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Au revoir…! September 22, 2007

Posted by espritnoir in Bandstand Stories, I, Me and Myself....
5 comments

Well, to the Indian shores, anyways…

And also to wierd hours at Bandstand, contemplating on how life sucks while watching the waves roll in. How everybody else seemed to have it made, but where the hell was my life headed? Sitting on Bandra promenade trying to figure out what’s on the mind of a friend, knowing whats up, but still not being able to say anything about it. Then giving in to a “higher power” to help settle the issue, being happy that i made a choice, rather than living in the comfort of having the choice being made for me.

Gorging on the most amazing half-fried eggs at 2.30 am outside Santa Cruz station. Enjoying nalli nihari at Noor Mohammadi at 6:00 am, and having bheja fry and pav at Raju bhai’s at Saat Bungla area.

Drinking hundreds of black coffee with Equal, at all the possible coffee shops in the city. The fresh lime soda’s at Toto’s on New Years, the Bacardi-Sprites at On Toes.

Getting up every morning to go the most god forsaken remotest place in the city, and calling it my work place. The work environment was great, but the location was a little better than hell…!

Spending weekends, single and not-so-single, at malls, movie theatres and scattered eating joints across the city. 

Walking, or more frankly, swimming vertically through the 26th July type rains that tend to hit Bombay once a while. Jeez, nothing beats the memories of that one day.

Knowing that friends and family were just a phone call away. Never making that call anyways, but still managing to keep in touch. They’re friends. Love em or leave em, they’re still gonna be there for me, just as i will be there for them.

Extended family and friends. N’atya (a close aunt) hand feeding us cousins – “grown up, but still kids at heart”. (Any non family member sees us at a family meal will think we cousins are crazy. But, what to do, we are like this only!) 

Mum’s cooking. Dad’s “do-it-this-way, coz it’s my way, and the right way” look everytime i did something. Their ranting everytime i didn’t do something they wanted me to. Mum and Dad.

I’d trade in almost all of the 58kgs i’m allowed to take with me when i fly to the UK on Tuesday morning, for these and tons of other intangible stuff that i have to say goodbye too.

i know, everybody says “you’ll get used to it, dont worry. It’s all going to be fine. once you get used to it, you won’t want to come back” But you know what, whatever cliche you tell me, life’s not going to be the same in a different country and a different continent, without my support group with me. Coz a part of me is here, and that part, i will always miss. However soon i adapt to the life and the culture there. I’m sure Bournemouth Pier is amazing, and i’ll fall in love with it. But whenever i’m lonely, i’ll always be at the pier, wishing i was in the comfort of the Bandstand promenade, watching young Romeos and Juliets try and steal a few private moments from the harsh reality of Bombay.

Coz be it ever so humble, pot-holed, smelly, loud, polluted, filthy, yet with a people of undying spirit, there ain’t no place like home. And home – where ever i go, and where ever i live – is and will always be apna Bombay!

Cheers people. More later. Maybe from the UK. Apologies for the long sabbatical. Life had been really hectic.  

Bandstand in the Rains…Again! July 26, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Bandstand Stories, I, Me and Myself....
7 comments

This happened about a few weeks ago. In fact, this was about two days after I was walking home in Bandra, that night a few weeks ago. For some reason, I never got around to posting it up before this. I may have gotten over the melancholy state of mind, I was in back then, but, this was nonetheless, a state of mind that I was in at one point of time. And, I thought I out to put it up…  

I had my annual “Most Memorable Moment at Bandstand in the Rains For the Year” moment early yesterday morning. Nothing as fancy as I made it up to be, this is just one or two memories that I eventually end up with each year, at what’s probably my one refuge when this world gets too hard to handle. Sometimes, it’s a crazy moment, some times romantic, at times painful, or even just being at peace with myself, having a quiet walk in the rains. One time its almost been scary to the point of almost being suicidal. (Totally unintentional, I assure you, but very thoughtless and stupid in hindsight. I’ll tell you about that sometime else) But either knowingly or unknowingly, there’s always a moment, a memory that I closely associate with being at Bandstand in the rains, at least one each year, if not more.  

