Saturday, May 23, 2015

Of chai and pakodas

Today I happened to watch an advertisement on TV. Which is a very rare event because 1) I usually change the channel as soon as an ad comes on, and 2) I rarely watch TV. So this ad comes on, about Splendor bike, and it went something like:  a guy sends a text that says “Chai in the Misty Mountains.” Then three of his friends, happy to receive that text, drop whatever they are doing, and ride on their bikes towards the Misty Mountains. Somewhere on the way our four friends meet up, and they ride happily together until the Misty Mountain is reached and the chai is drunk.

It left me thinking, “Wow these guys are something else, not only do they want to go to the same place, but get ready immediately and reach the meeting point all at the same time,” and wished meeting up with friends was as easy as that.

Flash back a couple of years ago. Hyderabad, when it still was the capital of united Andhra Pradesh. Me and a bunch of friends from work often meet up on holidays and weekends and do something, go somewhere. Our plans were never plans, more like a puzzle where you don’t know where you’re headed until the last minute. Someone would have the grand idea that we should do something, and call everyone. Plans, or something similar to that would be made. Fellow with the car would pick up everyone and then the discussion on where to go would begin, and the actual plan would emerge.

 AR was always late. Since he was the guy with the wheels, we could never go anywhere without him, and he knew we would wait for him, which makes him even more late. Oh how we cursed him and bitched about him and called him and texted him, only to hear “I’m almost ready”.  Of course almost could mean anything from five minutes to two hours. Sometimes we would all go to his place and while he ran around getting ready his family was forced to feed us and be nice to us.

And then there was the “invite someone along without my friends’ approval” which always ruined the day/evening/night because we then had to be extra polite and use nice words to each other.  There was that one time AJ decided to invite one girl, who declined the invitation and then once we had started off changed her mind and had to be waited for an hour. I remember that day, we waited for her on a petrol bunk, and just opposite the road was a bar-cum-restaurant. We had waited for almost an hour, and everyone was low on patience.  We were so tired of sitting in a car, on a hot sunny day, waiting for someone who might or might not show up, that when someone suggested we all go into the bar and get drunk and go home we almost said yes.

However, time delays never dampened our spirits. There was that one time we decided to go to Medak and see the church and maybe visit a nearby waterfall on the way home.  Medak is about two hours’ drive from Hyderabad. AR was late again (no surprise there), and when we left the city it was almost 3 PM. A few photo shoots  on the way, a tyre puncture, and by the time we reached Medak it was after 5 PM and the church was about to be closed to visitors. We managed to get inside, did a quick tour, and left when it was dark. We then visited nearby old buildings and drove back to the city, and on the way had the best dal pakodas with coconut chutney.

Incomplete research on a place you intended to visit (visiting a beautiful lake, except it was the middle of the June and the lake was completely dry)? Breakdowns at night in the middle of the forest with no equipment or spare parts? Police patrols asking you to show your ID because you are in the middle of a Naxalite-infested area? Wondering what the living arrangements are between two women and a man who sheltered you while your car is being fixed? Check all that. Having a good time in spite of all that? Check!!

Life’s changed.  Now everything has a timestamp. Go to that place at that time, do that thing and go home. If you’re going to be late be sure to call home and relay the news.  No more long rides and going out whenever and wherever just because you can. No more touristy and sightseeing trips. No more being free.  All I wish for now is Gandalf to show up when I'm 50 and take me on the adventure of a lifetime.