She's sitting across the table from me, my probable future wife<

"So...", I say to break the ice and notice that I'm speaking after a considerable silence and my voice sounds squeaky. I also notice that I don't have anything to say really. What should I say? What should I ask?

I try to recall what all my various friends told me they had asked their "would-be"s when they went for "Seeing the girl". Asok had asked is she knows how to cook good Rasam, his favorite South Indian Soup, Sheesh, what does it take? like 2 Nerve Cells or something to ask a little better question? Sri asked what her long term plans are... Can't blame the guy, he's taking technical interviews for his employer for some 5 years now. Time is running by, should've thought before stupidly uttering 'So'. Should think quick. Hmmm what did Srini ask? Damn - what am I doing? These guys are all losers ... 'And what are you? Casanova?', a voice from inside me asks me. Last thing I want to do right now is to have a funny conversation ... with myself. Ask fast, ask fast....

"There's something I want you to know before you arrive at any decision", she says. I'm all ears. I'm so glad she prevented words on tip of my tongue to escape my mouth, I was about to ask her is she knows how to make Chhole, my favorite Punjabi dish. I'll never look down at Asok again. "Oh yeah, please, sure, ...", I utter.

"There was a guy I was in ... I 'liked' in office. We were together for about 6-7 months and ... wanted to get married and everything...", she starts*. I don't even want to know what she meant by 'everything', but I sure want her to continue talking.

"...but he wanted to do M.S. from US before he settles down, he asked me if I would wait and I said no. I don't think such long distance relationships can survive very long without formal commitments, specially at our age. I told him we are too old to take a chance on this. I don't want to keep waiting for him for two-three years only to learn later that he has found new love there...", She says in almost a single breath. She's obviously not thrilled about the entire episode and she has not looked at me even once while narrating all this.

There is a silence for a few seconds. I'm expected to speak now. I'm thinking. I can't get judgmental over this. She's being very honest with me and I feel very bad because even if I want to, I can't tell her what all I've been through. Maybe she'll understand, maybe she won't. Can't take chance on this. I think I like this girl. And what's not to like? She's good looking, has a very sweet voice. Then she speaks English without any accent, neither fake nor distinct, she is perfect. If I saw her socially, say at a bus stop or a coffee shop, I would've wanted so much to approach and talk. And by her talks, obviously is a very nice person ... and isn't that the very reason I should be honest with her..? I hate it when I turn myself into such moral delimmas.

"'s completely okay...", I finally think of something to say, "To be honest, I've also been with this girl for some time ... and it didn't really work out very well and ... it ended. I can't really elaborate but ... I was pretty upset about it for a long time...", I pause here. I decide that any more honesty won't achieve anything at all.

"Do you smoke?", she asks me. "What? Well, umm - no, never smoked.", I'm taken by a little surprise here. I look at her, she's finally looking at me in the eyes. She's fine - she's very fine. "Do you?", I ask. "No. Not really. He used to. I didn't like it.". I hope she gets over him soon. I decide to give this decision some time. A few more meetings perhaps, a few more conversations.

"Listen, umm, I think we should both agree over the same decision beforehand. If you say yes and I say no, or ... vice versa, it would look bad on the other person. So ... what do you think?", I finally talk to her like someone on the same side as her. Feels good.

"Sure, we should do that", she says with a smile. "Thank you", she adds, "you're understanding. I wasn't sure what your reaction would be."

"Oh no...Thank You", I say, "It's not easy you know. I'm glad we talked about things that bothered us. "One more thing", I ask. She looks up with curiosity. Ahhh - she's fine. "Do you know how to make Chhole?".

She smiles, almost laughs. "Yes, and also a few other things. But Chhole are my favorite, I'll teach you how to cook them, then you can cook for me once in a while". She's fine. She's very fine.

* : I must mention that its not typical of a girl to have been going out with someone in Indian Subcontinent. It doesn't mean they don't. About half the marriages of my Post Graduation classmates have been Love Marriages, but that's okay. Most of my parents generation is quite conservative in the matters of love and although they would be happy to let their children get married where they like (after making sure of a few basic things - decent family, nice job etc.), they would go to any length to discourage love between youngsters.

>I think I fell in love with her right then and right there

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