A Saturday

So there was a plan to watch Alice in Wonderland, made after months and months of waiting and checking movie listings frantically every Friday to see if the movie has been released. And finally, when we had given up hopes, the movie came out here… and yay! there were tickets too.

We chose a theater where there would be caramel popcorn, wide comfortable seats that would burn a hole in our pockets and managed to turn up there in time. well, most of us did. The movie, I believe, is one that should be watched when tripping over some serious juice. That would be completely awesome.

So movie wrapped up, we headed for much needed meat… in a place that was celebrating the world cup by naming some drinks like “corner kick”. Which was what we ordered… because I liked the concept of a corner kick. and that fact that it had tequila. I had a tequila thing going… and ordered tequila chicken too, which turned out to be incredibly spicy and non-tequila like but good. The Corner Kick though wasn’t that effective. For one, it was imbalanced by “pernod” which I’m told is a liqueur. They came in cute martini glasses and in an attempt to make the saunf-like taste better, we squeezed all the lime into it. And then abandoned the drink.

Of course, after the meal, I figured we might as well finish that drink as we were paying for it and all that yummy chicken could balance the effect of one little glass of tequila downed in a go. Followed by a lot of water. And some pepsi.

And it seemed like it did. For a few minutes. So we climbed up to the games arcade… and the explosion of noise and colours hit us, along with the really cool Corner Kick. I can’t remember the last time I was in a games arcade, or played basketball, won tickets, goofily looked at the winners counter to wonder what I could possibly get for the tickets we had. I wish all games there had tickets. And the dancing machine was anything but in Korean! Korean for heaven’s sake! Oh I miss TimeZone!

Having worked off the alcohol sufficiently, we headed to Blossoms – the singular most awesome bookstore – and I used my excuse of having packed away all my books to buy more books.

And then for that rare girls-clubbing-night out. And actual club hopping. Well, sort of. The first party we went to was a little lame. The music was perhaps just hotting up, there were way too many white people dressed in saris. Yep, saris. It was bollywood night – which I generally love – but for the white people, for some reason it meant dressing up in 9 yards of cloth that even we find hard to dance in after years of experience.

The drinks were watered down and way too expensive, as we figured after one hit of rum. Not to mention the incredulous stares the bartender gave us when we asked for Old Monk. Come on! Who doesn’t have Old Monk? Oh yes! Snooty restaurants and bars. So my friends insisted we head to a cheaper place to get hammered – not that it takes us much – and I wistfully looked at some people smoking sandwiches there. And figured yes, we should get hammered outside. Except, loo break.

Why is this relevant? Read on.

So I waited in line… and yes, there was already a line and the party had barely begun. Have you been to a ladies room at a club? It is a mysterious area. Women, who perhaps hate each other outside, are sharing lipstick… brushing their hair, wiping their armpits, redoing the make up and there is also the occasional crying and quick-consulting sessions about do-or-not. Oh the drama! But I’m digressing.

So I waited in line… the first stall door opened and two girls walked out. Yep. Two. I figured I could hold out another couple of minutes and stepped back. The next door opened and well, one girl walked out. Whew. Except… wait… the toilet seat was raised. I don’t know… maybe the girl was just throwing up. Or… had to raise the seat for some other reason.

But I figured that was my exit cue.

And so we hit club 2. Well, pub. Which was curiously empty. And got us the required tequila in like a minute. And also kicked us out ten minutes later because my friends started to dance and well, they had a no-dancing policy. And two hot women dancing could probably be a risky situation with a potential riot.

And then club 3… by which time we were sufficiently buzzed. The music was hot. More friends were there… and so we danced the night away… i realised I had not worn my dancing shoes… and looked a little stupid dancing with my eyes closed but that was the only way I could block out the stupid guy standing around us, pretending to dance with us.

I wish I could say the night ended there. The cab I had called did not turn up – apparently, despite having a booking they can cancel my cab at anytime if they have a shortage. EasyCabs aren’t so easy to get apparently, even if you make a booking 4 hours before. So I slipped away and hailed an auto. I was buzzed but sane enough. And I love the feeling of the cool breeze on my face after hours of dancing.

