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I have never been as relieved to land back in Hyderabad as I was that day. The minute that Kingfisher Airlines flight touched down, I heaved a sigh of relief. Or as much of one as I could with my congestion filled chest.

It was over a week later, when my phone rang. I rarely pick up unknown numbers but I picked this one up. It was W to discuss GMAT prep. I offered to send him all the material I had which being me was very comprehensive.

He asked if we could meet as he wanted to discuss how to go about preparing for it. I was tempted to say ‘You open up the books and study.’ in response but agreed. Ten years of friendship with his brother should count for a little more patience and then, there was also the fact that he’d got me nasal drops in Kathmandu. Additionally, I figured I could drop off G’s wedding gift with him. G and his then new bride were off on their honeymoon, but it would be waiting for him when they got back.

W came over a couple of nights later. We made polite, stilted conversation for the first half an hour. I offered him a beer which he reluctantly accepted. And then, somehow, neither of us knows how, we spent the next three hours talking. About everything but GMAT. At the end of three hours, he suddenly bolted up from the couch and announced, ‘I have to go.”

Surprised by the amount of time that had passed, I was more than a little relieved by his proclamation. The whole situation made me nervous on many fronts. We weren’t friends although I knew his family for years. We were used to passing each other by on the periphery of our lives. Our lives were enmeshed but we had nothing in common with each other personally. And yet, there was no denying the undercurrent of something else that evening. Something that had both of us backing away in horror. There was no way we were going there… Ever!

Eight years later, you guys know we did go there but the route to it was winding, complicated and fraught with enough drama to keep Ekta Kapoor’s coffers spilling over for years… I’ll tell you all about it in the coming months…

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