Sid – Ooh North Indian? Raped anybody lately?
Me – No. I’ve been in Hyderabad. And I only rape fair girls.
Warning : Long Post.
The pic above this pretty much sums up the difference between the two weddings I attended recently, In the right one (Punjabi) the groom is garlanded in money. And the other (Tamilian) didn’t even get to wear a shirt.
In one we arrived half-drunk dancing in the night after a mobile DJ (very innovative concept to replace the bandwallahs; more on this later); Currency notes were showered as we danced in flashy suits. And in the other I arrived at 10 in the morning (sober) wearing a plain shirt and was already branded too late and overdressed; The shehnai wala and one other musician had actually dozed off by the time I reached there. What is Ironical here is, that the first marriage was in the Gujarat which is a dry state and the second was in Bangalore which you can safely call the city of bars. Oh and don’t worry about the funeral, that here in this case, is of my drinking habit (I’ve initiated the protocol 2X2, more on that later as well) and vast number of brain cells. Both died last Saturday night.
So it happens two of my good friends decided to marry in the month of February, actually three, I’ll not be able to attend the third (Sorry Ashutosh Vikram). And that needed me to burn some aviation turbine fuel, a hole in my pocket, my manager’s peace of mind and the last of my leaves, and to haul myself first to Baroda and then to Bangalore to attend these two weddings.
So let me rewind to Wednesday (8th of Feb) when I woke up my flat mate at 4:30 in the night to drop me to the bus stand for the bus which will take me to the airport. The sky had a breathtaking view when I reached the airport but I couldn’t get out my camera in time and I was soon throttled in the airport’s humdrum. It was a short flight and I could only read through one chapter of Catch 22 (Major Major Major Major), I really hate these short flights some time, as soon as the pilot switches off the seat belt sign and I recline my seat the guy behind me wants to eat, I wonder why he can’t do with my seat reclined and by the time he finishes it is time to descend again, so I have to straighten up my seat again. And why on earth can they not put me next to a pretty girl for once!!? When I used to travel sleeper class in train they told me that the hot chicks always traveled in A.C. When I fought with my parents for A.C. ticket and got them and didn’t find any pretty girls there as well, I was told that they have moved to flights now. Now I fly most of the time and wonder that have the pretty girls bought their own planes? Anyways….
I landed at Ahmedabad airport and admired the cleanliness and order of it. There was nothing grandiose about it like T3 or something but it functioned like a well-oiled machine. I was there at the baggage conveyor when I got a call from the driver who was supposed to pick me up, he told me he is waiting just outside. I prayed with all my heart that he would be waiting with a placard with my name on it, I have always wanted that. But the gods seldom hear my prayer and he relied on the old fashioned way of calling me and telling me the car number. Oh by the way Chirag Jethwa had called me last night at 11:45 and asked me to bring booze along. When I asked how am I supposed to do that at this time of the night he said he doesn’t care and also he would be coming to the airport along with the driver to pick me. I told him I don’t think he will but he said he has changed and grown up and shit. And to no surprise to me he didn’t come. Once somebody sets foot in Ramaiah you can only rely on them for one thing, not to keep their word.
After a short drive to the side of what looked like Ahmedabad’s BRT corridor we picked up Tiger aka HVJ aka Harsh, he met with his usual plangent laughter and the signature greeting ‘Haraamkhor’. We chatted about life in general, his work and went through the usual joke ‘Saale tereko Infosys hee mili thee jaane ko MBA karne ke baad bhi?’. It was a swift drive to Baroda and we passed beneath the old house of Irfan Pathan. It was old house in a ghetto like area and I got philosophical for a few minutes thinking that did the kid who stayed in this house and played in these streets dream what he would become one day?