To start off where it actually started, I was out for a friends sangeet party the night before, and late after the function was over, I was driving on home, and as you must have guessed it by now, its night, I’m driving, and its been too long since I’ve been there, so I just end up at Bandstand, around 11:00 in the night. The 3 days of incessant rains that have been lashing out against Bombay, had probably scared most people into staying home, coz even though it wasn’t raining right then, the promenade along the sea face at ’Stand, (as a good friend of mine refers to it), was practically empty. Just one or two stray couple here and there, probably residents from the buildings nearby, and me.  

As I walked along the sea-face, something was gnawing at the back of my mind. Here, I was at Bandstand on a starless night, with the rains gently drizzling on my face and hands, and for once in my life, at what has become a home away from home, a private refuge at times, I wasn’t at ease. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, I remembered something that someone close to me had told me while back, what now seems like ages ago. Without going into the specifics, I’ll just tell you what she said. She had told me that she was glad that the next time I would go to Bandstand, I’d have a happy thought in my mind and a smile on my face. And although this wasn’t the next time, the thoughts racing through my brain right then, and the grim look I caught on my face a little earlier, when I accidentally glanced in the side view mirror of my car, made me stand up and take notice. I was at Bandstand and forget being happy, I wasn’t even the usual me.    

Well, since it wasn’t quite the same, I decided to get out of there, far sooner than I would have wished. A troubled sleep later, the next morning, I woke up listening to the rains lash out against the french windows of my room that led to the balcony. It was raining in torrents. And before I had completely opened my eyes, and kissed goodbye to the woman in my dreams;), I had made up my mind to be at Bandstand that morning. Twenty minutes later, I was at Bandstand, a lone figure, nobody around for miles, looking out into the raging sea.  

I have no idea, what prompted me to do it. Maybe the need to get rid of all my frustration, maybe the desire to feel alive, or maybe just plain insanity. But in that torrential rains, I stepped off the paved promenade, and hesitantly started walking on to the jagged rocks towards the waves that were crashing in just a few feet away. Not a very smart move to do in normal circumstances, especially when you are wearing floaters, that are about as helpful as flip flops in getting a grip on the wet and slippery rocks, but absolutely insane when its raining like the end of the world, and the wind is threatening to take you places, very much like a plastic straw in a tornado. A slip here and there would have meant a brief stint of compulsory bed rest at home, with quite a few bruises in the most tenderest of places. Maybe even a fracture or two. But to those of you who’ve been there and done that, I’m sure you’ll understand that at times and places, reason ceases to exist. So there I was, standing on the rocks in the pouring rains, the waves crashing into the rocks at my feet, getting drenched by the minute. And the whole moment was so huge, one of those brief moments which seem larger than life itself, that believe it or not, I started to sing! My body was having a tough time holding still and keeping my feet on the ground, and my heart wanted to sing! Truth be told, its an amazing feeling, singing at the top of your lungs, completely off key, with nobody to judge you. Unless you consider the waves, and the rocks as an audience, that is. There I was drenched to the bone, singing out rain songs at the top of my voice.  

“Rain … Feel it on my finger tips feel it on my window pane… your love is coming down like… RAIN!!!” Madonna… 

“Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone, it’s not warm when she’s away…this house just ain’t no home anytime she goes away…” Al Green… “She’s a good girl, loves her mama, loves Jesus and
America too…” Tom Petty… 

“A love struck Romeo sings a street style serenade…”Dire Straits 

“Raindrops keep falling on my head…” B J Thomas 

“Hope you’ve had the time of your life…” Green Day 

“Born to be wild…” Steppenwolf 

I could have stood there singing all day. (Bad singing is addictive, I must say. Try it sometime. But only when you’re alone:) Just stand there, nobody around, feel slightly like a complete lunatic. And not care as to who was thinking what. (It helped a lot that there was nobody around to care a damn about). And as my brain scanned an imaginary playlist in my mind, as to what song to sing next, I realized how lonely I felt all over again, but yet somehow, how completely alive.  