Except, when I was almost home, some college kids doing stunts ran into my auto. Two of them escaped and the other one wasn’t fast enough. So the driver got out of the auto and started hassling the kid for money for “damages”. I cautiously peered out… there was no particular damage. And my feeble request of “can we please go” was ignored.

Let’s think of the situation rationally – 1 AM. In front of a fuel station, possibly filled with guys. Stopped in the  middle of the road with really harsh lights. In an auto. Wearing shoes I could probably run in but wouldn’t bet my life on it. Luckily wearing black, and a black thick sweater at that. Verdict – Fuck!

So I called my friend and realised there was really no point… by the time anyone would get here, it would be a disaster area. Luckily, the auto guy managed to get some money out of the college kid – who looked like he would cry any minute. I wanted to get out and defend him… you know, he was such a kid and all. But he didn’t look like a nice kid, just a very upset one.

The driver made loud proclamations of how he wouldn’t have let anything happen to me “even over his dead body” when I complained about stopping like that.

Of course, it was only when I was almost home I noticed that the kid was still following us. And only the presence of two cops near my house that made him take the other road, which eventually led back to my house.

I cursed my luck. The one day I decide not to take my car, or take a lift from a friend because I was having too good a time to ruin it by waiting for someone, shit happens. I really wished the government had better public transport during night too. Moral judgement shouldn’t come in the way of such basic things.

But hey! I was home, safe warm and dry.

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A trip to old Bangalore…

I have lived in this city for 25 years and I have never once stepped into North Bangalore. *hangs head in shame*

Well, actually, i have visited that area… a couple of times or more. I cannot use geography as an excuse anymore because I am familiar with the rest of the city. I guess it was a combination of disinterest, geography and a lack of friends in that area that led me to completely ignore Malleshwaram.

It was quite a drive when we were kids to get to that part of town. Not to mention we had to pass through the most congested part of the city – Majestic (the central bus stand). So that part was largely ignored, till I had to make a trip to that part of town today.

And the moment the driver took the turn from the flyover, I felt I had stepped back in time. The roads were wide, tree-lined and canopied, barely enough traffic to do justice to this city, the weather was cool and nice – thanks to the trees. There were small ‘darshinis’ which used to the face of Bangalore before red-hued boards took over. Everyone just seemed really nice as well.

There were signs of progress – the orange board of Donut Baker, the pink sign of Baskin Robbins… and of course a mall (supposed to be the largest – I’ll come to that in a bit). But it was quite easy to ignore it when the city seemed to be functioning so smoothly and soundlessly.

Combine that with lack of sleep, I almost did believe that I was in a different city, if not stepping back in time.

And as I was in that area, I figured I would check out the Mantri Mall – touted to be the largest mall in the country (or city?). It was fairly early, so there weren’t many people. The first stutter was at the entrance, where the security guard turned my bag upside town. I really wonder what on earth she was looking for. I told her there was a camera in the bag which made her whatsthatthinginthehand beep. The camera was huge, so there was no way she could miss it. And there were books. So what on fricking earth was she looking for? Why the hell do they turn your bag upside down when it is so obvious from the word go that there really aint anything suspicious in the bag. And if there is, I’d probably strap it into my underwear.

Anyway, moving on… the mall reminded me of the Queen Street mall in Brisbane. There was even a level of stairs going down to… well, somewhere… But lack of sleep and food were getting to me so I figured I’d explore the nicer parts – after I bought a pair of earrings similar to what I bought at the Gold Museum in Australia (what can I say? I do love shopping and they were right there!). Every possible brand I could think of was in the mall – Lifestyle, Shoppers Stop (talk about a face/off contest!), Reliance stores of all sorts, ShowOff… names I cannot remember if i’d heard them before.

My brain was craving for two things – an Apple store (still not over the iphone mania) and Taco Bell.

Yup, the famous Taco Bell is located here. For a country that barely even knew what a burrito was – or mutilated a burrito with rajma beans rolled in chappatis – we are quite crazy about it apparently.

Anyway, I couldn’t find the Apple store on the map, so I nearly bought a Sony digicam but figured being dead on my feet wasn’t a good time to buy a camera. So I headed to the extremely uptown touch-screen map and tried to find Taco Bell. All the malls I’d visited abroad in my life were crowding into my head… of course, the touch screen didn’t have audio. Nor a clear map. Taco Bell was shown in a row of shops alongside Lifestyle etc. There were no… lanes, shop numbers etc. And shop numbers would’ve been as useless. But I turn and there is Taco Bell… with the lines empty, beckoning me.