Then it was the usual suspects back after a long time Lion, Cheetah, Tiger, Me (Lone Wolf), Bhangari and Tutu (Ya I know how this sounds like). Shervil was covered in Haldi which he didn’t hesitate to generously apply on all of us as well and Shervil FYI, no the stains of Haldi don’t wash from your clothes easily. And I met his brother and my school friend Tarun after a long – long time (more than a few years) too. Cheetah was with wife and kid (Viraj Singh! Heavy name for a 1 year old), and him and his better half had doubled up in size since I last met them. To top all that his wife is a dietician! We danced to the Dhol for a while on the lines ‘Vaari varsi khatan gaya see…’ After this we proceeded to Bungalow number 31 where Jethu showed the last night happenings, food, ash, empty bottles of Blenders, Captain Morgan, Vodka and an almost empty bottle of Johnnie Walker Black Label. And Jethu decided that right now is the best time to make that empty from almost, so we had our first drink. A black label neat in paper tea cups. And nothing had tasted better than that. The lunch was the usual Punjabi fair, Gatte, Dal, Baajre kee Roti aur Gud.
We went back to the house to catch up with a little sleep as the baraat was tonight and we needed our energy up. I thankfully slept before Jethu started his twin jet motors (his snoring) and woke up to him climbing in my mattress saying “Andy Bhai bahut din ho gaye tumhare saath soye hue”(Yes he does that, and no we are not gay). We shiny Suited Up hoping to make this baraat legen-wait for it-dary. But instead we got a Bazinga pulled over us. There was no booze. Now the three constituents of a good baraat are ostentatiously dressed people, really sucky but loud band and booze, in the reverse order of importance. No booze means no arms in the air dancing, and no arms in the air dancing means no baraat. While me, Harsh and the others tried to go through the motions with ill-ease, Cheetah was really furious on the no-booze condition and refused to dance. As we loaded up in taxis and vans to reach the wedding place or Party Plots as they are called in Gujrat, Cheetah had made the arrangement of booze through his taxi driver, as Shervil rightly used to say “Paisa faek tamasha dekh”. So we had one bottle of DSP Black and one Party Special and no place to drink it.
Useless engineers who barely passed we may be, but when it comes to drinking we are the MIT geniuses. Within minutes while the wedding procession again started, orders were shouted and plans were made. Cheetah shouted “Saalon wo Anant kee gaadi kee chaabi leke aao aur waha baitho. Andy tu mere saath chal, bottal leke wahan chalte hai, police kee maa kee *****”. So we carried the bottle coolly towards the car. I shouted “tum gaadi ke andar baitho main cold drink kee bottle leke aata huun, usime mix karke fatafat yahin kheench lenge gaadi mae!” I bought 4 bottles of Pepsi and a small packet of Kurkure from the loose change. Cheetah saw in that in my hand and asked “Abey ye kiske le aaya? Itna time naa hai apne paas”. I couldn’t help but chuckle thinking about my flat-mate who would require 2 times this amount of snacks to go through the half of this booze. And we did finish the 2 bottles in 15 mins keeping apart the reserve with the packet of Kurkure barely touched, I was of course the last to finish but still I was mighty proud of myself. Years of getting old and cash rich had dulled me, but not that much. And we were back in the baraat with a vengeance. This time we were the star attraction. Ankur got out his stack of 50 Rs notes and I got out my famous beer dance moves and we were the show in the show-off.
Then it was the usual affair, we sat and talked to his family members for a while, got our photos clicked and the other random stuff. After we caught hold oh his Mamaji who took us to the juice counter and made us drink something akin to a whisky mojito in champagne flutes. He stayed in the US and was giving the Dholi Dollars in the baraat. He then said the wisest thing I had heard in sometime – “kisi ka tension mat lo, apni chinta pehle karo. Jo aadmi khud ko khush nahi rakh sakta wo kisi ko khush nahi rakh sakta”. We went up to his hotel room in search for more booze but couldn’t find anything so we ate a bit and came back. I and Harsh didn’t stay for the Faere as I had to catch a flight next morning and was already too tired. I got up in time to catch the flight, reached the airport early as usual, had one sandwich and boarded the flight which reached before time (Thank you Indigo). I had one more sandwich at Bangalore airport and boarded the city bus.
