‘Tum kya jaano dil karta tum se kitana pyaar. Rehta hai mujhko bas tumhara intezaar.’
This song sounds nice. But there’s something not quite right here. Maybe it’s that I don’t understand Hindi. Maybe it’s because one person is singing both parts of what is obviously a duet. It might even be because this song is being sung a-cappella – there is no music to support the lyrics.
It might be any of those things, but I think it is more likely the fact that I am being serenaded by a taxi driver who has more interest in hitting the high notes than observing the Highway Code. I’ve heard that love can be like a rollercoaster – but a Bollywood-themed 140kmph taxi ride? If my life is threatened by undertaking one more 4x4 I’m going to regret asking a taxi driver for Valentine’s Day advice.
I am, as my wife would tell you, more romantic in my thoughts and intentions than my actions. So finding myself in the presence of a man with leather car seats and a fur-lined tissue case, I knew I should ask his opinions on how to woo a woman. Turns out I could not have asked for a better mentor. Kashif is married and has three children. All boys. His wife lives back home in Kerala. He keeps in touch with text messages. ‘All ladies love the koochie-smoochie things: flowers, chocolate treats and love movies,’ he says with the conviction of a man who knows what he is talking about.
Love movies, it turns out after an embarrassing yet fortunately brief confusion, are romances. The soppier the better. ‘If I watch movies here in the UAE, I always remember to send message with the love lines to my wife. She is happy then,’ says Kashif.
Romantic text messages? Unless you happen to be in a different country to your loved one, that sounds a bit cheap to me. But according to Google, ‘Valentines SMS’ was one of the fastest rising searches this time last year. Instead of asking a taxi driver for advice, like any normal person would do, the romantically inept are relying on the internet search giant to give them the answers to love.
Forget about diamonds and big gestures, just send an SMS with a cheesy chat-up line from a film. Hmm, I think I’ll stick to the tried-and-tested bouquet of flowers. Maybe even a chocolate treat this year. If you are planning a romantic text message, however, then something like this would do the trick: ‘Beloved, oh beloved. Roses blossom in the garden when we meet in the desert.’
Believe me, it sounds a lot better in Hindi.