And that’s pretty much where the story ends. Abrupt I know… but I figured I’d need several days of sleep, bottles of water, packets of food, good sturdy walking shoes to navigate the mall. And a sackful of credit cards and a GPS.

The burrito was interesting… least they used the right bread and not fake chappatis. But honestly, I’ve had better at mom-and-pop joints. But then again… mom-and-pop joints always have better and cheaper food…

The mall? They had some different stuff… but I really miss flea markets. or road-side shopping. Where you got really cool stuff for 100 bucks… now they move the same things into the stores and put a little label and make you max out your credit card for one dress.

I guess that is when I realised I was in Bangalore. That, plus when I stepped out of the store, the guard had to go through the whole check-bag-punch-receipt thing. I found it a little ironical that I’d just visited a government office and nobody as much as stopped me there, while here every place I was treated like a potential threat by people who were clueless about what a threat was. I am beginning to find this mall security thing extremely irritating.

Is it just me? Or does everyone else devise ways of sneaking in illegal stuff when they are waiting to be checked. Mine is simple – when you are in the car, hold the material in your purse. So the guy scans the car etc… cuz they don’t actually have full body scanners there. Then you leave it in the car, go through the mall and vamos! Come on! Don’t tell me a criminal wouldn’t have thought of it. These are such obvious loopholes. I am all for security, if you do it right. Invest in those full-body scanners – for vehicles and people. Of course, in a mall it is a little tough to stop people from carrying in chemicals. And if he has a license, you can’t stop a guy from getting in a gun too.

My friend sneaked in a camera into a theatre once. Yes, it is quite irritating not to be allowed cameras inside a movie theatre when my phone can record the entire movie in high resolution and upload it online before I leave the hall. The explanation they give you? “Rules madam”. Bah!

What made Bangalore so paranoid and yet unsecure? For all our paranoia, there is no security yet. We are just running around haphazardly trying to make sense of things. Which is why the “checks” at the hotels irritate me. They just love looking into what is in my bag and paw all over it (grrrr!) while being absolutely clueless abt what they really need to look for.

Anyway… then I stepped out of the mall… the road was crammed with vehicles… and I had to haggle with the auto driver… back to bangalore and reality.

Song of the day: Alice in Wonderland (cuz that’s how I felt for a bit) – Avril

A Weekend

A saturday that did not start past noon. A saturday that was not spent sleeping away.

How rare is that! And how much fun is that!

As much as I love late nights and say that I am productive in the wee hours of the night, I have to accept that I get a lot of the more practical stuff done during day time. I had an early meeting (past noon but hey!) which meant I woke up early. The sun was already burning up all those people on the street… I prayed for rain and wished there was something I could wear on my face to keep that sticky dirt off it. Or maybe attach a little fan to my head that will keep blowing cool breeze onto my face. In the end I was just glad that there were no mirrors around me to see how tanned and yucky my face got. And this was just the beginning of the day.

I had to visit an old friend who works for a local magazine. I had been there during college days – more than 5 years ago – and honestly, not much has changed. I guess that is what “long-standing” means sometimes. The walls were still faded and finding the new wing was still as confusing. But once you get past the confusing door, the office had been upgraded into the 21st century. It isn’t as chic as my office is… nor was there as much a bustle. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of the news paper offices I’ve visited recently are quiet. Is it because all the reporters have been laid off or is it because they are all just out, I don’t know. But those days when I did my internships (here and in Australia) where the office was cramped and you’d be huddled away typing out your story, is history.

The desks though are still the same cluttered. Clippings, magazines, coffee cups and photos lying in a uncomprehensible jumble. It feels like home – almost. But the curious lack of chaos was a little disturbing to me. I wondered if I were working there, would I last?

Lunch was at Oye Amritsar – a dhaba-like place, with 5-star restaurant prices. And Himmesh Reshamaiya music. Yep. But I had a craving for butter chicken since last night and since I hadn’t eaten anything, I figured this would be a good place. I mean if you can’t trust a dhaba (or a mock one at that) to come up with good butter chicken, who else can you trust.

