up a plate and headed to help herself to some scrambled eggs when she heard his voice behind her.

“I’m not sure that is a good idea.”

Thankfully, she knew by now to not be surprised at his sudden appearance. After all, Arnav Varun was going to be around her for ten-twelve hours a day now. Still, when she looked at her, something squishy and red in her chest rumbled and turned on its head. He looked splendid in deep purple turtle neck t-shirt, indigo jeans and a navy trench coat. A navy and purple striped woolen scarf was hanging loose around his neck, like he had just unwrapped it from his neck.

Shiv-ji, she cried silently. Why couldn’t he have been one of those men who lost hair or grew in the middle as they prospered?

“That, is not real.”

She frowned and looked at the half-empty heap of scrambled eggs in front of her. It did look at lot more yellow than she might have expected it to but…

“Synthetic egg scramble.” Arnav explained. “Not the best option healthwise.”

Khushi turned to look at him, confused. “Synthetic?”

“Bottom-line friendly,” Arnav nodded. “You might want to stick to the breads, cereal, porridge, fruit, etc. Unfortunately, we start really early on weekdays so it will have to be this for majority of your stay. Unless you are the kind who scrambles to get ready for work at the last minute.”

Khushi smiled at that and shook her head. “That would be Arjun.” And then bit her tongue. Dammit.

Arnav however, didn’t seem to notice and it infuriated Khushi. How did he manage to do this? How did he look like there was nothing to be awkward about? Especially when she brought Arjun to the mix without thought?

She looked away and moved on to serve herself breakfast of the non-controversial variety and headed to a table, aware that Arnav would join her. What would it have taken to get just another day of not having to deal with him? Perhaps if her stomach hadn’t been growling like it did and she had stayed in her room.

“Coffee?” A young, dark-skinned girl with shining carmine lips smiled down at her. Nodding she allowed the girl to pour her a mug of black coffee even as Arnav headed to her table and placed his plate – loaded with fruit and a couple of slices of wheat toast.

“Good morning, Kayla.”

“Good morning, AV.” The other girl replied as she filled his mug with coffee as well. “Glad to see you without that laptop today. Big plans for Sunday?” She asked, glancing in her direction quickly.

“Nothing more exciting than every Sunday, I’m afraid.”

“You have fun. Let me know if you need something.”

As Kayla walked away, Arnav shrugged his coat-off, placed a folded newspaper on the empty chair next to him and slid into the chair opposite hers. “How was your journey?” He asked, popping a melon into his mouth as looked at her. So effortless. So unruffled. It was unfair. “Other than being delayed, that is. I hear this is a good airline – the one you took from Bangalore to JFK.”

“It was fine.” She replied in short but not unpleasant bursts. “The airline was really good. Their collection of entertainment is spectacular. I believe one of the best in the business.”

Nodding, he went on to eat more of his breakfast in silence even as she nibbled on hers. Just a few minutes ago, she was sure she could wolf down the entire buffet spread and now…

“Do you drive?”

“In India?” She asked even as she struggled to chew the piece of bread in her mouth hurriedly. “I can. I drive my parents’ car when I am home but…”

“We’ll go drive around a little bit today when you are up to it. You should learn how to drive with me a few times so that you can get around by yourself. Unfortunately, like all car makers, our client is in deep financial shit so we don’t have the luxury of renting a car per employee even though most of our projects work like that. So we’ll have to share the car.”

She shook her head, her hands suddenly icier than they had been when she had walked from her room to the breakfast area. “I don’t think I can…” Had he not seen the monstrosities that the roads in Detroit were? And how was she ever going to understand routes. It’s not like she could use Google maps. “I don’t have an international driving permit.”

“That’s okay,” Arnav replied as he moved on to his coffee, a brisk efficiency about his movements that was beginning to make her nervous. This was so different from the resort version of him she had met five years ago, the version who had seemed so at home in the mountains, so fluid and yet relaxed in his ways. “Michigan recognizes Indian licenses. You just need to get used to driving on the other side of the road and believe me driving here is a piece of cake compared to what we are used to back home. The car I rented has a GPS too so routes are not a problem.”

“But,”

“It’s going to be very difficult without being mobile in this area, Khushi. You can’t walk out to any where close by. Even to get to the nearest Walmart, you need a car. And we are talking about eight weeks here.”

Once again, her flesh rose in goosebumps, half angry and half annoyed. “Maybe next weekend.” She responded non-commitally. What he said did make sense but…

“What do you plan to do for lunch?”

Maggi?

