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I kept busying myself with trivia as I took a sip from my Chai Latte. I don’t like to come to Starbucks too often, to just sit at a table and while away time. When I do sit at a table I can effectively tune out any floating words and phrases which are flying around the room in conversations and arguments. I keep to myself. Look down at my laptop and don’t bother with anybody else.
I’d sat next to the wall so as to be able to charge my laptop. At one point I was going through a blog and reading up on the latest posts. A girl, around mid-twenties, hovered around my table, clearly hesitant and waiting to ask something. I looked up from my seat and smiled at her. Sort of a go-ahead – ask me any question.
She said “Ummm, I’m sorry. Everywhere else is full and I wanted to charge my phone. Is it okay if I share this table with you?”
That didn’t seem like a terrible thing to ask. I, of course, made some space for her by clearing away some space on the table and pulled myself back in to the chair so that I wasn’t up and close against her face. The conversation that transpired after that was, as I can aptly put, quite engaging:
“Hello! My name is Melissa. Thank You.”
“No problem at all. Please call me Ab.” The fact that I emphasized on my name ‘Ab’ brought up an expression on her face which I couldn’t define.
“Ab? Is that short for something?” She asked intently. That came to me as a surprise because not many people tried to know what my name was a derivative of.
“My full name is Abhishek Shirpurkar. It’s a mouthful, I know. I like my name but I don’t like it when people mispronounce it. And since, only my parents can pronounce it right, they’re the only people who call me by my full name.” I smiled at my own explanation and was almost convinced Melissa would get up and walk away. In stead, she smiled back.
“Can I have a go?”
I said “Of course.”
“Ab-bee-shik?” As she said the last syllable she had an inquisitive look on her face, almost hoping that she was right.
“I’m sorry. That was far from the right way.” I laughed, more at myself than at her pronunciation. She laughed along and went on to explain:
“Well, I’ve had a dull, simple name all my life. I like to be called Melissa, not Mel, not Lisa and definitely not Melly.” She grimaced at the last name. Most likely, associating some memory that induced such a reaction to that name.
“I like your name. It’s simple. That’s the whole point of names, right?” I said. I don’t know if I wanted the conversation to lead somewhere or I just wanted to talk about anything.
“I agree. Names can be defined with what kind of a person you are. Not the other way around. I don’t know why people think I am a simple person. My name is probably misleading. The friends and family who know me well think I’m very complicated. In fact, I do too!” She was clearly in to this conversation and I didn’t want to disappoint her by ending it anytime soon.
“My name is a Hindu name. It means ‘Shower of Milk’. Something to do with purity and devine-ness. I can’t remember when the last time anybody associated me with either of those things.” And we both laughed at the thought.
“You seem like a pure person, though. In the sense of purity and divine-ness.” She tread carefully, hoping she hadn’t upset me.
“And you seem like a simple person.” I simply smiled at her. She did look simple. She was well-versed in conversations. She wore a simple top and jeans and her bag too was a simple sling bag.
“I can’t see any indication that says you are complicated.” I said.
“Well, maybe you have to get to know me better for it.” She said in a very suggestive manner.
“Here’s what I’ve assessed. You like coffee. I do too. You come here to charge your phone and I come her to read up on my favorite blogs.” She grinned at my assumption and let me go on.
“I come here once a week. Rarely after noon. But I sit here, always.”
She looked intently, the smile quite gentle on her face.
“Maybe, someday I can find out how complicated you are and you’ll get a chance to know how un-pure I am.” I smiled at her and eagerly waited for her answer and I knew I’d got her thinking.
She replied “Someday…sure.” She smiled and pulled her charger out of the charging socket. She got up and pulled her bag over her shoulder and looked at me and said
” You know, I am really complicated.”
“I’d like to find out myself.” I said. And, I really did.
She smiled at me. She said “Sounds fair” and walked towards the door. And like the fool that I am, kept looking at her till she walked out of sight, outside the store.
Three things I am most certain about:
#1 – Women know more about men at a glance than men do about women. It’s the most obvious and accurate assumption.
#2- Thanks to my name I just had a pleasant conversation with someone who seemed quite simple. But, I do accept with the stranger that we, as persons, define our name and not the other way around.
#3- Starbucks is not the worse place to sit at a table and do your own thing.