So last Saturday I reached Mumbai. While still inside a rick, I ringed Tota to let him know I was in town. I told him I would get back to him once I reached Subbu’s flat. I then called Jhopad up to ask him if he was coming. He said he would let me know. That kinda meant he wasn’t. He was busy. Even Sadhu, whom I called up next, responded with a ‘I will let you know’ answer. May be this was a Mumbai thing. When people don’t have time to meet you (which they usually don’t), they don’t tell you they don’t have time to meet you. They tell you they would let you know. And then they never really let you know. Because you know it already. And they know that you know.
I called up Mamme to ask him if he was in Mumbai. He said he was. He asked for Subbu’s address. I smsed him. And then I called up Til. I already knew he would not come. Not because we were enemies or something. But because Til was Til. And Til lived up to his reputation.
I reached Subbu’s flat in Kandivali. And what a lovely view the window in the hall had – lush green hills adorned with white water-falls. I went online. I put up an open invitation to all on my Google-talk status message. For my birth-day. CSLV and Proto responded. They said they would come. And then I wrote an e-mail to Chutki. I wanted her Mumbai number. So that I could talk to her and ensure that she came over (I wasn’t going to get a reply till next day). And then I thought I should also call up Tota. Not to invite him, because he was obviously coming – but to ask him when exactly was he coming and all that.
Tota asked me if it was okay if we could meet the next day. He had already partied and all the previous night and his place was very far from Kandivali. That was like a 100 pin-pricks at the same time. And at the same point in your body. I told him it was all cool and I understood. But I didn’t really understand.
Neelabh and Sweety arrived from Hyderabad late in the afternoon. Just for me. And the pain of the pin-pricks started subsiding. Slowly though. It was a fairly cold rainy day and when evening descended, I went out running for half an hour. When I returned, Tota called up to tell that he would come if the rains slowed down. Neelabh was watching some news channel on TV and told me they had just announced that the rains were not coming down anytime soon. I laughed out loud.
Neelabh had arrived with his detachable flash and for quite some time he tried clicking nude pictures of mine. Some with clothes on too. The one that I like most is the following. For obvious reasons.
I don’t know if the rains really slowed down finally but Tota did show up later that night. And I was so fucking glad he came. I can’t express how depressing that night would have been had he not come. And that’s not because Neelabh or Subbu or Sweety were not good enough as a company. That’s because, I had left a big part of myself with Tota when we had moved away from each other few years ago, and though I can never get that back, when he is around, I at least get as close to being what I was. Same goes for Maina too. But then expecting her to come over for this party was kinda over-expecting.
The only other person who joined my party was Proto – an insti-junior and a good friend. I had helped him with few poster and t-shirt designs during my final year at IIT. Mamme was caught up in another party so he couldn’t come. I would get a mail from CSLV the next day that he did take a rick all the way from Powai to reach Kandivali. Only to get a ‘this is a wrong number’ response when he tried calling me to locate the address. CSLV returned. I only hope that CSLV actually did call a wrong number because if he really called me that night and I indeed replied what he said I did – God will never forgive me. He came all the way from Powai to Kandivali and had to return. God should never forgive me.
So with Subbu, Sweety, Neelabh, Anshuman and Proto around, I cut a cake embedded with magic candles that just never went off, however hard you blew. A little bit of the cake was smudged over my face. May be more than just a little bit. And when we sat down after the cake cutting and eating session, we realized that all beer was over. So Tota and Subbu went to fetch few more bottles. Proto left too. And then Maina called me up to wish me and chatted for a while. The last time we had spoken ‘on phone’ was when terrorists had attacked Mumbai. LoLy had called up a while ago (and Tiwari called the next day). And when Maina put down the phone, Tota and Subbu were back with more beer. And the night went on as usual. Except that I had grown older by an year.
I did catch up with Maina. And Sadhu. When we went to see Inception together. Of course, for lack of sleep the other night, Tota and I kept crashing and entering different layers. No one even gave us a kick.
Chutki did call me up finally the next day. We promised to meet each other the next time I came to Mumbai. I did not tell her how much I missed her the other night. May be she understood.