Most of us are fated to only mindlessly do. Like insects. Just do. We don’t know how to think, we don’t know how to read, we have no understanding of anything. We are just insects. The smallest of insects. Move our limbs, fill our stomachs; move our limbs, fill our stomachs. Day after day. And then one day we are dead. Just like that.
– Tarun T Tejpal (The Story of My Assassin)
Saturday – 19 September 2009 – Hotel Park, Indore – morning time
I landed in Indore last night. I headed to Sayaji from the airport. The cab driver was talkative.
‘Gear vaali cycle hai sir’?
‘Indore me koi race hai sir‘?
I told him I was a sirfira who carried his cycle wherever he went and that the race, if at all, was in the Himalayas – not in M.P. I didn’t tell him about sky-diving. I didn’t want him to lose balance and hit some vehicle.
The driver continued to talk. He told me he used to be good in sports but ever since he had taken up the role of a taxi driver, he didn’t have enough time to give to his body. He did manage 10 minutes daily though – did dumbells. Before he became a driver, he had tried getting into police. He couldn’t. He explained to me how most of the times bribe needed to be pushed over to get into the police service and how he never had enough money to bribe. But he wasn’t upset that bribes were accepted. ‘It is okay if they take bribe but they should not take unfit people in. Afterall, a policeman needs to be fit. You take bribe, but you take healthy people’.
He then complimented me; I must have been really fit to do racing in the Himalayas on a gear waali cycle. When I reached Sayaji, I saluted him off – like a policeman.
Pradeep, the dude who was supposed to make me and others sky-dive broke the sad news at Sayaji. He told me the government had denied permissions for take-off at the last moment because of some security threat. There was some terrorists alert. So no sky-diving was happening anymore. I felt like fucking shit. I had flown all the way to Indore, lugging my packed bike around and now there was no sky-diving! Not on the next day – not on the day after that! Fuck man!
But then, this was life – shit happened. Shit had happened to the guy who had just dropped me off – instead of a policeman he was a cab driver. The FIRST day of my 17 days trip had seen an amazing start! Fuck!
Sayaji was an expensive hotel – could have been a five star. I went to the restaurant inside where I joined three women and four men (excluding Pradeep) sharing a table. They were all in Indore to sky-dive. The sad news had been broken to them already. They’d also almost done eating. One of the women was in a green dress. She had black frames on. She was quite adorable. Another woman was skinny and looked like a firang with her grey eyes. Her Hindi was accented. She probably was a firang. The third woman was more like a girl.
Pradeep and one guy from the four excused the rest of us. They had a big mess to handle. There were several others reaching Indore every second and the news had to be broken to each person. Many more hearts had to be crushed – smashed.
So now there were – 3 men, 3 women, and me. I knew none of them. None of them knew me. All of us were smiling from outside but feeling pretty fucked up from within. I was feeling slightly hungry but I told them I was fine – that if all were done, we could leave. The 3 women were staying at Sayaji itself. The expensive hotel. Out of the 3 men, one was a boy who was also staying at Sayaji itself. The remaining two and I left Sayaji. We crossed the road and slipped into a cheaper hotel on the other side. Hotel Park.
Hotel Park. The three of us – one with flowing grey hair who said he worked as an art director / designer in Bollywood, his latest movie being Quick Gun Murugan, the other a tall handsome wacko hunk in thick lens and shorts from Delhi who had quit his job to start a car-washing venture – the three of us – Grey hair, Car-washer and I reached Hotel Park and realized that we were too fucking pissed off to just go to sleep. We figured out there was one more dude at the hotel who was here for sky-diving and he still unaware about the canceled plan. We also figured out that he was alone in a double room. None of us had seen him. I decided to dump my bike and my bags in his room. The three of us reached his room, banged on the door and from the moment he opened the door, he became a part of our gang that was soon going to taste the real music of Indore.
He was from the Navy. Professional sky-diver. Had done more than fucking 140 jumps. What was he doing here? He told us he was in Indore to assist a superior’s wife in sky-diving. But no sky-diving was happening any more. So what would he do now? He looked at us. The three of us looked at him. And then the four of us left Hotel Park. It was ten in the night. Grey hair, Car-washer, Navy and I wanted to do something. Our gang of four was soon going to taste the real music of Indore. Tan tana.
We first went back to Sayaji – there was a pub there. The pub also had a bowing alley. There we found the boy whom we had good-nighted some time back. The boy was rolling a bowling ball, trying to hit the pins at the other end. The boy was also sipping a beer. The four of who had just reached Sayaji went only for the beer. And then the pub got closed. So we came out. Raat to abhi jawaan hui thi!