I must have felt like that after ages. And then, I realized something that day. Something I had learnt the hard way over several years ago, and now again. In joy, you run the risk of merely existing, living in a state of constant euphoria. But, in grief, you are truly alive. In pain, in sorrow, you feel the systematic throbbing of every painful heartbeat. You listen to every dejected sigh you release. You feel the passing of each moment of your life. You actually feel the pain swelling up inside your heart, transform itself into an uncontrollable urge to cry out in anguish and make its way to your throat, only to die a silent death, when you are forced to suppress it, lest the world mocks you in your hour of anguish. 

That realization in place, I realized that the crazed off-key singing was merely a way to release the pain I was feeling within. A cry turned to a song. And as with crying, the more I sang, the better I felt. It was a completely unexpected release of emotions. And I stood there, my voice completely drowned in the roaring of the wind and the crashing of the waves.  

I must have stayed there like that for over an hour. Finally, the realization that I had a wedding to attend in a couple of hours, made me turn my back to the most appreciative audience I had ever had. I turned away, carefully walked towards the promenade, desperately hoping that I didn’t trip and break my head or something. As I stepped back on solid ground, something made me turn around. It must be a crazy thing to comprehend, but I bowed down to the waves and the rocks. A gesture of thank you to nature for accepting me, and for giving me a memory that I will live with forever. And a smile once again. 

Just one more reason what makes Bandstand so special to me.  

     

The Odd One Out… May 14, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Bandstand Stories, I, Me and Myself..., Random Thoughts....
6 comments

(Apologies for not putting up the conclusion to the Road Trip first. For starters, it’s just not shaping up the way I wanted it to. In the meanwhile, what follows next happened over yesterday and this morning, and like so many other pieces before, just wrote itself;)

“Excuse me, sir, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but do the digits in your birthdate add up to the number 2?”

I turned to the side, and saw this 18-19 something young kid, in a bright red t-shirt, with a 3 day stubble on his face, looking at me, as if his whole life depended on my correct answer to that question.

“Actually, no, it doesn’t.” Well, if this guy was a numerologist or something, he’d have to do a lot better than that.

He looked at his watch, seemed to do some calculations in air, and then asked me again. “Is it 8 then? Or 6 maybe?”

When he realized he had them all wrong, he finally asked me what the correct answer was. I told him.

“That’s the first time ever that I’ve got the wrong answer.I don’t understand it.”

“Well, don’t cut yourself up too much over it. I have known to be a walking contradiction to those who know me. I can’t claim to know things about myself, so I really don’t blame you anyway. Nice try, though.”

What else could I say? I mean, here I was, on a Saturday morning sitting on a stone platform at Bandstand promenade, watching the waves lapping at the rocks 5 meters away from me, and this kid who’s been sleeping on the stone bench suddenly gets up and asks me what he did.

Now, those of you who know a little bit about me, would know that normally the conversation would have ended right there. Better off as a observer, if I think somebody is getting too close for comfort, or if I’m unsure of what to say or do, my first reaction is to walk away. But somebody I made friends with very recently, told me that every once in a while, I need to decide when to be an observer, and when to get involved. This time, something told me to get involved.

Without any idea why, or where this was going, I asked him why he wanted to know the answer to that question he had posed me.

“Well, I’m trying to prove a theory I’m working on. Everything in time has a definite beginning, and a definite end. And since time determines everything, almost all details about a person can be determined by a particular time any event occurs. For example, the time that you met me, this moment, can tell me, or in theory should have told me, your birth date at least. I can’t believe I got it wrong”.

Somewhere inside, I was quite thrilled at being an anomaly – different from the rest – rather than just another correct statistic in his research theory. Small kicks I get from life.

He then went on to tell me more about his theory. I would have loved to pen it down, or commit it to memory so that I could have reproduced it here better. He stated quotes attributing them to Einstein, and a couple of other scientists, and philosophers, and used words like “astrophysics”, “quantum”, “particle physics”, etc. One quote that I think he used was “The start and end of any event, is repeated at regular time intervals…” or something to that effect. Frankly I wasn’t paying too much attention to what he was saying at this time. Anyways, after a little prodding, he began dropping hints at how this theory that he was working on back home in Pune, had been sent to a London university, and how they were bowled over by what they had read, and how he had been inspired to prove his theory right. A theory that, in his words, “would rock the nation.”