Except, once we settled down, the waitress told us that there was no a la carte menu. Only buffet. Now, I’ve nothing against buffet. But for people like me, who don’t eat much to start with, it is a sheer waste. And I get confused with the whole range of food, end up wanting everything and just take a bite of it all and get quite full. And the buffet did NOT have butter chicken!! What kind of a self-respecting dhaba does not serve butter chicken? Or at least chicken tikka masala. Or some form of recognized, popular chicken curry. They had fish fry, panner, some weird named dish and that was that.

My friend was enjoying the restaurant though. She, who I shall call Kit (cuz I feel like it) has a sheer appreciation of any place that we go to. The last time when we went to this restaurant that is styled like a 40s luxury railway dining car, she was excited like a little kid. Enough to make the host appreciate us and give us an inner ac table. So Kit served herself as little food as me and we wished there was better music and better food but we were starved enough to eat quietly.

It was Kit’s day to treat herself – she wanted to a haircut, so after being refused at several salons because we didn’t have an appointment… (Side note: seriously, an appointment for a hair cut as well?! What is this city coming to. True, you are supposed to get better service if you make an appointment. But it is a saturday. there are emergencies – sometimes. Every place I know and like said they were booked till late evening. Surreal!) we found one place that was willing to chop off her hair.

She began to fidget 10 minutes after being seated in the chair. And the stylist had just washed her hair. There was still, cutting, setting and blow drying. And while he was doing all of that, he started their pitch about “you need to use this for hair and hey! look we have a bottle of it and it will cost you only so much!”

I hate it when parlors do that… you go there to relax and let someone pamper you and they start forcing unwanted products on you.  Which is why I like Bounce. Snobbish as they may be, they never mess up your hair and they never offer products to you unless you ask for a recommendation.

And then there was that impulse shopping – I wanted an iPhone. I have finally gotten over all my objections and figured I wanted one. I don’t need a new phone. My current one is fantastic and has all those things that an iPhone has. But I wanted an iPod, since I sort of washed my last one in the washing machine. And I figured why carry two things when I can combine that into the iphone. So that graduated from an ipod nano to an ipod touch (free wlan and radio and FB and all) to iPhone.

The iPhone is gorgeous! it is heavier than mine and apparently I need a data plan to browse the net. But it is gorgeous. And it is a lot more delicate than my phone which I have already dropped several times and it still works fabulously. But it is the iphone. And it is expensive. and I don’t really need it but oh! i do want it! And I don’t really have the money for it!

So debating with all of this stuff, I figured I better look into my financing options (and wavered on that bit a little too when I saw the little “EMI” option there. I’ve never really bought anything on EMI. Always hated owing someone anything but it was quite tempting) I headed to Mocha to think.

Mocha – the hang out for college kids, who get money from god-knows-where. When we were in college, our hang out was a little 5-rupee tea shack. We could sit there for hours, smoke, talk and the guy wouldn’t say a thing. And we’d be poorer by say 10 bucks or a little more. Which wasn’t much but was all we could afford. Now the kids have money to pay 150 bucks for a single coffee. Where do they get the money from? And how are they sitting there in the afternoon when the colleges insist on 90 percent attendance?

I feel old!

But hey the music was good. The sheesha was good. The company was good. Kit’s appreciation of things puts a completely different spin on the places I’ve gotten a little jaded about. It is new for her and she loves it. And it reminds me of those times when I was all so excited about these places. The times before my friends started calling me a snob because I wanted to try out these new places and not all of them were cheap. Before they started complaining about the “kind of crowd” in the place.

It is good to discover this city… showing someone the places that made Bangalore “Bangalore”. The city has changed… the little icecream shop where we used to buy cones in school no longer exists. Road sides are littered with vendors with the backdrop of bigger malls. And boring old factory-manufactured clothes!

But with new people to see it with, it is fun to discover the little signs of old Bangalore still alive like the rose bushes in Mary’s secret garden.

Song of the day: Lamb of God (cuz they are playing in the city tonight. If anyone went to the concert, lemme know how it went) –

A Walk In The Market

The dirtiest and one of the most busiest markets in Bangalore. At 8 AM. Which was probably a little late because the real work here happens around 6-7 AM, but considering our level of laziness, me and a few other friends did a photowalk at Russell Market in Bangalore.

