The Love Trip – Part 6: Distance made the heart grow stronger.
The train ride to Pondicherry was fantastic. Great seats, great view, and fun people who kept asking us to feature in their selfies. Most of them thought we were married. Adrian and I. We played along. Someone even asked him if we wanted to have babies. I interrupted with a big “yes!”
“I'm actually pregnant, it's why we're here – to bless the baby at the many, many temples in the South.”
We saw Pondi by bike. And a little later, on horseback. Everyone at Pondi seemed to have taken an interest in us. Some of the boys asked Aidy when he intended on marrying me.
“A girl like Meetali will never marry a boy like me,” he blushed.
Not marrying the tree
We went to Auroville where we met Aidy's friend – Vinod. He was raised in Auroville by his adoptive white parents. “You know Adrian,” he taunted, “I'm in love with a girl and I really need to start earning the big bucks. It's why I'm going to Dubai, to get rich, and then ask her to marry me. Because that's what gentlemen do, they marry the women they love.” I burst out laughing, because I had never seen Aidy this embarrassed ever before.
A few days later, Aidy was hospitalised because of a stomachbug. Once he felt better we headed to Madurai, which was again disappointing. Here, it was my turn to fall ill. I had a bad case of the flu – a fever by night and a shitty cold to deal with all morning. Aidy was by my side through it all. I cried in his arms not believing what I had found and how soon I would lose it.
Over the next few days we went temple hopping. I even caught Aidy praying at one of them. “But you're an athiest,” I said, “What are you praying for?” He didn't say. Our last day at Madurai was bitter-sweet; sweet because we were really excited about our next stop – Chennai – bitter because it was our last stop. After Chennai, I'd have to leave Aidy and go back to Bombay. It was my niece's wedding. Aidy on the other hand would go on to Orissa. We would literally part ways – one goes east, the other west.
On our way to Chennai a simple journey turned into a disaster, leading us to jump off a moving train and lie stranded at a small random station surrounded by gazing locals. They seemed friendly enough, and offered Aidy some local weed. We spent a few hours waiting for the next train at a remote station. This was the first glimpse of rural India for Aidy.
It was our last day together, and we decided not to sleep at all. We wanted to be with each other as much as possible before saying goodbye the next day. Our conversations turned to laughter, but laughter soon turned to tears. Neither of us wanted to let go of the other. And so I asked him:
“Why don't you come to my niece's wedding with me?”
He said yes. Again.
I headed to Bombay to help with the wedding. And Aidy made his way to Orissa. He didn't like it. “I can't find dosas anywhere Meetali,” he complained. He just couldn't do anything alone, the big baby. And to think this was supposed to be a solo backpacking trip. Hah.
A love written in sand
While he was moping in the east, I was breaking it the news to my mum that my firang friend wanted to attend an Indian wedding. To my surprise she was ok with it. A few weeks ago she had made a huge deal of our pictures together now she was okay with him being my plus one? But this would all change.
The thing about white boys is this: PDA. PDA everywhere. At the haldi, mehendi and sangeet, more people cared about who Aidy was, than they did about the bride. Which, as you can imagine, upset the bride.
My mother came up to me at one point and asked me to tell Aidy to keep his hands off me. “Can he not hold your waist all the time?”
“But no one can see us here.”
Soon, it was the bidaai, and he found humour in the fact that everyone was crying,“It's all orchestrated, Meetali... no one really feels sad.” But as soon as the bride actually left, I caught him wiping his eyes too. I was a teary mess myself.
That was symbolic enough for my father to ask, “Is he marrying you?”
The big, fat Indian wedding
A few days later, Aidy went back home to the UK. As soon as he reached, we spoke for two hours straight. I thought we'd slowly grow tired of keeping in touch this way, but we didn't. If anything, our conversations got longer. This was not healthy. We couldn't pine for each other knowing there was no hope there.
So we went on a 'break'. I got back on Tinder to get my mojo on. I'd been away from the game for a while now. Some of the dates were interesting, some of the dates were horrible, and none of them felt right. Then one day, while I was on a so-so Tinder date, Aidy called:
Will you marry me?
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are independent views solely of the author(s) expressed in their private capacity and do not in any way represent or reflect the views of 101India.com.
By Meetali Meshram
Photographs by Meetali Meshram