“I hadn’t actually thought about it. I don’t know…”

“These guys don’t have a restaurant. You can order in – the reception has many flyers – but since this is the first weekend, I’d rather we head out. I don’t know how long we will be able to keep work from spilling over into the weekends.”

This was a professional setup, she assured herself. Lunch didn’t mean anything. Neither did dinner or breakfast or any of the remaining two hundred and fifty plus meals she was supposed to share with this man in front of her. If this was any other colleague – Shyam for instance, she would have been happy to have company. Perhaps,…She looked up at him. “What about Ken and Madhusudan? Are they here already?” She asked about the remaining members of their team who would show up at Wyatt Motors World Headquarters tomorrow.

“Ken is local. Maddy is staying at the Carlton across road this week. He will be traveling back home to Chicago every Thursday.”

Dammit. She really was alone with Arnav. So much for sanity and professionalism. And Madhusudan was Maddy? Why wasn’t she surprised? Sighing, she went back to her food which now might as well be cardboard for how is felt in her mouth. He really was going to punish her in his own way, wasn’t he? What the hell was this driving thing now? Would he have done the same if it was Arjun who had traveled on this project instead of her? She blinked and realized she didn’t really didn’t want an answer to that question.

“I need to get supplies for the week. You are sure you don’t need a Walmart trip?”

She looked up from her plate to see him pushing his empty plate and empty coffee mug away from himself. She shook her head. If she was going to get an option to not be around him, she was not going to be an idiot and ignore it.

“I’ll see you at around one outside in the parking lot. We have a black Wyatt Escape for the next four weeks and its parked right outside my block – so all the way over…”

“…the other side,” She finished for him as he nodded, his mouth curving slightly.

“Bye.” He said as put his coat back and buttoned it up, tying his scarf expertly around his neck as he walked around her.

It was the whiff of citrus, fresh and familiar that twisted her heart even as she allowed her fork to fall into the plate with a soft clink. It was going to be a long eight weeks.

 

River Song, Music and Lyrics

Song Title: Jab Saamne Tum Aa Jaate Ho

Album: Dil Kahin Hosh Kahin

Singers: Asha Bhonsle, Lata Mangeshkar, Jagjit Singh

Music: Aadesh Shrivastava

Lyrics: Nida Fazli

 

Dekh ke tumko, hosh mein aana bhool gaye

Yaad rahe tum, aur zamaana, bhool gaye

Jab saamne tum, aa jaate ho

Kya jaaniye kya ho jaata hai

Kuch mil jaata hai, kuch kho jaata hai

Kya jaaniye kya ho jaata hai

 

 

Note:

Next update may be delayed by a day of two. Please check the Index page for updates.

580 thoughts on “Chapter Eight (I): Letting Bygones Be

  1. Trainwreck!
    That’s how I felt by the time I reached the end of the chapter. It felt as though The River Express had chugged over me at some 250 kmph leaving me dazed.
    She knew she was going to meet him. He knew he would meet her soon. Then nature intervenes and there is a delay. She checks in and decides to first bathe before sending out reached safely messages. I am guessing Arnav knew there was a delay and he had asked reception to notify him once Khushi checked in. They did but she didn’t check in with him. She was busy building steam castles after her long journey. His patience gives and he calls her to ask “Tum Theek Ho”. It is her first trip outside India, she has no Arjun at easy reach and he hasn’t heard from her. He is worried. Only to realize that perhaps he has stepped outside the boundary he has established between them. So he covers it by saying she is late and ends it by keeping things as clinical as possible. Throughout their interaction what stood out was Arnav keeping things impersonal between them. No acknowledgment of Arjun, a reminder to message parents mentioned in a practical ‘senior to junior’ manner, a quick list of things to do, what to expect. Even the driving bit, he cut Khushi short when she started to say something about driving at home. No Khushi, let’s keep this strictly work. Yes, I will call you Khushi when it is just us and I am going to look out for you and still make it seem like it’s my work duty and nothing more. He even got a room all the way on the other side of the Inn. No wonder she finds him markedly different from the Arnav at the river. That man was warm, this man appears like a to-do list, aloof and seemingly detached.
    Just what happened in that phone call all those years ago? He is being very careful not to show his emotions unlike in those phone calls and she thinks he may perceive her as weak or as one who manipulates others.

    “Apne toh saare is kinaare reh gaye
    Tanha chala jo uss paar main hoon na
    Khoya hai paake jisne pyaar main hoon na
    Bechain main hoon bekaraar main hoon na”
    (yo Meera – were you thinking of SRK’s scene in Main Hoon Naa when you visualized how AV would be dressed?)