I got down near Hebbal where my brother picked me up and said we had to swing by his new house as he needs to see the work and pay the workers. I picked up a bottle of Jim Beam and a Breezer on the way back. I was already making plans with one of my friends for the night when my brother got a call. All I heard was “Rajendra Party de raha hai? … Shaadi kee ? ….Theek hai fir ghar pe hee kar lete hai.. Nahi Swati aur Chotu gaye hue hai …” And I understood what that meant. I cancelled the plan with my friend and braced myself as I knew what was coming. Brother got two more calls in short succession and he replied to both with “Theek hai sir raat ko mere yahan hee ruk jaana.. Daaru hai, chicken bana lenge… Nahi Sir, wife aur chotu dono abhi Bangalore mae nahi hai …”. It was turning back to college days more than I expected.
Back at home a quick count was made. I said I was very tired and won’t drink more than 4 pegs, brother said the same about 6, Yogi Bhaiya said he doesn’t drink whisky that often so just count him in for 2 drinks, Rajendra doesn’t drink and two other people had their own quota of Old Monk. So a conservative estimate of 2 bottles was made, plus a half of Old Monk. I was wondering when my brother carried in 4 bottles of Black & White, but I stopped wondering the next morning when all the 4 bottles were finished, so was the Old Monk, and even the hidden stash had to be called out. I had tried to stick to my estimate when I said after 4 drinks that I was tired and I will eat and sleep but I was met with “Kya Andy itne dino baat to baithe ho saath mae, ek peg to aur piyo”. After that ek peg I was told “Arey jaldi kya hai? Baitho. Tumhe kal subah hum utha denge. Senior hai hum, bolenge to peeni padegi”. So I sat down and to be honest I liked the talk that was going on. Two of the guys who had come in to Bangalore were absconding from Police and that was the reason they were staying the night here. There had been a big scandal. A***** was already in jail and these two were wanted. To those who don’t know, Abrar is the right hand man of I***** P****, and IP is the right hand man of the current Bangalore Don. For a guy who has been hearing people crib endlessly about their CRR, Onsite opportunities and how their manager doesn’t kiss them on the forehead and write V. Good on their work; this was a welcome and captivating change. Kidnappings, Jail time, Bribe and even murder was mentioned a few times.
But thank god I slipped out after the 6th drink. Or rather I think I did, I don’t remember clearly. And I was able to get up in morning and get ready for Rohini’s wedding. I got decked up in a shiny Kurta with gold thread in it, Churidar, golden Juutis, the whole works. But as I was getting out I caught a glimpse of myself and realized what I was. What I was, was way too overdressed at 8:30 in the morning for a South-Indian wedding. So I got out of those clothes, went through my brother’s wardrobe and took out the least jazzy shirt, a pair of black trousers and hurried towards Picchu’s house who was supposed to go with me. I was quaking in my boots about the chastising Ms. Choudhary is going to give me for being late again… late as usual … taking too late to get ready and blah blah. But the gods were kind to me and I was ready before her for the first time in 8 years (Before you jump to conclusions; I don’t take more time than a girl to dress, she takes less time than a guy to get ready).
We got in an auto and went to the Kalyana Mantapa (I guess it is named so because wahan bahut logo ka Kalyan ho chuka hai Oh I think I haven’t told this yet, both Rohini and Sid are from my college (my engineering college, though Sid claims otherwise, which I half believe considering that we don’t know anyone in common) and they met after college for the first time. We reached there by 10 and the Faere were under way (or atleast some Tamilian equivalent of them). And I patted myself on the back for getting out of the flashy kurta as most men were dressed in white shirt and Dhoti. Sid didn’t even get the shirt to wear. Rohini’s dad told Picchu that we were late; though I felt like shouting – “Come On we are here at 10 o clock in the morning for the wedding! Even 10 o’ clock in the night is considered on time in the North!” But her Dad’s reputation precedes him and I kept my mouth shut. Not a lot many of her friends were here except us two and her Bombay Bunch who had come down to Bangalore for this wedding. I got to meet her roommate Neha too, finally, in person, till now I had only heard her stories. Her cousin Madhuri was also there who couldn’t recognize till someone told her that I was Andy. She came and apologized later but it was hardly her fault, since she last saw me I have added 4 inches to the waist line and lost an inch from the hair line.
