July 30th, 1989
Hyatt Hotel, Delhi, India
I sometimes start a diary entry with What a day but this one is more like WHAT A DAY!
I’ll start with this morning, when I woke up crying from a dream I had about Ben. In the dream we were teenagers and Ben looked like he did when I fell in love with him. We were walking through a forest, and when I turned around, he was gone. I ran all over looking for him but I couldn’t find him.
I was still in bed sniffling and feeling sorry for myself, when Toby, our purser, rang to see if I wanted to go to the market with him. He said the market experience was worth getting up for, especially since it’s my first time here. I was tempted to say no thanks, roll over and go back to sleep but I knew I’d feel better if I went out, if only for a short time.
I pulled myself together and met Toby in the lobby. We ventured out into the heat and the chaos and within a few minutes I felt agitated because I’d bumped into what felt like at least a thousand people. I made no attempt to hide my annoyance and Toby laughed at my appalling attitude.
The market was overflowing with people and filled with all sorts of smells from food I had no clue of. I started to feel a bit more like myself, and thought, “Chill out, you’re in India!” Toby’s cheeriness soon lifted me out of my bad mood. His witty banter was good medicine and I soon realized how ridiculous I was being.
Many of the market stalls had makeshift tables, heaped with clothes and we stopped at one and began rummaging through the piles. The stall owner picked up a madras shirt and held it out to Toby from across the table.
“For your wife?” he asked in a lovely Indian lilt.
Toby took the shirt from him and held it up for my inspection.
“What do you think sweet pea?” he asked.
“It’s fab darling,” I cooed. “May I have it please?”
I watched Toby as he tried not to laugh. “How much?” he asked, passing the shirt back to the man.
“I give you good price for your beautiful wife.”
“Sorry, she’s not for sale,” Toby quipped.
“No, no sir,” the man said, clasping his hands. “I sorry miss,” he said, looking at me. “I give you good price.”
“We’ll take it,” said a voice I recognized.
I spun around and there he was. Mr. LA himself!
“I saw your hair from the other side of the market,” he said, taking the shirt from the stall owner and passing it to me.
I was much too gobsmacked to say thank you and purely due to nerves and excitement I started laughing. David passed a twenty dollar bill to the Indian man.
“Thank you sir, American dollars, most kind, thank you,” he said over and over again.
“Hi Karen,” David said with the biggest grin.
“Hi David. Fancy meeting you here,” I said, laughing.
We hugged and rapidly exchanged a bunch of words, questions, whatever, I don’t remember. In my head I was thinking; did he get the note? It’s so hot he probably hasn’t even put his jacket on. Wow, he really is gorgeous. Love his hair. He just bought me a shirt. It’s my favourite shirt ever. I wonder if he got the note. Maybe? Oh, he’s so good looking!
Toby cleared his throat in a, “Hello I’m still here,” kind of way and I introduced him to David.
“We met on the flight,” Toby said to nobody in particular, as he and David shook hands.
“Where are you guys staying?” David asked.
“At the Hyatt,” I answered, much too fast.
“Could we meet later?” Ah, that smile. I could barely concentrate as he continued, “ I can come and pick you up.”
“Unfortunately, we’re only here for the day,” I said, feeling utterly disappointed. “We have a really early departure. When’s call time Toby?”
“Like two in the morning,” he said, rolling his eyes.
“That’s too bad,” David offered with what I believe is the understatement of the century.
I felt so crestfallen I was stumped for words.
David looked at me. “Can you hang out now?”
Eh, let me see…YES! YES! YES!
“Sure,” I said in as cool a way as I could muster.
Toby asked if I’d be able to find my way back to the hotel and he gave a slight shake of his head that I interpreted as, “Will you be ok with him?”
I returned his silent question with an enthusiastic nod and hoped he sensed that I would be more than fine being left alone with David. Well, when I say alone, I mean in a city of about ten million people. Plus the gorgeous guy from LA!
“Bye sweet pea,” Toby said, as he kissed me on the cheek then whispered, “So unfair,” in my ear. He and David shook hands again then he left.
“Would you like to go on a walking tour of the city?” David asked.
“You’re that familiar with it?”
“I spend a lot of time here. It’s really cool.”
We headed out of the market and it didn’t feel at all like I only knew David from the flight. We spoke with ease about all sorts and from behind my Ray-Bans I snuck glances at him and have concluded that he is Utterly Divine.
Throughout the day we popped in and out of various places for food and drinks (and to cool down) and it was so nice being around someone who is no stranger to a place. Typically in Delhi, crew only eat in the hotel because we hear such horror stories about people getting sick from the street food. We’re strongly encouraged not to be at all adventurous, but today, I forgot about all that and I ate everything that was put in front of me.
We had so many questions for each other:
“Where do you live?” I asked him.
“In a place called Manhattan Beach, real close to the ocean.”
“How far are you from the airport?”
“LAX?” he asked.
Oh goodie, I thought.
“Do you have any siblings?” he asked.
“No, I’m an only child.”
“I couldn’t tell,” he said, laughing.
“Cheeky,” I said cockily. “How about you?”
“One sister, she’s older. She and my parents live in San Diego.”
“Where exactly is that?” I asked.
“So Cal,” he continued. “Southern California.”
“Oh, ok. Is that where you’re from?”
“I was born in San Diego but I went to school at UCLA.”
“School as in university?” I asked.
“Yeah, the University of California, Los Angeles.”
David went on to explain he’s so familiar with Delhi because the engineering firm he works for has a huge presence here. He had today off and said that going to the market was a last minute decision after he remembered he needed to buy his mum a birthday present. He said when he spotted my hair through the crowd, he just kept walking towards me, all the while thinking there was no way it could actually be me!
After exploring the city on foot and risking our lives in several tuk-tuk rides, we arrived back at the hotel at midnight. We ordered tea in the lobby and I knew it would soon be time for us to say goodbye, although I definitely didn’t want to.
David walked me to the elevator and pressed the button. I took his outstretched hand and we swayed our hands back and forth, slowly. I felt my breathing getting more and more rapid and I thought my face might explode from my wide smile.
The elevator dinged when it arrived and the doors opened. David and I stepped towards each other and my heart was beating so fast I had to keep reminding myself to breathe. He smiled at me as he reached his hand around the back of my neck and pulled me to him. We started kissing and when he pressed his fingers into the back of my neck, I thought I might actually pass out. The elevator doors dinged as they closed and we kissed our way through several of them coming and going.
As caught up as I was in kissing, I sensed time ticking by. When we stopped kissing, we stared at each other with matching grins.
“I have to go,” I whispered.
“I know,” he said, then kissed me again. “This has been, “ he sighed, “I don’t know what to say.”
“Serendipity,” I offered.
He pressed the button for the elevator and I put my arms around him. “Thank you for showing me around today. It was spectacular.”
“It is spectacular,” he said, squeezing me tight.
The elevator dinged and the doors opened. I stepped in and we held hands until the closing doors forced us to let go.
Suddenly, David reached his hand between the doors and his action forced them to open again.
“Hey Karen,” he said, tilting his head. “I forgot to say thanks.”
“For the note,” he mouthed, just as the doors closed and I began my floaty ascent, way higher than my room on the thirteenth floor.