July 2006 in Bangalore through the eyes of an Englishman|
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31/7/2006 - Reality Bites|
On the following Monday morning Terry phoned me to find out what the hell was going on. I had of course been putting off the evil day when I would call her and tell her. Lots of good intentions but no action. The conversation was not wonderful, but it could have been worse. She used the word amicable, and told me I was to send her a return ticket so she could come back to India, collect the rest of her stuff, and return to the USA. I was not convinced that this was a good idea. I could not see anything for her but grief in the trip, and thought it would be better if I sent her the things. So I resolved to procrastinate about the ticket until I heard from her again and she said the same thing. The conversation was certainly no worse than I had expected.
I should probably comment at this point on my feelings about my rather horrendous track record. Terry was my fourth wife. After three marriages, I had never intended to marry again - I thought I had pretty much discredited the institution. The fourth marriage arose because Terry had developed a growth on her left femur after we'd been together (on and off) for about three and a half years, and after the Diana affair. Surgery was required, it was a non-trivial, and she was scared. She asked me if I would marry her before she went under the knife, and in a moment of madness or whatever, I said I would.
The three and a half years had then progressed to six. She never took my name, rarely kept the same hours as me, going to bed, or getting up, constantly wandered off when we went anywhere together, woke me frequently in the middle of the night to bawl me out with some real or imagined grievance, and steadfastly refused to make any serious attempt to get a job. Without a job, she had taken to drinking during the day, and was well down the road to alcoholism. Throughout the time of our stay in India, I can't count the number of times people have asked me why the hell I put up with it.
I also had no idea how we were going to get by at the point where I had to stop working, for whatever reason. So I guess I was in a state where I was pretty easy game. However, I can't say that I was poached by Adia. Once I met her, it was six of one, and half a dozen of the other. As and when I can extract myself from the marriage with Terry, if she'll still have me, then Adia will be wife number five.
25/7/2006 - Moments of Truth|
One of the things that Adia had told me was that her older brother and sister had both died of AIDS, and that we should both get tested. So on Thursday evening we finally managed to get to Cambridge Hospital at a reasonable time, polled into the duty doctor's office and told her that we'd like to get an HIV test. Now the Indians are prudish in some ways, but the medical profession are always pretty broad minded, and this woman didn't bat an eyelid. She just wrote us the prescription, asked if there was anything else we wanted to get tested for while we were at it, and sent us down to the path lab. The woman there was equally friendly. She took my blood first, then Adia's, then to our surprise she said we should sit outside for 10 minutes and the results would be ready. This was not my past experience of HIV tests, when you had to stew on it for 24 hours, but it's still a tense time. After a long 10 minutes, we went back. She handed us our envelopes, smiled, and said "They're negative." I did my ritual jump up and down as soon as we got out.
The next self-imposed ordeal was for me to find out if I could actually still father a child. I didn't want Adia going into the plan blind, only to find out two years down the line that there was no way she could have a child with me. I knew that was a very important part of the plan as far as she was concerned, and that it would become more important as she got further into her thirties. So on Saturday afternoon we went to the hospital again to see Punitha, the director's wife and the principal gynaecologist and fertility specialist. It was quite a hoot. Punitha had an intern with her, and they both looked at us like we were something the cat had dragged in. I have to believe that we probably strike a lot of people here as an unlikely pair.|
I explained as simply as I could that I wanted to know if I was still capable of fathering a child. Obviously this was not a standard line, because her first question was how long had we been married. Eventually we got it sorted out, and she wrote me a prescription for a semen analysis, told me no sex for three days, and to come back on Tuesday. I took an afternoon off, and we arrived back at about 1:30. The guy who was to do the analysis started off on the same line of questioning as Punitha, so we had to get that sorted out again. Then he gave me a plastic container and escorted me to a vacant hospital room.
It's not easy to jack off to order. He just looks at you as if to say "What's all this about? You're not feeling horny." You look back and say "Just shut the fuck up and get on with it." You continue, and think of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song: Relax, go to it. Eventually something was forthcoming, but I thought it was pretty miserable compared to occasions on the previous week. I put the cap on the plastic container and took it back to the guy. He looked at it with an expression that said to me "Is that the best you can do?", then sent us away for two hours.
