My cousin is the daughter of one the elder brothers of my father. She is now a final year student at the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. I had last met her around four years back in Calcutta when she was there for her interview at the Law School. And it was a very formal meeting, perhaps even more formal than a meeting with a stranger. We were quite informal early on when she was around 3 feet and I was around 3 and a half or may be vice-versa. That was 15 years ago. So now when I got this opportunity to see her at the Khan Market (she had called me there, it being close to the place I was staying...after all she is elder to me...), I was reminded of the story 'After Twenty Years' in which two friends Bob and Jimmy had parted ways with the resolve of meeting at the same place after twenty years. Bob went on to earn a lot of money through illegal means in Chicago and Jimmy went on become a cop. Both of them kept their promises and reached the agreed place after twenty years. But both did not know as to how the other would appear. Jimmy recognised Bob as a man wanted by the police and got him arrested. Only later did he realize that he was his friend…But it was too late…thankfully, my cousin was not Bob and I was certainly not Jimmy. But even we didn’t know as to how to find each other out. After reaching the Khan Market, and getting several instructions of the nature, "Where are you? OK. Stay there, I'll come", I finally found her...yes, I found her.
Hats off to her for coming there all the way from the law firm (Amarchand) she was interning for...it was quite a distance from there and moreover it was around 8:30 in the evening and she was all alone. She took me to a restaurant and I managed to convince her that I would be footing the bill as a treat for my Australian visit. In the thirty minutes that followed, we exchanged our stories and were soon joined by one of her friends who lived very near by…was also a student of NUJS.I must say that the food was not all that good but the 'chocolate truffle' at Barista for which she paid certainly compensated for that. We parted ways after sometime and her friend was kind enough to see both of us off in different Auto Rickshaws. It was 11 already and I had a flight to catch at 7:40 in the morning.
Uday Shankar (taught us Constitutional Law in the 2nd semester…was now working in the Delhi University ) was at the ILI (Indian Law Institute) hostel when I reached there. We had a long walk before I retired to bed around 12. I had to get up at 3 in the morning (if you can call it morning) and leave for the airport by 4 for what would be my first flight to Hong Kong, Chinese Special Administrative Region and former British dependency in eastern Asia, on the South China Sea on my way to Brisbane.