Once upon a time there was Pani and there was Puri. An intelligent man joined them both, added some spices and thus, Pani-Puri was formed. This is the story of Pani-Puri, but this Pani-Puri is of different kind. Wanna know how? Here I present you the love-story of Ragini Pani & Sanskar Puri!
Chewing on her lip, she checked the map’s jigsaw puzzle of streets, deciding to focus on the large area on the map that read Hofburg Palace. She’d walked by that area on the tour. It covered several blocks, so it should be easy to find again. Except that she’d taken about twenty-seven turns since then. She squinted at the confusing labyrinth, wishing for an internal GPS. Coming here alone was a super bad idea! She should have asked someone to come along, or should have listened to the tour guide’s instructions.
“Excuse me, do you need some assistance?” Ragini looked up, startled.
An unfamiliar face with a traffic-stopping smile and bright blue eyes gazed at her. He wore a dark gray T-shirt with foreign words written on the front, a couple days’ beard growth, and a backpack. His sunglasses were hooked over the neck of his T-shirt.
“Oh, ah.” She smiled politely as if not totally flustered by his presence. “I’m just trying to find the Hofburg Palace.”
The edge of his mouth curled and her stomach turned a little flip. “It’s okay, I know where it is. It’s that way.” He pointed in the direction behind Ragini.
“Thanks” she muttered and started walking away from the blue-eyed temptation.
“Some French fries please” they said in unison.
“Excuse me!” snapped Ragini.
“Oh hi! You are the girl I met yesterday. I assume you reached your destination without getting lost.” Smiled the blue-eyed, walking and talking temptation.
“Are you following me?” snapped Ragini.
His expression turned from normal to amused, “No!”
“Really?” she snapped again.
“Chillax woman! It’s just a coincidence! I have no intention to follow you!” the guy snapped back, took his packet of French fries and went away.
“Ouch” yelped Sanskar, as someone pushed him from behind.
“Sorry” said Ragini biting her lower lip.
“You crazy woman!” yelled Sanskar. He stood up and dusted off his clothes, “Now I think that you are following me!”
“Wha..listen, I am really sorry. Some scary guys were following me and I was just running, collided with you and now I am..”
“Lost?” asked Sanskar.
Ragini nodded, and Sanskar sighed, “Fine! Come, I’ll help you reach your place.”
“So where exactly do you live?”
“Actually, I am vacationing here, just touring around, so got a room booked in a hotel. The Marriott Hotel.” Ragini replied.
Forwarding his hand towards Ragini, Sanskar said, “By the way, I am Sanskar.”
“And I am..Gini.” She replied, not wanting to tell Sanskar her real name. Sanskar unlocked his car and sat on the driver’s seat.
“What about you? You live here?” asked Ragini, as Sanskar keyed the destination in the navigation system of the car.
“No, I am here for a vacation too. Just a break before I get loaded with new responsibilities.” Smiled Sanskar.
“Same here!” muttered Ragini.
After 30 minutes, they reached the Marriott Hotel. Ragini unbuckled her seat belt and was about to exit when she stopped and turned back, facing Sanskar, “Thanks for the lift. Uuum..Sanskar see, I get lost easily and every time, it’s you who help me. So I was thinking that why shouldn’t we tour around together. If you’ll be around, so I would not get lost!” Taking a stranger’s help was a bad idea, but Sanskar seemed to be good enough to be trusted, and she definitely needs someone to help through her tour.
Sanskar grinned, nodded in positive and replied, “Fine, I’ll pick you up at 8 in the morning, for the breakfast and then we’ll decide where to go.”
“Fine with me! Thanks once again!”
Taking deep breath Ragini tried to calm herself. Laying on her super soft, unfreakingreal cosy and warm bed of her luxurious suite, she could think about Sanskar only. She had came here, to explore thing that she could not be possible once she gets married to the guy her father has selected, son of his best friend. She had met the guy but in childhood and only have fading memories of him. She doesn’t even remember his name and never bothered to ask about it from anyone. The only names she had heard, since this marriage talk started was, the surname of her in laws, “Puri” and the nickname of her future husband…Gol Gappa! God forbid, she was going to marry a guy who got a nickname like that! Finding herself in the exact situation as Kajol had been in DDLJ, Ragini, following her favourite actress, too had came on a month long vacation and she would be damned if she found her Sharukh here!