    Khushi wants one more day to get used to having to work with him. Ha Ha Ha. She has had all these days since she was selected for the project. Jo itne dinon main nahin hua ek din main ho jaayega. Uff sankadevi!
    Left hand driving, reluctant driver and snow on the road, there is bound to be a near mishap and AV ke emotions koot koot ke baahar aayenge. And what will happen I wonder if Khushi were to slip and fall in all that snow and sludge and just happen to sprain / fracture her leg or hand? Last time she wasn’t paying attention at the Flying Fox and she suffered a burn and it resulted in a bike ride along the mountain roads.
    Only Sunday and a week of just AV and Khushi at the Inn. Maddy is at the Conrad only for a week, next week he is moving into the Inn and week long there will be the Amriki team mate also. Weekends will have work spillovers so confirmed more running into each other. Khushi you idiot, this week you could have eaten nice desi khaana outside but nahi bina soche you have opted for Maggi. Wohi naseeb hoga dekho aage jaake,(Kostin – Has AV learned to cook thanks to all the travel? Even Maggi and masala chai count ok!!)
    Time difference between India and US plus Tripti’s Bangalore visit is going to restrict Khushi’s interaction with Arjun. She hasn’t given Tripti deets so literally Ms. Gupta is in a phoren land all alone. She literally only has herself and no one to hide behind, (Maddy be forewarned do not attempt to be a kabab main haddi here. I will accept you as a super solid prospect for Ramu but don’t make the mistake of trying to let Khushi hide behind you in any AV altercations).

    “Khaamosh kyun ho jo bhi kehna hai kaho
    Dil chaahe jitna pyaar utna maang lo
    Tum ko milega utna pyaar main hoon na…”

    Aaj jo bona shuroo kiya hai Khushi bas blte raho,,,behte raho…

    Liked by 18 people

  2. Ayyo.. is AV really not affected😅😅😅😅.. I am loving this setting😂.. N Kuch bhi ho.. I am on AV ka side😎..
    Could you please pass on some of your amazingly beautiful talent on to me Meera Di.. pretty please??

    Liked by 3 people

  3. So the countdown begins, I am already waiting for the day rather night Arnav barging into Khushi’s room finally done with the patience B^D .
    I was rereading the River days , was counting the kisses to make sure whether they kissed 18 times , silly me , and realized that when these two are together each moment are magical .
    Loved every bit of Khushi Arnav part .

    Liked by 5 people

  4. It is going to be a long eight weeks , you bet Khushi!!!!
    Finally Khushi has reached .Home is where AV lives , quite cliche isn’t it 😆

    AV seems to have waiting for khushi like a agitated bird flapping its wings .No wonder he was angry . He has eight weeks to woo Khushi. Is he playing ” ignore to attract” game ? If yes he is in the right path , Khushi is affected .
    Khushi has declined AV’s offer to Walmurt , but she seems to notice how handsome he looks . Is this her way of ignoring 😉

    I think she will acknowledge his love & care in the privacy of her room .

    Liked by 4 people

  5. The delayed flight did disturb Arnav and he wanted to be reassured that Kushi is ok..I just melted with “Tum Theek Ho!” But Kushi bristled at it. Lol..soon, he realized his slip and then was careful not to again show emotion..but gave advice like a professional colleague. I wonder if they would have driving lessons soon. It seems Kushi is stuck with Arnav with work spilling over weekend too and the other two in the team not around them too often. Madhusudanan is Maddy. *chuckles* I am eager for more interactions from Arnav and Kushi..and loved the song..so apt as always.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Oh boy. Worried weren’t you Mr. Arnav Varun? Worried as one would be for a colleague you might say and I will definitely laugh. No sir, no. You and I both know who she is.
    I’m guessing you wanted to pick her up from the airport but dueled with the genuine concern that is ingrained within, alongside the threatening worry for a loved one. That, combined with the prospects of how she would feel if you were there at the airport should have cemented the choice that you frustratedly resigned to. To stay back. To maybe ponder over what she’d feel if you were there.
    Waiting for her.
    Waiting to be the first familiar face she would see in the land of unknowns and maybe, just maybe, be the one she sought, despite everything else. Such a contrast no? A man then, wanting and willing to fly down to Bangalore if she’d just said the words and a man now, who fret within the confines of the Inn, wrought with worry and unable to help it.

    I like that the control slipped enough to have anger sheath over worry as it rose to demand an answer. I like that he was the first to call, even before Khushi’s Ma. And oh, to have her snap at him like that. I say snap because this is Kaveri Khushi Gupta we’re talking about and so ‘I wasn’t partying’ definitely deserves its exaggerated equivalent.

