Man! Did I wake up excited in the morning! It was the first day of the annual festival (please don’t confuse it with annual day – this is much more deeper and satisfying and enjoyable than that.) I had been looking forward to this day since the last day of last years annual festival and it was finally here! Last year was a blast and I was sure this year was going to be the same.
I got up early today at 3.30 in the morning. I had to get into line early to get in, no? Man the morning felt good! It was dark and for some strange reason, the night insects were still chirping. My mom used to tell me that birds chirp in the morning. Dunno what happened. It must be the global warming. Anyways, I had a quick bath, put on my best clothes, put on some really good deo, put on my best goggs wore the shoes I had cleaned very painstakingly before going to bed and then gave a yawn. Again for some entirely strange reason, I was feeling very groggy and sleepy. Must be the global warming.
I reached college at 6. It had started to turn lighter and birds were indeed chirping. I called my mom to tell her this but she was just annoyed that I woke her at 6 on a Sunday. As I went towards the gates, I saw that a line had already formed and that the nearest I could get to the gate was about 250 meters from it. “Not bad,” I said to myself. Last year I was a whole kilometer back. It was even brighter now, the sun was just coming up and the whole world looked really good and fresh and pretty. Except the guys in front of me and the guys in front of them and the guys in front of them. They must be from a downside college, I guessed. But where were the fairer of the species?? I was especially looking out for them and they were nowhere to be seen. “Mustn’t have gotten up yet,” I thought. Lazybums.
It was 7 now and the line still wasn’t moving ahead. It was increasing at the back though, like the snake in the mobile game. It was so exciting! The snake in the mobile game! Apparently the organizers hadn’t all arrived yet. Why can’t they get up early at least today? The festival officially started at 10.30 and they weren’t there yet! Lazybums.
A few of the fairer of the species had started arriving by now, though they weren’t really prototypes of being fair. A few of them waved to the guys in front of me and some at the back. “Must be from the same downside colleges,” I thought. A trickle of sweat had started to run down the side of my face. This global warming was getting a bit irritating. And my underwear was getting a bit uncomfortable.
Somewhere around 10, some people began to be let in through a gate reserved for special people. Oh, how I had wished every year to be let in by that gate some day! I could make out some of the organizers. I waved to one who sat on the bench in front of me in my class. He looked about 40 meters to the right of me and waved to a girl who just got out of a rickshaw. Even she went through that gate with him. I think I didn’t wave hard enough or he might have waved back. I took my hankie out and wiped my forehead with it.
It was finally 10.30! I could even hear Shakira and Sean Paul and apna Himeshbhai singing between the thumps of the speakers. Man it had begun! It had begun!! It had BEGUN!!! I couldn’t wait to get inside!!!! And there was something definitely wrong with my underwear. I was going to go home and check out on the Internet whether global warming affected cloth sizes.
I was so excited, I couldn’t think straight for like half an hour. More people had started to come in by then and I could actually spot some of the fairer of the species that were actually fair. They were moving along with some stupid guys though. I couldn’t understand why they would move along with guys who just gave them rides on their motorbikes, were tall and good looking. These females were so shallow. They would understand in due course of time though. After all, understanding, patience and supportive nature are also something to be considered. My mom told me all this.
Well, the line had started moving now. I could see that at the gate, they were checking the bags and pockets of the downsiders. They ought to do that. These were stupid people who wouldn’t know what to do and how to be in a big college festival like ours. I was proud of being in my college although my mom said that traveling 27 stations to get to college is a bit too much. By now, my shirt had clung to me like dirt clings on to a piece of bread when it falls butter side down, which is almost every time in my case. I had read somewhere that this happens due to global warming. Anyways, I had very firmly decided one thing – I was going to stop buying underwear from those roadside vendors who sold them on bicycles. And I was going to be really mad at my regular vendor.
Finally, at quarter to 1, I was at the gate. I was trying very hard not to show my excitement. Very very hard. I had half a mind to just jump on the spot. But I decided to vent my feelings by saying “How you doin?” to the girl coming in from the girls side of the lines. Unfortunately for me, she must have just stepped on a snail or something and absolutely squished it to death. That’s why she looked down and made the face she made. Poor snail. I suddenly got a yank on my bag. They wanted to check my bag. It was definitely necessary for security reasons and I had every mind to co-operate. They opened my bag, took out the deo I had brought in (thank god, I had used up the entire can and kept only a little before coming here.) Somebody behind me was continuously nauseous and had finally vomited near the gate and now there was a big mess. Poor guy. He couldn’t take the sun. Global warming was really bad.
They took away my security knife that my mom always asked me to carry coz I always came home late after hanging out with my friends the entire day. Just last week I had crossed the limit and reached home one day, after 8.30 pm. My mom was ballistic and understandably so. That’s when she decided that I should carry some protection with me. But this was a jinxed knife I guess. These security people gave me very weird glances when they saw the knife. As if I was dangerous or something. Just three days back, it was very late and I had to drop a girl from our group, home. We were walking alone on the road and to make her comfortable, I looked at her, smiled and said, “Don’t worry dear, I have got protection.” Wonder why she slapped me so hard that day. We haven’t spoken since. The knife was definitely jinxed.