The two hours passed slowly. I did not have a good feeling about the test. We tried to nap unsuccessfully and then twiddled our thumbs. I told Adia that I'd never have sex in that room again, and she laughed. She's good at cheering me up. Eventually the time was up and we went back and got my report. Given the fact that I had a vasectomy in my early fourties, then a reverse vasectomy in my early fifties, It was better than I had feared, though far from perfect. After another two hours wait we got to see Punitha, who confirmed that it wasn't wonderful, but said it was probably doable. She could put me on medication that would improve it, and if that didn't allow nature to take its course, she would be able to artificially inseminate Adia, and that had a very good chance of being OK. It was gratifying that she said we should not have sex without contraception if we wanted to wait the two years, and put her on the pill - to be started at the start of her next period.|
On the lighter side, Adia has been teaching me a few words of Swahili, so far I know:
17/7/2006 - Highs and Lows|
On Sunday we'd invited Florence and Fred to come to Sunday brunch at the Taj. Fred came without Rita, who was working, and Florence turned up with her two teenage girls, her sister and her son, and her friend Gerd. So we ended up at separate tables.
On the previous evening, I'd discovered that Adia is a Muslim. Given my views on religion, I might have been phased by this, but I think she's a fairly mild case, and we'll live. It was pointed out to me at brunch though that if I ate the bratwurst or the salami, she would not be able to kiss me, so I guess I have said goodbye to pork. However she seems to eat pretty much anything else, including the oysters and the humus, which as usual I pigged out on.
After brunch we went shopping for some stuff she needed on Commercial Street, and in the evening we went back to TGIF again.
What with the champagne at brunch, and a few beers in the evening, by the end of the day I'd had more than enough, and in the morning I awoke in a sweaty funk. The thought in my head that I might lose my job, and that Adia might simply do the masters degree and then turn around and then say thanks and goodbye. So I blurted it all out, and she cried at the thought that I might lose my job and spoil the plan, and swore that she would be by my side until I died. I cried too, then we got up and made a breakfast of hard-boiled eggs, toast and fruit, and I went to work while she went home to clean up her apartment and look after college business.
On Monday night we ate at home. I cooked an approximation to my black-bean and chicken casserole (you can't get canned black beans in Bangalore), and we drank a little red wine. Adia apparently approved of the food, since she went for a second helping. After supper, we looked at Internet pages dealing with Tanzania, and went to bed early. I love sleeping with her. After a little making out, we both go to sleep instantly, and sleep well, but I think we both partially wake during the night to adjust our positions so that we are comfortably touching. In the morning we both wake naturally at about the same time.
15/7/2006 - A Plan|
We had slept together on Thursday night. Nothing much happened as she was in the middle of a rather heavy period, but it was enough for us to tell that there was a lot of personal chemistry there. On this day, the Saturday, Danny, Terry's protege lodger moved out, and Adia moved in.
During the day we had been shopping. I had decided that I should buy her a ring. This is not a thought that has occurred to me many times in my life, and I think that when it has, it was because it was expected of me. But this time I really wanted to do it. I have a thing about rings of power like the Wagner one, or the one in The Lord of the Rings, and in my head this was to be a ring of mystic significance. Choosing the it was not the ordeal I had expected. Adia more or less made me choose, and I just watched her face as carefully as I could while we looked at them.
After shopping we went back to her place. On previous nights when I had taken her home she had got out at the end of the street, but today I was invited in. As I came through the door I was greeted with "welcome to your second home". It was a small but cosy and friendly flat, and I knew that we would be OK there if it came to it. Adia got changed for the evening, and packed a few things in a bag. Then we went back to Cambridge Road so I could get changed before we went to TGIF.
On the Thursday night I had been somewhat surprised to note that she was wearing a sanitary pad. It's a long time since I came across one of those. I asked why she didn't use tampons, and she said she just never had. So on the way home we stopped at the pharmacy and I got her some. She read the instructions then put one in may hand, and said "show me". This was a first for me. I've taken plenty out, but never put one in before. From that day, if I'm around, it's my job.
Before we left, I officially gave her the ring, with instructions that she was to wear it always for as long as we were together. Then at TGIF we ate, and talked about the future, and formulated our plan, roughly as follows:
I have to say that I was not a little surprised by all this, and not a little suspicious that a woman of 30 would choose an old fart like me to spend the rest of my life with. However despite these misgivings, I am a full subscriber to the plan. I've never really had a plan before. Was always more inclined to follow a random path and take things as they came. They are scary things. As Robbie Burns said "The best-laid schemes o' mice an 'men gang aft agley, an' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, for promis'd joy!"
But some times you have to believe that things are written. And I needed a plan for the years after work, however many I might get. The women in my family tend to live to an enormous age. My grandmother was over 100 when she died, and my mother is now in her 90's. On the other hand, my dad died when he was 70.
