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2 States



Love marriages around the world are simple:

Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy.

They get married.

In India, there are a few more steps:

Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy.

Girl's family has to love boy. Boy's family has to love girl.

Girl's Family has to love Boy's Family. Boy's family has to love girl's family.

Girl and Boy still love each other. They get married.

Welcome to 2 States, a story about Krish and Ananya. They are from two different states of India, deeply in love and want to get married. Of course, their parents don’t agree. To convert their love story into a love marriage, the couple have a tough battle in front of them. For it is easy to fight and rebel, but it is much harder to convince. Will they make it? From the author of blockbusters Five Point Someone, One Night @ the Call Center and The 3 Mistakes of My Life, comes another witty tale about inter-community marriages in modern India.


This may be the first time in the history of books, but here goes:

Dedicated to my in-laws*

*which does not mean I am henpecked, under her thumb or not man




Why am I referred here? I don’t have a problem,” I said.

She didn’t react. Just gestured that I remove my shoes and take the couch.

She had an office like any other doctor’s, minus the smells and cold, dangerous


She waited for me to talk more. I hesitated and spoke again.

“I’m sure people come here with big, insurmountable problems. Girlfriends

dump their boyfriends everyday. Hardly the reason to see a shrink, right? What

am I, a psycho?”

“No, I am the psycho. Psychotherapist to be precise. If you don’t mind, I prefer

that to shrink,” she said.

”Sorry,” I said.

“It’s OK,” she said and reclined on her chair. No more than thirty, she seemed

young for a shrink, sorry, psychotherapist. Certificates from top US universities

adorned the walls like tiger heads in a hunter’s home. Yes, another South Indian

had conquered the world of academics. Dr. Neeta Iyer, Valedictorian, Vassar


“I charge five hundred rupees per hour,” she said. “Stare at the walls or talk.

I’m cool either way.”

I had spent twelve minutes, or a hundred bucks, without getting anywhere. I

wondered if she would accept a partial payment and let me leave.

“Dr. Iyer…”

“Neeta is fine,” she said.

“OK, Neeta, I don’t think my problem warrants this. I don’t know why Dr.

Ramachandran sent me here.”

She picked my file from her desk. “Let’s see. This is Dr. Ram’s brief to me –

patient has sleep deprivation, has cut off human contact for a week, refuses to

eat, has Google-searched on best ways to commit suicide.” She paused and

looked at me with raised eyebrows.

“I Google for all sorts of stuff,” I mumbled, “don’t you?”

“The report says the mere mention of her name, her neighbourhood or any

association, like her favourite dish, brings out unpredictable emotions ranging

from tears to rage to frustration.”

“I had a break-up. What do you expect?” I was irritated.

“Sure, with Ananya who stays in Mylapore. What’s her favourite dish? Curd


I sat up straight. “Don’t,” I said weakly and felt a lump in my throat. I fought

back tears. “Don’t,” I said again.

“Don’t what?” Neeta egged me on, “Minor problem, isn’t it?”

“Fuck minor. It’s killing me.” I stood agitatedly. “Do you South Indians even

know what emotions are all about?”

“I’ll ignore the racist comment. You can stand and talk, but if it is a long story,

take the couch. I want it all,” she said.

I broke into tears. “Why did this happen to me?” I sobbed.


She passed me a tissue.

“Where do I begin?” I said and sat gingerly on the couch.

“Where all love stories begin. From when you met her the first time,” she said.

She drew the curtains and switched on the air-conditioner. I began to talk and

get my money’s worth.


ACT 1:




She stood two places ahead of me in the lunch line at the IIMA mess. I checked her out from the corner of my eye, wondering what the big fuss about this South Indian girl was.

Her waist-length hair rippled as she tapped the steel plate with her fingers like a famished refugee. I noticed three black threads on the back of her fair neck.

Someone had decided to accessorize in the most academically-oriented B-school in the country.

'Ananya Swaminathan---best girl in the fresher batch ,'

seniors has already anointed

her on the dorm board. We had only twenty girls in a batch of two hundred. Good-looking ones were rare; girls don't get selected to IIM for their looks. They get in because they can solve mathematical problems faster than 99.99% of India's population and crack the CAT. Most IIM girls are above shallow things like make-up, fitting clothes, contact lenses, removal of facial hair, body odour and feminine charm. Girls like Ananya, if and when they arrive by freak chance, become instant pin-ups in out testosterone-charged, estrogen-starved campus.

