Pune Memoirs, 2004-05:
Christmas and the New Year were inching closer. Our gang made big plans to celebrate the coming year in style with the entire Second-year batch mates to gather on the sprawling balcony in the society where Aparna lived in Pashan. Earlier, I showed a reluctance to go for the party since I wasn’t too much pally with half of the people but Adi convinced me quite aggressively. You can find the post on how shit drunk I was on that day in an earlier Pune Memoirs post here.
We prepared for our new year shopping one week before the big day as if someone was getting hitched. Adi already reached Mahatma Gandhi (MG) Road with his then girlfriend on his bike while I walked my way from FC to Bhandarkar Road to withdraw money at HDFC and from there, I hailed a rickshaw to MG Road. I plodded my steps at the crowded street, past Barista, Aurora Towers Hotel and the Indian Express building at Camp. When it comes to shopping, I am always clueless but Adi convinced me to go for black jazzy trousers for the night. I got myself a blue corporate shirt and black trousers. Now, I don’t know why the fuck I got myself that shirt. It’s another thing that Manish lent me a shirt for the party.
The afternoon was spent buying some yum cookies at the old bakery at Camp, gulping tea at the road stall and waded my way to explore unknown streets and gallis. I have always loved the huge crowd storming its way on MG Road and the line-up of branded shops, restaurants, rickshaw honking and tea stalls that express life in this soulful part of Pune. I loved walking at a stretch there and buying imported cigarettes in the small, dingy lanes from the uncle who shipped them from Dubai. Of course, Mithai and in, particular Gulab Jamun is something that I cannot resist whenever I am there.
The eve of Xmas was spent lazing around in the flat, withdrawing money at the bank and buying gifts for our group of friends. It was a cool game to play where no one among us would know what we bought for the other and the wrapped packets would be placed under the decorated Xmas tree. The next person dropping home would be first asked to pick a gift which was kept under the Xmas tree. On the day, I opened my wrapper and got a gun toy as a gift. It was a random pick, I thought. But, the inner sense never fails for the mischief of the flatmates could never be ignored for anything on earth. I was spot on for it was the ingenious trick of Adi who placed the gift in such a way that it wouldn’t slip away from my glares. It’s the thing with best and close buddies who know you inside-out. He confessed that he knew how to make me pick the gift. I became a philmy child in no time trying AB or Sanju Baba style and singing Tez Dar with the fake gun.
In the evening, the crush G came home and all of us went for dinner at George Restaurant at camp which is famous for its mouth-watering chicken biryani. On our way back, there were three of us, me, K and N hailed a rickshaw back home and in no time, started to sing loudly, borivali daaru ka adda when one of them casually remarked whether I am going to sing this song for G. After all, I was still under the effect of G who already left on her bike. Read the earlier post here. It was much earlier during the day when walked to Barista at FC for coffee and reading Sunday Times.
During those days, I would normally sit in a relaxed mood, reading the newspaper, gulping coffee and smoking. It was an early sunny morning when I saw a beautiful girl dressed in a shining saree at the opposite table. I think it was the saree effect that drew me to her and glances, hi and Merry Xmas wishes were exchanged when suddenly a ‘hijra’ started bugging her in exchange for money. The eunuchs are quite famous on FC Road, asking for money and pissing patrons off. The lady in saree refused but that person would stand there and started harassing her. I nodded to the cafe guys who chased the ‘eunuch’ out. She acknowledged with thank you and we agreed how scary those people can be by shamelessly bugging people inside coffee shops.
We already stepped in 2005 and for students, the start of the year meant trouble when you suddenly realized that you wasted the whole year whining time, boozing, ganja party, flirting with the hottest girls in town or painted the town red with friends or dating. After all, exams were round the corner in another three months. But, that wouldn’t deter us. In our gang in college, G and S were the bestest buddies who would behave like lesbian partners when they were sloshed. I spent awesome time with them. S got some party passes and the five of us, Adi, his then gf, Garima, Stuti and me hit it off at TDS dancing till the wee hours.
The high that alcohol gives doesn’t hold you back as you jump on the dance floor to ‘One Love for the Mother’s pride’ and making faces to random strangers. It makes you blurt out utter nonsense. And, I did. Once, we were done, Mr bike Adi would zoom back to the flat with his companion and wore the grandpa all worried on how I would go back alone and drunk that he shamelessly asked the two girls do some babysitting for me which in simple terms, means to drop me in their rickshaw ride since it was too late. I was like, haan, mein doodh peeta bachcha hoon na.
When it comes to playing pranks, I cannot be left behind. There was the Holi bash that I attended with the girls, G, her sister K, one of their hot roomie A and some other chick. A couple of drinks gave me the balls to do the dance rain, swaying to the tune of Rang Barse and Do me a Favor, Let’s Play Holi. It was on the same day that K’s bike was lifted by the traffic police and we witnessed some fights among few dudes on the dance floor. I met A at the party and floored her with compliments as she was quite a pataka (cracker). I could see some shade of jealousy on G’s face. I asked A if I can spray holi on her face and she was like, ‘Yeah! Ok! But only a lil bit.’ What soft skin she has! Once I came back home, I acted as if I was high on bhang, acted weird and the voice slurred, faking it on how I’m unable to sit or stand properly. I got everyone in my acting, including Adi. The prank was played and revenge taken on everyone who used to pull a fast one on me.
Now, our flat on FC Road is the place where surprises are unfurled and wins over your heart for a lifetime. I was the only single one on V-Day and the rest of the occupants were busy hanging out with their partner inside their respective rooms. Manish came out of the dark and candle-lit room where he suddenly asked me to get them some beer and Adi did the same, gave me money for a pack of cigarette from the wine shop and pan shop. I came back and knocked on the doors. Imagine the surprise when the amazing fuckers wished the single me happy V-Day, telling that the beer, smoke, and loads of pizza are for me. Friends ho toh aisa.
If that was not enough, the SY results came and the disappointed me scored low in my main Economics papers and the worse was two KT papers to give in October since I didn’t take the Sociology exams. Just imagine the fucked-up result came on my birthday eve and tears dropped due to those low marks. I gave strict instructions to Manish and his girlfriend & now wife, Kusum that my birthday will not be celebrated. There were two reasons, one the horrible results and the second that Adi and his girlfriend were on vacation outside India. I remember getting a call from G wishing me happy birthday in advance and cheering me up. She called early since her mobile was facing some issues and there was no way that she’d be able to call when the clock would strike midnight.
The next day, Manish and Kusum conjured tricks and excuses to keep me out of the house, urging me to go out to Savera our college hangout and there is no point to sulk at home because of the results. When I came back, they asked me to go buy them something or the other from the nearby shops and I can take my own sweet time like I always did. When I came back, there was a birthday cake waiting for me, my favorite Imperial Blue whisky, a pack of cigarette and gifts. It was my birthday surprise which they smartly planned and prepared. Gosh! How I miss those near perfect Pune days that were the bestest!
Post-script: I was initially planning for eight chapters on Pune Memoirs in the second year but it seems that will reach ten. As I am writing and reflecting, more anecdotes and incidents are coming to the mind. It makes it worth the effort though painful as I cringe and miss those days. Where have they all gone! A tear in the eye and sadness looming.