[*Some names may have been changed to protect identity.]
I was waiting outside Hostel 1 for twenty minutes now. He had said he would be back in five. I hadn’t had anything for tiffin earlier that evening, but Tanmay was worse off — he hadn’t even had lunch because he had been promised a dinner in Pizza Hut. (This is an important part of the events that followed and shall be reminded to you at regular intervals.) And then when Prateek finally arrived, he had Satwik with him for company. Not that we disliked him, but we weren’t too fond of his company either — he always had an air of arrogance around him, which give gave him a reputation for repelling people. While we complained to him about the time he had kept us waiting and Tanmay calculated the number of hours since the last morsel of food had entered his mouth, Satwik said something about the clothes we were wearing, which made me realise that both Prateek and Satwik were wearing clothes way better than us. I didn’t mind that because I had been to Pizza Hut in jersey shorts once, so three-fourths were definitely an improvement.
I didn’t mind that because I had been to Pizza Hut in jersey shorts once, so three-fourths were definitely an improvement.
I felt something was wrong when the auto-rickshaw took a left from the Main Gate because Pizza Hut was on the right, but I didn’t say anything because the weight of Tanmay on my lap was making me moan at every pothole we went over. So then when we got off at Kanjurmarg station, we were enlightened that we were going to a club in Lower Parel instead of Pizza Hut and that Tanmay could have some street food on the way. I hadn’t been to a club before, for the sole reason that there were no clubs in Nagpur. Tanmay was infuriated because he wanted to have pizzas, but was open to the plan for the same reason I was. I was told by my roommate that clubs usually have an entry fee if you are single, but Prateek convinced us that a certain Coupon mama had told him about this club where the entry fee had been waived off for a month.
In fact he had been there himself the night before, he said reassuringly. It should be put to record that Prateek was an extremely adventurous person because, besides planning this trip, it was he who suggested that we get on the train without tickets as it was past ten already and the checking would be lax at this hour. So as we traversed the length of the foot-over-bridge, it was observed that a train was already there and it was the general consensus that we were to take this train if we wanted to reach there as early as possible. The train was already moving when we got down the stairs and not knowing the structure of a local train, we got into a ladies compartment with a policeman in it. Prateek said he had tried to stop us from getting into the ladies compartment, but what he said was lost in the hullabaloo and our excitement to get into a running train.
The policeman summoned us with a nod of his head and regretfully, Prateek tried shouting “Ladies dabba hai ye” through his closed lips. Putting on the best puppy faces that we could, we told him that we were new to the city and didn’t know that there existed such a thing as a ladies compartment, to which he questioned “Kidhar tak padhe ho?” “Heisenberg’s principle in physics and…” is what Satwik had planned on answering had Prateek not said that we were from IIT and were new to the city. The man in uniform told us how good a college ITI was and that its students weren’t expected behave like this. Before any of us could correct him, a train of “Sorry” and “won’t happen again” came forth from Tanmay and we were instructed to change our compartment at the next station. Ten minutes with a cop in a wrong compartment, without a ticket — it looked like we had depleted our quota of luck for the month.
Ten minutes with a cop in a wrong compartment, without a ticket – it looked like we had depleted our quota of luck for the month.
It was past eleven thirty when we were walking down the Lower Parel station road which was quite desolate now. The only thing with signs of habitation was a tobacco shop at the junction. Tanmay asked for food for the umpteenth time which made Prateek go to the tobacco shop and ask “Bhaiyya, water kaha milega?” Two people dying of hunger and he asks about water. Prateek, the expert pacifier that he was, said that a place that served water would definitely have something to eat as well. So we walked on the way we were directed. And we walked on till we reached the shop. It was pretty crowded for midnight so we decided against sitting there among the rowdy junta there. Prateek and Satwik bought a bottle of water each while I had a samosa and bottle of soft water. Tanmay decided against having any water and ordered two samosas. Having finished my drink, I placed my bottle on the sidewalk and was devouring my samosa peacefully when Prateek and Satwik threw their bottles at the divider and started running down the road. Unsure of what had just happened, Tanmay and I started running as well, resulting in one of Tanmay’s samosas falling on the footpath in that minute of frenzy.
One look at Prateek and we knew that we would not be able to blame either of them for their actions further in the night. When we finally reached High Street Phoenix, the mall was shut down for the night but the clubs inside were still open. On reaching the club entrance, we waited for Prateek to come back from the washroom. Tanmay was totally awestruck by the crowd out there (read: girls) but it was only a matter of time before it became common knowledge that the free entry offer wasn’t valid on weekends. Satwik was in his most enthusiastic avatar thanks to the water he had on the way and then at his theatrical best when he heard that he would have to shell out thousand bucks only to get in there. He wanted to go in there at all costs, he shouted out hysterically. He even asked five girls standing there if they would get him in, but obviously, to no avail. It was then decided that we would head back to the station and wait for the first train in the morning because the mall security had started shooing off the people sitting outside the club. Satwik was completely overcome by emotions and was trying to coax tears out of his eyes as he wailed with his head on Prateek’s shoulder, who was busy staring into oblivion and giggling for no reason at all. And it had been eighteen hours since Tanmay had any food, if the solitary samosa be left aside.
More out of pity for Tanmay than out of hunger, we walked off in search of some wholesome food, while barely being able to drag Prateek and Satwik out of danger’s way. We were finally able to hail a taxi, to which the directions were “Koi khaane ki jagah le chalo.” After half an hour, we left the taxi driver two hundred rupees richer and an inch closer to madness, thanks to Satwik sitting shotgun. The place that he dropped us at had an unnaturally high number of policemen for five o’clock in the morning. The milkman passing by told us that there had been a police raid in that South Indian joint half an hour ago and things were still being cleared up.
Lucky to have escaped police attention once again, we ditched all our thoughts of food and walked our way back to Dadar railway station, with Satwik wanting to go Marine Drive for the sunrise. All efforts to convince him were unsuccessful and we had to hold both his hands all the way to the station to make sure he didn’t wander off whereas Prateek was in much better control over his body. At the platform, we spotted one of our seniors who was, clearly, in an inebriated state after having one too many last night. He told us about a party he had been to at a club and as it turned out, it was the same club we had tried getting into; the entry was free if you entered before nine.
After half an hour, we left the taxi driver two hundred rupees richer and an inch closer to madness, thanks to Satwik sitting shotgun. The place that he dropped us at had an unnaturally high number of policemen for five o’clock in the morning.
We reached the campus at eight and before going to sleep, Tanmay had the same noodles at Sunrise Dhaba that he had a day ago.
[P.S. The writer was not the person involved in this affair and having heard this account from another freshman, the verity of this account is not completely assured by the writer.]