Pune Memoirs, Second year:
A black kinetic went for a toss like Sirius in Harry Potter. I became fed up in kicking to whoosh ahead but the engine lost steam. Constant trips were made to the cheerful mechanic always dressed dapper in jeans at Bhandarkar Road who welcomed me and Adi with, “Ajao saalon Tum kaminon kidhar the itne din”. This bike is finished.” It hit me hard on the head. I should have never bought it in the first place from the moron. Finally, I became so fed up that I left it with the mechanic dude and told him that you can do whatever you want with it. A feeling of relief blew in the air like the relationships that I left mid-way.
The friends that we make during the blissful college days are like book characters and no wonder Dil Chahta Hai is one movie where we find a bit of ourselves in it. Meet Neraj. Both of us started silly when we ended up hating each other and took a sadistic pleasure in pulling each other. Now, I don’t where this love-hate-love jingle came from. Now we are good friends and as both of us agreed, ‘We were both immature during this time in college.’ It was funny, irksome and shitty at times. But, I guess that’s how friendship is, first sour before reaching the crescent of sweetness. Bitter-gourd! I just came with a new definition of friendship.
During those days, he used to like R in college, a super sweet and helpful girl and we would tease him endlessly about her. Once, he went to his home town and during a mundane conversation, R told us that she knew about the whole scene. Obviously, this little chat flew like the pigeon cooing into Neraj’s ears and he wanted to know what she precisely shared. Any leads! He suddenly felt like a journo. Me being me, I never interfere in my friends’ personal things and Neraj was like, “You asshole…should have asked her more about me and everything.”
Fights and squabble! There were quite a few when we made fun of each other and once there was this gay guy in college whom I loathed like hell proposed not just Neraj on V-Day but one of my best friends. It was one V-Day when Neraj got the unwanted proposal. The next V-Day when I heard about it, obviously it was party time to make his life hellish. I was sorry about it but couldn’t hold myself to push Neraj to the brink or the BPL (Bum Pe Laath) on his birthday at midnight. There was no dearth of pranks and once he called Adi, to pretend that someone was beating him on the road past midnight. But, of course, we got worried and later came to know that it was one of his silliest jokes. Having said that, we all had a nice time together and the putting down was done in ‘good faith’ if there is something like that. We were not particular fond of each other in those days but we did watch a couple of movies together, Spiderman, Corporate and few others with the gang. There were dinner, daaru and going out in the group together.
Once we were all tickling him and poor man pushed his body under the wash basin and near the washroom but what asshole did was trying to pull my short. Ha! But, in the end of our final year, he gave me a place to stay in this flat since I was homeless, wandering from one place to the other.
The pettiest squabble started with him telling me, ‘You are not mature’ which irritated me to no end and I responded with ‘Panvel ka Dalal’. Now, don’t ask me why I said that?! Ha! I took my sweet revenge one winter in the morning when we all were waiting at the college katta and Neraj Sirjee missed his Philosophy class. He cheerfully went to the professor who was fuming, “Where have you been? Do you want me to come in your house and wake you up in the morning?” Every one of us laughed. I kept teasing him about it. Neraj was someone who used to tease me about everything, ranging from my favorite Man U team, my crushes and going all the way from FC to Camp to buy 2 packs of imported cigarettes or studying all the time. Yes! I can be quite a nerd when it comes to studies. It used to piss me off and this fucker was laughing. Our friend had an endearing quality, he used to make a joke which nobody understood and would laugh the loudest. As long as everyone laugh, life jingalala.
There was a common foe for me, Adi and Neraj: K, the gay guy. The worse thing which I hated about him (her) till the brink was the fact that his proposals were turned down by the straight dudes but since he couldn’t take no for an answer, he was bitching about them to everyone, telling that they are homosexuals. It was in the start of college when he pissed me out inside college campus when I was hitting on a girl, Ku, who was biting the bait and was almost on the verge of asking her out for a coffee date. I was flooring with compliments when this chutiya barged in at the wrong time. You know how girls are? They warm up to the ‘saheli’ type. I wanted to kick him in the ass. Matlab machli phasne wali thi!
It screwed my head. I joined Adi and his girlfriend of that time who laughed at me since they understood what happened and we walked past the main gate at Fergusson College to head towards the tapdi for tea. Adi was laughing and winked at me since I was fuming at this ass for ruining my date. I was like, next time I will kick him in the ass. His companion broke into a cackle of laughter saying that the moron will be happy to be whacked. Just imagine that I didn’t know that the guy was gay when the entire college knew about it. Adi thought that I was faking it out and knew about his sexual orientation. I started shouting, “Fuck! I never knew.”
