Indian Sketches


"So, what kind of music do you like?"

"I'm into Rap and also Sufi. What about you?"

All Rishabh could think about was finding the right balance of eye-contact. Too much, he was told, and he would come across as eager. Possibly creepy. Too little, however, and he might as well have asked his phone out to dinner.

This was all very new to him. Despite being nearly 24 years of age and in his last year of university, he was what was colloquially known to be 'evergreen'. In other words, never having been in a relationship. What was not common knowledge, however, even to his closest friends, was that he had never been on a date as well.

"Sufi? Like Bollywood? I've seen Priyanka Chopra's songs. Love her."

"Not quite Bollywood, it's more traditional. Would you like to have a listen?"

"Sure."

Rishabh took out his earphones from his pocket. He was not sure if he played his cards well, but there was this image of Anna and him, their ears linked by the earphones wire. The short cord would force them into a close proximity with each other; not too close for their heads to touch (no, not yet), but not too far as to stretch the wire to a state of precarious tension. He felt a tingling sensation as Anna leaned in.

"You might not like this one, it's more of an acquired taste."

As he scrolled the Spotify playlist, titles like "Noor E Khuda" and "Mere Rashke Kamar" reminded him what Sufi music was about.

It was becoming increasingly clear to him that he should have gone the safer route. He could have doubled down on the rap part, mentioning his love of Kanye West and Kendrick Lamar. Girls would be into that. And even if she felt otherwise, the conversation might segue neatly to Ye's election campaign.

"This one is linked to Islam and there's a lot of mention of, erm, Allah, you know."

Rishabh back-peddled as much as he could, hoping somehow she might sense his diffidence and suggest something of her own instead. She also had yet to notice his playlist was called "songs that make brown people emotional".

"Just play the song, idiot."

The word idiot never sounded sweeter to his ears.

He pressed play.