    It’s not going to be gently dancing flames this time, is it? A sultry inferno awaits, shivering in anticipation, having cindered the last dregs of a wait of years. I know it.

    The after-travel cleaning ritual is all too familiar. With no experience of Pardes I’m afraid I don’t have any stories to share of crowded transits or delayed flights. But what I have, is the wild-eyed curiosity and a willingness to soak in as much as I can. I’m not sure of the company Khushi, for there is no choice and no chance against him, but you’re not journeying Detroit alone. I’m with you. ( If there comes a time I can use the knowledge and familiarity, hurray! )

    He irks her. His ease contrasts with her shaking infuriation of feeling so many things, she can’t separate one from the other. Arnav’s got quite a bit of control. Meera, what do we need to do to have a peek into him?

    I think the drive and the shopping trip, the domesticity of it, will unnerve as much as it eases Khushi into what she thinks are the only eight weeks she’ll have to share with Arnav. I’m looking forward to it. Very much.

    One more thing I’d say to Khushi – I do hope by the end of eight weeks, you notice his trench-coat, polo-neck and scarf again. Not in casual observation but with the need to pull everything off him. ;) You’d call me a sadist, but I also hope you under-dress and he lends you his coat or better yet, both of you end up sharing one. ;)

    Thank you for the chapter Meera! And for inching us towards the free-fall, one more time.

    Sakhiyon, do I need to audition for a re-entry into the sisterhood? Let me know. I’ll start hunting up for the things that need to passed under the table and even over it. :D

    PS: My comment got swallowed once and I wanted to cry, still do. There’s no way of knowing if I’ve passed the test of memory. I have to live with the tantrums.

    Liked by 23 people

    1. You and audition, nahi nahi, you are an honorary lifetime platinum (if there is anything above that, then that) member Nivi😄 Your RDX is being RDX?
      “A sultry inferno awaits, shivering in anticipation, having cindered the last dregs of a wait of years.” Beautiful!

      Liked by 10 people

    2. Nivi,
      I am mush after reading that. I agree with every word you have written about the waiting Arnav. He let her go away once before. He respected her wishes once before. This time though he is not giving up. If there is a chance he could have what he had merely glimpsed all those years ago, he is going for it.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Right there in a puddle next to you.
        I always romanticise the most practical of things, the River only aids it. Just immensely glad that I have company.

        Yes, one time was enough. He’d agree. But he’s still holding back. I feel it. Is he waiting for his cue? Or for the point where turning back and walking away isn’t plausible much less possible. Something’s going to break a lot of things free. And l agree – This time, he will fight. If it comes to it.

        Liked by 3 people

  7. We have landed in Detroit! I totally share Khushi’s sentiments about the warmth of the people over there. For someone who usually looks through people, even if they are acquaintances, having people greet me on their own was a big surprise, and took some time getting used to.

    If I were to subtract the nervousness that was sprinkled throughout the update, I found myself feeling nostalgic. The weather, the absolute requirement of a vehicle to drive around, the sukha breakfast…I miss US already ;)

    And I second Khushi; 8 weeks is going to be tough, when day 1 is this tough.

    Liked by 7 people

  8. “Are you okay? ”

    This man has the ability to throw you off a cliff and then take you back. His voice has that effect and khushi. Did she realize that she can snap and snap at him only.? He is the one who push all her wrong or should i say right buttons?

    He is here to stay. He is not to back off easily and that is that. Khushi and we all should know. Eight weeks is a very long time and i can only imagine them doing mundane things like Driving,Eating etc.

    Liked by 7 people

  9. Lovely lovely update…. I am loving this new setting… This new environment and new place for this love story to move forward….
    Khushi’s awkwardness is so palpable… I actually feel nervous when khushi talks to Arnav… I don’t know how but it happens to me… arnav was so calm and khushi was so awkward around him… His offer to teach her driving was actually too much for someone who was planning to stay professional and aloof …. I know khushi will have to take up that offer and I can’t wait for that drive😍😍😍😍😍
    I laughed so much when khushi wanted arnav to lose hair and have a protruding belly like many men in their 30’s…but I guess that’s not going to happen… This is Arnav we are talking about… No wonder the girl is so nervous around him…
    And yes I am waiting for that caveman spirit of Arnav to make an appearance somehow..khushi needs that push I feel… It’s High time she starts listening to her heart…
    Waiting for the next update
    Continue soon

    Liked by 4 people

  10. “…so all the way over … the other side…”

    Of course Varun, as distance between hotel rooms doubles, force of gravity becomes one-fourth. Hai na? Attaboy, you high-school physics topper!!
    But remember, remember Kaveri…entropy dictates that if you stretch a rubber band, it will WANT to contract.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. Kya karoon, I am really itching to draw free body diagrams here!!
        Fnormal, Fgravity, Ffriction, Fgravity, Fcontact, Fresistance…you get the drift na :P Their equation is maddening!

