Monday, March 06, 2006

KFC, Big Mac and ancient Friends

Twelve hours, a bottle of fake mineral water, 52 pages of a non-fiction bestseller and a packet of curd rice later I reached Bangalore central station at seven in the morning. No sooner did I step out of the station than the auto drivers made a beeline for the horde of foreign tourists behind me. The rejected lot asked me about my destination, and rejected me promptly realizing it was a mere 10 minutes and more importantly meager fifteen rupees away. Somehow an unambitious driver didn't mind starting his day with that money and dropped me at my destination, a decent hotel to put up for less than a day. Boudhayan, on of my oldest pals, played the perfect host by giving me a buzz every five minutes to inquire if I was finding it comfortable in his surrogate city. The only interruption in my marathon sleep over the next six hours was a call from my driver in Hyderabad. Unaware of my sudden trip to the Karnataka capital, he was more than a little surprised to hear that I wouldn't be coming downstairs to go to office.

Woke up at lunchtime when Boudhayan came calling. He 'managed' a half-day with full attendance in one of India's largest companies. What else are friends for! We met after more than a year, though neither of us could precisely remember the last meeting. A ravenous me and a starving him set out on an expedition to hunt out a bengali food place. With our legendary sense of smell for fish, we managed to feast on a traditional bengali meal complete with lebu (slice of lime), papda machher jhol ( a fish curry, can't get the exact translation) and kosha mangsho ( spicy mutton curry). Like a true blue God and media fearing bong, he stayed away from chicken, lest it be affected by the flu. I followed suit, but plans of KFC in the evening! With third and fourth helpings of dal and bhat (rice) we caught up with all the latest happenings in each others lives over the past few months. Obviously the biggest change that had come about was the shift from being a student to a working professional. We discussed each other's professions and came to the conclusion that the only similarity in our jobs is that they both entail us to sit infront of the computer for hours on end. I loved my advertising job a little more after hearing about his coding job.

The next few hours were spent rustling up the past many years and waiting for the third member of the trio, Saikat. Saikat is my most 'ancient' friend. My first memories of life is the meeting with saikat, and our common love for a bow and arrow set. We had just about celebrated our third birthday then. He is one of those people whom you just take for granted. We might not meet for months, years, no phone calls, or maybe even mails, but even then you know that he is right there and we can start off our conversation as if no time has elapsed in between. He is the youngest of the three by a few months, and technically still a student., in his final semester of college and presently interning in a Bangalore firm.

After a short meeting in my hotel room, we set off to see the city, basically to show me the best parts of the city. Let me tell you they are just not the right persons to show you the city. They both started on their tirades against Bangalooru and pointed out each and every shortcoming, starting from the obvious traffic situation to the dearth of tourist spots, to the early closing of shops and malls and movie theatres to a general dearth of good looking females! Anyway we reached the most talked about place in the city, MG Road and Brigade, and frankly I wasn't as bad as they made it out to be, or as god as the rest of Bangalorean friends make it out to be.

Foodies all, the first place we raided was KFC, and this time we convinced Bua that the only way we can show our respects and solidarity to the chicken community is by eating them in various forms. He shed all his inhibitions and we made the guy at the counter's day! Our next stop was a Chinese joint, called Green onion, and we ate as if we were just breaking some week long fast. This by the way was my placement treat, don't remember the exact logic why it was just me and not them too, but when do friend's give you a logical reason to ask for a treat anyway?!

After a lot of deliberations it was decided that all three of us would spend the night in the hotel. Stories just wouldn't stop flowing and by the time the first of the three (Bua) dropped dead, the clock showed it was just about three hours from sunrise.

Next mooring I moved into Bua's place. Saikat and he left for their respective offices and we again met up in the evening and this time it was mission McDonalds! After another uneventful but extremely enjoyable evening we went back to Bua's place and saikat to his.

Next day it was time for me t come back. And so bid saikat goodbye in the afternoon, the typical guy goodbye that is. No hugs, no last long lines, no 'will miss you's, but when you know the other person is feeling just the way you are.

The rest of the day went in planning Bua's next trip to Hyderabad. The small little obstacles that we figured out might come in the way had only one solution, to kill his manager and then leave won't be a problem! After yet another round of bun butter at the streetcorner shop, bua, me and his flatmates set off for some god forsaken station from where the train was to leave. A long wait for the green signal, and finally I was on my way back to Hyderabad, after one of the most memorable weekends in a long time.

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