By Joybrato Dutta
My bloody door-bell can even wake a dead man. I struggled my way through the living room, overcoming couches and my half-dead drunken friend. It infuriated me when I saw that the screaming door-bell didn’t wake my room-mate. I opened the door with an annoyed expression.
Waking up after drinking till 5 AM is a work of bravery. Then to walk a whole fucking 15 feet to answer the door bell is an act that deserves the highest recognition for bravery. And then to see that a not-so-important friend standing at your doorstep is murderous. He was wearing a silly grin and then asks me the dumbest question “Bhaai so rahe the kya”. “Aand mat kha, kya chahiye bata”, I retorted.
Not so important friend – Yaar koi theka pata hai jo aaj khula hoga
Me (screaming on top of my voice) – Chutiya-gaya kya, kahin bhi mil jaayega, itne theke hai.
Not so important friend – Bhaai aaj dry day hai. Sab bandh hai.
The world darkened in front of me and only the words ‘Aaj dry day hai’ gleamed on the dark screen. My voice shook as I asked “Kya?? Kyun?? Not so important friend – Pata nahin, log keh rahe hai, koi Gandhi Saptah hai
That was the first time I heard of a blasphemy like that. I didn’t even know what it meant. Somehow I gathered the strength to bang the door on his face.
I hurried towards my half-dead friend. Somehow I managed to wake him. With a heavy heart I broke the bad news to him. He was shocked. Logical questions like “Gandi saptah kya hai”, “abb kya karein”, “Saturday ko dry day kaise ho sakta hai”, followed.
Cut to 20 minutes later. Faces had been washed. Teeth had been cleaned.
My always confident room-mate Tiwary said “Abbe ghabra mat mil jaayega”. And we started making some frantic calls. From bosses, to colleagues, from the nearest dhaba to the hot acquaintance, we left no page unturned. Alas! None could help us.
And then at quarter to 9, I uttered the most passionate statement that any drunkard can say, “Chalte hai bahar, aur tab tak nahin launtenge jab tak sharab haath na lage. The solemn oath triggered our footsteps, and we stepped out of our house.
We checked the local bars. We begged them to give us a bottle, or at least tell us a place where we could get one. They didn’t tell. They ignored us.
From Andheri West we walked up to Andheri East. We tried every small ‘Bar and Restaurant’ and every ‘Paan Gumtti’ there. But getting booze on a dry day seemed impossible.
We trotted through every narrow lane of Andheri East hoping to find a bar that served alcohol. Till then BBM, Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, SMSs and phone calls had failed. There seemed to be no hope. We were cursed with sobriety.
Defeat never tasted so dry. With reluctance in our heart we got on an auto. We asked him to take us to Chakala. No we weren’t excited about its similarity with the word Chakhla, which mean whorehouse. Another booze-seeker told us that we might get booze there.
But we dint seem to walk the path of luck. Every bar was closed in Chakala. The auto guy seemed more disappointed than us. With a broken heart we asked him to steer his 3-seater cart towards home.
Tiwary and I looked at each other like how Ricky Ponting must have looked at Michel Clarke after losing to India at the World Cup Quarter-finals. Tried everything, yet couldn’t achieve the target.
And then, we got a call from God. In the form of a friend. The voice on the other side spoke the most beautiful words, “Bhaai Oshiwara mein Adarsh bar mein try kar. Suna hai wahan mil raha hai.”
By the way I screamed Tiwary and the auto guy knew I had found the destination. I gave him the directions and in 15 minutes we were in front of Adarsh Bar. I walked up to the closed entrance door. No sooner had I reached the door than 3 filthy-looking, shabbily-dressed louts gathered around me.
Their expressions and shrill muttering made me ask them “Dost beer milega?” One of them signalled me to get back in my auto. Bewilderment struck!!! Why is he asking me to sit? Sense prevailed and I got back in my auto. Tiwary looked disappointed. “bhaai khali haath kyun aa gaye?”
Before I could answer, one of the filthy-looking, shabbily-dressed louts came and sat inside the auto. He ordered the auto driver to drive towards the RTO
Me – RTO kyun?
Filthy-looking, shabbily-dressed lout – Sir yaahan ek baar chaapa padh chukka hai, phhir padhega
Me – to??? RTO kyun jaana hai?
Filthy-looking, shabbily-dressed lout – Police ne saara maal zabt kar liya hai. Abb jo milna hai wahin milega
Me – RTO mein daru?
Filthy-looking, shabbily-dressed lout – bharosa rakho sir, sham se bahut customers ko dila chukka hun
I looked at Tiwary. We both took a decision and the thirsty passionate booze-seeker won over the matured civilian. The ride till the RTO seemed never ending. Finally after smoking 3 cigarettes we reached the RTO in Four Bungalows.
The filthy-looking, shabbily-dressed lout asked us to stay outside. I gave him a thousand rupee note and asked him to get us 4 bottles of Heineken. He smiled and left.
Cut to 15 minutes later.
He had not returned. Somewhere deep down I had a feeling that all this might be a scam. He might not return. He gave us his number, but he was not answering the call. We waited there. Patiently.
After some time I started taking baby steps towards the RTO. I was scared. Tiwary tried to stop me. He felt we should leave. But I dint listen and surged ahead.
Finally I entered the gates of the RTO. I was looking all around trying to figure out my way to the main office, when I heard voices. I walked discreetly towards them. The thrilling Bollywood scenes had taught me how to avoid getting caught. I made sure I didn’t step on any dry leaf, or kick any empty bucket.
And then I saw a scene I shall never forget. In the compound made for confiscated vehicles, sat a bunch of cops on the roof of some really expensive cars, drinking like there would be no tomorrow. If I had 5 seconds more I would have clicked a photo and my FB page would have been thronged with comments. But as soon as this thought dawned upon me a hand held my shoulder.
It was a hawaldar. “Kya chahiye customer ko” he screamed. I could have fainted. Not because of fear but because of his smelly mouth. I stammered. Si……Sir…..a….woh…. Just then the filthy-looking, shabbily-dressed lout came to my rescue. “Sir yeh customer hai, beer maangta isko, vahich lene gaya tha”
The smelly mouth hawaldar gave me a stare and walked away. The filthy-looking, shabbily-dressed lout handed me the bottles. I asked for the change. “Sir abhi dry day ko same price mein thodi na milta. Har botal 250 ka hai. To chaar botal ha hajaar hua na” I wasn’t really in a condition to bargain. I checked the bottles and walked out.
An anxious Tiwary with a scared auto-driver had been waiting for me. I ran towards them. The clinking bottles told them that target had been achieved and soon our thirsts shall be quenched. We sat in the auto and rushed home.
As we entered our apartment we held our heads high. We lived up to the solemn oath we had taken. We didn’t return empty handed. And then we filled the beer mugs and raised a toast to the sweatiest dry day of our lives.