Sunday, August 19, 2007

It Takes Two to Tango, Four to..??

The much awaited break for the foursome from the routine was agreed upon just a week ago. A and D were to join R and S on the way to Night city. It was not exactly a city, but part of the old cantonment area of the metro that had obtained fame for its Night life in recent years. New age clubs, hotels and hangouts had come up in recent years like mushrooms in the rainy season. One could spot if one moved little further from the Night City, enormous, majestic colonial bungalows shutting themselves to the world. Or in the side streets few outhouses, which still remained behind the façade of little known and hence less crowded hang-outs. A and S were two of the many close female friends in R’s circle but D was new to him. D was one of the many close male pals of A!
The quartet reached the Night City as the sun was going down. It was a long day for them as they took a detour to visit few tourist locations in the Metro and later challenged themselves to a small trek to test the stamina. Late lunch at a roadside noisy Dhabha where the stereo was belting out loud Punjabi numbers killed the appetite of R for food and dampened the enthusiasm to befriend D who he suspected might get on his nerves.
They reached the city with youthful anticipation. Rest was needed since the small trek had nearly drained the energy from their bodies, which were acclimatized to IT world. It was needed as a prelude to the ‘night-life’.
The city looked notorious in dark in spite of the glow-signs, neon lights and flashlights from the zooming SUVs. R noticed the near total absence of two-wheelers. The locale was not congested like commercial streets in the Metro nor the traffic was monstrous. Eateries, Cafés, big restaurants, Discotheques that dotted every street were competing with each other to catch the whimsical GEN X/Y/Z in their magical web. The capricious pack of boys and girls was making itself comfortable on the roads, in the driveways, promenades and boulevards, as though no other ‘happening place’ existed. They were part of the multitude, which was in constant pursuit of enjoyment. R was mulling about that the positive, optimistic, ‘go-get-it’ outlook of his generation but wondered whether they had unlearnt the ability to say ‘No’ in their struggle to attain the goals. The quartet on a random picked up a rooftop restaurant for the dinner. From where he sat, R could not only have a total view of the entire hall but also of the rather dark street lit by few streetlights.
R was not a regular drinker. D looked as though he was a pro. A and S were more ladylike, restricting themselves to Gimlet. If weather is the typical topic of conversation for the stiff upper-lipped British, investments in real estate and equities is fast becoming the universally accepted subject among Argumentative Indians. D had lot to say on this. He had a ready audience. He was explaining with good examples the effect of Government’s infrastructure policy not only on the real estate and property prices in rural areas but also on the social life in closely knit communities.

R realized that they were like ‘characters’ in a play. He knew the parts that he, D, A and S were going to play. He knew that they also knew about this. They were presenting only a part (yes, the best) of themselves for the others. He had never liked being with people. But he dreaded the feeling of disconnect when in a group, so he always went out of his way to be cordial. The connection he wanted to feel that night was not happening. Was he truly asocial? With this depressing chain of thinking as he turned his head towards the nearly deserted street, he caught the sight of a couple walking side by side on the opposite pavement. Something in their bearing reminded him of the married couple from one of Bergman’s movies. It was like two cocoons walking together.
Just a thought of Bergman was enough to lift his falling spirits. He felt alive and creative. Interrupting the talk, which still centred on real estate he started his exposition about Bergman’s world. The other three stared with disbelief, shocked both by the abruptness and rudeness of R’s intrusion. As he continued, they listened in complete agreement with him. But R knew that something was lost. Was there a hint of derision in their look? Did they think him immature? He did not know. He had lost enthusiasm to explore further. He knew this feeling. It was the beginning of the end of their nightlife. Since they were just characters, they could not possibly make this obvious to each other. Using physical exhaustion as an excuse first R then A, S and D withdrew to their rooms and also self created shells like tortoise.

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