I imagined Ms Swaminathan had received more male attention in the last week than she had in her entire life. Thus, I assumed she'd be obnoxious and decided to ignore her.

The students inched forward on auto-pilot. The bored kitchen staff couldn't care if they were serving prisoners or future CEOs. They tossed one ladle of yellow stuff after another into plates. Of course, Ms Best Girl needed the spotlight.

'That's not rasam. Whatever it is, it's definitely not rasam. And what's that, the dark yellow stuff?'

'Sambhar,' the mess worker growled.

'Eew, looks disgusting! How did you make it?' she asked.

'You want or not?' the mess worker said, more interested in wrapping up lunch than discussing recipes.

While our lady decided, the two boys between us banged their plates on the counter. They took the food without editorials about it and left. I came up right behind her. I stole a sideways glance - definitely above average. Actually, well above average. In fact, outlier by IIMA standard . s She had perfect features, with eyes, nose, lips and ears the right size and in the right places. That is all it takes to make people beautiful- normal body parts - yet why does nature mess is up so many times? Her tiny blue bindi matched her sky- blue and white slawar kameez.

She looked like Sridevi's smarter cousin, if there is such a possibility.

The mess worker dumped a yellow lump on my plate.


'Excuse me, I'm before him,' she said to the mess worker, pinning him down with her large, confident eyes.

'What you want?' the mess worker said in a heavy South Indian accent. 'You calling rasam not rasam. You make face when you see my sambhar. I feed hundred people. They no complain.'

'And that is why you don't improve. Maybe they should complain,' she said.

The mess worker dropped the ladle in the sambhar vessel and threw up his hands. 'You want complain? Go to mess manager and complain....see what student coming to these days,' the mess worker turned to me seeking sympathy.

I almost nodded.

She looked at me. 'Can you eat this stuff?' she wanted to know. 'Try it.'

I took a spoonful of sambhar. Warm and salty, not gourmet stuff, but edible in a no-choice kind of way. I could eat it for lunch; I had stayed in a hostel for four years.

However, I saw her face, now prettier with a hint of pink. I compared her to the fifty-year old mess worker. He wore a lungi and had visible grey hair on his chest.

When in doubt, the pretty girl is always right.

'It's disgusting,' I said.

'See,' she said with childlike glee.

The mess worker glared at me.

'But I can develop a taste for it,' I added in a lame attempt to soothe him.

The mess worker grunted and tossed a mound of rice on my plate.

'Pick something you like,' I said to her, avoiding eye contact. The whole campus had stared at her in the past few days. I had to appear different.

'Give me the rasgullas,' she pointed to the dessert.

'That is after you finish meal,' the mess worker said.

'Who are you? My Mother? I am finished. Give me two rasgullas,' she insisted.

'Only one per student,' he said as he placed a katori with one sweet on her plate.

'Oh, come on, there are no limits on this disgusting sambhar but only one of what is edible,' she said. The line grew behind us. The boys in line didn't mind.

They had a chance to legitimately stare at the best-looking girl of the batch.

'Give mine to her,' I said and regretted it immediately. She'll never date you, it

is a rasgulla down the drain, I scolded myself.

'I give to you,' the mess worker said virtuously as he placed the dessert on my AskManiG.com


I passed my katori to her. She took the two rasgullas and moved out of the line.

OK buddy, pretty girl goes her way, rasgulla-less loser goes another. Find a corner to sit, I said to myself.

She turned to me. She didn't ask me to sit with her, but she looked like she wouldn't mind if I did. She pointed to a table with a little finger where we sat down opposite each other. The entire mess stared at us, wondering what I had done to merit sitting with her. I have made a huge sacrifice - my dessert - I wanted to tell them.

'I'm Krish,' I said, doodling in the sambhar with my spoon.

'I'm Ananya. Yuk isn't it?' she said as I grimaced at the food's taste.

'I'm used to hostel food,' I shrugged. 'I've had worse.'