“I am completely insane, thinking like this, feeling like this, for who is a stranger to me! I have crossed the borderline of weirdness! God help me.” Thought Ragini.
The moment she had met Sanskar, she had been attracted to him. But what the catch is, she is not allowed to do so.
Sanskar smiled to himself while sipping his extra hot, sugarless and creamy coffee. Just a month more and he’ll marry the girl who ruled his heart, invaded his dreams and lived in his thoughts, his childhood friend, daughter of his father’s best friend, the girl he had loved since childhood, the girl who’s going to be his wife, his Ragini.
Ragini Pani, daughter of his uncle and his father’s best friend, Mr. Narayan Pani. She had been the only friend he had, in childhood. Feelings he felt for her, since childhood, got a name in adulthood. He loved her, for no particular reason, he just loved her. And when his father proposed the idea of his marriage to Ragini, he had immediately said yes. His still have the photograph of the now 25 years old Ragini, secured in the white envelope, tucked inside the pocket of his bag.
The photograph had been given to him, but he never saw it. Reason, well according to him, he wants it to be special. He wants to meet her in person, not just through a photograph, that couldn’t describe the real beauty she is.
Thinking about Ragini, another name popped in his head, Gini..The crazy woman who easily gets lost. Sanskar chuckled, thinking about her. She’s cute, little bit weird, shy and sweet and her eyes, those forest green eyes; he could easily get lost in. And those plump lips, that he could..
“Damn!” jerked Sanskar, raking a hand through his hair.
“What the hell am I thinking?” he asked to himself.
Rummaging through the cupboard, Ragini tried to find a suitable dress. After trying at-least 5 dresses she settled on a plain white, strapless dress. Letting her hair loose, she applied a little bit blush, mascara. She glanced at the wall clock once again and for her utmost displeasure, the clock showed quarter past 6 in the morning, still one hour and 45 minutes to go. Fantastic!
Here, Ragini was going crazy over the idea of being with Sanskar, on the other hand, Sanskar was not so happy with the arrangement.
“Do I have to go?” he asked to himself, while squeezing out generous amount of body wash.
“It isn’t necessary, it’s not like I am bound to do so!” shrugged Sanskar, applying the body wash over his body, answering his own question.
“But won’t it be rude?” the angel side of him, appeared on his right side.
“So you suggest babysitting that girl, who’s messing with his brains!” the devil side of him appeared on his left.
“It isn’t babysitting…!” the angel rolled his eyes, and continued, “He promised her, and th promise should be kept.” Declared the angel.
“Oh phulleezzz..promises are bound to be broken.” Replied the devil.
All this time, Sanskar was glancing from left to right, searching for a solution in between the banter between the goody angel and baddy devil side of him. Getting frustrated, Sanskar yelled, “SHUT UP!!!”
Huffing heavily, Sanskar turned off the shower and started getting ready for the day ahead. Glancing at the wall clock, he saw that it was 7:00 in the morning. Good he still has the time to reach her hotel.
After checking himself for the n-th time, Sanskar picked up his car keys and walked outside his suite.
“Excuse me” said Sanskar, interrupting the receptionist from her call.
“Can you please tell me, in what room Miss Gini is staying? I am her friend, Sanskar.” asked Sanskar.
“Wait a minute Sir.” Replied the receptionist and got busied with her call again.
“Ok Madam, I’ll let him now. Thanks!” said the receptionist, ending the call.
The receptionist turned around, facing Sanskar and said, “Madam will be here in a moment Sir. She herself is coming down here to meet you.”
“Thanks” nodded Sanskar.
After about 5 minutes, Sanskar saw Ragini coming towards him, with a shy smile on her face, her eyes twinkling like diamonds. She waved towards him, a gesture Sanskar returned back.
“Hi” they both greeted in unison. Laughing lightly and lowly, the both made their way outside the hotel, towards Sanskar’s car.
“So, it was you, talking to the receptionist?” asked Sanskar.
“Yeah, Just wanted to check whether you came or not.” She replied.
“So do you want to go somewhere..specific?” asked Sanskar.
“No, I have nothing in my mind. You suggest, as you know better about this all.” Replied Ragini.