It was interesting… I’d been there a couple of times. Once, when a friend and me returning after a party decided to take a short cut and avoid 2 kms of a road and a traffic light headed into the maze. We followed a bus that we figured would come out on the other side, except the  bus led us right into the centre and stopped.

So we wound our way around and finally resurfaced on the main road 40 minutes later.

The other time was again in an auto – least this time, the guy knew the roads. But it was right before Ramzan or some other Muslim festival, so the streets were crowded with last minute shoppers and it was truly a celebration.

So when my friend asked for suggestions for the photowalk, I figured that would be an interesting place.
I didn’t quite get the energy I was looking for.
The chaos and the noise. But there was activity. People were setting up for the day. The florists were knotting the flowers in garlands, stacking bunches of roses, sprinkling water and sorting the bad flowers out. There were rows and rows of fruit sellers and I smelled the rich scent of mangoes for the first time this summer.
That was probably also the last good smell for the day.
We wound our way past the florists and I caught a whiff of meat. That unique smell where you know there is flesh around the corner. I wondered if I should head in there alone or wait for my friends. I was starving by then but the smell of fresh meat? Ugh!
Plus one of the members of the group was a vegetarian. And then I realised he was off happily shooting flowers and fruits at the other end.
So we headed into the butcher’s alley.
I had seen something of the sort in Mysore. Rows and rows of butchers, with all kinds of meat. Well, at least there was space for all that. There were only a handful of guys and the meat was all goat. No pork in here.
And then I wandered out back to the fish market. How many times have the teachers at school called the noisy classrooms a “fish market”? Such a wrong comparision!! For one, classrooms are noisy. But they do not stink. And the fish markets aren’t noisy. Tch tch! But they sure as hell are interesting, once you manage to get over the overpowering stink.
Crabs, fishes, lobsters, big crabs (what are those called), alive, dead, partially alive, prawns of all sizes, sharks, fishes as big as me… mussells, something that looked like eels, squids… you name it and you could get it.
Some of it would be sent to the big hotels, one of the guys said. The others would vanish in a couple of hours, apparently. I wondered how much people should love food to get drag themselves there at 8 AM on a sunday morning to get fresh fish. They bought coolers to carry back their choice home.
I was tempted to pick up some prawns… but the thought of it in my bag for the next couple of hours, the stink… and the thought of fumigating my bag put me off.
I forget sometimes, living in the city, eating in clean houses, that this is where the food comes from. Most people wouldn’t probably order fish at those classy restaurants if they knew that the fish was lying on an open road a few hours earlier. Yeah, it is cooked and all… but hey! 🙂
We wandered out into the scrap market. A famous place to find spare parts for your car or bike, and I suspect, to chop up cars. There were parts of cars piled on houses and the tin shops. Most of them were still closed… they had no reason to be open at the crack of dawn. But there were enough people around to be curious about a crowd walking around with cameras.
They figured we were the press.
“No photos!” he said quite loudly.
I was wondering how to explain we weren’t the media, at least not right then.
Luckily, my friend stepped in and explained we were just practising our camera skills. It is so surprising how easily people take to the camera. I expected them to be shy, not happily cock their heads and pose for the photo. Some even requested a copy of the photo. The old man in the photo above got irritated at the young boys ragging him about us taking his photo than our cameras.
Is it an Indian thing? Or is it a general need for attention? Women, men and kids alike happily looked at the camera. Or blatantly ignored us. And here I was expecting people to come and say “Stop taking our photo”.
Interesting times. Stinky times.
(For more photos, try my flickr account. You can access it by clicking on here or through my photoblog)
Song of the day: Smelly Cat – Friends

The Day That Was

I am beginning to believe that I am jinxed. In some little manner.

Saturday was supposed to be finally the much-craved fun-filled day. I debated whether it should be casual, dressy or a slouchy t-shirt day and figured it would be blue jeans, white shirt and white pumps (you will get to know why this is important). So just as I was about to leave home, I got a call from a friend.

I’ve been planning to do a photography course for a while and finally managed to call the guy who runs the course and enrolled. I was to meet him on sunday or monday and pay up for the course. I’d been trying his cell ever since we spoke but it was switched off.

