The Indian Office Beauty

Walker Rowe 

The alarm rings and Aishwarya opens one eye as her mother calls for her to get out of bed. She dresses quickly, putting on a bright rose coloured sari, applies lipstick, slips on tan flats, and hails a taxi in the busy street. The men working the shops and heading to their offices eye her as she dashes by, she passes for a second in and out of their lives for a moment, leaving an impression that lingers.

She makes her way into the office, grabs a cup of darjeeling tea and settles in for the long day of analyzing financial statements for the investment bank. The early light of day brings warmth to her office located in the corner on the 17th floor. Dust devils dance in the polarized light.

The first task of the day is to check email and login to Facebook to see what her girlfriends have done last night. Raj has sent her yet another mail asking if she will go with her to the movies. She is annoyed, deletes the mail, to find something from her boss.

Today the company is launching a new single-signon application. All employees are supposed to sign up for training. She groans as no one is eager to take obligatory training. She tries to click through the screens quickly, but is slowed down, when she realizes there is a test to take at the end to verify that she has mastered the material and not just clicked quickly through the slides.

This task behind her, she tries to log into the bank’s technical analysis forecasting system but cannot remember her password. She fumbles through her purse while she can feel the creepy fellow in the next cubicle staring at her from behind. Bonkers. Her password is in her other purse. She calls her mother who is not at home. So she calls the company help desk to ask them to reset the password for the 10th time.

She reads the day’s paper online, waiting from someone from support to take her call. Ten minutes later a salesman from a computer software company comes by her cubicle. He is a dashing young fellow with the good looks of an actor. Like the other men in the office, he wants to talk to her too. He leans in and tells her that she looks like Madhuri Dixit, her voice is that of the Koyal, and her sari the color of the Schomburgkia Exaltata orchid.

She tells him, “You have got to do better than that.”

He says, “I am not here just to flatter you. Any chap can make up such lies. I want to help you. I see you cannot log in.”

The salesman is here to install software whose Hindi name एकतरफा प्यार means “unrequited love.” The poetic name draws her attention as he logs into the system and shows her how to create one account that she can use to login to all of the bank’s applications. Aishwarya thanks him for his assistance. She is pleased that she does not have to call the help desk anymore to reset her password. She does not like the guy who answers the phone there anyway. The salesman asks for her phone number. Aishwarya says, “If you buy me an orchid that matches what I wear tomorrow I will give that to you.”

He asks, “But what color will you wear?”

She says, “That is a woman’s secret.”


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