“OK, so let’s go!”
“That’s a surprise!”
After a half an hour drive, Sanskar stopped the car. Ragini looked around and saw nothing but huge bushes around. “What the heck we are doing here?” thought Ragini. She was starting to panic, well who wouldn’t, when you find yourself, alone with a man, at a place which looks far away from civilisation.
“Come on, now you are scared!” teased Sanskar.
“Sanskar..” glared Ragini.
“Oh, don’t panic Gini. You are safe with me, now come, I wanna show you my favourite place.”
Ragini panicked more. Nervously, she stepped out of the car and started following Sanskar. She was fidgeting with her fingers all the time and hadn’t noticed that Sanskar had stopped walking. So as a result for not paying attention, Ragini collided into Sanskar’s back and fell, and she didn’t had that humpty dumpty fall alone, trying to prevent the fall, she grabbed Sanskar’s t-shirt, who himself couldn’t balance and fell along Ragini.
The both rolled down in the sand. After a while, they both stopped rolling, and the posture they were in, would appear extremely intimate to the on lookers. Well, Ragini was lying beneath Sanskar, her left leg curled around his. Sanskar had his head buried in her hair, his right arm around her waist, and his left hand under her head.
They both were breathing heavily, thanks to the great fall. After a moment or so, Sanskar raised his head slightly, now looking directly in Ragini’s eyes. Both of them shared, what appeared to be an intense eye-lock with each other.
Their perfect little moment was disturbed by some hushing and shushing sounds.
“Aww..young love, so passionate and romantic!” came a feminine voice.
Sanskar got off Ragini, and the both stood up, dusting off their clothes and blushing. There stood an elderly couple in their front. The lady came towards Ragini and Sanskar, dragging her husband along.
The old man, patted Sanskar’s back and said, “No need to blush, young man, I have experienced the same stage as yours!”
The old lady, smacked her husband’s arm and said, “Don’t tease the boy, Andrew!”, then turning towards Ragini she said, “You both make a lovely couple. I see me and Andrew in you both!”
The lady kissed both Sanskar and Ragini’s foreheads and before Sanskar and Ragini could sort out the misunderstanding the elderly couple had about them, the couple left the place, not giving Sanskar and Ragini a chance to explain.
In order to avoid the awkward situation, Sanskar started Ragini showing his favourite place, which in actual was a beautiful lake surrounded by white sand. The water of the lake was the perfect oceanic blue. It was peaceful around here.
For the next few days, Sanskar and Ragini toured around together. Togetherness brought closeness. Both of them were falling in love with each other but commitments held them back. Ragini was supposed to marry her gol gappa and Sanskar was set to marry his childhood love Ragini. (Confusing it is, I know. To make thing clear, Sanskar doesn’t know that he’s touring around with his Ragini, as Ragini had told him a fake name that happens to be her nickname Gini. So for Sanskar, Ragini and Gini are two different persons.)
They both were frustrated with what they were experiencing but couldn’t push the feelings away. Soon came the last day of Ragini’s trip and they both decided to visit Haywood fountain (hypothetical).
There’s an old wives’ tale involving the Hayward Fountain. If you make a wish, then toss a coin in the fountain, you’ll meet the man or woman of your dreams, and you’ll have the most fantastic dreams for seven nights. But if the dream couple haven’t actually met in the real world before that time limit expires – well, it’s all over. So it’s really a race against time.
Making a wish, they both tossed a coin in the fountain wishing for a better future. A future that, according to them seemed to be very complicated. A future that consisted of surprises.
At night, Ragini twisted and turned in her bed and was dreaming…
She looked beautiful in her yellow and red bridal dress. Glancing around the wedding hall, Ragini saw her parents beaming with happiness. They were chatting with another couple of their age. Turning her gaze away from them, she saw her elder brother gesturing her that she was looking beautiful. The pandit chanted the mantras and it was time of the ritual Hta ganhi. The pandit asked her brother to tie the knot, by keeping her hand on her groom’s hand.
While her brother was wrapping the sacred thread and tying the knot around their hands, Ragini raised her eyes to look at her groom’s face and what she saw made her eyes widened. It was Sanskar! He was wearing a dhoti kurta, that heart stopping, body warming and extremely charming smile on his face.
