We woke up on Monday morning, a bit late. We rushed around, making sure all of our things were packed. We each took only a backpack – aside from my purse. I did most of the sorting, while DN cooked a quick breakfast.
We left our apartment when the sky was still a bit dark, and headed for the metro station. The metro trains were stuffed, as DN predicted, so we exited the metro station and hired and auto-rickshaw instead.
We realized, once we hit traffic, that we would have arrived faster by metro, however stuffed it may have been.
When we reached the bus station, we waited outside with a small group of people. DN gave me the signal to wait, and I watched as he disappeared into the crowd, heading towards the gate. I stood on the tips of my toes, trying to keep my eyes on DN. When that failed, I began to space out, imagining our journey. That is, until an old man with no pants wandered into my view.
When I noticed him, a look of concern washed over my face, and when he noticed me, he simply stood there. Pants-less… and staring at me. Concerned, I searched the crowd for DN, who was signaling me to come to the gate. I darted through the crowd, towards the gate, and the security men rushed us through.
As DN and I raced to the building, I managed to ask why we were rushing. “We’re late,” he began. “Everyone is inside.”
Before we could enter the building, two men in military uniform stopped us. The elder, who seemed to be my grandfather’s age, grabbed DN by the shoulders. He gently asked him all the basic questions, in Hindi.
“Why are you late?”
“How do you know this girl?”
“For how long have you known this girl?”
“Where are you going?”
DN managed to patiently answer him. He then directed us to a door on the side of the building.
We entered and had our bags scanned. The man began speaking to DN. They laughed and seemed to banter a bit. The only things that I understood, were:
“How do you know her?”
“How long have you known her?”
I sighed, tired of people interrogating poor DN everywhere we went.
I was then directed to another room, where I received a personal security check by a woman. She couldn’t speak English, but she tried asking me a few questions in Hindi.
“Kahan se ho?” She asked.
“America,” I replied, smiling. She began searching my purse casually, and that’s when I noticed her bindi. It was a deep red color, and it sparkled. She was a middle aged woman with a healthy, curvy frame. She wasn’t wearing a saree, as her job demanded a lot of physical work, but she had all the other signs of Hindu marriage.
She said something else in Hindi, but the only words I understood were: Sundar (beautiful), bahut (a lot, so much), and at this point she started waving her hands in a big circle and then said, “India”. I predicted that she was trying to say that I was beautiful. After that, I felt like maybe she was telling me that Nepal was more beautiful than India. I smiled, still unsure of what she was getting at, and walked out of the curtained area and into the hall where DN was waiting for me.
When we sat down in our seats, on the pink Mercedes Benz bus, DN informed me of what the security guard had said to him earlier.
“Remember when we entered the building and the security man was talking to me?”
“Yes,” I said.
DN blushed. “He said, ‘How far along are you in the process of getting married?’ ”
DN blushed and smiled. He had never indicated to the man that we were together.
(We always introduce ourselves as friends or business partners, publicly. Which will only change once we are married.)
We giggled and I sank into my seat, preparing for the long adventure ahead.