Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Story Continues -- 2


Living in Delhi L* has learned that Christ wasn’t really right about saying that the meek shall inherit this world. In the capital, Indian’s from all parts of the country come together and the result is that, to get noticed you have to voice your opinion loud and clear. Without being loud you wouldn’t even get your own thoughts going. Subtlety has lost its meaning in this city and people are wont to cursing at almost everything. The curses range from the most obscene to the embarrassingly hilarious and L* still laughs at them wondering how did they originate.

After coming to Delhi from Kolkata L* learned that there’s a marked contrast in the way people lived in the two cities. Human beings are essentially and intrinsically similar, L* always believed that, but then that was the time when he was in Kolkata, eating, talking, smoking amongst Bengalis. In fact he had lived in Kolkata all his life and this was the first time that he had moved out from home, away from his mom and dad. Soon, thanks to the hostel life, L* realized the contour of Indian people and how generations of upbringing and environment affects one’s thinking and outlook. The South Indians are not happy with the North Indians and think them to be inferior clowns while the northerners think that apart from them everyone and everything else is in South, and that includes Bengal and Maharashtra. Once in college L* met this guy from Punjab who asked him “Where are you from?” L* replied “Oh! I’m from Bengal.” The guy seemed shocked out of his wits to know that such a state existed in India, he kept thinking for a while before replying “Oh! How lucky you are. You know I really like Idlis and Dosas, wish we had more of your kinda food out here in Delhi.” While L* was left baffled in the corridor, the guy moved on with a sense of satisfaction and a smile that conveyed that he had cleared the toughest examination in this world. Soon L* realized that Punjabis are the happiest lot and they actually needn’t know about world politics and geography. To them everything is measured by money, power, food and alcohol. But at the same time L* realized that Punjabis are also the most affable bunch of people and getting along with them was the easiest.

While in Delhi L* started staying in a private hostel in North Delhi where around 70 other guys had put up and although he had a room of his own he had to share the loo with the others. This was discomforting in the beginning but he learned to adjust and share the pot very soon. Initially he found it disgusting staying in the hostel as rats moved in and out of the rooms without even acknowledging human presence. But then one night L* found a dog loitering around the corridors of the hostel and then on another day he saw a cat jumping from one roof to another, finally landing up on his balcony. Besides, his neighbour maintained a pigeon farm and most often the pigeons flew down to his roof and balcony messing it up every day. These incidents toughened L* in no time and he began looking at the animals presence as a boon rather than a bane. In fact he took pride in his close bonding with rats, pigeons, dogs and cats and all other animals and insects that infested his hostel. His friends kept requesting him to move in with them in their flats in posh localities, but L* vehemently refused their pleas and told them, “ You see, I believe books, animals and plants are three friends who demand very less and give back much in return. You see I get along with both humans and animals, besides the cheap hostel facilities are the actual reason why I’m putting up in this mess.”

By the end of the first semester hostel life got interesting for L* as he had made quite a few friends and enjoyed spending time with them, visiting different parts of Delhi and feasting on Delhi food. One night as L* lay sleeping in his room, he heard someone knock at his door. L* looked at his mobile, it was around 1 AM. L* wondered, why would someone dare to wake him up so late, after all his hostel mates knew that sleep was very precious to him and it was one thing that he never compromised with. L* didn’t respond to the knock the first time but then the knocks grew louder and L* had to call out, “Who is it? Piss off, I’m sleeping.” The voice from outside replied, “It’s me, Peter. I’m new in this hostel. I live downstairs. It’s something important that I wanted to talk to you about.”

L* got up lazily, cursing all along. He opened the door and rubbed his eyes to get a better look at the new scapegoat. He asked, “What is it?” Peter looked at L* for the first time and immediately knew that he’d get along with the dude. He took a Marlboro cigarette packet out of his pocket and showed it to L*. L* wasn’t bemused, “What is it? Fucking I was sleeping and you are giving me a smoke? What the hell do you want?”

Peter stood there grinning, and had to usher himself inside the room without even being invited. He took L* by his hands and forced him to sit on the bed. Closing the door he said, “L*, I’m so sorry I disturbed you, but you see the hostel guys are either from Punjab or from South and they don’t even smoke. I can’t sleep without sharing a smoke, so when I heard you are the only doper in this hostel I had to come up to greet you.” He flipped open his jacket and from inside he held out two packets of weed and hash. Looking at the packets, L*’s face lightened up and sleep ran miles away from his drooping eyes. Instantly L* knew that life would only get better from then onwards.