That night was the reception when I suited up and Ms. Choudhary Saried up and both of us reached sober. The old Archi gang was there, all had either changed a lot over the years or were married/ engaged. It wasn’t as fun with them as it used to be. I felt lost between so much Da, Fucker Da, Chuut you are Da. I had authentic South Indian food for the second time in the day, on a banana leaf and that too without spoon. I stopped over at Picchu’s place for a mug of beer and talked for a while, then got back home.
The next day was the big day, Saturday. I started making preparations for the funeral a bit early. I took a small of Whyte & Mackay with me in the shower before leaving for UB City. I was supposed to meet Akshat at 4:30 PM as he had to buy Aaloo – Pyaaz before that. Knowing his habits I planned to reach there by 4:45 but even that proved to be too early as the guy showed up at 5. We had 3 LIITs sitting at Tasty Tangles and talked about work, Mayank and how Marriage Crazy our parents are getting. Also spotted were Rohini’s Bombay friends who were trying to find the elevator to Skyye Lounge (Which I am told they loved, it seems rest of the Bangalore disappointed them, no surprise though, Bangalore being good and all still doesn’t stand up to Bombay’s Glitz) and Mr. Vaibhav Nagori with some chick whose parting line was “Mota ho gaya hai saale!”. But it again proved my point, in Bangalore you are never far from somebody from Ramaiah (read about it here). Another of Akshat’s friend called who was in UB City too with his wife, we sat down and had a beer with him as well and then I left for the place where Rohini was throwing a party. Only that when I was about to leave I realized that I didn’t have the address of the place where I was supposed to go, neither did Picchu. Rohini was unreachable so I had to call her friend Neha to ask for the address, it was re-run of college when I introduced myself on the phone as Anirudh and she had no idea who I was. I had to then re-introduce myself as Andy and ask for the address of the place.
I took an auto to that building and met Picchu waiting outside. We waited outside the door of the flat for quite a while after ringing the bell and calling people inside and were thinking about leaving when some good Samaritan heard it and opened the door. I greeted him with ‘You look awfully familiar, you from Ramaiah?’ He replied affirmatively and we danced the usual dance of finding the people we know in common and like always it boiled down to Samrat Sarovar and Bharath B R (or Fly as he is better known as). I opened a can of beer and made a mental note of sticking to beer as my head was swimming already. I met the usual gang there plus other people from Ramaiah, one of them named Anirudh as well. I even dragged him the North Indian – South Indian debate but that guy was too mellow to take the bait (Sid did by the way). After that the last thing I remember is getting down and pouring myself a drink of Blender’s Pride. Next thing I know that I was waking up in my bed at my brother’s house with a massive hangover and no memory of how I got there. It was a black out (much like my story). The few things I have been able to piece together from what others told me (or my faint memory or the photos in my camera) is –
- It was a crazy party.
- I did not make too much of a fool of myself, but a little, I did.
- I got camera happy at some time and took dark, blurry photos of people (or their feet)
- I danced. And I don’t even want to remember that part.
- I asked some girl if she was from Ramaiah, twice, she got pissed off and threw some retort in my face the second time (She wasn’t, that she had told the first time as well)
- I picked some girl’s boyfriend’s call (Don’t rem whose) and told him she was not there and her phone was with me. Judging by the reaction of the girls when I told them what I did, it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, though I still maintain that a ringing phone has to be answered. And apparently the guy’s first question to her was “Who was that guy who picked up the phone.
- I took a cab from that house to Picchu’s place where she told me to carry on in the same cab but I didn’t and got off (Can’t think of a reason why).
- I called my brother at 2:30 in the night and said I was standing in the middle of the road and he should come and pick me up (which I was and which he did after panicking)
The massive hangover, the complete blackout and the colossal dread that I made a complete fool of myself in front of people whom I met for the first time was enough to convince me that the time has come to initiate the 2X2 protocol. After all what good is having fun when you don’t remember it the next day.
The Sunday was spent in recovering from the hangover and playing Batman : Arkham City and I took the bus back to Hyderabad that night.
P.S. – The 2X2 protocol is – not to drink more than twice a week and not to drink more than 2 beers in one sitting. But of course, conditions apply ;-)