Sunday, January 20, 2008


The next morning when she checks her mail, she finds his response to her initial contact.

I liked your profile, though I must admit that your description is shrouded with mystery - what I call the "Tell you later" syndrome. A little about myself. I was born in Calcutta, raised in Bombay, and spent the first 18 years in India. And then undergrad in NY and grad schools in CA - so I guess I spanned both sides of the coast ..and work has taken me to places like Austin, Michigan, Colorado, Washington, etc. Have traveled a bit, but not as much. But I am keeping that as one of my "To Do's" among so many ..

I am sorry to hear that you went through a difficult divorce. I have borne the brunt of that on my end as well. I guess keeping your head up and faith in the truth ( a rather philosophical outlook I have now!) and pursuing other passions keeps one going.

Send me an email at Look forward to hearing from you.


To which she responds with alacrity that is fairly typical of her


This is in response to your response to my contact. A little long-winded but it tells a lot about the hoops one has to jump through to reach the elusive Person Right :-)

I am an engineer for all the wrong reasons, do IT stuff for a living - how unoriginal and boring, am passionate about reading and writing. I have not been published on a dead tree yet but some e-stuff is out there. My work in progress will take about ten years to complete at the going rate. Thought your profile was interesting and wanted to get to know you since we have some interests in common.


He writes back in a few hours… She has by then had breakfast, taken a shower, answered her mail, paid her debts to society which are fairly numerous this month. Belle always knows her checking account balance to the nearest cent…sometimes she has dreams about it.. one among the many oddities of her character that have surfaced since she turned “suddenly singleton single mom” . In all she thinks, this is going to be a quiet weekend.

Hi Belle:

People are not elusive ..I don't think. They are all there for the taking. It is your choices that make that person "elusive" -- start flagging them with multiple criteria, rank em ... and lo and behold ... the abstract "elusion" ( that is not a word) becomes concrete. No wonder Seth wrote " A Suitable Boy " rather than the " Elusive Boy" .... :-)

So you are a writer. Well --- at least you are green and an environmentalist. Don't kill trees -- e-poetry-zines suffice. It certainly has more reach than a 500 copy publication, most of it sold in the Bay Area and NY and Michigan ... and Amazon. It is good that you have works in progress. Over time, it will be interesting to observe it morph to the circumstances and perspectives ... a read into the next ten years of not only the conscious but the sub-conscious mind as well.

I can assure you that the discovery can be quite contrary to how you have always thought of yourself. And that is sheer delight ...or horror! Between the thought and the word on the paper lies infinite intent ... and we the unfortunates are not up to calibrating that infinite. So the work in progress is wonderful and I urge you to continue on this journey. There ain’t no Ithaca or Shangri La or a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. It is all an yellow brick road.

We do have a lot in common ..and over time I guess we will find out things in common and things not in common. And then the delusions of the elusive one or the illusions of the elusive one will come to fore.


She thinks to herself – too grandiose, vapid and verbose for comfort. The ideal person to kill time with, have coffee and conversation and some flirtation included for good measure but not the stuff of the daily grind – the ideal husband material the holy grail of all marriage minded women.

She has to smile to herself as she sips her green tea and sits back to type her response. Joann her dear friend who dabbles in astrology would have termed him Mr. Mars – the type that attracted all her planets except her Moon…and in having failed to placate her Moon the connection was doomed. Mr. Mars with a Saturnine overtones would be the ideal man for her.. but until then the Red planet exerts its pull.

Hi Helios,

I am a Seth fan though I like his poetry a lot more than his prose. Was completely charmed by "The Golden Gate" - when I first read it.

Years ago an accountant friend had impressed upon me the merits of a weighted and prioritized checklist to go spouse-hunting with. Like, family background weight3/10 priority 6/10. Doing the math would reveal "the one" magically. Sounded very logical but did not work out in real time.

One misadventure and a many years later I have realized there isn't a formula. There is a math to it maybe but it is probability and not arithmetic.

It's nice to hear from you.


She has new mail a lot sooner than she expects but then it is a Saturday morning.. probably the best time to start a cerebral relationship. She does not quite get a sense for where this is heading. After a long time she finds herself not anxious to seek denouements. She merely goes with the flow...She wonders who he is looking for.. she reads up about his wants on his profile.

