Let the pretentiously poetic title not deceive you, for the following anecdote actually did happen with an unfortunate looking guy as me. And if I am allowed to be honest throughout, I dare say that those were the best three days of my otherwise uneventful life.
However prolific a traveller I boast of being, Goa is one place that I love to revisit every once in a while; the count is a respectable seven till now, and is sure to increase. It sounds funny because people generally travel to take a break from life, whereas I go visit Arambol Beach in Goa to take a break from travelling.
It happened in the September of last year. I had made an impromptu solo plan on a Thursday night, and on Friday morning I caught a flight from Delhi to Goa. I got off the plane to a familiar, happy sight. The cool winds smelled of freedom from the mundane. As usual, I hired an Activa and headed straight to my favourite Arambol Beach. An hour and a half later, I found myself chilling with the friendly Russian owner of the famous Laughing Buddha shack, with a cold King’s in my hand. Life already seemed perfect; after all, this is precisely what I’d come to Goa for.
But as I was about to realise soon after, I hadn’t really experienced “perfect” yet. Although I’m mostly repelled by the unnecessarily engulfing impact of technology, there are some mobile applications that I’ve allowed to conveniently stay in my life since there are a handful of guilty pleasures that a man is allowed to be vulnerable to. Tinder is one that I would keep fiddling with while idle, without ever really expecting anything/ anyone in return. And then, suddenly, I got a notification of a “match”. I was on my third pint already, so my strengthened confidence forced me to check out the woman who had decided to swipe right for me.
Let's call her Akanksha. Her interests included “Budweiser”, “Memes”, and “Stanley Kubrick”. On top of that, she was “0 kms away”. I was instantly sold, and messaged her on Tinder.
“Hi, Prateek. What’s up!?”
“Hey! Watching the sun drown in the sea with my King’s at Arambol. What about you?”
“LOL. Where in Arambol?”
“Laughing Buddha. Are you in Arambol too?”
“Yess! I’m at the German Bakery with friends.”
At this point, I didn’t really know what to say, because: One, I’m bad at flirting; two, I didn’t want to join her “friends” in her whereabouts. She sensed this and messaged back, “You probably don't want to be hanging with my friends.” Wow, she was smart.
“Haha! It’s not that. I’m not in the mood to socialise with 10 people, when I really just want to talk to you.” She responded with a blushing smiley. I knew I’d outdone myself. She agreed to come over to the beach area in front of Laughing Buddha.
Honestly speaking, I had thought I would spend the rest of the evening drinking and chatting with her on the beach, and that's about it. But Akanksha turned out to be the most interesting stranger I’d ever had a fortuitous encounter with. (Not technically “fortuitous”, but you know what I mean.)
Akanksha was an amazing woman in her mid-20s and had just quit her decently-paying job in advertising to go “explore the world”. It sounded hilariously clichéd the first time she mentioned it to me, but it didn’t take long before I was convinced that I was indeed talking to the real deal here. She hadn’t run away from home because she was being forced to get married, she wasn’t fed up with the drudgeries of life either and hence was on a path of discovering herself; her agenda, in fact, was the simplest of all the phonies I’d met erstwhile – she really just wanted to see the world. And I could understand this sentiment wholeheartedly.
I ended up spending the rest of the weekend with her. I enjoyed her company so much that I didn’t even mind mingling with a couple of her friends on a Saturday afternoon. It was probably for the first time that I had postponed my plans for a singular human being, and that too, a stranger. We stayed together at Laughing Buddha till Monday morning, before I bid her goodbye only to re-enter the world as a corporate slave, while she stayed put at Arambol in order to plan where she would head to next.
We did talk twice over the phone after that brief rendezvous, before she left for Vietnam in December. We haven’t been in touch since then.
I am the sort of person who always laughs at people who believe that there are others in the world who will perfectly “match their wavelength”. Not because I am a pessimist, but because the realist in me refuses to find the statement remotely credible. But, out of all the things imaginable, Tinder convinced me otherwise. My equation with Akanksha was platonic in nature, and she is an extremely independent woman whose idea of having a good time doesn't necessarily involve making love to a stranger. I guess the only reason we ended up tolerating each other for three consecutive days on a vacation was the fact that we really empathised with each other’s issues, none of which had anything to do with seeing each other in the same bed at night.
Since then, my idea of a “perfect” Goa sojourn has altered drastically. All thanks to a technological marvel and a true Tinder “match” of wavelengths.