Someone in the almost-immediate family passed away recently, in another city, and we’ve had a quite a few elderly visitors over the past few days. The week has ended today, and with that will probably end the period of mourning for most. As someone who hardly knew the deceased, I have been watching over the proceedings at home- disconnected and unemotional.
It reminds me of an email discussion I had with Mungo Jerrie on growing old, almost five years ago…the question of burning out versus fading away, and how we don’t want to ever grow old, infirm and dependent. Never thought much about death anyway. There’s a certain sense of…a mix of fatalism and carpe diem! about how many people I come across go about things; Carpe Diem! both in the sense living in the present and taking risks and not worrying about the future. Makes me feel a little older than some of the others (Yes A, you may continue to call me ancient), but I am aware that there will be days of both financial (what, with the kind of inflation this country has) and physical dependency; the former, one can and tries to prepare for, and the latter one ignores. What many don’t prepare for, since it is seems out of our control, is the latter: the two are linked, what with the progressively rising cost of healthcare in this country, which will increase with further corporatization.
I usually choose pubs over discotheques, primarily because of the kind of music played in the latter, but I was at a discotheque last night largely on the insistence of some friends from college. Also needed a break from the gloom that had pervaded the week. I was felicitated at my convocation ceremony (well over a year late, but…whatever) yesterday for academic excellence, so it was a celebratory outing of sorts. Gave an extempore speech, during which I was bloody nervous (but I’m told it wasn’t obvious). Very formal occasion, and no one laughed at the allusive jokes so I cut it down to two and a half minutes. People did thank me later for being the only one who didn’t bore them with a long speech. ‘Twas nice to meet old friends, including teachers. One said: “Your hair hasn’t grown for three and a half years!” I was tempted to say ‘yours too’, but one didn’t want to be impolite to bald teachers. Another (not bald) teacher thought I’ve got a bankers haircut (there are variants of close crops?). One thought that my biggest achievement wasn’t a 4.0 GPA, but actually managing “that lot”. Ours was a particularly difficult class to manage for most teachers, but I still maintain that had it been half as boring as other classes, we wouldn’t have had the freedom to innovate, or the experience of handling strange questions in presentations. Photos later.
Some thoughts on the afterparty – it’s crazy how late things begin: 11:30pm seems to be the norm in Delhi. The cover charges are insane – Rs.1000 and above- and sometimes even money can’t get you in… but if you know the right people (or, in my case – know the people who know the people who know the right people), you can. The music sucks, and the DJing seems random, but people are usually too drunk to notice. Fights invariably take place (as told to me by someone who knows), and two did last night. I heard that someone smashed a Merc in the parking. Also, there’s serious money in this pub business…some of these pubs spend crores on interiors and paying off the people who need to be paid off- and recover their money in a few months. One heard that Rs. 20L of profits on Saturdays is par for course, because of the margins in liquor. And of course – business is discussed after the music stops. Frankly, though I did have a nice, somewhat inebriated time, the gig at Haze would have been more to my liking. Nothing beats the right music, live music and a discerning audience…but that’s just me. Most people prefer to drive from discotheque to discotheque at 3am.
P.s.: Would like to thank Smits and Anita for helping out with the speech. I had it all printed out, and eventually decided to do it extempore.