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 


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 …

Last of my kind

(This post hasn't come out as well as I wanted. But I'm still pissed off, so.)

Why do we have heroes? What is it about someone that triggers a decision to nail our colours to their mast? I don't have a neat answer so what you read from here on is both an explanation and an exploration. In a post-modern world driven by counter-points, certainty is a luxury.

I missed the boat when it came to India's ODI cricket madness. We moved abroad in the late 80s. When I left, my friends and I wanted to be Kapil, Kris or Sunil. When I returned, god was getting comfortable on his heavenly couch and all was right with a world I did not recognise. I had missed Sachin's opening batsman debut against New Zealand, the hullabaloo of the Hero Cup and other notable moments. So, I was interested in cricket, not any particular sportsman. Not even during the '96 World Cup. When India muffed it against Sri Lanka, I hurt for the team, not for a player.

Then came Dravid. And, personally, …

Let her go

Have you noticed how we throw things out a lot more than before? Of course, city-dwellers like us have more, now that disposable incomes are the norm. Does it also allow us to dispose of things so easily? I was the object of much mirth/ridicule at work today because I wanted to get a golf umbrella repaired. One colleague wondered if it was worth the effort, another asked why I did not just buy a different one while others chuckled when they realised neither of these thoughts had occurred to me. I trudged off, wondering if they were right. What exactly was driving me to take the trouble?

I think back to to the 80s and living in my Thatha's (grandpa) house. Today's 'use-and-throw' culture would have shocked him to the core. The man was the epitome of prudence. Since we weren't exactly floating in doubloons, the family followed suit. Thatha wore the same watch for over 50 years. A small umbrella, bought by my mother with her first salary, was well on its way to becom…