Thursday, May 04, 2006

Those Were the Days my Friend…

I was at dinner with a client last evening when I spotted Bush. She was in the middle of an animated discussion, which she seemed to carry on single-handedly, leaving little room for other to participate in. Her hands seemed to have a will of their own, and regularly moved up to push her unruly hair back. Some things never change. Not even over a period of 15 years.

I walked across, the hug, the warmth, that smile, that look in her eyes. It was a giveaway. I walked back. There were no promises of meeting soon, no exchange of numbers. We always had those. In fact we hardly spoke. “Bush…”, I said softly. “T.O (or my real name)”, she exclaimed. Not even the civil exchange of introductions. It attaches a certain importance to a person, when you display such feelings, but refuse to share his identity with others on your table. For the rest of the evening, I kept looking at her from time to time, catching her glance and a warm smile, every now and then.

Circa 1991- New Delhi. Bush, PG, Dingo, Sing Sing, Poorvi and me- used to hang out together in school and outside. I was dating PG, but (as I sat listening to inane quasi-business chat) I realized that surprisingly, it seemed to be the least significant memory I have of those years. That year the six of us had landed in the same section in our school, and somehow drifted towards each other. Around the same time, most of us had, to the annoyance of the nerd herd, emerged from relative academic obscurity. And we weren’t even academically inclined. While every toher one in the top ten in the class knew exactly what they wanted to study after school (in those days it was either engineering or medicine) and where they wanted to do it, our foresight extended only to plans for the next weekend. And what weekends we had. Once she took it PG didn’t budge from her rank, Dingo not far behind, Bush and me, emerged every now and then as and when we felt like. Poorvi could make boys pee with her looks, while Sing Sing had half the school’s pubescent women lusting after him. We did all the school things together, and then some out of it too.
We shared:
Homework, class notes
The Backbenches; lunch-boxes
(Which were never eaten during the lunch break)
Running away from school, bunking classes
Front row movies at Priya
Five shows of JJWS at Uphaar
(before it went up in flames)
Cracking tests- even cogging
Excursions, long cycling trips
Diwali Melas, Holi Colours
Window-shopping at CP, Def Col, South Ex
Limited pocket money
Pizzas and Hot Chocolate Fudge at Nirula’s
Lazing by the pool at DSOI
(Choking over) The first puff of a cigarette
(Actually PG and Bush didn't -
all they did was shake their heads in disbelief)
The first Beer. Over Biryani at Dingo's
And other teen things that were in vogue those year

Cut to the present. Sports Bar, Lower Parel, Bombay. 2006.

Smoke rings form and dissolve. Much like the memories from those days. I know that Bush and I have lived in the same city for the last three years or so. So does she. We have each others’ numbers, but never get in touch. We always meet by chance, in bars, shopping malls and theatres. I guess there is a tacit attempt to keep them just that. Chance encounters. I guess our current lives are so irreversibly altered, that there is little point in doing things otherwise. That is one thing about childhood memories- they seem so rare and precious that you want to remember them just that way and not let the complications of your adult life distort them in any fashion.

But every time we bump into each other, I realize what a wonderful person she is and how little she has changed over the years. Part of it is because we meet like Thirteen-year olds and part as Seventeen.

And ah, she almost never fails to mention, that when we first knew each other, I was shorter than her. And wore knickers to school.
Lalala lah lala, lalala lah lala
Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days.


At 9:53 PM, Blogger dazedandconfused said...

Hmmm...I wrote something on similar lines some time ago. It's here if you care to read it-

At 8:39 AM, Blogger shikha said...

this one is really well written one,really:)

At 5:24 PM, Blogger prachi said...

Your discreet identity, profession, specialization, place of residence, choice of words, references to Philip Larkin, Woody Allen, endless mindless web browsing, a remote connection with NYC - all of it - invoked a delicious delirium in my veins. Thought you were my ex - till I read this post - He apparently didn't have such fond memories of his Delhi school days.


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