It was in Varanasi that I saw her for the first time and the last time. I was standing impatiently & ruefully in the endless, serpentine queue in the famed Vishwanath Temple. The unending sea of devotees was making me feel claustrophobic and even apprehensive of a possible stampede. And then I saw her.
A girl full of youth, she was a foreign tourist who must, certainly, be feeling overawed by the suffocating crowd. But she was neither cribbing nor feeling outraged or out-of-place. Instead, a serene smile was playing on her serene face. There was just a teasing hint of nervousness as all Indian eyes were on her (that’s how Indians treat foreigners; they stare).
But I was caught off-guard by her thousand-watt smile that contrasted divinely with her shy face. It was enigmatic….it was serene…it was magic. There was so much innocence & sincerity in that smile. It worked like a flying carpet transporting me to a world never seen before. Just for those few seconds, I was in a trance. The unknown, unheard, unnamed stranger from an unknown country stirred something deep within me. She met my gaze….I smiled vaguely. Just for those few frozen seconds, I was in love with her. The queue progressed. She moved ahead. I got out of the trance.