What was he doing in Bombay, and what was he doing at Bandstand? He had come to visit a friend, and something had gone wrong, and he had been forced to spend the night at Bandstand, out in the open. “You know how things get wrong sometimes…”

What was he doing in Pune otherwise? “I’m a student. Dad’s in the army, based in Kolkatta. Loves me a lot. Miss him a lot. I had been even selected to the 3rd round of Indian Idol (a very popular musical talent show in India, based on the American Idol theme) But Dad made me get out of it, as it would have affected my studies. They even called me for the Indian Idol Part 2, but he wouldn’t let me go. Say, you’re from Bombay right? You wouldn’t happen to know anybody from the entertainment industry would you?”

Aah, so that’s what it is, is it? Unfortunately I don’t. And I said that to him, and he instantly picks up the hint of disdain / scepticism in my voice. “You don’t have anything against the industry, do you?”

I thought about it a moment. I remembered some of the stories a close friend of mine told me when she was trying to break into the industry. She’s as tough as nails, but she refused to make the compromises that she would have had to, to get somewhere in the industry. She preferred to give up her dreams, instead. “No, I don’t. But I do know that it ain’t as easy to break into as it looks like. You need to make a lot of compromises, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could end up being chewed up and spit out like a piece of stale and tasteless gum. But, to each his own. If you are ready to make those choices, to get to where you want to be, it’s your call. I don’t have anything against the industry or the people. At the end of the day, it’s just another means of a livelihood.”

He seemed pleased with that answer. Somehow, a clearer picture was beginning to form now in my head now. Starry eyed boy, with dreams of making it big in the entertainment business, coming in to Bombay, hunting down production managers, casting directors, assistant directors, talent agents, getting caught in the clutches of touts pretending to be all of the above. But, typically (and maybe I’m wrong here, I am speculating on this) the starry eyed people are from the far interiors of the country, with basic or no education, who come into Bombay with big dreams, and nothing else. Not well educated youngsters, from an Indian Army background (although I was less than 10 years elder to him, and I asked him to call me by name, he insisted on calling me a crisp ‘Sir’ – “It’s the army background, Sir, I can’t help it”) who go around quoting Einstein, and talking about theories in quantum and astrophysics. What about all that, I asked him. How does that fit into all this entertainment?

“That’s how I want to prove my theory, Sir. It’s a movie about how this theory works.” And he left it at that. So did I.

How long was he planning to be in Bombay. Did his parents know he was here? “Yes. Mom knows I’m here with some friends.” Although I bet she didn’t know her son spent the last night out on the streets, sleeping by the rocks of Bandstand. I didn’t mention that to him though. “I’m leaving for Pune this afternoon.”

By now, we had been chatting over an hour, and it was time for me to leave. I wished him all the best, and hoped that his dreams – about the Indian Idol thing, as well as the theory that would rock the nation – came true one day. He seemed rather disappointed to see me go, like the time you feel when you want somebody to talk to, but nobody’s around. He moved on though, and I drove away.

Before I reached the end of the road that takes me away from the sea face, I had a nagging feeling at the back of my mind. In fact, it had been there since he had first started speaking with me, and told me he had spent the night out on the streets. Something made me turn back, and drive all the way along the promenade to find him again.

There he was, sitting alone along the promenade. From a distance, that almost appeared to be me. A lost soul, staring into the ocean, into trying to get to terms with himself. At least he knew what he wanted. Seemed to know, anyways.

I pulled up behind him, and called out to him. I wanted to make this as matter of fact, and as less embarrassing – for both him and me – as possible. “You planning to go back to Pune today. Don’t mind me asking, but do you have the means for it? You got a ticket?”

For the first time since I had been speaking with him, he faltered. “I do. I mean I will arrange something. Don’t worry”. Bingo. No money, and no ticket back home. Stranded in a strange city. He planned to make the Bombay – Pune train journey, ticketless. Possible, but pointless.