He tries to define but cannot because he has no notion except for the ghostly image from the antiquated past that haunts him. Does he still desire the object of love that turned to hate or does he want to forge a new path and be pleasantly surprised at what he finds there ? He likely does not know. He hopes like many others to recognize it upon finding it. Belle is different in that she knows who she seeks just that she has not met him yet.

What am I looking for?

I wish I could be concrete and drive to specificity -- have a laundry list that negates that I do not want versus what I do. One hopes, and futilely so, that such an exercise in reason may include or exclude many in one and one in many. But the reality and experience undermines that fact. What I want is imperfection -- can i be specific about imperfection. Nah -- but it is better to have the forbearance to accept that since one can and shall never be disappointed.

So be imperfect, be skewed, be different -- and let me address or rather -- let me revel in the truth of how you perceive yourself and how I can, by my third eye, perceive you. Bare me your deepest tales and I shall be the scribe that will lend color and gaiety to it. I believe that everyone has that something special -- and I am not in search of only one thing or group of things "special" --- rather -- I simply would like to ambulate at a leisurely pace and come upon that which will become my Muse -- and I become her mirror that will unearth the secrets of how life perhaps can be negotiated and led once again. Be nice --- Be accepting -- be the water that flows and flows ---

But what he tells her is quite different.. Is he , she wonders all about words stringed together for aesthetic effect.. a patterned silk screen that promises riches of the world obscured from view when it really hides only emptiness. She notices that words camouflage rather than reveal him…or that he uses them to achieve such a result.

Hi Belle:

I agree. Seth does have some good poems and his Golden Gate .. I can relate to it fairly closely, having been in the Bay Area for a good eternity or two. However, his poems when he went to China ..i liked that one a lot.

Misadventures abound in life. Makes it interesting. Although I admit that I could do with a little less "interesting" in my late past. Having said that, it is always worthwhile to move forward by lowering the bar a little .... that is secret sauce to happiness and lasting connections. Furthermore, if misadventures are learning, then we are all the better for it. I certainly believe, or at least rationalize that all things happen for the best.

Well ... if that is the case, then what will be will be, and things are reduced to not only an arithmetical jig and a probability jog ... then guess what ... we are alive and we have hope and there are a shit load of stuff out there that makes all worthwhile. And the fact of living and hope is not a probability is ...that is the resilience of the human spirit.

So when the hell did I turn the corner and start spouting philosophy. When the misadventures happened, and the math did not work .... then one gets religious ( not the iconic and institutional kind) and then philosophical ... reminds me of the Pope's adage - Life is a tragedy for those who feel, a comedy for those who think.


She finds herself falling into a natural rhythm in responding to his e-mails. There are no questions asked, no histories to fathom , gauge or judge.. she feels perfectly comfortable at the non-committal pace of this dialog.. and each time she thinks to herself “How interesting !” He like her ex is probably a gifted raconteur – and in her, he will always find a captivated listener. She does not bother to analyze too much because she has no expectations from this communication, to need to define or direct. It is very a peaceful feeling.

Hi Helios,

For a long time I used to veer precariously from Pollyanna optimism to abysmal blues over all the lost years and lost dreams...Have found solace in chance friendships and little miracles that have held out hope against crushing odds.

I can't claim I am as tranquil as I would want to be -but I am starting to make peace with myself. I've learnt, I've grown and I like the person I am today more than I did the woman who was silently asphyxiating in a dead relationship.


He finds himself waiting for her mails with feverish excitement that baffles him. A veteran of a difficult and expensive divorce, ten short term relationships since then and vast stretches of emptiness and delusion in between. What is it about Belle that draws him he wonders ? They are very different from each other – even without having seen a picture or having talked with her he can sense that – maybe very different from any other woman he has known before. Is that her attraction to him ?

She piques his curiosity – in a way that is akin to physical arousal. It disturbs him. This is out of the range of his experience with women. Yes, Rupal came close, she was witty and had the knack for repartee but her words did not transform to chemical pulses like Belle’s did. Her words lacked power to energize him.

