Skip to main content

Expect no mercy

Inspired by a true story

February 2010. At 10pm, it was business as usual at a popular pub in Bandra. The Brownian motion of the crowd kept the place heaving tolerably. The early birds had cadged all the worn tables and the rest arranged themselves in higgledy-piggledy fashion around the horseshoe bar. The music was good, the beer flowed and the bouncer/manager's dark glasses reflected the mellow yellow lights.

They'd also see two guys in their late 20s standing in a nook, holding mugs of beer and politely swaying out of the way of everyone else. U and A were making desultory small talk, as meaningful conversation was almost impossible over the blaring music. It didn't matter; the cold satisfaction of every bitter sip hitting the throat was enough. Suddenly, a cheery voice hailed U. Turning around, he saw S, an old school friend, jammed amidst a bunch of others at a corner table. After the greetings and hugs, space was made for both guys, but at opposite sides of the table.

U was conversing with S and his girlfriend but his attention kept wandering to a curly haired girl in black seated opposite. As is usual at a crowded table, everyone was basically talking and listening to everyone else. It moved along briskly; what work they all did, who they were reading, music, films and old school memories. Sometime past midnight, the party broke up and the bill was settled. Everyone trooped outside for a final smoke before heading off in various directions and it was at this point that U found himself chatting with the girl in black. Her eyes twinkled mischievously, even though the red tinge around them suggested she'd been crying earlier in the evening. U said something (an inopportune horn blast from a passing car drowned out the words) but she smiled and asked U for his phone. Nonplussed, he handed it over and watched her type her name and number in and hand it back even as she said "Call me".

U was stunned. Things like this did not happen to him. He was awkward and extremely shy at most times, so he'd never ever even got a girl's number, never mind having it handed over without him even asking. He held the phone, unsure as to what he was supposed to do, even though instructions had been received. So, he smiled stupidly, waved goodbye and left.

Over the next few days, U would look at his phone, wondering if the whole thing had actually happened. He'd scroll down to her name, thumb hovering over the dial button and then put it off. He played a million scenarios in his head, starting from one where she wouldn't recognise him to one where he'd say something moronic. There didn't seem to be any upside and this was just his imagination. U wasn't sure if he could handle the highly probable mortification in real life. But something about her smile kept boomeranging and the tiniest possibility of seeing her again was ultimately too tempting. His heart hammered hard even as he counted the number of rings (he would hang up after 5). The ringing stopped. It took an enormous effort to get the words past his arid mouth. "Hi G. This is U, S's friend. We met at the pub, remember?".

"Wrong number" said the man's voice.

Song for the moment: Love in an elevator - Aerosmith 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Night Boat

I usually don't write honest pieces. They're true to facts but I tend to lather my emotions and thoughts with a heavy dose of attempted humour or misdirection. This post deserves some raw emotional honesty, though.

Yesterday, 29th August, a Tuesday (or should I say, another Tuesday) was about me making choices. It was raining quite heavily when I left for office, sheeted down the windows of the train throughout the 1-hour journey to Churchgate and kept going with renewed intensity by the time I made it to the entrance, looking verily like something that had drowned in a gutter and lain there a while before being discovered by a cat and dragged in. I made the choice to go to work as I suspected my boss would be there and not because I wanted to go.

I was right about my boss but that cardiac fizz of being right flattened out rather rapidly once I realised, around 11:30 am, that no one else from my team of 20 had bothered to make a similar effort. And, some of these guys live 5 …

Drink up and be somebody

Dear Reader,

History will boldly testify that your favourite blogger is usually slow on the uptake, a state of affairs that's blooming with each passing year like a reverse-Revital. "Why this self-harshness, G", you may ask? Well...

I've been doing the Bom-Pune-Bom trips for 9 years and it's taken about that long to accept that MSRTC Shivneri, still the best bus service of them all, simply cannot (or, realistically, will not) cope with 3-day weekends. Since my job profile does not allow me to plan my travel in advance on said Fridays, I land up at Dadar, view the queue of potential passengers snaking a long way from the ticket window and mentally prepare to arrive home at the hour of morning reserved for sheepish teenagers and dacoits. The Expressway doesn't help anyone's cause thanks to truck drivers spreading themselves generously across 3 lanes and clogging the Lonavala pass to a point where the traffic jam is about 3 km long. A stretch that would tak…

Country Comforts

Part 1

With timing that was far more impeccable than their usual service, the MSRTC went on strike 2 days before Diwali over a pay dispute. I've traveled on their buses for close to 9 years and know full well just how popular they can be just before a major holiday. The chaotic crowd at Dadar is so dense, one would only need to introduce a few Naga sadhus into the mix and hey presto! we've got ourselves a brand new Kumbh Mela. Albeit one where getting out of Bombay ASAP is the only kind of salvation devotees seek. 

News and newspapers being what they are at present, I was unaware of the jolly bus crisis until Wednesday morning when a well-wisher asked how I proposed to go home for the holidays, flourishing the paper in my face with the reluctant panache of a small-town magician. Realising the gravity of the situation, I looked up train schedules and was stunned to find General category seats available on an outstation train departing later that afternoon. As far as I could see, …