"Hi!!! Do you work in Ernst & Young? I think I have seen you in my office premises." I could not believe that I used the same line which has been heard and out rightly rejected a billion times. But I had said this with an innocence that could even melt Genghis Khan’s heart.
"I am afraid I don't. I think you are mistaken." She said with an earnest smile.
My perception of going spontaneous had obviously backfired. But I actually did remember her face. I had seen her wandering around in our office premises. But there was no use anyway since she had shown me the indifference evidently.
"Oh wait a minute" She said. "You must have seen me in the RMZ campus. I work at the Reuters."
Now this could well have been an opportunity given to me to rectify the grave sin of uttering the first couple of sentences I spoke to her.
"Oh that’s great. I have a lot of friends there." I was desperate and saying things that, given some time to homework, I would have hated to say.
"Actually" I started the conversation again. "I assumed you to be from the HR of Ernst & Young and wanted to discuss something for a long time. But every time, I saw you, it was outside the office. And I thought its better to talk about this when you are in the office. But now that I know that you don't even work at my office, let alone the idea of you being in HR. I am somewhat disappointed." Then I waited for 5 seconds for her to digest this properly. "Sorry for the intrusion."
I slowly turned back and started walking towards my friends who were till now watching me absorbedly and who were now elated at the prospect of having a luxurious feast some time soon.
"So, there isn't much you can discuss except the HR stuff you were talking about." I did not know whether it was a question or a statement. So, was not sure about the ideal response. But the response was obviously awaited.
"I certainly do. Do you mind if I sit and talk? I hurt my left foot recently playing football." I could not believe I just said that, plain and simple.
"Yeah sure" I could not believe she just said that, plain and simple.
“Were you waiting for someone? I don’t want to disturb if you have business here.” I said.
“Well” She took a pause. “I am on business here, but it seems it will take some time to begin. So, I don’t mind your company. So, what exactly did you want to ask your HR?”
“Nothing much, I wanted to ask about transfer policies and relieving formalities. I was considering switching companies.”
“Hmm, I actually asked you that because I wanted to see how creative you are.”
I grinned. “And what did you see?”
“Not bad, There is room for improvement though. Anyway, where are you shifting?”
“Reuters” The answer came out almost instantaneously.
“I was asking about the city.” She was smiling too.
“Actually I am reconsidering my decision now. May be I should stick around”.
“Ok.” She had stopped speaking. Probably this was turning to be her just another guy kind of experience. I was absolutely certain that getting the number was impossible now.
“So, what is that you do in Reuters?” I was trying to buy some more time.
“I am an HR.” And she started smiling again.
“Great” I smiled back. “I’ll have my issues addressed if I move to Reuters.”
“Certainly, but only if they are genuine” She said with a cute but naughty grin.
“I will try my best.”
“Anyway, it seems work takes you to places. You are from…?”
“USA” She said. "You…?"
I could not understand why she asked me that.
"Wow, That’s a surprise"
"It is? Do I look Spanish? Anyway, I don't even know your name."
"You don't? O!!!" A lot was conveyed through the "O" but I was just unable to decipher any of her codes.
"I am Mrinal Sinha" I blurted out again.
"Now that’s an unusual name. I have heard a lot of names of Indian people. Some names are so big that we had to change the HR forms we had been using."
"Yes, It's Sanskrit. Its funny coz till I reached class 4, even I could not pronounce my name properly. Even now, I start by spelling my name to avoid confusion"
"Yeah, it’s a tongue twister. Mine is simple."
And then she stopped again. This was really getting on my nerves now.
"And that would be…???"
"Well. You don't look like a Jennifer or a Carol. Nancy sounds too middle-aged and an Angela also sounds too 70s. I guess I should start alphabetically?"
"Please don't. I surrender. I am Ashley Satriani"
It was so musical, her name, or was it a phone ringing? It was her phone. She looked at it. Pressed a few buttons vigorously and looked back at me. I now knew that this effort of mine would soon be going waste. And there came the dreaded words.
"I have to leave"
"I understand" I said.
She stood up.
While walking past me, she kept her palm on my shoulder and said, “In case you want to switch companies anytime soon, do let me know. I don’t want to miss the incentives for referral. Here is my card.”
“Bye Mr. Sine” While getting out of the door, she looked at me once and then went out of the door.
I was expressionless.
I still have her number. But have not made the call. Meanwhile I have been given some time by friends for my out of the ordinary performance. Little do they know that it was not my effort, but her empathy which helped me half-win the game. Anyway, I will let them live in the illusion that I just swept the white lady off her feet.