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The boys club@16

Lukha – Call Colly.

Me – He’s not going to come. 

Lukha- You call him – He will come

I couldn’t see the logic in Lukha’s statement. Russ & Chris looked at me as I made the call expecting Colly to not pick up. To my surprise Colly answered…

Colly – Where are you, baba?

Me – Come down.

Colly -Down where?

Me – Under your building.

Colly – (Split second pause later) – Okay.  

The question now was where do we hang? 

Me – I’m hungry. 

Lukha gives me the ‘when are you not hungry’ look. 

Russ: I must go home – they must be waiting. 

Russ settled down the earliest –from school to now – the one love story that lasted. One wifey and 2 adorable daughters all staying near Ashok Nagar – close to the fish market, where Mamta Bar was located – before it became Mamta Bar & Restaurant. 

Me – Lets go to Mamta. 

Lukha: I’m not going to Mamta, man.  

Me: Wtf? What’s wrong with it? 

Lukha: Too dingy.

Me: I heard they renewed the place

Russ & Chris nod their head. Lukha not impressed. 

Russ plays problem solver – Lets go to Sneha. 

All agreed. The four of us take off on three 2 wheelers – 1 Splendor, I Scooty & 1 Bajaj electric – ignore school building, ignore Udupi, ignore Dr Allan’s dispensary, ignore cold storage. Till we cross Sunny stores which was earlier Sunny video parlour – our source for porn VHS tapes, a couple of shops next to it was the first Mahesh tutorials and the last shops belonged to Sneha Bar – the trio forming a unique educative course set in themselves. Lukha had reached Sneha before us & told –

Lukha – They have only table. 

Me – So we can adjust nah – four to a table. 

Chris – Colly is also there – all of us on one table, no chance. 

The half glass of Sneha’s main door reflected our current state. Gone were the 13-year-old ‘28-inch waists running through a full one-hour footsie match, the waists that could pile up 5 to a rickshaw paying extra charge on drunken nights. Now I stared at lots of salt & pepper hair (or lack of), laugh lined eyes and 45-year-old paunches. Bottom line – Chris was right. 

From there we went to pick up Colly. We passed by Ratna stores – a new super market. I wondered what happened to Mary’s grocery shop, which they ran from the backyard of their house, where they kept a pet parrot. One of my school mates had gone there and asked in all innocence (not!) ‘How much for the parrot?’

Me – Then where? 

Lukha: Lets go to Puja. 

And we were back, just like that, one impromptu Diwali holiday, near the old digs – the boys meeting again – 5 of us – the maximum in attendance in a long time. Some were missing, still a good quorum to have.  Tables were joined, the boys club@16 was in session. 

Colly: Are we having beer or whisky? 

I knew how this was to turn out. Early college days was always London Pilsner – then the old monk fever got us. On special occasions, we tasted someone’s dads left over Bonnies’ Scot whisky – I remember puking my guts out. Second half of the nineties saw Bacardi & Smirnoff enter our lives; we remained off-on lovers right till our 30’s. Then the pay packets got better – boys turned men and settled down. Old Monks and meetings got rarer, the bachelors, Lukha & me did Jägermeister’s & shots – while the others had babies, brought houses and matured to whisky – the Blenders kind. A couple of them migrated to Caucasian continents and single malts. In the end whisky won – as today. The first order read: 

2 quarters blenders, 2 Sodas, 2 Bisleri, 1 salted fresh lime soda {that came last on the table!}, 

1 Chicken chilly, 1 veg hara-bhara kabab. 

Lukha: anything else? 

The married ones were on the phone either speaking or texting in politically correct tones with their better halves on their inability to communicate for the next couple of hours. Taking their last-minute instructions from the other end with dead pan expressions, they nodded and agreed to suggestions and orders in ways which would put a United Nations diplomat to shame. 

By the time they hung up, drinks had arrived – phones went on silent and the yapping began. Started with school mates now turned coaching genius to pros and cons on Christianity to Kantara to tunnel hopping in Vietnam. The conversation kept flowing till the snacks got over and Lukha asked the manager –

Lukha – Veg main kya hai? 

Manager – Paneer? 

Lukha – Paneer nahi.

Manager – Chinese 

Lukha – No

Chris – That’s 90 percent of the veg menu now gone!! 

Amidst laughter we compromise on a mushroom chilly dish. Lukha tells us of a Veg Soya prepared in chicken chilly sauce at Sneha’s. As the drinks got drained, a group selfie was taken, the interest in selfies was discussed, (including my leaning to Insta!). Chris threatens to call across time-zones to friends in other continents peacefully in bed. On other days there would be many enthusiasts, but that night everyone wasn’t enthu about it. 

We called it a night at a decent hour by our standards in the end discussing Rishi Sonak, pros and cons of turning Republican v/s pros and cons of Covid vaccine. Till a pony tailed manager came to give us the bill. We recognised him – a familiar face right from the time we had started coming there in our 30’s. Lukha greeted him as we left 

Lukha – Arrey baal badaya – mast lag raha hai 

Manager (smiles) – Kuch toh change chahiye sir. 

‘Something has to change’, the manager’s words stayed with me after we had said our goodbyes. As I was returning home, I knew that somethings will change and yet nothing would change. Looking forward to the next boy’s club@16 meet.


Published by appamprawns

soni writes about children and people in controlled spaces, in his quest for appam stew. homi writes in the hope of being able to buy prawns to make patiyo.

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