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Ah! Hello! We are meeting for the first time no?
Well, my name is Sidin and I will be asking you to give up a leetle bit of your time every Tuesday so that you can read this column and feel a nice warm glow afterwards.
This column is going to have none of the gravitas of those national security columns or the glamour of those Bollywood articles. Instead it will try to sit up and laugh, or at least smirk, at the general insanity of our lives.
And I am really hoping that you will smirk with me. Not much of a humor column if there ain't an entertained public, is it?
So without further ado, let me tell you why I think I am no longer the swashbuckling, handsome youth I one was.
I am going through this period in life I like to call Afteryouth.
Afteryouth is that troublesome interlude just after the tremendous mid-twenties and before the meddlesome early thirties. Suddenly your priorities are beginning to change and your body is helping things along by drastically dropping metabolism rates. Fat piles up during Afteryouth and the wife is beginning to notice it.
But then, putting it down to merely a question of age is imprudent. Afteryouth is also a matter of state of mind.
Discovery Travel and Living is suddenly high-quality viewing. MTV is a tad too loud, and you often find yourself shopping for things like table lamps and high-fiber cereal for easy mornings. Wine is now a respectable social drink.
You can't explain it. All the young people in the office are harping on about Web 2.0 and 'Software on demand'. You still haven't got over Desibaba going away leaving you cold, lonely and friendless on those quiet nights with your slow and contemplative dial up.
The fact that you need to shave your back is now a scary reality for most Afteryouth guys. (And pretty bad for some women too, when you come to think of it.)
I am up to my neck in it. (Afteryouth. Not back hair.)
And on a recent weekend, something happened that just reinforced my deep-rooted place in the dreary years of Afteryouth.
Earlier that week, I had received a press pass to one of those five-ishtaar night clubs near the Mumbai International airport, valid for a week: free entry for a couple on any and all of the subsequent half-dozen weekends. The missus was particularly kicked when she noted that Saturdays would be Bollywood night.
Off we went in our late night party attire ready to set the dance floor on fire, as long as my gas didn't get in the way. (That's another thing with Afteryouth. Burp...)
There were some inquisitive glances as we walked in through the velvet ropes. I flashed my pass and we were immediately waved through.
The night began slowly. We were among the first to enter, and we sat in a corner waiting for the DJ to pump things up and the dance floor to get busy.
Unlike most journalist/columnist types, I am a nifty hand on the dance floor. (If you ever get invited to a journo dance party, I recommend you stand in corners and wear that thing Sachin does. And I don't mean helmet.) And I'm an inventive amateur DJ too.
Nothing fancy like turntables or mixers. But give me a laptop, Winamp and some music and I could keep the night going long and strong. I particularly took pride in my ability to pick up what the DJ was going to play, well before his mix came through. "Hey the next song is that number by Bali Brahmabhatt! Woo hoo, I love it!" you could hear me saying loudly at parties, followed by an awkward silence.
This club was one of those new age dance places that tried to infuse aesthetics into a space that would largely be used by nubile men and women to exchange, at the very least, perspiration. On one wall was a translucent waist-up plastic sculpture of a six-packed rustic-looking type with his arms spread apart. They had run plastic lights through his arms and torso, which glowed in the dimlit disco.
The air-conditioning was performing well, especially as it had been placed resolutely on the 'Extreme Meat Locker' setting for the night. The wife shivered.
The doors opened every few minutes and the 'crowd' was beginning to stream in. Stilettos. Halter tops. Short t-shirts. Hip hugging jeans.
I was in a Louis Phillipe office shirt worn in an exciting casual fashion, i.e. sleeves rolled up. The missus was in a chill Fabindia number.
We stuck out like sore Afteryouth-y thumbs.
But isn't music oblivious to such shortcomings? When one danced, didn't one just forget everything else and surrender oneself to the passion? So it was just a matter of time before the missus and I sailed our way to the dance floor and celebrated in wild abandon right? Right?
The night was proving to be a disaster. People were beginning to stream in and the DJ was clearly playing music that was popular. People were singing along and throwing their arms in the air when the DJ asked them to.
"Which song is this? I am sure I've heard it somewhere..." I'd mutter to the wife, feeling a little lost.
"Hmm... I think it's that Akon number..."
And then again. Song after song.
"Hey! Isn't this that Himesh number? It rings a bell somewhere or should I say blows a nose... Ha!..."
The wife shrugged. She had no idea either.
I was losing my dance floor magic. My midnight masti mojo if you will. Egads! This Afteryouth was hitting me in ways I'd never imagined. Around us pre-Afteryouth types swayed and swooned while we quietly stood in a corner sipping beer and nodding our heads.
"You know something?" the missus whispered over the strains of what sounded like something with Emraan Hashmi [Images] in it, "we might be the only married people here."
I looked around. If that was the case, I wonder what the parents of those two kids in the corner would think if they could see them right now.
I'd never seen anyone do that particular thing standing up, before. Go man go! And don't let me videotaping this on my mobile bother you at all!
Finally, half an hour or so past midnight, we decided we needed to get a move on. Sipping and nodding could keep you entertained only for so long.
And that's when it happened.
When the first strains played on the speakers I swear my ears perked up like one of those hunting dogs you see in the cartoons. Toiingg!
I knew this! Not an inkling of doubt in my mind about this number!
Three minutes or so later, we walked out drenched in a fine sheen of dance-induced sweat.
Behind us the final strains of Bin Tere Sanam dissolved into some thumping non-descript number.
Bin Tere Sanam was my official Afteryouth anthem. Sure, the rest of the night had been a damp squib except for the video clip on my phone. But after Bin Tere Sanam, life made a little more sense.
We walked away into the Andheri sunset, resplendent in our moment of triumph.
The wife turned to me as we approached the car and said in that husky voice of hers: "We're out of washing powder. Don't forget to buy some tomorrow. And bhendi."
Afteryouth has a way of rapidly bringing you back to earth.
More adventures of the Vadakuts, mister and missus, can be found at Domain Maximus.
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