        When it does turn into an exothermic reaction, I promise I will turn to chemistry. :D

        Liked by 6 people

  11. I so relate to what Khushi went through..Even though u are surrounded by strangers in your place, you don’t feel out of place…And you realize it only when you are way beyond that comfort…….it is only natural to feel that….
    Well obviously, there is another matter that is adding her restlessness…….the ever so mysterious AV…
    Now that they are finally in the same place…at least physically…..I have lost all my patience……Oh damn it!!!
    can’t wait…literally….
    😃

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Inn ittefakan mulakaton se,
    Dil ki bekabu dhadkano se,
    Jina kitna mushkil hai.

    Faaslon ki khawahishon se,
    Mehsoos ho rahi ha nazdiki se,
    Jina kitna mushkil hai.

    Saath bitaye hue har lamhe main,
    Duriyon ke har pal main,
    Jina kitna mushkil hai.

    Muhabat ke ikraar se bhi,
    Muhabbbat ke inkar se bhi,
    Jina kitna mushkil hai

    Liked by 6 people

  13. Poor Arnav was so worried about her delay, loved the “tum there ho”. Hopefully the hidden emotions will come out in open on both ends. Eight weeks with just the both of them with Kushi in a new country promises ample opportunities for each of them to open up their feelings. Meera the wait for the upcoming chapters will be so hard

    Liked by 3 people

  14. ohh boy!!! thats a lot of interactions…..it would be super fun to read about their next eight weeks together…..:D
    seems like they will be both on edge when they will deal with each-other…loved the part when “maggi” popped up in khushi’s mind when arnav asked about lunch…lol….it practically reminded me of my time when I had to move to another city for two months for project work….I literally lived on maggi that time lol….loved this update a lot <3 :)

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Heyyyyy…..🙋
    It feels like I did all that journey…LOL…
    But seriously… Khushi..U went through that much terribly jetlag-journey to reach ArnaV…!!!haa..ha..😋😉😈….
    Oh…no…u both are “Professionals” right!! So yeah…U can definitely snap at Ur colleague/top officer….like that!!….which U can’t seem to done even with Ur sister & BestFriend😋

    &Khushiii… It may not be a date for U…but for me& all of us here…it is& coming two fifty plus too…..surely looks like dates …i think ArnaV will agree with us..😜(He might not shown it or even walk away..just like now.. as if his part was done..but..)

    Woww…congratulations… U get an extra benefit of both short& long drives with AV in this Detroit “professional ” vacation brochure… Congratulations Khushi Kaveri Gupta..👍
    P.S: T&C applied😘

    Superbbbbb Meera!!

    Liked by 4 people

  16. Hmm…. what do I say now? I am honestly looking for words. While we are anticipating fireworks blasting all around you decided to do it other way, simple yet beautifully written. For Khushi, all of it is happening insider her brain already, though she is trying hard to behave normal, I want her to let it all go, no inhibitions, just take one day at a time and explore/experience fully for this 8 weeks, then take a decision….. she was infuriated with Arnav’s no reaction, especially when Arjun’s name was also taken, I was grinning like an idiot when I read that bit – that says it all, she is expecting some reaction from him, come on Arnav, show/give her something and she may as well take a step towards this relationship!
    But what about our dear hero?, when are we getting to see his POV on the proceedings? Surely, he is pretending better than Khushi, take his guard off in front of Khsuhi, for once let her see him through!!

    And I miss the other couple, get them back too – seriously, want to see their union in the other continent too. Fire works surely will fly there from all ends unlike these stubborn heads!!

    Liked by 6 people

  17. For Arnav and Khushi, hope they find their way to each other soon!

    (Ho!) I’ve been trying to do it right
    (Hey!) I’ve been living a lonely life
    (Ho!) I’ve been sleeping here instead
    (Hey!) I’ve been sleeping in my bed,
    (Ho!) Sleeping in my bed
    (Hey!) (Ho!)

