We walked towards one of our favourite pubs in Bangalore, belting past the street vendors, groups of Bangalore college students, and recognizable bunches of software workers. Crossing Brigade Road was a routine affair on weekends, often accompanied by meeting a long lost friend, an unwanted encounter, or an unusual one (like meeting a person and not remembering his/her name). The lane on the right (while turning in from MG Road) was crowded as always, and the place had usual business sense one can associate with a Sunday afternoon.
My friend carried a puzzled look, quite surprised by my plan of action on this special day. I asked him to switch off his phone and just walk with me. He followed me to the end of road and then turned right with me.
We reached the doorsteps soon and entered the place. The purple hues and the dim lighting were on expected lines, the kind of lighting which makes even a dull-looking strangers attractive. Isn’t it strange how darkness can light people up?
The place was half empty, but given it was still afternoon it I considered it to be half full. We took a small side table, ordered some draught, peanuts, and some spicy close cousin of Gobhi Manchurian.
There were two rather simple rules to this day:
- No discussion about the special day, either amongst us, or with anyone else, and hence the phone was supposed to be switched off
- Drink, drink, and if possible, drink a bit more
Pubs in Bangalore had a certain charm associated with them. Pecos served popcorn with beer, Legends of Rock had a decent ambience, Styx was loud with people screaming lyrics as if they had written it, and going to Nasa always raised a few eyebrows. All these places had certain common traits- abundance of software workers, scarcity of women (except Purple Haze), heavy Indo-Chinese influences in most of the finger food served, and fresh unadulterated draught beer (which I referred to as शुद्ध दानेदार ताज़ी beer).
Purple Haze had always been my favourite, for reasons unknown to me. Probably because it was the first pub I visited in Bangalore, with my first drink being a glass of Apple Juice!
As always one of the conversation topics between me and my friend was this quick analysis of Bangalore Pubs. It was followed with some usual discussions around girls, a debate on the best idlis in Bangalore, and sharing concerns around the amount of colour being added to Gobhi Manchurian.
A pitcher and few conversations later I finally got sometime to looked around. There was a beautiful, curly-haired girl in the seat opposite, her body stiff yet apparently moving with music. There were shades of purple rhythmically moving over her white top, with the dim light strangely complementing her dusky appearance. I asked my friend for his opinion. He sheepishly turned back to ogle at her, and then acting double smart to look around and suggest that this was just a routine turning around looking at the world act. Sometimes I wonder how all men (including me), can be that stupid?
He said he didn’t like her, which was perfectly fine. Over the years I have got used to people not agreeing to my opinions, and it probably gave me more of an impetus to walk up to her and talk. Talk, if it comes to that, I mostly end up on the winning side.
But then there was the guy. The guy who is always around whenever one thinks of approaching a girl. He is a protector, a taaweez (or Shani Suraksha Kawach) against evil eye, a brother or a boyfriend, and more often than not, just a friend. I thought this one belonged to the last category. It was quite evident. Difficult to prove, but evident.
I got up from my seat, walked pass her table to get a good look at the situation around, and walked towards the toilet. This was not a mere act, as drinking beer does put the bladder through decent level of exercise. I noticed something on their table, which was both disturbing and sad. They were carrying pencils and a paper.
I walked back to my seat where my friend had just gulped down the second pitcher. The freshness of draught beer had slowly started turning into stale burps and an increasing future probability of acidity. I sat down and recollected my thoughts.
I thought, what is more important- the rules or the girl? I knew my answer.
I left behind my somewhat sleepy friend, walked to her table and asked for her permission to join them. She smiled and agreed. Things were proceeding well and the guy was hardly visible or audible, probably lost in these purple shades.
We settled down with hardly any words being spoken. And before we could start the conversation, the girl says- “ So, how did your CAT go?”.
The rule had been broken. The first rule was not to discuss the special day. I felt disappointed. I got up and moved back to my table. She was talking, probably calling me, but I could hardly hear a word. Jim Morrison’s “The End” played in the background, and she was lost in the loud music, and in the purple shades.
This is a semi-fictionalized account of the events which transpired on Nov 18th, 2007. Someone has said that temptation is woman’s weapon and man’s excuse, and men are used to making excuses and breaking rules. Just a case in point.