In case of doubt overdress
Do you see that girl wearing a black pencil skirt, red silk blouse and four-inch stilettos? Yes, the one with sleek dark hair pulled into a low bun. That's me Zoya Siddiqui. I am here for a public hearing and I believe in looking the part.
I take in the red building in front of me - old, make that very old and nondescript with paint peeling off some places. Maybe I am a little overdressed. I had grabbed the opportunity to dress like a top shot lawyer for the public hearing. The truth that I was just an assistant was another story. What's a girl to do ? Watching too many shows like L.A. Law where the female litigators possess rapier wits, wear stylish suits with impeccable hairstyles, and work in glass offices in the sky, is bound to leave its effect. And then you face reality. I sigh - disappointed. What the hell was I thinking ?
Also there is this teeny tiny fact - courtroom sex has always been my fantasy and top search in my po*n. Don't look at me with those small judgy eyes. Yes, I am a girl. Yes, I watch po*n. Deal with it. And one day I am going to fulfill this wish of mine. If he knew this secret fantasy, it would not be a fantasy anymore. It would be our dirty little secret. Thank goodness, he can't read my mind.
"It was commissioned by the State government in 1952. First Chamber of Commerce, then Mayor's office and finally public hearing."
I raise a shocked eyebrow at the man who brought me back from my po*no land.
"Had Wikipedia for breakfast?" I retort.
"Nah. There is an awesome thing known as the Internet. When you get a break from those damned lists, I suggest you give it a try"
"Lists keep things organized" I defend my habit.
"Sometimes I want to rescue you from yourself"
I roll my eyes. Rescue me? No, Thank you. I like myself just fine, Mr. knight in shining armor. Lists bring a sense of organization into my otherwise haywire world. Also, they are cute. I always had a thing for those pink, green, blue and neon yellow Post-It Notes. Things magically seem doable once I scribble it down and slap a note on my table. I also get the personal satisfaction of crossing it out once I am done with it. Bought a big black marker especially for the task. Am I childish ? Maybe. But, I like it.
"Get your lazy ass moving Siddiqui. It's show time" Arjun opened the backseat to retrieve the files and exhibits.
Before we move forward, introductions are in order. Meet Arjun Mehta - Chief Architect at Wave Designs. Oh me ? I am his assistant. I know what you are thinking - what the hell are we doing at a public hearing ? Well, our company Wave Designs was hired by Aztec Group, a multimillion dollar conglomerate to build a hotel with a nine-hole golf course near Kushsundar Lake in Aloha district. So here we are, obedient little soldiers - fighting for environmental clearance regarding their ambitious project.
The development plan is strongly opposed by locals, especially the farmers who consider the hotel and golf course as a threat to their pious lake. Moreover, a grand hotel complete with equally impressive golf course will draw more tourists than this little town could possibly handle. And we all know what happens when their is a massive influx of sneaker-wearing, sunglass flaunting humans - pollution, overcrowding, energy shortage and ecosystem degradation.
Valid points. I agree. But who cares?
The building is better inside. After passing through security - now isn't that cute ? like do they expect terrorists to bomb this place, and kill who ? stray dogs ? - we enter the waiting room with a dozen tables and chairs scattered around and a vending machine along one wall.
"Miss Siddiqui" Neel Kundra stands and smiles. I shake his hand, having met the Aztec Group's manager several times. And just as always the man was dressed up for a european aristocratic event. I can bet my life that those brown shoes had a 'Made in Italy' mark and the elegant watch was all Swiss. His charcoal grey suit and blue silk tie completed the snob look. He was well dressed, I agree but just a little too polished, just a little too perfect to be appealing. And sexy. Or maybe he was just not my type. My kind of man has to be ... well manly. Someone who takes care of himself but is not afraid to get down and dirty. If you know what I mean.
"Meet Kunal Ahluwalia, our lawyer" Me and Arjun shake hands with the Aztec Group's lawyer and make small talk. The day I discover the need for small talk, I will achieve my goal in life. I might even go to the Himalayas.
How are you doing?
How was your weekend?
Nice to meet you. My ass.
Kunal takes my hand in a firm grip. Too firm. His eyes scan my face and finally settle squarely on my chest. I know I got a nice rack. Thank you very much.
Entering the dark, scary corporate world, I knew the high probability of working with douches like Kunal, but that didn't deter me. Opportunities, my father would say, have to be seized with both hands, because you never know if they'll come again. He taught me to be fearless. More than a husband he wanted me to have the chance to go anywhere. To do anything. Being a Delhi girl gave me an edge. I learned early to be on guard and generally distrust unfamiliar people.
Guilty until proven innocent is the mantra to live by.
Don't you worry, a leering, skeevy sonofabitch like Kunal didn't intimidate me.
I deliberately sit between Neel and Arjun as they take their positions in the public hearing room. Neel was a snob but not a bas***d like Kunal. Little mercies.
The room is packed with people and heavy with a layer of tense apprehension. There is absolutely nothing else happening in Aloha, so we are the entertainment !
"First I'll introduce the firm and our very noble intentions of increasing tourism in this sleepy little town, and then Miss Siddiqui will show the design to the members of the committee. They are senile fossils but I'll handle that" Neel declares with complete assuredness. "Then the public will testify; most will babble on about the precious lake will be polluted and all. The members have heard it all, so no issues on that front. And most importantly we have Kunal on our side " Neel patted the lawyer who suddenly gained an inch in height.Kunal Ahluwalia is loud, flamboyant, ambitious, a driven man who's going places, though it's not clear exactly where. He is crafty and doesn't shy away from using brutal tactics. Oh, and he loves cameras. His face garnered front-page coverage for a recent corporate land dispute case in Mumbai. Aztec definitely went all out to get this clearance.
"What about the locals? " Arjun asks.
An island of reason in the ocean of obnoxiousness.
"I assume their lawyer will be testifying." Kunal tapped the ream of documents on the table to emphasize his preparation.
"Can't wait to get out of this shit hole" Neel stretched in his chair.
"There are a few good scenic places in Aloha, I suggest you should see around" I gave my two cents.
"You mean the deserted petrol pump and the stray cows? No thanks"
I open my mouth but wisely shut it when Arjun puts a hand on my shoulder. Neel's indefatigable arrogance is off putting and very damn irritating.
Let him be.
"Here comes the man of the hour Mr. Aditya Hooda"
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Edited by harsha.. - 2018-08-07T19:37:37Z
Topic started by harsha..
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