They took away the Brylcream I had got, the steel comb, extra belt buckles, the chain I used to tie my bag while in the train and even my tiffin. My mom had made my favourite sabzi the day before. They said, no outside food allowed. I tried telling them this was home made food, but to no avail. They even had me remove my belt. No belt with steel spikes was allowed inside apparently. I think they were just jealous to see me wearing such a cute belt. The only problem was, now I had to manage both my pants and underwear. They let me keep my five hundred rupees though. They said I would need them inside.
I was finally inside! I was greeted with the familiar smell of dry mud in the air. And I sincerely wondered why people don’t use deodorant when they come to dance in the sun. They should actually. And for some strange reason, the people most adversely affected due to a lack of good smell were all vomiting near me. Somebody told me that I should go take a bath. I smelled myself and I could just smell deo. The guy must have been a jerk.
Once inside, I immediately went to where they had their quizzes. I took about 1 and a half hour to reach there because, for security reasons, only one passage was open which led to only one accessible corridor and there were too many stupid downsiders in there. When I tried going through other passages and corridors, they said, they were only for ‘volunteers.’ I pointed out that there were more people in the festival than volunteers and that about one volunteer was passing through one corridor at a time but thousands were passing through that one single corridor. Then they called a guy who was about 6 feet 5 and his biceps were the size of both my thighs combined. I knew from watching countless Hindi movies that people who are more than 6 feet 2 and with bulging biceps are very stupid. So I did not try to use intellectual arguments with him. I decided to go the gandhian way and use non-violence. I simply walked away from there and into the downsider packed corridor. I knew that the volunteers would see me there and understand my predicament as I held my pants in place with both my hands and continuously had to adjust my butt to keep my underwear in place. They would see me, regret and open the other passages. My mom would be so proud of me. For some twisted reason of fate though, this did not happen.
But, I had finally reached the quiz hall. They had a very special quiz on global warming today and I had come prepared. When I reached there, they were just distributing something to 2 persons and about 3 people in the audience out of 4, were clapping. It was a rehearsal I guessed. But then I came to know that the quiz was done and that the organizers hadn’t found enough participants and audience so they had to catch hold of some people and get them there. I would have come readily! Wonder why people don’t come to quizzes. I saw about 97 other people who were complaining that the quiz was done. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to be disappointed. I could never make out why this happened though. They had even started the quiz on time, at 10.30. Somebody behind me suggested that the time the events start and the time to let people inside doesn’t match. I hated that guy. He looked like a downsider. How dare he say something about my college! If I wouldn’t have had my pants and underwear to manage, I would have given him a piece of my mind. I decided instead, to go and look at some chicks while I danced in the jam session. Man it was going to be fun!! Yay!!!
Again after shoving through waves of morons just standing in the corridors, I finally managed to reach the open grounds. They were playing Bryan Adam’s summer of 69. It was my most favourite song. I had been dancing to it every year of the festival for the last five years. One very stupid girl behind me was complaining that they should play new music. I utterly disagreed. Some girls must have really liked my dancing style. They were giggling ever so softly looking at me. Then, affected by the environment around, they must have lost it. They just exploded into laughter. I heard a voice shouting over the music, “Chaddi sambhal!” These rowdy downsiders…
Finally after three and a half hours of dancing, I was absolutely exhausted. I went to a food stall to have something. The bottle of water cost me 250 bucks and the vada pav cost me a 175. I was glad I had saved money for this day for the last 6 months. I didn’t have enough money to go home. But go home, I did. Because, just then, the police came in and shouted something in Marathi to the organizers. The music was instantly shut down and as if a train had arrived at Dadar, everybody started getting out. I got out with the crowd. In the hustle, I couldn’t get my bag and I had to leave back my tiffin with my favourite sabzi, so lovingly made by my mom. It was a very dear dabba too. It was a college-starting gift from my grandmother. She had passed away just last year and I used the dabba to remind myself of her. I even had to leave my belt back and hold my pants as I walked to the station, stood in the train for 2 hours and then had to walk the entire stretch from the station to my home.
I was sweaty and dirty and had lost my deodorant, Brylcream that my father had got for me for the festival and my very special steel comb too. I had eaten a cold n muddy vada pav and drank some very warm water. I had missed the quiz I had prepared for for the entire last month. I had shoved and pushed and bustled in the crowd and was thoroughly exhausted. My hands had become stiff from holding the pants for the entire day. But I had enjoyed myself very much.
I came home and just dropped down to sleep. My mom gave me a glass of hot milk and asked me not to go back the next day. The organizers weren’t bothered about me, she argued. But they had to be bothered about so many people, I argued back. I told her I had an enjoyable day. Just then my little brother called her. As I drifted off to sleep, I heard my brother shout that somebody had stolen his underwear…
Written in 2006-07!
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