Suddenly a bus screeched past us.
Me: Driver seems to be in a hurry to go wish the wifey “Happy Valentine”
Rickwala: Yeah, nearing midnight aint it?
Rickwala: So, you married?
Me: No man, I am merrily unmarried
Rickwala: Tell you what, when you get married, make it a love marriage. Nothing like marrying the one you love. I have been married 15 years and I have loved every minute of it.
Rickwala: Know what, when I get home tonite, I will take a wonderful rose to my wife. Will go right now and get one for 5 bucks.
Me: Who sells roses for 5 bucks these days?
Rickwala: They do, to me. If you go there with a torn shirt and driving a rickshaw, I bet they will give you one for 5 bucks only.
Me: Hmmm (Cursing my damn luck for being educated, well dressed and having an IT job)
Rickwala: So, as I say, always marry the one you love. There is nothing like it in life. Trust me, you will live a very happy life.
Rickwala: Here you are at your bus stand. Don’t worry, buses for Gandhinagar start from here till 1 in the night. You will find one soon.
Me(Paying the money): Thanks, was nice talking to you Mr….
Rickwala: I am Salim and am happily married to a Miss Pandya.
The incident happened in Ahmedabad, the place where the worst Godhra rioting happened. Gujarati Hindus do not look favourably at Hindu women marrying Muslim guys. The vice versa rarely happens and under both circumstances the couple are usually shunned by the people. There are reasons for and against the practice. But meeting a Muslim guy, happily married for 15 years to a Hindu woman, living in the Old City of Ahmedabad in Juhapura, which is where most extremists reside, where the residences are ghettoised into Hindu and Muslim quarters is a unique experience for someone like me who has been a keen observer of Hindu – Muslim relations in my country.