Ragini jerked out of her dream, she was sweating and her heart was beating too fast that she thought she might suffer a heart stroke. Sanskar was having a little bit similar dream..
Sounds of drums and kettledrums treated his ears. He looked around and saw happy faces of his family and friends. He was standing on the stage along his bride; it was the time of the ritual of varmala, the garland exchanging ritual. As he was about to put the garland around his bride’s neck, his bride tilted her chin up and he got a full view of her beautiful face. What startled him was that that beautiful face belonged to Gini. Gini was his bride!
“Crap!” cursed Sanskar, as he woke up from his dream sleep.
For the rest of the night they kept pacing here and there, what if the Haywood fountain’s legend came true? What if they were meant for each other?
Sitting on the chair at the airport, Ragini was lost in Sanskar’s memories. There was no denying in the fact that she was now heads over heels in love with Sanskar. Though the saying is that True Love triumphs at the end but her love failed in front of the commitment she had made to her father. She couldn’t deny her father, he had given her everything, she wanted but asked only for one thing, the right to choose a groom for her, how could she deny her father this right of his?
On the other hand, Sanskar was trying to sort the mess his life has become. Before he came to Europe, he was so sure of his love towards his Ragini, he was so sure that he will spend his whole life happily and blissfully with Ragini, but after meeting Gini, everything changed. Suddenly the love he harboured for Ragini past 15 years became nothing in front of the love he now feels towards Gini with whom he had spent just 15 days. 15 years failed in front of 15 days!
Pushing his hand through his hair, Sanskar pondered over the facts;
>He was in love with Gini.
>He was still in love with Ragini.
>He wanted to be with Ragini.
>He couldn’t live without Gini.
Fantastic! What kind of man he is! Sanskar laughed a self-mocking laugh. How can he be in love with two women at the same time? Sanskar felt disgusting of himself, and then his mothers’ saying came in his mind;
“Don’t marry the person you think you can live with; marry only the individual you think you can’t live without.”
And that made it all clear! Grabbing his car keys, Sanskar raced out of his suite and drove towards the airport. He couldn’t live without Gini, and that was the ultimate truth, commitments to be damned, he would not destroy 3 lives, his, Ragini’s and Gini’s. If he’ll marry Ragini, he would not be happy and would not be able to make Ragini happy, so it’s better that he doesn’t marry Ragini.
Driving as fast as he could, Sanskar proceeded towards the airport. Fortunately there was enough time, so he could reach the airport soon before Gini departed. He’s going to propose his love to Gini. His fingers crossed in hope that Gini would accept as well as reciprocate his love.
Sanskar thanked the Gods above in heaven when the lady at the counter informed that the plane to India, the one by which Gini was travelling, hadn’t departed yet. Turning and glancing around, Sanskar searched for Gini and there, thank goodness, unlike the Bollywood movies he was fan of, he found his Gini easily.
“Gini” Sanskar yelled, capturing Gini’s (Ragini’s) attention, and jogged towards her.
“Sanskar..” she breathed.
“You’re leaving me” said Sanskar.
“I…it’s just..” she stuttered.
“I..I love you Gini!” he exclaimed, “I love you so much!”
“Please don’t leave me, I can’t live without you! Before I met you it was all set, my life was all set but you came and messed up with it, in the best way of-course and now when I can’t live without you..you’re leaving me.” Said Sanskar, crying silent tears.
“Sanskar..I can’t” she cried.
Walking a couple of steps more, towards Gini, Sanskar asked, “Why?”
“I have commitments to fulfil Sanskar, I can’t…I am sorry!” breathed Ragini.
“But Gini..” started Sanskar, but was interrupted by Ragini, as she placed her lips on his.
It was the only way, her heart and mind could formulate to stop Sanskar from saying anything that could shake her determination. She lightly pressed her lips with his, not moving, just savouring the intimate contact. After few seconds, Ragini moved away and said, “I am sorry Sanskar, I can’t be with you..”
“Please” he cried.
“Don’t make it difficult for me..please go!” she pleaded, and that’s what he did, he went away, he couldn’t hurt her, so he went away.
It’s been 7 days, Ragini returned back home. 7 days, she rejected Sanskar’s love. 7 days of the hell her life has become. 7 days, what seemed like 7 ages!