I offered him a 100 Rs. note – all that I had at that time – but enough to get him some grub and a ticket to Pune. To his credit, he was reluctant to take it. He had not asked me for money at any time. But, I didn’t want a young kid to get crushed in the city. Bombay’s got a bad rep, as it is. And in some cases, deservingly so. There was no point in making him go through it.

He stood there for a good 3 or 4 minutes, not being able to look at me in the eye, thinking about what to do. He seemed like he was about to break down. He could have been an excellent actor, but something told me, beneath the tough exterior, he still was just an 18 year old kid. I could just imagine what my mother would have gone through if something like that ever happened to me, and I’m sure if his mother knew, what her son had been upto the past 24 hours, she’d be just as upset. As a human being, it was the least people could do for one another. And just to call it even, I told him whenever he got his theory published, he could put a thank you note for me in the opening credits;)

Finally he took it, and that’s where we parted ways again. For then.

The whole day I was restless though. Something told me he wouldn’t leave. He had a conviction in his eyes, that said, he needed to do something. Prove a point. Maybe he had run away from home, and had lied to me that his mother knew where he was. After five or six uneasy hours at home, I decided to check Bandstand once again, to make sure he had actually left. He could have been anywhere, but something told me, if he was in Bombay, he would still be at Bandstand. It’s that kind of a place.

After a minute or so driving along the promenade, I saw him again. He was still sitting, almost exactly where I had left him. The afternoon train to Pune was long gone, so either he had tricked me or there seemed another possible explanation why he had stayed behind. I observed him for a while, without being seen myself. He made a phone call from a cell phone borrowed from somebody else. At least the guy was resourceful. Wasn’t such a lost kid after all. Had a way with people. Walked around, sipping a cola. He finally saw me, staring at him. I had half expected him to run. But he walked on over to me instead.

Wasn’t he supposed to be on a train to Pune by now? He asked me, why was I there? Something had triggered off a chain of thoughts in my mind, and that’s why I wanted to check up on him, I said. I asked him whether he had in fact run away from home, point blank. He said no, his mother truly knew he was in Bombay, but she didn’t know anything about the movie people he was meeting up with. In fact, he was meeting a production guy at 5:30, and that’s why he had stayed back. He would be returning in the night. I asked him his mothers phone number in Pune. Better to check with the story rather than have him lie, and get in trouble later. Messaged his mother, asking her to call her son up on my cell number. In a few minutes, she called up, asking for him. She didn’t sound hysterical – like someone whose son has run away from home – so that was a good start. So, she did know he was in Bombay, and I made him tell her that he would be home for dinner.

I still wasn’t convinced about the smartness of his decisions, so once again, I tried my best to put the pros and the cons of what he was getting into. He told me he had a plan. Gave me the names of the people he had met, and those he planned to meet. How everybody had been a real good to him and had tried to help him, except me. Huh? So, I had been bad to him? Now, I was slightly miffed.

“No, no, not that. You’re the one who’s been exceptionally helpful, nobody’s gone out of the way as much as you have.” Now, I was blushing. Its bad enough to try and help somebody without making a big deal out of it.

Finally, after spending a half hour with him again, listening to his gameplan, for his theory & research, I warned him that if he wasn’t in Pune by the next morning when planned on calling his mom to check up, I would set the Mumbai police loose on him. By now, I had enough information to track down his possible movement in Bombay, people he planned to meet, offices he intended to go. He promised he would be home, by the next day. And making sure that he still had enough money to get back home, I left him there at Bandstand once again.

As I drove away, he waved out to me, and I stopped the car for a second.

“You are truly the odd one out, Sir. Remember that. Thanks for everything.”

It took me a second to figure out what he meant by that. Then I remembered my words to him in the morning. Strangely, that was one of the best things somebody has ever said to me.

At that time, I knew he was going to be okay. At least for this time. The vultures weren’t going to take him, just yet. For now, he was smarter than them.

This morning, I went to the same spot I met him yesterday. Feeling more like a patronising uncle, or even a concerned parent, than an absolute stranger that i really was, I called up his mother’s cell number. The first time, the machine told me “Please check the number you have dialled”. My heart skipped a beat. Was he okay? Had I made a mistake of leaving him alone? I tried again, and this time, his mother picked up the phone. I asked her if I could speak with him. And as she handed the phone to him, and after I spoke with him for a minute, wishing him all the best for the future, I was finally relieved.

