A Traditional Mumbai-chi Christmas

Bollywood pool & dance floor – playing “Choli ke peeche”

The directions to the farm in Panvel where D. was hosting his Christmas party were extremely detailed.

They was a page long, describing at length, various signs, landmarks and road turnings.

Here’s a very brief extract:

“…go past the giant Hanuman mandir and keep to the left. You will soon pass under bridge which has a large sign above it. Keep going straight until you reach another small bridge with ‘Koila’ written on it. Keep to the left and you’ll soon see lots of pictures of politicians. (this one cracked me up, because when we eventually got there, by the side of the road were 2 huge billboards with about a hundred disembodied politician heads floating on it) Take a left and keep going until you reach a gate that looks like two large broken pipes. Go through that gate…”

Though the directions were very involved and exact, we still got lost. Luckily we spotted 2 other cars on this beaten dust-track of a road and decided to follow them.

Riddhi started getting paranoid (it was already past midnight, we had driven for two hours and there was a lot of traffic on the way) insisted we turn around, we were going the wrong way, we really mustn’t follow this car! Guys listen to me!

J the driver, makes an executive decision not to listen to Riddhi and very sensibly decides to ask them if they are going to this farm party.

Yes, they are, excellent.

We promptly follow them into a dead-end by a ditch. They were as clueless as we were. In the end we get there, the gate posts of broken pipes loom up in the car headlights and we breathe a sigh of relief.

We walk into the party, I sensed T & J slowing their pace so that Riddhi can take the lead and walk in first. I did the same. She was the one invited after all, not us. Riddhi being the social queen she is walks in and abandons us to greet various people calling out to her.

There was a 30 second moment of panic. I couldn’t see anyone I knew and I’m socially retarded. I had visions of it being awkward all evening and the prospect seemed daunting. I began to have split second doubts about coming.

Then the moment passed, I slapped myself and realised it was a school reunion. I knew nearly everyone. Slap myself.

The party was in full swing, so when our ride left only an hour or two after we arrived without Riddhi, Shazu and I. We just hoped, with great optimism, that we could get a lift back…..eventually.

This was really a party of too much information (which is entertaining, within a limit). I was privileged to a lot of really intimate statements (and a lot of innuendo), I’m really not sure why. The intimate information started out rather funny, but then as the night wore on got progressively more and more crass.

Riddhi said I’m giving out some bimbo vibes and I need to put on my mean face. Firstly my mean face is smiling like a twerp and secondly I am totally a bimbo.

I need to develop a good mean face. I’ll practice in the mirror. That’s how I learned how to raise one eyebrow (very useful when looking smug). It took months of practice.

I was speaking to someone, who was telling me a very long-winded story that seemed quite tame, but now and then would drop in these little bombs of really intimate (and occasionally inappropriate) details. It was a great story. Not the story in itself, but the telling of it. Those bombs totally threw me. (This was the funny one, I enjoyed it. No mean face required at all.)

So then there was this guy there, a school mate of A4’s.

He tells me how A4 was the first girl he had ‘proposed to’ in the 5th standard.

He pulls her to the side, near the boys toilet (which, I’m told, stank) and looking deep into her eyes meaningfully, tells her

“I like you….”

This is a very bold move for a boy in the 5th standard.

A4 replies succinctly, leaving no room for negotiation…

“No.”

and with that one word shattered his fragile young heart. (apparently)

This dude then spends a good part of the evening hitting on me. It starts out mildly, and largely inoffensively.

But by about 5 in the morning, as the party winds down and everyone is leaving, he pulls me by the elbow and drags me off to the corner of the blue-lit, ‘Bollywood’ pool.

He sits me down on a bench there and turns to me and says,

“Listen. Give me your number. I really, really want to be friends”

I respond with a cop-out,

“Well…we can be friends on Facebook”

“No! Fuck Facebook! Facebook is fuckall!”

“Haan, ok….(whatever) well you can give me your email if you want. Email is better…” (it really is)

“Listen I really want to be friends, really I do….”

He goes on to clarify further;

“Listen, I don’t want to fuck you…”

Then decides to double clarify,

“I mean, I really totally want to fuck you. Really I want to fuck you, but I don’t want to fuck you. You know? I just want to be friends”

Right now, I’m dying to get out of this trap. I can’t even be rescued in this corner. Everyone is way over at the other side.

“Do you really have someone else? Or are you just being polite?”

I confirm, I have the ex. I’m really not interested. He can give me his email. If he wants.

“Why is life so cruel!! First A4, then you! Why do I like girls like you and A4, Why?”

I shrug. A4’s rejection seemed to really have rankled. The 5th standard is a long time ago.

“There are enough girls…” I wishy-washily suggest. I’m trying to be helpful.

What a stupid suggestion, I know, but I was really struggling to keep my end of the conversation up. There are so few responses to all the statements above and below

“No there are no girls! I’m 32! Why is this happening to me?? Why??”

Then then goes on to say something about how he will be fantasizing at night and about his masturbation (provided with brief but descriptive hand gesture). Things I really wouldn’t want to put down in quotes. It was repulsive, deeply offensive and I’m sure, if he does remember any of this through his vodka haze, will regret it.

What am I to respond to this? I could think of nothing to say.

I laugh nervously. Then decide its time to wrap this mess up. I say I’m leaving. (I was being damn polite to this idiot.)

Riddhi said I should have made a scene and slapped him, but every instinct in me shies away from making public scenes.

I hate scenes. They kill a party mood (good for gossip though). I really want to be one of those women who make terrific scenes and kick up a storm. They will swear in hindi “Aaare gandu chutya teeri ma ki!” and ask the guy if he does this to his mother and sister. Then they’ll give a speech about women and mothers and dignity and swear at him again but I just can’t do it.

I just want to get the hell away and forget it ever happened.

He ends with

“Don’t hate me.”

What a guy.

By the time this ‘scene’ had wrapped everyone with cars had left. Riddhi, Shazu and I were essentially stranded in Panvel.

We sat on a wall in the drive rolling and debating our options. (If in doubt, always roll)

The sun was starting to rise and the hills were getting lighter and lighter blue. There was a thick fog rolling in and I was thinking I might have to call my folks and tell them I was in Panvel. Riddhi was getting slightly worked up. Shazu had to be at work. Our earlier optimism had evaporated.

Just at the moment when we decide we have no choice but to go back to the house, a couple walk up to the drive

They have an empty car.

Man we pounced on the poor bastards like a pack of hyenas. (I was so grateful they let us have a lift. I could have hugged them. I hadn’t slept since I got off the plane)

I get home 10 minutes after my brother does. It’s broad daylight. There is something deeply satisfying about coming home so late, that it’s early.

As I lock my bedroom door behind me, I hear my parents wake up for breakfast.

Ah. A good party, but so nice to be home.

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