“Yeah! Oh OK, I understand. Ragini will meet him. Bye!” she heard her father talking on the phone.
“Gini beta, I want to talk about something to you.”
“Beta, Golu (the Gol Gappa) wants to meet you before the marriage rituals start. He wants to talk to you. He wants to meet you and that too today only. I’ve had granted my permission. He’ll meet you at the Central Park. Be ready at 5, is that OK with you?”
Sanskar paced around, fidgeted with his fingers, and was pushing his hand through his hair after every 5 minutes. He was waiting for Ragini to come. As he promised, and after Gini turned him down, so he agreed to marry Ragini but only on one condition, he wanted to her the truth, the truth of him being in love with someone else.
On the other hand, Ragini spotted her future husband, she was facing his back. He was wearing a emerald green shirt with blue faded worn out jeans, just as her father has described he would be wearing. She walked towards him, as fast as she could; she wanted all this to end as soon as possible. He still had his back towards her, when she reached close to him and in a husky voice, that she couldn’t even recognise as hers, she said, “Hey, I am Ragini!”
Sanskar stiffened at the name, Ragini. He didn’t have the courage to face her, so he stood still, and started talking.
“Hi Ragini, I guess you don’t remember me, as it’s been 15 years we last met.”
Ragini’s head snapped at the voice that had been haunting her for the past 7 days. Sanskar..could he be?
Still not facing her, Sanskar continued, “I..I” huffed Sanskar, “See, I had been in love with you since childhood, and believe me when I say, I really did love you.”
Now, now, she’s fully sure that it was none other than Sanskar, she could recognize his voice anywhere, anytime, well the tribal tattoo on his left arm helped too. She narrowed her eyes at his confession.
“I wanted to meet you, face to face, in person, and wanted to express my love for you, that’s why I didn’t even saw your photograph and still agreed to marry you.”
Well that surely did explain things, thought Ragini.
“But it all messed up, when I went for a month’s tour to Austria, Europe.” All the time, Sanskar had his back towards Ragini, who now stood crossed arms, tapping her left foot lightly.
Sanskar’s words brought a smirk-smile on her face. Well that was the best part of the whole story.
“There I met this crazy, funny and beautiful woman” Ragini blushed at this, “Her name is Gini.”
Ragini bit her lip lightly, that was the root cause of her problems. She had told her nickname to Sanskar. Had she told Sanskar her real name, what would have happened then?
“Well we met and became friends and I don’t know, when and how I fell in love with her. But she rejected my love and me.”
Ragini was in an “Aww..” situation. She wanted to hug Sanskar tightly and sort out all the misconceptions but she wanted to hear what he wanted to say.
“See, I am telling you all this, as I want our relationship to be based on truth. I wanted you to know about this, before we get married. I want to live with you but can’t live without her.”
“Toh tum ussi se shaadi kar lo” said Ragini, smiling.
Sanskar in his guilt didn’t even recognized Ragini’s voice and replied, “I can’t, and she’s marrying someone else.”
“Toh tum mujhse shaadi kar lo!” suggested Ragini. If Sanskar paid a little bit attention, he could have recognized the teasing tone.
“But I can’t live without Gini..” he cried.
“Toh hum dono se shaadi kar lo!” chirped Ragini.
“WHAT..” turned Sanskar, and when Ragini/Gini’s face came into view, he went in the state of shock.
Ragini laughed seeing Sanskar’s expressions. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she hugged him tightly and said, “Aawwiiee Sanskar, I am Ragini as well as Gini. Gini is my nickname.”
As Ragini’s words got registered in his brain, Sanskar wrapped his arms around Ragini, and twirled her round around. Both of them let out a laugh, a laugh of utter joy and sheer happiness.
After a while, Sanskar stopped twirling and set Ragini down on her feet. His arms still around her, not wanting to let he go so easily, he asked, “So what’s the story?”
Ragini told him why she hadn’t told him her real name, why she rejected him at the airport and what her life had become after the airport episode. At the end of the day, they were walking hand in hand.
Their dreams came true. Sanskar and Ragini got married the next week. They married according to both Oriya and Punjabi rituals. That’s how Ragini Pani got married to Sanskar Puri.