Now the friend calls and asks “What the hell is happening with Hellmuth Conz?” and I was explaining that I’d not been able to get in touch with the guy, so maybe I shouldn’t have told people I’m taking a photography course already. “No no! All these things about him being a German pimp?” she said.

Turns out the guy was buster yesterday for running a prostitution ring somewhere in the city! Of course, there was only one tiny article about it on some website called Express Buzz and I would’ve dismissed completely if his phone had not been off since the day the article said he was arrested. Happy Coincidence? I know not!

He is over 60 years old and has been living in this city for over a decade. He has also been conducting photography classes in various top colleges and is a really great photographer. Would he really need to run a prostitution ring? I do not know. Couldn’t the cops have been ineffective for a few weeks more, if they hadn’t been able to catch him for nearly 10 years? WTF!!!

On the other hand, I’d not yet paid up for the course. I’m sure if that is compensation enough because I was really looking forward to this course. I like his style of photography 😦 And yeah, it is funny in a weird way.

So with that news playing in my mind, and wondering who else had referred to him as “german pimp” a while ago, I headed out to drown my miseries in some bad wine with friends. Considering I would be drinking, I figured I’d take an auto and get a friend to drop me back home or take a cab back.

Except within two minutes of hailing an auto, the guy starts taking a different route. “You are supposed to go left” I said.

“Yes I know. Two minutes. I want to get gas.”

I hate it when they do that. Don’t they have time to ever get fuel in the city, all the while they are fricking lounging around on street corners? They always choose to get fuel when I’m in it and I’m running late. So I left him to go do what he wants and hailed another auto. Of course, for once, I had to walk nearly ten minutes.

Twenty minutes later we are stuck in the middle of a horrible traffic jam near the city. The traffic was less than crawling and the auto guy started blaming me for it.

“We should’ve taken the other route,” he said. I stared at him, wondering who it was who said “this way will be faster and less traffic”.

I figured I would walk – in white, heeled shoes – till a spot where the traffic cleared up a bit and hail another rickshaw from there. So I plugged in my music, wrapped my stole around me as tight as possible and started walking. 7 PM on this road, women walking (in groups or otherwise) is absolutely not advisable. Actually I don’t think women ever walk around in this area… it is filled with car shops – tyres, seats, audio equipment; furniture stores etc… all those places where you get good, cheap deals with warranties (which separates it from the grey market, which is further down the road). But no woman walks there…

Finally, after nearly having been run over by a bus who figured vehicles and people would vanish into thin air if he just revved in a two-inch space, I walked into a road where there was no traffic. But there was nothing else either. This is the seedier section of the road with mechanic shops. A bit of a slum, it is quite dirty, dingy and you see no women here. Well, there are maybe one or two but they are walking, covered in a veil, with their men. There are a few mosques there and most of the businesses there are owned by Muslims.

I never realised till then how unsafe Bangalore has gotten. There were men staring at me as I walked past. There were low whistles, which I ignored. The one good thing about being on a street like that was the autos would pull up to you, ignoring all the men waiting before you. Except, they could also smell my desperation to get out of there, the way a dog scents fear. And none of them spoke kannada, hindi or english. They spoke Tamil. Of all the languages in this state, they spoke tamil. And they wanted outrageous prices to take me 4 kms down the road. One quoted 150 bucks, the next was 80 and the other was double the fare. As desperate as I was, I wasn’t ready to be hosed.

But the frustration made me turn and snarl at two guys who were walking behind me, singing weird songs, whistling and pretending to hail autos as well. Maybe it was fear or sympathy, they hailed an auto for me, who agreed to take me the 4 short kms if i paid him 10 bucks extra. I figured I’d pretty much used up my luck, cursed, swore and got in.

Except, the traffic started up again in the next road. Even my favorite song couldn’t keep the frustration down. So out I went again and walked the next 3 kms in my pretty white shoes. At least this was a better part of town…

My friends were already there. Noon Wines – a slightly shady place which serves only beer and wine. The beer is a little watered down and the wine is cheap and heavily adulterated with rum, the big screen plays only cricket or some sport. There is no audible music, it is too dark to discern what is on your plate exactly and the waiters are fast and bored. Just the kind of place to unwind after a bad day.