'Hard to imagine worse,' she said.

I coughed as I bit on a green chili. She had a water jug next to her. She lifted the jug, leaned forward and poured water for me. A collective sigh ran through the mess. We had become everyone's matinee show.

She finished her two desserts in four bites. 'I'm still hungry. I didn't even have breakfast.'

'Hunger or tasteless food, hostel life is about whatever is easier to deal with,' I said.

'You want to go out? I'm sure the city has decent restaurants,' she said.

'Now?' We had a class in one hour. But Ms Best Girl had asked me out, even though for her own stomach. And as everyone knows, female classmates always come before class.

'Don't tell me you are dying to attend the lecture,'' she said and stood up, daring me.

I spooned in some rice.

She stamped her foot. 'Leave that disgusting stuff.'

Four hundred eyes followed us as I walked out of the mess with Ms Ananya Swaminathan, rated the best girl by popular vote in IIMA.

‘Do you like chicken?’ The menu rested on her nose as she spoke. We had AskManiG.com

come to Topaz, a basic, soulless but air-conditioned restaurant half a kilometer from campus. Like all mid-range Indian restaurants, it played boring instrumental versions of old Hindi songs and served little marinated onions on the table.

‘I thought Ahmedabad was vegetarian,’ I said.

‘Please, I’d die here then.’ She turned to the waiter and ordered half a tandoori chicken with roomali rotis.

‘Do you have beer?’ she asked the waiter.

The waiter shook his head in horror and left.

‘We are in Gujarat, there is prohibition here,’ I said.


‘Gandhiji’s birthplace,’ I said

‘But Gandhiji won us freedom,’ she said, playing with the little onions. ‘What’s the point of getting people free only to put restrictions on them?’

‘Point,’ I said. ‘So, you are an expert on rasam and sambhar. Are you a South Indian?’

‘Tamilian, please be precise. In fact, Tamil Brahmin, which is way different from Tamilians. Never forget that.’ She leaned back as the waiter served our meal.

She tore a chicken leg with her teeth.

‘And how exactly are Tamil Brahmins different?’

‘Well, for one thing, no meat and no drinking,’ she said as she gestured a cross with t he chicken leg.

‘Absolutely,’ I said.

She laughed. ‘I didn’t say I am a practising Tam Brahm. But you should know that I am born into the purest of pure upper caste communities ever created.

What about you, commoner?’

‘I am a Punjabi, though I never lived in Punjab. I grew up in Delhi. And I have no idea about my caste, but we do eat chicken. And I can digest bad sambhar better than Tamil Brahmins,’ I said.

‘You are funny,’ she said, tapping my hand. I liked the tap.

‘So where did you stay in hostel before?’ she said. ‘Please don’t say IIT, you are doing pretty well so far.’

‘What’s wrong with IIT?’

‘Nothing, are you from there?’ She sipped water.

‘Yes, from IIT Delhi. Is that a problem?’

‘No,’ she smiled, ‘not yet.’


‘Excuse me?’ I said. Her smugness had reached irritating levels.

‘Nothing,’ she said.

We stayed quiet.

‘What’s the deal? Someone from IIT broke your heart?’

She laughed. ‘No, on the contrary. I seem to have broken some, for no fault of my own.’

‘Care to explain?’

‘Don’t tell anyone, but in the past one week that I’ve been here, I’ve had ten proposals. All from IITians.’

I mentally kicked myself. My guess was right; she was getting a lot of attention. I only wished it wasn’t from my own people.

‘Proposals for what?’

‘The usual, to go out, be friends and stuff. Oh, and one guy from IIT Chennai proposed marriage!’


‘Yes, he said this past week has been momentous for him. He joined IIMA, and now he has found his wife in me. I may be wrong, but I think he had some jewellery on him.’

I smacked my forehead. No, my collegemates can’t be doing this, whatever the deprivation.

‘So, you understand my concern about you being from IIT,’ she said, picking up a chicken breast next.

‘Oh, so it is a natural reaction. If I am from IIT, I have to propose to you within ten minutes?’

‘I didn’t say that.’

‘You implied that.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘It’s OK. I expected you to be like this. Let me guess- only child, rich parents?’