The starry eyed one who managed to make it home, safe and sound. He, too, was the odd one out.

God, for the briefest of moments, it felt good to be human again, in the truest sense of the word.

Alone Again, Naturally… April 9, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Bandstand Stories, I, Me and Myself....
3 comments

Another Saturday evening spent by myself, staring out into the ocean, and watching couples cozy up to each other on the Bandra promenade. Another evening spent listening to music in the car, driving up and down the streets of Bandra, hoping that something happens, and I don’t have to spend the rest of the evening alone. Another hope dashed and another evening ruined.

Bombay is not a place suitable for single people. In fact, I wonder if any city is. Everywhere you go, you see couples, holding hands, hugging, trying to peg you as a loser for not being with somebody. And if you look beyond the couples, you see the college crowd hanging out together. Being single has become one step away from a crime, as it were. And hey, don’t get me wrong. Its not that I aint got no friends or anything. I do, I have great friends. But, life’s at that stage at the moment, where everybody I know is busy coping with their own shit. People I know are getting married, getting new jobs, having a baby, and just so busy with their own lives. And again, I’m not grudging them that. I’m happy for them. But that kinda leaves people like me, out in the lurch. The ones who don’t seem to be going anywhere. Socially, I mean. I’ve often been accused of being an anti-social. Hell, I invented that label for myself. I’m the guy you see at social gatherings, leaning on the pillar behind shrubbery besides the drinks table. I’m the guy who can’t think of anything funny to say at the right time. When I’m with myself, or people who know me the closest, I’m a hoot. (Well, at least, that’s what I think. Here again, I may be wrong. All those who disagree, please look away.) But, replace that set of people with a completely alien audience, and out comes the anti-social. I will very comfortably slip into one corner of the room, and be happy watching other people chat away. Who pretends to look into his cell phone, too busy sending off fake SMSs, just so that I don’t have to make eye contact with others. Or worse still, be forced to make conversation that makes sense, should somebody actually come up to me, and say a hello.

And that’s what stopped me from walking into a pub last evening, all by myself, into any one of those places where the whole world gets together on a Saturday evening. And that’s why I spent another Saturday evening, listening to music in the car, driving up and down the streets of Bandra, hoping that something would happen. And staring out into the ocean, all by myself.

I have no idea what I intend to achieve with this post. Its one of those posts, that just seemed to write itself. Maybe it’ll make more sense tomorrow.

Nostalgia and the rains April 2, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Bandstand Stories, Random Thoughts....
1 comment so far

As I began dressing for work early in the morning a couple of weeks back, I heard a distant rumble. Thunder? Couldn’t be, must be something else, it’s just mid-March. Anyway, the skies looked clear enough. Hmmm, it would be good to have rains though, I said to myself, as I stepped into the elevator. And as I step out of the elevator, the first rains of the year hit me. A slight drizzle, actually. But, the air was already laced with the aroma of the wet earth. To me it’s probably the most wonderful fragrance in the world. Petrichor. The scent of life.

By the time I reached work, the early morning drizzle had given way to a full fledged off seasonal shower, that was to last almost the whole day. And although, I knew its just a one off shower, and the monsoons were still months away, I couldn’t help but smile. The rains just make me feel different. Make me alive. And all it takes is an off-seasonal shower to get the best monsoon memories flood my mind. (No pun intended). And give me a theme for another rambling post…