At that moment, another crush waded past me to pick her bike, stopped and looked at me, telling ‘I am going now.’ R was my senior in college and was part of the college cultural committee, the time I had something for her. Man! She was curvy at that time and I drooled over her curly hair. The funny thing is that once someone wanted to know about our cultural fest and I walked to R, asking her about the dates and she looked at me, saying that she doesn’t know and kept walking. It looked weird for a guy to walk towards a random girl in college, asking her about info. Some other guy told me, she must be thinking that you got the hots for her.
The evenings at Fergusson College were spent roaming at night and scanning restaurants to eat. One winter evening, I was walking down the road and saw a couple of Fergie people at Barista where one cool dude, Chanda whom I would often come across in college called out to me and told to join them. There was this cool chick, Anjee, Chanda and a host of people who swerved in and out. We saw a grandma having choco and ice-cream. It was a treat to see an elderly having a good time and the smile on her face made possible by her children and granddaughters. Pune has such a cool quotient and a mirror image of beautiful human lives where you don’t trade happiness but it happens in front of the eyes.
Anjee whispered, “Grandma is having the time of her life’. We discussed a host of things, from that guy who filed a case in court against a shop on the other side of the road for putting a poster which was deemed as indecent. It was a model in short skirt. We were aghast at the so-called moral policing by people who don’t have anything worthwhile to do in life but slap lawsuit in courts. Over the years, Chanda became an intrinsic part of my life and we boozed, discussed relationship issues. We bonded together and he was one guy who was a guitarist in a rock band. I bonded with his entire Science gang. In fact, I was one Arts student who had lots of friends in the Science stream. I loved their music. I am sometimes amazed how a small conversation can make us great friends over time and carve the best memories in life. Now, who wanna argue with me when I say college days are the best times in life!
There were Aparna and Ritika who became my two Rakhi sister in Pune. Ritika was in my stream, Economics and often we would hang out on the campus, where she was convincing me that love happens but I never believed in it, at that time. My sister took my case once on the phone when I called her to tell that I didn’t want to take the Sociology paper and planning to give it in October. We discussed everything under the roof, from career aspirations to politics which she was well versed in, her parents and in particular her Dad whom she adores. My sister’s family was based in Lonavla and she would stay in a rented flat in Pune with a couple of hot girls. At that time, she was aspiring to be an IAS officer. Shall come back in a fresh episode on how she berated me for not taking the exams.
The pranks that the flatmates would play was legendary and it was one such afternoon and evening when everyone ganged up to make me a ‘bakra’. You know the MTV Bakra and all! Adi would go home at the Peth area and I would often accompany him where we would roam around the road, have amazing coffee prepared by aunty and relishing Maharashtrian dishes. Among all the houses that I visited, aunty-Adi’s Mom-makes the most amazing coffee and being fed by her is a treat for its ghar ki sabzi aur Maa ka banaya hua khana jo dil ko chu lete hain.
We went to Adi’s flat and said Hi to Uncle and Aunty and went out on the bike to roam around the Peth areas which are compact with the small, dingy lanes and crowded population. It’s one of the places that I love since it gives a feel of the old and traditional Pune. The real Pune is experienced in the Peth areas. Now, I didn’t realize it, since the time we were still in the flat I was getting some blank calls and messages from someone claiming to be a fair Iranian girl apparently in love with me. I didn’t really respond to that since I sensed that something was not right…daal mein kuch kala. True, I was confused but at the same time, the prank became so lame. When I picked up the phone and prodded by Adi, the different women at the other end pretended to be this Iranian girl, “But I like you…I love you.”
By the time, the caller kept buzzing, I got wind that it was a prank and a major fucking set up. We drove on Adi’s bike to one cool tea shop with a hut roof and the walls were made of brick like old houses near the end of the bridge after Omkareshwar temple. It gave a sense of comfort and old world homely charm which was quite spacious inside with the waiters swarming to take the orders. Somehow, Adi didn’t really like the waiters and told, “Don’t be too friendly with them. They are asses.” The ‘Irani girl’ again called to snare me with this trap, ‘but I love you.’ I just hung the phone. I looked at him with a poker straight face.
He started laughing with, “Yes! It’s them. I didn’t want the prank end but those girls are being lame.” The women were our flatmates, one was his then girlfriend and the second, the girlfriend of the second flatmate. The cherry on the cake is despite trying hard like fuck, they didn’t suck me into this game.
Things started shaping between me and K who was modeling in Pune where we would spend time chatting on phone till one day…