    (Ho!) So show me family
    (Hey!) All the blood that I would bleed
    (Ho!) I don’t know where I belong
    (Hey!) I don’t know where I went wrong
    (Ho!) But I can write a song
    (Hey!)

    1, 2, 3
    I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart
    I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweet
    – The Lumineers (Ho Hey)

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Well like I said before I would go with d flow like river be coz its gettin so interesting!!!
    Real fun begins now
    Wating for d next
    8 weeks!!😉😉
    Hmmmm I think I wont be disappointed!!!
    Let’s d fun begin🤗🤗

    Liked by 3 people

  19. “It was nothing compared to the mess that was Bangalore or worse Benaras after even just one spell of rain. Yet, amidst everything that was as manicured and deliberate as the US had been to her at first sight, the sludge stood out and added to a sense of unbelonging disorder. Back at home, even chaos seemed to have an unspoken order, like things just fit like pieces of a worn out cardboard jigsaw.”
    Superb Meera. Even the ugliest things, foul smell, disorders, traffic chaos have an order in our mind as we are so used to it in our homeland.
    He is concerned, He is upset, He is panicky, as there is no message from Her. Urgent messages are left, the moment she steps into the Inn. Then why did not he receive her at the Airport? Is he giving her Her time ?
    So nonchalant in his reaction, when Arjun is mentioned,(Silly girl) at the very first breakfast meet. Khushi is thinking all over her brain in all angles and he remains calm, composed and cool. Is this like ” We are here for the Project” or I am your superior or thorough professionalism or playing reverse psychology on her?

    He does not seem to take her reluctance for driving tutoring sessions. I like this Arnav. This is called ‘ Vittu pidikkaradu” in Tamil. Splendid chapter Meera.

    Liked by 4 people

  20. Again, you bring in the travel realities of navigating thru unknown airports and life on the road as I am in my hotel room reading this update and trying to deal with jet lag in a strange town, having just flown half way across the world for a 3 day meeting. But I am counting the days till Friday when I get to go home.

    Arnav and Khushi are in a new phase of being around each other without any other person there….she is succumbing to the charm and to the attraction. What about him?

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Has anyone seen Meri Pyari Bindu promos? There is a love story spanned over a period of time, a mixed tape and general love of Bollywood and Bollywood songs in particular and someone who can sing! :-D

    Does that rings some bells?

    Liked by 6 people

  22. that was a very interesting update…Khushi has met Arnav after such a long time, though these two are the same people, yet five years has passed between them and now the time is different…I guess things are a little awkward between Khushi and Arnav because they have something within themselves holding them back..deep in their hearts they have always regarded the other as special and the love they have for each other is hidden but still lingers in the air, but these two are not acting on it…to fall back into a familiarity I guess all these two need is to spend some time together and 8 weeks of time together for Khushi and Arnav I guess will work its magic on the two and the hidden love they feel will be rekindled for sure…very good going…please do continue soon…waiting for the next update eagerly.. :-)

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Thanks for the search P! I’ll ignore what this says about my laziness. :P
        Just curious to know what is, if there is, the most sought after Desi eatery in videsh.

        Lunch – Why not? Though I think it might be a bit overwhelming for our Khushi. Too much of Arnav Varun maybe haanikaarak to her health. :p. But I do hope both of them are. Overwhelmed that is.

        Liked by 6 people

        1. No good desi eatery in Detroit Nivi except for one place….Mainly Middle eastern and there are other cuisines but I am thinking her first day in US AV is not going to experiment with her food habits :)

          Liked by 5 people

          1. Possible. As long as he’s the one taking her, one doesn’t have a reason to complain. ;)

            Looking back, they never really did share a meal no? Even that time when they met at the breakfast counter – with him wanting to take her up to the mountains and her staring at him, they never really ate together. Across the table, close enough. Correct me if I’m wrong, but her first breakfast in Detroit seems the first with him. :):)

            Liked by 7 people

            1. Yes, no reason to complain :D … But tell me she is not going to open her mouth what will he speak? I am at a dead end thinking about it… or she will be jet lagged and dozes off :lol:

              I remember the breakfast table meeting at the camp and then she taking aloo infront of him and thinking about it :lol: , he had left after speaking to her..so no breakfast together..
              And also after they had returned from treating her wound at the river camp, they did sit together, I don’t remember AV eating, Khushi probably did whatever asha chahi had made :lol:

              First breakfast in Detroit – Yes

              Liked by 7 people

              1. Or the rising irritation that he is the calm and unruffled AV she once knew will break that moun vrath of sorts and have her snap at him again. Or she could will herself to push it all away and talk shop, Detroit, the weather and all things safe until the two other team mates pull her back to the grounds.

