When I told my father that I am off to a party, he was surprised. He knew I quit drinking long time before. And he happens to be the one who bailed me out twice before for street fights after a hard drink when in the university.
When I said I will be in the company of girls (drinking), he was kind of bewildered. I did not realise what was in store for me. As with most partying nights, it was a disastrous start. Few feet before the pub, the cop caught me talking over cell while driving.
No papers, no wallet. I had only the jean, t-shirt and mobile. No wonder my mom, wife and now my daughter call me absent minded prof.
Stood stupid for a short-while. Called salma as well as Sush to bail me out. Salma spoke to S, chief, T. ``Ask your friend to leave the vehicle and produce the documents and take it later.'' It did not work. With all respect to him, you cant expect him to call a constable! We had to apologise.
Somehow, sush got the local inspector to bail me out. I walked up the stairs. The burly (burmese?) guard before the pub stopped me straight. ``Shoes are compulsory for gentlmen, Sir''. This is not the Tamil country where lakhs walk bare foot. This is the new world.
Big B, the host, promising to show the changing chennai, came down to help. B's business card helped. Enter Z. It looked awful at first. For someone who hates girls smoking, there were many, many of them. As I sat down, a punjabi girl, dressed in pink, lighted a fag. Behind, to the left, a lean Iyer girl, slightly stoned, drew it in deeply and to the left, a saree clad young lady, was smoking in style.
It was a smoke filled room. It has been years. For someone who revelled in smoky rooms, this one was a bit different. Here, women were smoking harder than the handsome young men, looking little foolish. They were happy to hug the girls. I was not sure about their thinking talents.
Opposite, Salma was sitting with her vodhka and Big B with gin.
I switched side to have a better view of the whole room. Far right, two lovers were living to themselves. To the left, the man with one eye was helping the others in his table over the next drink. Apart from the smoke, the crowd was swinging to the beat. ``Pink Flyod,'' said Salma, once. I had no clue to the composers but the beats were swerving everyone of them.
It was an enjoyable evening in the company of changing culture. Only, the group opposite, the cultureless software pros, were shouting over their pharynx. Smoke, drink and music. A heady mix for talking sensitive and sensual things. Sounds spoil.
The cricket match on the big screen was another spoiler. It took away the companionship but gave way to loads of laughter and cheers as we and our sworn enemies were losing it badly. By now, the Lord has joined. It is amusing to observe his eagerness for a drink or two. I haven't seen his face lighting up often, except when he is offered a drink. For the record, he went home to wear a pair of shoe to dash down to the pub.
They had two drinks each. Salma was forced into the second. And swerved a lil bit at the end. I drank pineapple juice! Predicting the changes to come to this conservative city, Big B asked what will I do as a father (of a daughter). ``Will I police her?''
``I have no problems. As long as she doesn't hurts herself.'' I was not so sure later. For I, as a father, am not for my daughter to smoke or drink. From my experiences, read as mistakes, I am quite sure that there is no need for anyone to smoke or drink. But if life is a big party, why not a few times?
All four felt fine. Down, I saw Salma's friend hug a bearded bear a dozen times in half-a-dozen minutes. I have not been hugged a dozen times in all my half-life! And someone actually hugged (a reluctant) Salma. It is time to party, guys!!!
PS: Inspite of the fact that I was stinking of smoke till next morning, I loved the pub for one thing. Something precious lost quite a long time ago. Above all the smoke, smell and songs, what i loved last evening was the ambience. for friendship.
and may be for love, i suspect. for bold and beautiful symbolise change.