I met friends from work at my favourite pub today and we hung around surrounded by awesome music and guzzling that wonderful, uncomplicated drink - beer.
The conversation was all about the life and times of J, A, V, and me. Oh no need for the secrecy. Josh was telling us about all the fun stuff he and his friends did when they were in college, Anbu narrated his fun-in-those-days episodes, and Vatsala and I merely laughed.
My laughter was tinged with more than a trace of nostalgia for a city that allowed fun. You just needed to go out to have it. And while Vatsala does manage to have an exciting life, considering she still belongs to the underage club, like all old timers we like to believe 'those were the days.'
What has happened to Bangalore?
First it was the early lights out, bar shut, and "Please, sir, madam, manege hogi, time ayithuri..." (Please sir, madam, go home, it's time) at 11.30 pm. While everyone in the city was trying to deal with that, they came up with this stinker. They advertise all about salsa and cha-cha-cha classes in the papers and go and ban dancing in places. You can get fucking arrested for even doing a Parvin Bhabhi shoulder shake in a pub.
And there were the good old days when men were men in the city. They drank, sang, danced, and dated. Men and women drank tea at 4 am in the morning on M. G. Road opposite the Symphony theatre after a long night of wild dancing. And further down the road, you could even have biryani starting 1.30 am. Closer home, you had small, seedy joints that stayed open forever and you could drink beer or whatever you wished to along with some unlisted meat till the crows flew up.
And that's when the city had men. Real men who could get piss drunk and act clean sober. Men who had funky pick-up lines and used them on women they liked, who flirted with wit and charm. Wild boys full of character.
Night life builds character like nothing else does.
And that's true even for women. You learn to dress up for the lights and get your lipstick right, and your make up on all night long, and you are the woman who can take the world by storm. A Rio who shines and really shows one all she can.
Throw in a couple of experiences where you perfect that cold, frosty stare, and brush off men who want to pick you up; or laugh with derision and disgust at men who dance too close to you and try to get their hands on you and rub their crotches against you. Makes you realise that you can always take care of yourself. Protective man hovering around you notwithstanding.
Where are the wild boys I had crushes on? What happened to the city I loved?
And smack in the middle of this despair comes the weather Bangalore's been having since last week. Full of blooming jacarandas and those pink and yellow blossoms and Gulmohar reds strewn across the streets, a hint of rain in the air (well it did rain today), and wild breeze just perfect for long, hot kisses and more...
And suddenly just when I begin to feel that God is in His heaven and all's right with the world, hopelessness catches up and I realise that no, it isn't. There really are none of those wild boys who'll take you out for coffee in the rain and buy you icecream instead, then smile and just say, "It's fun to eat icecream in the rain", and do that long liplock simply because the weather begs for it and a girl's lipstick calls for it.
Enough to make one want to give up wearing lipstick. Who knows, next in Bangalore they'll probably ban that as well!
Ah Bangalore, how old and tame we have become.