Over the hash, L* learned that Peter was from Bihar and he had come down to Delhi a week back to prepare for the IAS exams. Biharis thronging Delhi to prepare for the IAS wasn’t something new and L* only imagined how another soul was waiting to be slaughtered at the gates of hard work. Peter went about talking about his ex-girlfriend and how she broke up with him a year back. He seemed sad and hurt, but L* didn’t know how to comfort him. Peter said, “You know I think she still loves me. I can feel it.”

L* was silent for a moment. He listened to Peter’s ramblings indifferently and enjoyed the mushy feeling that overcame him after smoking a few joints. Hash always brought the best out of him. L* thought about his own girlfriend and how she had promised to come down to Delhi just to be with him. He imagined walking down the pavements of Connaught Place, holding his girl’s hands, showing her the best of Delhi. Suddenly his trip was cut short by a sobbing sound. L* looked at Peter and saw tears flowing down his cheeks. L* felt guilty thinking about his own happiness while Peter lay crumbling like the plaster on his hostel walls. Literally! L* looked all around him and suddenly for the first time he noticed that his room was actually falling down to pieces, thanks to Peter his eyes had opened to reality eventually. L* made a decision at that instant; to move out of that freaky hostel by the next month, but at that moment he had to do something to cheer up Peter.

L* patted Peter’s back and told him not to cry. “Don’t be a sissy you idiot. Girls come and they go, that’s why we call them girls, or else we would have called them a guitar or a book or something. Yeah, like Godfather, which no matter how many times you read you always feel like rereading! ”

Peter looked at L* and smiled a bit, he told him he was sorry that he made a fool out of himself. Pulling himself back to normalcy he said, “Let’s go out for a ride.”

“Now, at this hour? Are you freaking out of your mind?” L*’s instant reaction was justified but it was so unbecoming him that at the next moment L* blurted out. “Do you have a bike or something?”

Peter gave him a wry smile and told him to put on a jacket and get downstairs in five minutes. Soon L* and Peter were zooming down the roads of Delhi in the cold winter night of January, enjoying the bike ride on the smooth and deserted roads. They went about talking all the way discussing politics, world economy and corruption. By the time they reached Red Fort they had moved on to L*’s favourite topic – Girls!

Getting down at Jama Masjid to eat something L* asked Peter, “So do you get to meet a lot of girls at the coaching institutes? Are they hot?”

Peter didn’t know what to say, “Well, there are a few but most of them are studious sorts. People in Delhi are so serious about life that it’s really depressing.”

“Hmm, I know. Same at my college dude. These girls are real pain; one doesn’t even feel like asking them out.” L* replied munching on his favourite gobi paranthas.

After they were done eating paranthas and drinking tea, L* rolled another joint and then they thought about visiting India Gate before making a turn towards home. While sharing the spliff, L* asked Peter if he had sex with his girlfriend. Peter seemed shy and taken aback by the question but finally he opened up.

“Well, you know we tried to do it once, but it was hurting her so we had to stop midway.”

“Oh Oh! KLPD! Dude that must have hurt you too! So what did you do after that? Like, hugged each other and got off on that?” L* can be really sarcastic and rude at times, Peter realized that and at same time understood that a person’s true nature comes out only when he’s drunk or doped.

“No, nothing like that L*, her parents got back early that night so I had to climb down the stairs and run for my life while her dogs chased the shit out of me.”

“Well, dude, so do we have a virgin out here?” L* looked at Peter incriminatingly as if he had committed the greatest crime in the World.

“No, I’ve done what I had to do but now I’m no more into all those things. You know I’ve been to red light areas and done it with prostitutes too. But now I’m abstaining from all that stuff.”

“And why would you do that?” L* looked at Peter quizzically, “What’s the restriction dude? Girlfriend? Parents? Morality? Allergic to latex? Or is it impotency…?”

Peter cut him short and cried, “No you asshole, it’s nothing like that. Besides I don’t have a girlfriend.”

The moment Peter said this, L* held his hands and pulled him towards the bike. He told Peter to just ride the bike and follow his directions. Peter kept asking him where he was taking him but he refused to give any answer and told him that he knew a way out of Peter’s problems.

After riding for a while they finally reached a deserted street where all the lights were out or dimmed. Peter looked all around him but couldn’t see a single soul awake. He asked Peter what place it was, but L* shooed him down, telling him that suspense was about to end.

So the place they reached was Garstin Bastion Road, yeah the famous GB Road of Delhi.

The ways of this World are always incomprehensible. Their story had just begun…