Soon we decided to head to a nice club – Ice – one of my favorite party spots in town. Had been a long while since I went there and i was with a new bunch of people and quite eager to show off the place.

Except, when I get there, I was told the guest list entry time had expired. But I could still enter cuz hey! I was a regular but my friends had to pay 2 grand to enter. Half of them were okay with it and the other half a little skeptical. And I was wondering, why on earth were we paying as two couples?

And then I see a number of white guys entering the place without paying shit. Which absolutely pissed me off. We have been having this same discussion on Jacek’s blog – how the white people in India get the VIP treatment simply because they are white.

Now I knew that Ice sometimes did this. Infact, a lot of clubs in Bangalore do this. It is their way of advertisement apparently. The way it works, as a friend explained to me, if they let white people enter and party, more Indians will want to enter that club because they think it is cool, a popular place to be and would want to be seen partying with the white people. So the Indians pay the money and the white people party for free. I am not sure what disgusts me more – the assumption behind the marketing strategy or the fact that it nearly works. Or that we have such a horrible opinion about our own countrymen. Didn’t the period of white dominance end?

So me and a friend were horribly pissed – me, more than anything else and I refused to enter the club. I would not pay to enter a place where I have been nearly every other weekend when I have to pay simply because I was a little late to gain entry on the guest list and because hey! I am an Indian in INDIA!

We wound our way up – after more negotiations with auto guys, a broken auto and a bit of walking later – to F&B, which I realised used to be Madeira till a year ago. The city sure changes fast. The decor hadn’t changed, nor had the huge football screen playing Arsenal match. The last time I was there, it was Chelsea vs someone. There were a few foreigners there as well but I’d managed to get most of my temper back in control… mainly due to the fact that i was with some new people and punching someone out wasn’t an option.

We danced to weird house music, tried to make conversation with a bunch of people who didn’t really get us and were wondering where exactly I fit in. You see, I can swim in different waters… I am a Kannadiga, with a lot of exposure to our culture as well as others. So i speak really good kannada, fairly decent hindi, a bit of telugu and I think mostly in English. I have a slight accent, which was American at one point and now it is sort of nothing at all but still ‘anglicized’ as people like to call it. And the group of people I met were very ‘guys’ and very ‘local’.

Not to generalize, but they would be the sort who are software engineers from traditional families, they travel to the US and Europe for work and get a bit of culture, which they might not understand, like or appreciate but they feel the travel adds a bit of exoticness to them and is a good point for their marriage resume. They would not be able to discuss about Italian history and the craziness of it all but they will definitely tell you about the tour they took and what they thought of the colosseum. They would not do much off the beaten path and their un-adventureness is the most beautiful and the most irritating part about them. Their travels have given them enough confidence to talk to strange people suddenly thrust on them but they like to hang out in their group, in the occasional club where they never venture out of the comfort zone of the whole group of buddies, they get married to beautiful women in accordance to their families and they are steady, dependable men.

I am being a little cruel but more or less, that is how it works. The ‘modern yet traditional India’ which sometimes pisses me off with their hypocrisy.

But these were nice guys, sweet and quite willing to talk… even if not dance, which neither parties wanted anyway. But I was the paradox… the south Indian female who wasn’t traditional, yet not quite out there to just classify me as ‘ultra modern’ – a term used to classify the people whose ideas are a little too progressive, eccentric and beyond their understanding and on the border of gossip.

Oh i’ve no complaints with them. They are the sweetest bunch of people I have met in a long while and quite willing to accept everything. My friends though were a little bemused.

And so we had the end-of-night chai, sitting on the sidewalk when i realised it was the first time in too long to count when I was out on a saturday night with friends without cars, without my own car, the saturday night clubbing ritual where you end up in a buffet restaurant, the slow winding down of the day and such. There were no cabs available and so there was yet another overpriced auto and a headache brewing at the back of my head for the first time ever in the form of a hangover (does it count as a hangover if the headache starts even before you go to bed?)

But it was definitely the most eventful – mostly interesting, and not bad, eventful – day in a long while.

Here’s to March, hot summer days and turning 25.

Song of the day: The Long Walk Home – Bruce Springsteen