The gang of four was back at Hotel Park. The gang of four was trying to figure out with the assistance of the Hotel Park staff what were the good ways of living one’s night in Indore after 11:30 in the night when good pubs like the one at Sayaji shut down. The staff had the answer: My Home.
My Home was a dance bar that we could reach within minutes if we walked towards the main cross-road near the hotel and took a right. We walked towards the main cross-road near the hotel and took a right. We kept walking. It became dark and no bar was anywhere to be seen. Car-washer asked a shopkeeper who was doing business at late hours about the whereabouts of My Home. My Home was kilometers away. We were on the right road though. So we took an auto. We were at the My Home. We were at a dance bar – Grey-hair, car-washer, Navy and I. I had never been to a dance bar before. And here I was with three strangers, in a city where I had never been before, at 12 in the night, about to enter the hallowed steps of My Home. Mera piya ghar aaya, o raam ji, o mera piya ghar aaya o raam ji. Well, about to.
Car-washer was in shorts and men in shorts were not allowed. Fuck. The bar was to close by 1 and the remaining three didn’t feel it right to leave Car-washer outside. Moral and ethics don’t vanish into thin air just because you are at dance bar! So we pleaded to the staff there. We were guys from all across India, over here in Indore just because we had heard so much about My Home from across seven seas and now that we had finally made it to the epic place, a fucking lack of full-pants would not allow us to soak ourselves in ethereal pleasure? The receptionist had a soft heart but the mother-fucker manager didn’t. We kept pleading but the manager didn’t budge. Time was ticking by. I asked the receptionist if they had extra pants to lend. They didn’t. We gave up. It was like reaching camp 4 at 26000 ft on your ascent to Everest and then not going for the summit because your expedition leader told you there was a lethal gale there out there at the top.
But we were true mountaineers. We could not give up so easily. There was a paan-shop next to the bar’s entrance. We asked the attendant there to help us if he could. He asked us how could he. Car-washer told him – by finding him a full-pant, a pajama, any goddamn piece of cloth that the manager wouldn’t mind. The paanwaala was helpless. The summit was now only a dream. We left the place. We needed an auto back home. We found few autos outside. And few autovaalas. And then I asked Car-washer to try his luck one last time. He looked at me. He then looked at one of the autowaalas. The autowaala looked at the Car-washer and then the Car-washer tried his luck one last time: ‘can you help me get a pajama’?
The autowala was a darling. He asked us to sit inside so that he could take us to some place from where we could find Car-washer a pajama. We told him, time was of essence. I looked at Car-washer and blinked my eyes. Car-washer got my message. He looked at the autowaala. The autowaala looked at the Car-washer and then the Car-washer made it very clear this time – ‘how about lending me your pants – this one that you are wearing’?
The autowala was a darling. He was ready to take off his pants. He was drunk. He was our angel. He took off his pants and then car-washer took off his shorts and the two piece of clothes were exchanged in good spirit followed by a hearty hug. Fuck. We still had half an hour before the bar could close. We ran back to the bar. As we were running back to the pub, Car-washer yelled – ‘yo man, this pant fits so well and it’s so retro’.
100 bucks each for entry fee. We paid. We were in. The Everest was ours and soon we all had beer in our hands to celebrate our victory.
So this was what a dance bar in a medium size town meant: fucking loud speakers; young girls dressed in normal dresses singing in turns; 40-50 year old drunk uncles enjoying the piercing music and lutaoing note after note over every thumka and every new line. It was a fucking depressing place. I would never know how one can feel good in a place like this. We roamed around for some time but soon got bored and were yawning. There were various sections in there and each section had a separate set of singers and orchestra. One section had a Kishore Kumar. I liked his voice. It was nice to find a guy singing in a dance bar for a change.
there went three notes of 100 rupees from the slippery hands of a middle aged Sardarji whose head bobbed with the beats
..kisi ne mera…
two more notes..
a fucking 500 passed by this time
barbadi ki taraf kadam moda… and there you had notes raining.
I guess as I stepped out of the bar with Grey-hair, Car-washer and Navy, I was humming the following for myself: ‘ek bhale manus ko amanush bana ke chhoda‘. 😛 The real music of Indore!
We found the generous autowaala again. Pants were re-swapped and the dude also dropped us back. Just when I decided to crash in Navy’s room back at Hotel Park, he popped out a bottle of Old Monk and a whiskey session started. I puked many a times and later had a wonderfully nice sleep.
It’s morning now. Navy is still crashing on the next bed. Grey-hair and Car-washer are crashing in some other room. I guess I shall wake all these guys up and decide something for today. My flight to Delhi is only in the evening.
Eh – I guess I have a hangover. Let me sleep some more. Yawn! Dil aisa kisi ne mera toda…