Hi Belle:

A start is a good beginning. And realizing where one stands is the best start. How to reconcile that start with where u would have wanted to be is water under the bridge ...or better still " the abysmal depths of blues" -- but since you have found your way to one end of the bridge and you have taken those ginger steps to span the crossing ... then it is all good. It is never bad to peer into the hoary depths ... it is always there ... so I say what! And i am sure that you are more tranquil than what u think you are ...

So how long have u been in AZ? How do you like it there? And where in AZ are you? I have been to Scottsdale ... used to play in a band ...used to be a bit of a bass guitarist in another life. Now more focused on other hobbies that I hope can make a difference. But woe is me ... my day job seems to be creeping into those personal times ...what with managing the hyper growth and management speak and BS. When all is said and done, more is said than done! The saga of Dilbert plays out still!


Haven't been in AZ that long. Moved to Phoenix late last year. Used to be in MD before that. The AZ summer can be daunting - not that I was not warned. I'd been to SF in '00 (if memory serves ) -left with an impression of pervasive shabby chic about the place. Given that the impression was formed in a very short stay it was probably presumptuous.


He smiles to read that. The comment about SFO is intriguing and he wonders what led her to that conclusion in what was obviously a very short stay. Was it a state of mind, her attitude, the person she was with or something quite different. He thinks “Hmmm”. She makes him ponder, think about things he otherwise had neither the time nor the inclination for. There was indeed something very special about her – or maybe in the way she appeared to him –manifested as she were through a bit stream of consciousness in cyberspace. He types his response to her between sips of lukewarm Mocha.

Interesting -- pervasive shabby chic! I would like to think that your vacation was tooooooooo short, and that you are being presumptuous. SF is a beautiful city .... yeah ...maybe windy ... and moody ... but beautiful all the same. Now if you decided to go clubbing and bar hopping ..I can understand your comment. I am far removed from that scene for a while.

But Belle ... geeez lady .... u need a local tour guide that will take you to where the locals haunt and the ghosts of yesteryears surface. And I assure you that now that you are up in arms against the "slings and arrows" of the sun in blazing AZ ... SF will be a pervasively "chilling" place to be in. And it is a lair for someone that loves writing and reading ... go up to the mountains, lie on the beach, take a pedal boat to the lake, sit beneath the redwoods ...

So how on earth did u get into IT consulting ? Engineering! Your writing and profile takes you upon paths less trodden. What happened. When did lightning strike to alter your course with destiny?


Her response does not answer everything but again it sets him of thinking in different wanton directions – aimlessly yet peaceably. Word playing with her is like foreplay to wild sex – he imagines she must have a soft throaty voice, sexy laughter , being very uninhibited and abandoned in bed. Why he thinks what he thinks he has not the least idea. In his mind she grows in beauty with each mail she writes to him. He knows she is extremely attractive.. the kind that has always let him astray. Is this a Siren that beckons him from far away ?

Your description of SF is more like what I had imagined it to be. Maybe the company was all wrong..

When I was growing up in India, the only "safe" career options used to be engineering and medicine. I could barely manage a passing grade in biology so I ended up becoming an engineer. I was looking for an education that would give me a job at twenty two. Back then I used to think a paycheck is what it would take to nurture the literary and artistic in me.

Many hundred paychecks later, I'm still where I was ten years ago. Project Management is probably what I can do most naturally - it takes no effort and so does not feel like a "job". Of course every once in a while I flip from doing earned value analysis to pen a few random thoughts .. hoping some day it would all come together beautifully into something larger, more meaningful..

She notices that he has not asked to see any pictures, asked anything tangible about her – there is this gentle drift back and forth of words that she feels happy to be in the midst of. There is no future that she envisions and in many ways that provides the biggest feeling of comfort in this communication.

She sees a potential for deep and abiding friendship – love she would stop short of that – because once loved and lost then friendship is gone too. She would rather seek love elsewhere. While she senses a strong sense of kinship and attraction there is nothing that tells of permanence and future. Indeed those associations seem to dampen the glide and flow of thoughts.

Chapter 1

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

please do write more. i like this part the best. of your writing. i guess we tend to look for familiarness and reassure ourselves that we aren't alone. and that the pain we thought was heartbreaking, is not ours alone.