A Pashmina Model
The early 90’s Norfolk’s Norwich was a pensioner’s town that's dull with a capital D.
Dull could however still be enchanting as a night out with a beautiful course mate convinced me that romantic evenings are not the sole domain of perennial favorites Paris or Venice.
Pegs - her nick - was my senior at Law then although we were virtually the same age.
Sporting a boyish haircut and the sweetest smile owing to clearly define dimples in her rosy white cheeks, she was a picture of elegance that day in her knee length skirt, high boots and a muted maroon Pashmina draped around her shoulders.
Amongst the Asian students at the University we were both in, Pegs was right up there in the top five for sheer attractiveness.
Her looks alone would literally floor anyone; a look that is both demure and confident at the same time, and, of equal measure.
Introduced to each other only a few days before during a Malaysian society courtesy call, the initial attraction I felt led for a very pleasant feeling when she said yes to a "Movies?" suggestion made much later.
We were supposed to catch a trilogy of now-long-forgotten movie, but found ourselves fidgeting after the first installment ended that a decision was made to forgo the other two parts and go on an evening walkabout around town.
There were hardly any pollutant in the chilly Norfolk air as such that, even at an appropriate distance, the young woman from Johor smelt fresh (and divine) without any hint of perfume being used.
There were others – couples, singles, families, etc – that night, most minding their own businesses; some familiar faces, most complete strangers. We traded smiles with those we knew amidst curious glances.
There were some pubs around, though most are concentrated in the inner town area, yet there were little of the famed rowdiness that is an important British contribution to the world.
Hour passed the walkabout without us realizing it until we spotted a Turkish Kebab pushcart near one of the many medieval churches dotting Norwich.
Pegs cheerily suggested that we have a bite of Kebab so as to be spared from having to wander around town looking for a halal restaurant.
It was a good helping of hot shish kebab in full pitta bread for both of us, and Pegs was right in how good it tasted. The Turk – we thought and assumed that he’s one anyway - managed a good blend of fresh salad and meaty mutton and a balanced measure of sweetness and sourness.
We stood around at the pushcart finishing our kebabs, and later stopped at a small roadside café often frequented by our professors for its purported splendid coffees (latte was not much a buzzword yet at the time!)
The evening was fast deepening into night and I ended up – for the second time that week – at her place, where we spend the rest of the night looking at pictures and continuing with our small talks.
We parted company as soon as the sun came up, and it was back to the daily grind of lectures, tutorials and the likes.
Sadly (but somewhat realistically) for me, it would also be the one and only (albeit a much cherished) evening of relative intimacy with her.
Pegs was all champagne and candlelight dinner. I, on the other hand, was home cooked meals and plain water.
And, although I didn't realised it then, my heart was already taken by another.
Someone close and yet so far away.