Changing ideas of craziness

Forty-six years ago, we, a newly married young couple, were sitting under a starlit sky on the lawns of India Gate in New Delhi on a warm Saturday night. Security considerations didn’t weigh so heavily then. After a lovely evening watching a romantic Hindi movie in Connaught Place, we were on our way back to the Air Force Officers’ Colony at Palam. It felt so romantic to sit down in a lonely corner at India Gate lawns and whisper sweet nothings in each other’s ears.

The corner we chose became desolate by midnight. Mani felt insecure and insisted that we leave for home. I had been holding her hand in mine and fondling the diamond ring I had so lovingly put on her fingers a few months back. As we were about to leave, the ring, slightly loose on her delicate finger, slipped and decided to tease us by hiding in a dark patch.

Down on our knees, we searched all over in the light of the last few sticks left in my matchbox. But the starry night, so romantic thus far, was no great help. My scooter couldn’t be brought there to provide illumination with its head lamp. We soon became desperate. I decided to go to Pandara Park, the upmarket residential area half a kilometre away, to borrow a flashlight from some householder. My wife said it was a crazy idea to approach a stranger at that hour. But being left alone was no choice and she joined me.

At Pandara Park we saw a house having a small gathering in its lawn. Soft music was on and well-dressed couples, mostly foreigners (probably diplomats from nearby Chanakyapuri), holding tall icy-cool glasses in their hands were enjoying a party. As we stopped by the hedge, a domestic help came out to check. Our request was conveyed to his master. A man in early thirties came to enquire why a decent-looking couple was desperate to borrow a flash light at that unearthly hour. I explained.

At the mention of the word “wedding ring” he promised to lend an emergency light and went in. Lo and behold! the music was off. Along with the flashlight we got half a dozen volunteers, keen on coming and helping us. They followed us in their cars as my scooter rushed to the dark spot at India Gate lawns. Retrieval of the ring was celebrated later with a toast to our marriage when we joined the party at their invitation.

Last week, coming back from a late night party in the same area, I got a crazy idea. I stopped my car at a barricaded gate of the same colony and informed the security guard that I wished to borrow a torch from any house, to look for a ring I had dropped at India Gate lawns. He taunted, “You look respectable, yet you expect me to believe that silly story. Who do you think will not call the police when you ring the bell to borrow a flashlight at this unearthly hour?”

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