SINGING IN THE RAIN
Two years spent in Pune, doing my post-grad in some godforsaken college, mostly getting an education in life, outside college, rather than in it. Two years of the most bittersweet memories of my life. One sweet memory is of a night a couple of days before I was to leave for Bombay. As I was returning to my rented apartment after my exam, the weather suddenly changed. Now May is normally peak of summer in India. Rains clouds gathered overhead, and by 6:00 in the evening, darkness had enveloped the city. Just after I reached home, within ten minutes or so, the dark clouds opened up. Rains! Followed by thunder and lightening. In the middle of summer! One of the simplest joys in life is getting wet in the first rains of the year, something which I can never resist. I raced up to the terrace, and was greeted with the most amazing display of lights I had ever seen. Lightening flashes blazed across the gray sky, and lit up the night like millions and millions of streaks of bluish-white electricity, that light up for a second, and then go dark again. And light up again, and go dark again. And again. And again. And again. It felt like Nature was putting up a stunning display of sound and light just for me. If you love the rains as much as I do, there is no feeling like the rain falling on your body, cleansing your mind, your soul. Opening up in sweet surrender to the infinite power and beauty of the elements. And something happened to me that night. I know it sounds crazy, but all alone on the terrace, completely drenched, I began dancing. It must have been one crazy sight, had anybody seen me that night. A wet, out of shape figure singing and dancing – slipping and sliding, mostly – all by himself in the darkness. But I didn’t care. I didn’t need any music, and I didn’t need a partner. That night, I was Gene Kelly, the night was Debi Reynolds, and the thunder in the sky was the only orchestra we needed. We were Singin’ in the Rain, without any care in the world. I really don’t remember how long I danced that night. Could have been 5 minutes, felt more like 5 hours. But that’s one rainy night that I’ll never forget.

JOIE DE VIVRE
Then there was this one time about two monsoons back. It had been raining the whole night, and it didn’t look as if it was about to slow down in the morning. As usual, I left my house at 6:30, all dressed up for work. Somewhere between my house and the end of my lane, on an impulse, I decided that it would be a shame to waste such a gorgeous morning in the office. Nothing feels better than playing hooky from work, and I rushed back home, put on some old jeans and some sweats, ditched the umbrella, and got out again. I walked all the way to Bandstand, in the cold rain, and got into a coffee shop that overlooks the sea at Bandstand. So, here I am sitting at this coffee shop, drinking an Americano, looking out at an amazing ocean view, in the rains, and I think it can’t get any better than this. And boy was I wrong! There’s absolutely nobody in that small coffee shop except me, the barista behind the counter and Her…the most amazing, lively, gorgeous woman I had ever seen. She was dressed up in a very simple, yet tasteful light orange tee-shirt, and a pair of cream capris. She had been sitting there from even before I got there, and for the 2 hours that I sat there till she left, I could hardly take my eyes off her. Okay I know, a lot of you are gonna shout “VOYEUR!”. But hold on. I mean she was pretty and everything, but that wasn’t the reason I couldn’t keep my eyes off her. Not the only reason anywaysJ She was so full of joie de vivre, that she almost even in that weather, she carried a little bit of sunshine over her shoulders. I thought I loved the rains, but she just seemed to be so much in love with life itself. The music system kept playing a popular Hindi song over and over again. And she started swaying to the music, as she sat in her chair. If ever I could present an award on any music channel, I’d give her the Award for Best Dancing While Still Seated on a Chair. And just like that, on that rainy day at Bandstand, I kinda lost my heart out to one of the most lovely ladies I’d ever seen. Although I really wanted to, in the two hours that she sat in front of me, I never got the courage to get up and tell her how beautiful she had made my day by just being there that rainy morning. Well, wherever she is, I sure hope she is still spreading that sunshine everywhere she goes.

Candle light dinners are so passé

Another rainy evening, I won’t be forgetting is one back in college, when me and a friend of mine decided to catch a movie and dinner. Movie done, we were walking down to a terrace restaurant that she had recommended, to get some dinner. As we made our way there, the temperature dropped and the wind suddenly picked up. Orders given, we spent time looking over the city lights from the terrace. From a bird’s eye-view, about 7 floors high above the ground, the city looked quite amazing. Traffic lights, headlights of cars, and other chaos of the street, so close, somehow seemed miles away.
I still remember the music that was playing in the background. “Bahon main chale aao”, by Asha Bhonsale. The weather was lovely, and the breeze had almost turned into a heavy gale by then. By the time, the waiter got us our starters, a light drizzle had started up. We paced about the terrace, kababs in our hands, bemused at the way the waiters were having a tough time coping with the wind tossing serviettes and tissues all over. By the time the food was ready, we had to move in to a covered section of the terrace, which we did, reluctantly. And as soon as we sat on down at our table, right beside the low terrace wall, the rains began in earnest. And once again, lightening flashes began lighting up the sky and man, the atmosphere was just about perfect. And just when we thought, things couldn’t get any better, the lights in the restaurant went out! Trust me, candle light dinner pales in comparison to dinner under brilliant lightening flashes. Truly, the experience is something else. What had began as a quiet dinner, turned out to be an extraordinary evening out. Just like that.