                Whatever be the case, the silence and evasion will not sustain for long. Or so is my guess. One of them will break.

                Liked by 6 people

                1. Tale as old as time
                  True as it can be
                  Barely even friends
                  Then somebody bends
                  Unexpectedly
                  Just a little change
                  Small to say the least
                  Both a little scared
                  Neither one prepared
                  Beauty and the Beast

                  No one breaks – but perhaps one of them just bends a bit. Maybe it’s Khushi.

                  Liked by 3 people

  23. Aaah what an update ji
    My dear lovely lady l, can I demand a minute by minute, scratch that, second by second update of what’s going to happen in the next 8weeks of my AV Sir’s and our khushi’s life – is that too much to ask for meera 😊 – I miss reading this at leisure meera – my life is like a top – spinning 360 degrees always – u know I love u right? Take care

    Liked by 4 people

  24. Meera ….. was able to catch up with the last 2 chapters now only…… Finally Khushi has landed in Detroit…..Maybe the drives to Walmart and grocery stores or cooking and eating together which is going to happen due to shortage of time can bring them together…the cold climate in Michigan always makes one wish for a warmer place. Our seat belts are clicked and we are waiting for the amazing ride you are planning to take us through this fantasy land…..

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Khushi when Life gives you Lemon make lemonade!

    Here life/fate/destiny and writer ji are giving you third chance. Grab that woody scented Arnav Varun and don’t let him go this time.

    I know you have insecurities and doubts about AV’s feeling ng for you. Off them being rebound or due to less or no option, but look at the guy and the fact that he called you after joining the livung world back again.

    As for AV, we still din’t know his clear intentions but the worry he had for Khushi was dripping from every ounce of that call. And now he has been trying to take her out in the name od necessities, groceries and now driving lessons. Take a pitty on him and yourself khushi and start a clean slate.

    These 8 weeks use them to the best. Make new memories and get to knwo each other like never before.

    Liked by 6 people

  26. Kuchh bhi baki nahi raha ,magar kuchh to hai.
    Tumhein mujse nahi, mujhe tumse to hai.

    Ishq Jaane kis Bala ka naam hai magar,
    Dil ke har ek Kone main mere tu to hai.

    Kabhi toot ke, kabhi Adab se,Nikali dil se Sada,
    Har ek dua mein meri tu to Hai.

    Sine main jo chalti hai ek ravani jis kadar,
    yaad kabhi kiya nahii, tera khayal to hai.

    Haath thaam ke humsafar ban jaate hai?
    Haath haath main nahi, tu dil main to hai.

    Liked by 8 people

      1. Thank you Meera. Stun…..I know what stunning is after I read your chapters….if this can make you feel remotely like what I feel…. I will really feel I have achieved something…

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Rog dil ka yeh khud ko lagaya Na hota,
    Dard-e-dil Kya hai samajh aaya Na hota.

    Karte nahi hum Teri jaan ke sadke
    Teri jaan ko apni jaan banaya Na hota.

    Saansein ruk gayi, zindagi fir bhi chal rahi hai,
    Haal-e-dil yeh Na hota, tujhse dil lagaya Na hota

    Liked by 7 people

  28. Hi Meera, after River, would you write about khushi through AV’s eyes, and Arjun and Tripti..and all…

    Please do t get me wrong. This is not crazy, random request. You see I was told by some one that you understand ones like you…who have qualities like you but you are attracted to the opposite. And I kind of do believe that seems logical and true. I do believe in that theory, so, there are few things Khushi and I have common…like insecurrities about self, like being introvert…so I do understand her….but she has so many qualities that are not common to me and I am dying to know that, you know they are kind of calling me . But they are not emphasized here like she excels at everything she does. She doesn’t let her insecurities stop her from achieving what she wants, or let her self get distracted. Like minus few extra pounds ( some dur to medical reason) how beautiful she is inside and out…how fun she is like being a movie buff. ( ya, I know it says ,a lot about my dumbness…but we will ignore that ) but she being she …you will ( might ) have to write about them from others pint of view…she won’t be able to see it in her anyways

    Liked by 6 people

      1. बागोमे बहार है, आज सोमवार है, और मीरा, तुम को मुझ से प्यार है?

        (ना ना ना ना ना ना मत बोलना !!!)

