Dax and I were sitting one evening at one of the tables on the Club Lawns. This was our first visit to the Club after becoming members. The cool sea-breeze was gently making its way from the Bay of Bengal towards the city bringing in a welcome change from the morning sultry weather. The Club members were casually sauntering in, looking around to spot a familiar face. Some would quietly make it to a vacant table, pull a chair and signal the waiter to place an order for drinks and snacks.
This evening I was not too keen for a drink but on the insistence of Dax I too ordered a whisky. Solan No.1 was the preferred brand those days (much before I was introduced to my friend Johnnie, who was quite a Walker!). Some fried peanuts with a dressing of onions and tomatoes and a dash of lime juice made up the snacks. We had barely finished our first drink when Dax exclaimed, “Wow! Look at her!” I turned around in my chair but did not see the “beauty” that Dax had spotted. “Who? Where?” I asked, peering in the dim lighting. “That lady, sitting with her back towards us. The one in a white dress”, he drooled, simultaneously signalling to the waiter to bring a second round of drinks. This time I spotted her. Sitting a few tables away from us, I saw a waiter serving her a drink. “I bet she is also having whisky,” Dax mumbled through a mouthful of peanuts.
Waiting for the waiter to bring our drinks, Dax wagered that before anyone joins the “Lady in White” he would whisk her away for a dance. Coincidentally, the Club’s juke-box was belting out the Cliff Richard’s number “Dancing Shoes”. In a flash, Dax shot out of his chair and with quick, confident strides made his way towards her. I followed his every move, prepared to extricate him should he get in to trouble. Head down, she seemed to be staring at her drink while her feet were tapping along with Cliff Richard’s song. Standing behind and a little towards one side, Dax turned towards me and with a confident “Thumbs Up” signal bent forward to wish her. I saw him freeze in that position maybe for a fraction of a second. Next, the lady got up from her chair and held out her hand as Dax escorted her towards the dance floor. I was floored by Dax’s ability to charm young ladies. Without waiting for him to “remove” his dancing shoes, I ordered my next drink and the next too. There was no sign of Dax and his dancing lady. I was getting a bit worried since it was getting time for dinner and return back to the Air Force Station.
“Hey Buddy! Meet Mrs White” I heard Dax say as he gave a gentle slap on my back. I stumbled as I got up and saw her from close quarters. The lady was in her late forties, a few wrinkles on her face and neck giving away her age. I shook hands with her and as she sat down, like magic, the waiter was there with her glass of whisky. Apparently she was at the Club every evening. A few minutes later, she excused herself to visit the wash room to ‘powder her nose’ as she put it.
Dax took this opportunity to tell me how when he went up to her table and greeted her, he expected her to be a young girl but was shell shocked when he saw that, perhaps, she was his mother’s age! But, the gentleman that he was, Dax recovered quickly and asked her for a dance. Once there, she would not let him go. She just continued to dance on each and every number that the juke-box belted out.“Oh Boy is she a ‘dance-o- maniac’!”
While we were having a hearty laugh, the waiter came up to us and said, “Sir, you better leave quickly. She is a regular fixture here, waits for young officers to dance with and have drinks and dinner. Her husband remains in a remote area in the North East and comes home once a year.”
Never one to ignore good advice I forced Dax to leave, forgoing our dinner in the bargain.