Dinner, coffee and a quiet stroll in the rain later, it was time to go our separate ways. But the memory of that simple dinner, made unforgettable by the rains, lightening, and thunder, and of course, excellent company, is one I would love to capture in a bottle, like an exotic fragrance, which I could relive over and over again.

And then there are so many others…memories of the monsoons. Each unique, and each beloved. Close to me for several different reasons, some of happy times, some of sad ones. But each one close nonetheless. But then, that’s a blog post for another rainy day.

Je Ne Regrette Rien…? March 15, 2006

Posted by espritnoir in Bandstand Stories, I, Me and Myself....
3 comments

There are some very few times in life when i actually regret being single. Well, not exactly regret, but you know, there are those moments when I would have preferred to have a “significant other” in my life and be one in somebody else’s. Like last weekend, I was driving back home after dinner, and suddenly I decided to head to Bandstand instead. So, I’m at Bandstand (thankfully at least post midnight its relatively less crowded), at 1.00 am in the morning, and I am on the promenade walking all by myself. It was all there. People hanging out, trying to extend the weekend by as much as possible, before we all returned to our humdrum work the next day. The stray couples walking up and down the promenade, holding hands, just enjoying the time spent together. The dark sea spread for miles ahead of me; the near full moon lighting up the waters underneath. It was such a pretty postcard picture, and I so wanted to share it with somebody. I actually looked around, just wishing that there was somebody there that I knew. Somebody who I cared about. And who would enjoy spending time with me. And as I watched the waves roll in, I must confess I felt the green eyed monster kick in. Envy at the other couples around me. At the realization that I had nobody to share the beautiful moonlit night by the sea with. Even a phone call from somebody would have been a sign from heaven. But, like so many other times, the moment passed, nobody called, I didn’t bump into anybody accidentally, and nothing happened that night that would have made a great movie one day.

But, that night it did get me thinking. Of all the small things that me and other single guys like me, have to do without, which a ‘committed’ guy would probably just take for granted (that’s a serious generalization, I know, but come on, but humor meJ)

So, for all you committed guys out there, be thankful for all of this and a lot more :

When you catch the faintest whiff of your favorite perfume (maybe “Provocative”;) on your woman. And your knees turn to jello in an instant.Every time she accidentally turns the channel to MTV, just as Kimi is about to shoot ahead of Shumacher on the crucial last lap at Monza.

Whenever she turns to you to help her with her hung Windows XP. Hey, you both know, she could have restarted the damn thing herself, but she knows how you love to be her Knight-In-Shining-Armour.

The times she went for a horror movie with you, and screamed, clung on to your arm and hid her face in your sleeve whenever the creepy music came on. That’s why you chose that movie in the first place!

Whenever she asks you give her a neck rub. Admit it, you enjoy it more than she does. Or better still, she gives you one herself.

How peaceful she looks when she’s asleep. If I ever fall in love, I’ll make it a point to get up 45 minutes before she does everyday, just to sit by the bed and watch my pretty one while she sleeps.

You lean in for a quick hug, and the fragrance of her just washed hair hits you like a 10 ton bomb. And you never want to let go. Ever.

And a zillion other small things that makes her so special.

So, there you have it. All you committed guys (and gals), call up your loved one and tell her (or him) that you love her. Go ahead, make her day.

And all you single people out there… hang in there. Hope you find your someone special soon.

As for me, I’m listening to Edith Piaf, and she speaks for both of us when she says, “Je ne regrette rien…” Neither do I… at least until the next time I’m at Bandstand all alone in the middle of the night.