        Liked by 3 people

  29. ohh khushi… snap out of it girl….. :).. btw.. so many things unsaid and yet so many things communicated… these two work on totally different level na..?? :)…
    AV was waiting for her to land… 8 hours and you could see how tensed and on the edge he was…
    and my dear dear michigan… ohh how i miss it….. my uni and my place… .. :).. wish i could travel there in winter… i miss the snow and yes i miss the sludge as well.. ;-)…
    AV is feeling too daring … he wants khushi to start driving … in winter.. that too first time in US… really daring it is… ;-)

    Like

  30. Finally finally she reaches and travel is no fun with those long legs..with languages and not to forget the security scrutiny after 9/11. No wonder arnav had his possessive side come up for khushi to see if she was ok? Khushi wants to forget him but I don’t see any signs of she trying other than she holding on to her past.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. It’s scary and petrifying to travel alone first time in a unknown country. Dealt with the same situation how Khushi had to deal with. I completely understand and sympathize with her situation. Totally culture shock.
    Why didn’t he went to the airport to fetch her? 8 hours late but still he could have called the airport & got some details.

    What an entry & outfit…dashing looks. He is trying his level best to ease her nervousness.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I can complete relate to Khushi’s travel woes and her novel experience with the US lifestyle especially the synthetic eggs. My first time with the egg scramble was similar, I wondered about the uniform yellow color.
    Arnav’s concern in not so subtle manner was such an awe moment. His demeanor in this chapter has made me wonder whether he has really given into what Khushi wanted and is waiting for her to make the move or if he is holding on the brink of his patience before he asserts his stand. How can he be in such control while poor Khushi is trying so hard to maintain her emotions. Looking forward for the driving lessons.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. The after journey cleaning routine… Hahha haaa something that was strictly followed growing up and much to my hubby and kids chargin… I go crazy mad abt… :-P

    That said… Wow.. Concern for her but limitations knowing that she woudlnt want him hovering as soon as she lands, got him angered enuf to be curt. I feel tho, that he is being the no nonsense senior colleague with the advice and tips, coz of the 2nd fone call. (He did indeed ask her, even back then… He wanted to meet her and said would plan his trip to Bangalore, if she was ok with it..)

    So he is giving her what she wants, formality, professionalism and most importantly space. He cannot by nature ignore her,so the concern will sure bring out slip ups and emotions out, as he did when she gave him a wayward answer for the delay.
    But its more coz he knows she will be unable to handle this ‘aloof’ism for long. SMART hain apna Arnav babua.

    Liked by 1 person

  34. awesome update yar
    Arnav is handling it patiently where khushi wants to ignore him if possible…
    she is here for eight weeks and it’s going to change their equations….. khushi is being a tough nut to crack……

    Liked by 1 person

  35. KHUSHI IS IN DILEMMA..
    She tries to forget everything about the past n wanna deal it nonchalantly …
    But is doing the only opposite of it..
    It’s taking toll on her sanity..

    On the other hand,AV is handling all this with patience n clarity of mind ..
    He’s sure of his feelings n can’t let go her..
    But he can’t force her either..
    So,his sanity too is in danger..

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Khushi finally made it to Detroit. How come Arnav did not go to the airport to pick her up? Was he caught up at work?
    I am glad she made it in one piece and managed to get some sleep. AS mush as Khushi is trying to avoid Arnav, she ended up having breakfast, going on a lunch date (I know they don’t want to call it a date) and had to drive back to the Inn in their car under his instructions. It is not going to work, is it?
    Khushi’s travel reminded of one of my trips where the sun followed us for 24 hours making my body go crazy. Another time after 24 hours travel I fell asleep and did not wake up for one whole day to bring the body clock back to normalcy and finally how I realised I lost a suitcase when a similar looking bag was going in circles on the carousel. Not just in New York, you won’t find signs or directions to domestic transfers once you get out of the main corridor to pick up your luggage. I don’t know whether they don’t want to confuse the other passengers or they don’t care about international travellers taking a domestic flight straight away. It is the same story every where.Off to read the next one.
    Cheers…..

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Ishmart babua, plays the professional senior employer ,
    how was the journey ,
    did you call your parents ,
    do you need basics ,
    stressing the imp of driving
    but underneath it , romantic pining majnu,
    waiting impatiently for her arrival, barking at her concerned ,
    trying chance pe dance by casually meeting for breakfast ,
    offering to take her out shopping / lunch
    on a lazy Sunday , instead of 💤
    almost like SRK in purple pullover, dark jeans, scarf ( so love his scarfs )trench coat , only missing accessory is laptop bag 😬🤓
    Walmart – like grandma, visit is both essential & cathartic (Sense of apnapan)
    Ok, BTW , does AV cook ?

    Liked by 1 person

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