12/7/2006 - Crucial Days|
Adia is from a town called Bukoba on the western shore of Lake Victoria, close to the border with Uganda, in the northwest corner of Tanzania. Her mother is called Amina, and she runs a lodging house and small restaurant in Bukoba. This small business paid for Adia through most of the five years of her LLB course, though I get the impression that much of the time there was very little money, and she survived mostly on willpower, with some assistance from Florence. Florence is from Uganda, is married to an Indian, and has lived in Bangalore for some time.
Adia was tied up on Monday night doing something with Florence, but we saw each other on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, impulsive fool that I am, I told her in an SMS that I loved her. I looked long and hard at the words, searched my heart, knew they were too soon, but sent them.
On Wednesday night Adia told me her basic life story, and I told her mine. She told me that she had spent many years hoping to meet the man who would be her mate, and that she believed that she had now found him. I told her that I had never expected to be in this position again, and that I could barely believe that she would choose me, but that I too thought that she was probably the woman I had been searching for all my life. It was a very emotional conversation, and I felt that in a moment, without moving, I had been transported to another time and place.
9/7/2006 - A Beginning|
I have no idea what I did on the Saturday night, or during the day on Sunday. But on Sunday night, I was in TGIF sitting next to Fred and Dennis in the bar end-corner seat furthest from the entrance when two African girls walked in.
This is nothing unusual, there are quite a number of African girls studying in Bangalore, and TGIF is quite a popular haunt. However, I'd met these two before. Two to three weeks earlier, they'd come in on either a Friday or a Sunday night, can't remember which, and I had gone over to their table to talk to them - like you do. The first one I spoke to was noticeable cautious and gave me a fairly obviously false name - Juliet. Then later I got talking to the other. She was a law student just completing her LLB course; spoke English with a pleasant African - actually Tanzanian - accent; seemed to have her head screwed on right, and had nice tits that I would like to have seen more of. She was quite reserved, and though she seemed quite taken with Sam as a name, and said she would use that in future, no telephone number was forthcoming. As they left, on the offchance, I gave her my work business card since that was all I had, and asked her to e-mail me.
Next day, and the day after, I looked hopefully at my in box, but there was nothing, so I assumed I'd made less of an impression on her than she had on me.
So anyway, I walked over and spoke to them, being about to ask her why she hadn't emailed me, but I didn't get that far. She asked me why I had not responded to her email. I could only presume that if she had emailed it must have fallen foul of the spam filter, but it did feel like a wet excuse. I said I only had the seat I was sitting on, but they were welcome to that if they wanted it. This offer was initially declined. They said they'd stand. Five minutes later though they changes their minds, and Adia took the seat while Florence (previously Juliet) stood and talked to Fred.
I talked to Adia until much later than I would usually have stayed, without being much aware of the time. I was interrogated about my background and had to fess up about being married four times. I said I didn't think I would be doing it again, and somewhat to my surprise one of them - Florence I think - said I should not be so dogmatic, if I found the right woman, then why not. This time, a phone number was forthcoming. I believe that I have Florence to thank for that. Adia was procrastinating about giving it to me, and Florence told her not to be so silly, and to get on with it. I messaged her almost before they had got out of the bar, thus initiating a flood of SMS messages that persisted for some time. I've kept a record of them that might get published at some point.
8/7/2006 - Procrastination|
Actually as I write this it is early September, so I've been procrastinating for some time. And why the arbitrary date? Well it's quite a long story. I'd have to say that it represents an ending of a part of my life, since the next day brought something quite unexpected.
But first, the chronology. Well, nothing much new up to this point. Pulla was sick again. I don't know if it was the same thing or something new. I met another rather cute girl, Neha, who appeared at first sight to be Indian, but who it turned out comes from Lancashire. No dates or anything, we just chat when we see each other - it's actually quite pleasant to talk to her when she lapses into her northern accent.
The weather has been quite pleasant - no where near as much rain as the previous year, and my work on the current project is winding up.
The unexpected happening of the week was an email I got from Nef, the girl from the 'Adams Family' picture of the April BEV. She went back to New Mexico just before Terry left for the USA, and we'd exchanged emails intermittently. On the Thursday I got an email saying that she was thinking of coming back to India, and that if it turned out that Terry didn't come back she could be interested in the possibility of us getting together. It seemed like an interesting idea. But as I said to her, I had no real way of knowing whether Terry would come back or not.
This did not seem to be an significant obstacle, since I got a email back the next day suggesting how we could lay the groundwork for this proposal. But then!
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