As i was writing the addresses to whom the invites had to be sent, the first name that came to mind was of Varun Ravindranath. It had been 4 years since we had talked.He was my best bud in company but then an event occurred which changed all 3 of our lives-Priya's,his and mine.
1st January 2010:
It had been 5 months since i had joined the company.I had made a few friends among whom Varun had become really close.He was a complex character.His motto in life was to work hard and party even harder.Having various interests such as lawn tennis,puzzle solving and rest,he was a dynamic character.Being a pub freak he scored over many girls.All the bouncers and bartenders knew him by his name.The bugger used to go and work in the night on his computer so that he was ready for tomorrow's tasks in an half drunken state(God knows how he did that).
There was 7 members in our team and majority among them were party animals.The conservative being Stuthi and me.Varun had compelled me to join them while going to Parkinson's or Blue Sprinkle but i used to get away with one reason always-that i had to go back to my home to waiting parents and he to a sloppily kept room and (if he got lucky a beautiful damsel from a party).So one day he did finally get me to go to Blue Sprinkle.As my parents had gone on a tour to Munnar,i relented.Priya and other girl's gang had also joined us which i was a little uncomfortable with.
I used to call Priya as Seth as i was cynical about her showing off her 'Bade Baap ki Beti' attitude.
Since i had never visited a pub before in my life,i had all kinds of negative preconceptions about the concept called pub and the people visiting it(specially the girls).The images of doped and wasted boys and girls conjured up a evil notion about all things 'pub'.In front of the pub door-the bouncer said it was a couple's only night.Varun tried hard to influence the bouncer but that night even the bouncer was not party to any favours being doled out.
But as Varun was so insistent on me going into a pub atleast once,he requested Rammy(Rahul because he had rammed his car into other cars umpteen times while parking)to make way for me as there were only 3 girls and 4 boys.Rammy being Rammy agreed(such an angel).Priya and me entered as a pair.I could feel Varun laughing his lungs out seeing my palpable nervousness and uncomfortableness.
Although thick,I had never told Varun about my previous brushes with love.For him i was just an average Joe from an orthodox family with strong traditional ethos.His parents were divorced and i could understand his sarcasm about everything 'commitment'.
Inside the pub i was surprised to see Priya not boozing.Varun told that she never used to booze but used to only accompany her friends as her mother was very strict about it.That friday night news about a pub attack in mangalore by some hoodlums on young girls was all over the news.I could feel a palpable sense of agreement on most male chauvinists who want girls or women to be limited in their freedom.I sadly was one of them at that time.
The next day there was a small event in our company as an extension of the new year celebrations.Surprisingly our manager had organized a debate that day.The topic:Are pubs anti-indian.Chits were picked.Priya and me were the ones picked.We were given 2 minutes to prepare.I picked 'for' the topic.
Me:Pubs are anti-indian.It was a never part of our culture.It is that part of corrupt western culture which we have inherited.Boys and girls are in an inebriated state and anything can happen to susceptible girls there.
Priya:i can only laugh at the narrow viewpoint of my friend here.Shows how much of a male chauvinist he is.(Moderator interrupts:no personal abuse please!).Sorry!but in my opinion if boys are the erring party then stop boys from going to pubs,why always target girls and oppress them.
Me:See let them ban pubs itself.Lot of unethical things go on there.My big problem is underage kids enter such places and spend money which is their father's hard earned money.
This led to a series of caustic remarks against each other and lot of bad blood.As i was a non-smoker i asked one of my colleagues from smoking as there was a law against it now even in office spaces.Priya pitched in to defend that guy asking as to why i had a problem with everything.I reprimanded her for not following rules ever,"antisocial bitch".She screamed a lot and let loose a host of expletives.
Now with this obvious hatred for each other,we were flustered when we were picked together for an onsite project to San Jose,California for a period of 6 months.
19th March 2010:McClellan-Palomar airport,California:
The Air-India plane landed at the airport and Rubens Peters our associate head had come to pick us.He was surprised that the India office had sent people with 10 months experience.We told that as we were working on the same vertical we were sent.He then rode us to the office guest house which he warned was only for a period of one week after which we had to look for our own rooms.As we did not have any of our relatives close by to the San Jose city we had to look for our rooms.Having just joined the company we wanted to save as many as dollars as possible.I was surprised that Priya was very independent minded as she did not want to ask her Dad for anything.
Though belonging to a upper middle class government officer family she used to save up any money given by her relatives so that she could buy her own things.This was the first time our mentalities matched atleast a little.After asking the cab driver for help we realised that rents in that area are very high and would not come within our budgets.The cab driver suggested that we should share a room. I told him we are indians and not americans.But at the end of a week after a lot of searching and contemplation we came to a conclusion that we had to share a room.We got a two-bedroom apartment in Elvin Road with the help of Ruben.
July 23rd 2015:TODAY
I decided that i have to bury the hatchet and went to Varun's house since i had got to know where he stayed from one of our common friends.I rang the bell but no one answered for about 10 minutes.After having waited long i decided to leave and send the invite by post.As i was about to get into my car,"Jatin!!!".I turned back and....