She proceeded to advise us on the particular brand. With salt and pepper hair hurriedly tied behind and a twinkle in her eyes, she dropped several household tips.There were beautiful blinds made with old scarves of hers. "Never live in a city after retirement. No vegetable costs less than Rs 60 per kg." She had just come back grocery shopping from a mall... In between, she managed to call her husband and his partner," You have clients waiting..." We agreed to wait for them since they were on their way.
On learning we were from Assam, the lady turned dreamy eyed with a hint of a smile lighting up her face. "I love that place. We spent 17 years of our life there...The people are so simple and charming.The lush greenery around.Oh! Those were beautiful days..." Well, this just made me swell with pride (what with the recent spate of violence) and connect with her. She went on about how they spent their days in Digboi since her husband was with the erstwhile Burma OilCompany (BOC),now Assam Oil Company (AOC). Their recent sojourn to the state, for Burma Oil's centenary celebrations at Digboi , thrilled her as she met many who still remembered her.
However, we were still waiting for her husband and his partner to arrive. This time, she hollered into the phone, "Their kids are coming back from school. Where are you? They are getting late!" Ten minutes later two smart elderly gentlemen walked in. As we were introduced, she happily announced," They are from Assam." Her husband broke into a gentle smile,"We have warm memories of that place. I have travelled that region extensively." Our conversation turned to the present strife gnawing at the state and its people...of its causes and possible villains...In between, they obliged by talking business, the very reason of our presence there. However they seemed happier when talking about other issues.
As we drove back, I couldn't help feeling warm and snug. Three complete strangers had so effortlessly coccooned us with their advice and memories of days gone by...offered us a peek into their lives, their children with rich anecdotes. We came looking for window solutions and were thrown open a window that took us back in time...a time we forgot had ever existed.