We can only do so much for a hatke vacation – Sidin Vadukat
Friends. Life feels incomplete without lots and lots of friends. What would we do with our pocket money, those imported chocolates that uncle from the Gulf brought us, and our very valuable collection of music CDs if we did not have friends around? They are by our side in our times of success and annual bonuses. They come early for every birthday party to share the joy and, of course, they almost always call us from a booth when we are in trouble and in need of help. Friends are truly God’s gift to mankind.
Spending your weekends with friends gives a special closing to one week, and an energizing opening to the next. And so it was, a few days ago, that I was with a group of my friends planning out the imminent weekend.
“We must do something this weekend guys. We can’t do the movie and dinner thing this weekend as well. We do that every week. Let’s do something different. Ideas anyone?” The speaker and his friends, including the author, sat around a table at one of the spiffy new cafes that seems to be all over town nowadays.
“I completely agree” said another, sipping on his cappuccino. “We must get out of the city. Get some fresh air. You know a hill station sort of place.” I perked up immediately. Hill stations. They are wonderful indeed. Nothing refreshes the spirit and rejuvenates the body like a trip to the cool, crisp air of a hill station and a night of beer drinking in a quaint hotel. “Yes we must. Let us go to Matheran. It is the best option.”
“Not at all FatCat.” another dear friend interjected. “It will be very hot this time of the year and we will quickly get fatigued. Though that will not get in the way of the beer.”
Cappuccino drinker was getting a little uneasy. “I was thinking more in terms of a trip to a beach. Or maybe one of the abandoned forts. Murud and Janjira perhaps?” This was a good idea too. I enjoyed the cool breeze of the sea and the gentle soothing rhythms of the waves lapping on the sand. I nodded heartily.
“Yes that is a good idea. Only if there were decent enough places to stay on the way. It is essential we go to places with the minimum amenities.” The speaker this time was a bosom buddy; son of a prominent industrialist who lived in Malabar Hill. “If not a fully stocked bar and coffee shop at least a pool to swim in after we come back from the beach.”
“Alas. But why not go inland? Perhaps the caves at Ajanta or Ellora.?” I ventured.
“Most definitely not. You know how I get nervous and uneasy in small, damp and dark rooms. My claustrophobia will act up again.” This was a legitimate concern, of course. The speaker in this case was a well-loved member of the group who was between jobs, and was currently worked as a lift operator at Essel World.
“It is settled then! We go to the wonderful and historic caves at Elephanta. It is a most scenic boat trip and there is some trekking to be done. We will be there and back in a day. Perfect I think.” Cappuccino drinker spoke with confidence.
“Mad or what?” said Mabalar Hill boy. “Have you already forgotten about my terrible sea sickness? In ten minutes I will be a regurgitating soggy mess. Sorry dear fellow but we must pass up on that one.”
I always say it is important for a group of friends to understand each other’s constraints and act accordingly. As you can see our group was most concerned and most accommodating.
“Wait a minute all of you. What about a fun-filled trip to Essel World? We have one employee amidst our group who can easily help us get some special attention from the people there. It will be fun.”
“Sorry guys. But I don’t think that is such a good idea.” I looked at him with slight puzzle in my eyes and a little frappe in my mouth. “There was a small incident at work last night. A young couple got into the elevator and they were stepping out when it happened.”
His eyes were bitter as he said it. His face twisted into a look of sheer agony as he sipped on his Double Chocolate Cheesecake Whipped Cream Super Shake Spectacular. “The husband stepped out first and the wife followed him. But I pressed the ‘door close’ button perhaps a shade too early. I was so unlucky. She was all but out of the door when the door clamped down on her…” We told him to stop. The agony was too much for him. But he continued anyway, “And then, after she got out, her husband stepped in to slap me. And I did it again! It was terrible!”
Capuccino patted his knee and then spoke. “It’s ok. We can go somewhere else. Don’t worry. Was she hot?” He nodded in reply. “Very”. So at least all was not lost.
That is when another member of the group, one who was silent till now, spoke up. “Has anyone seen the new Spielberg movie? ‘Munich’ I believe it is a must see apparently.”
“I hear it is a brilliant movie. We must must go for it. What better way to spend the weekend. And then we can go out for a cracking good dinner after that. All of us together. It will be top notch.” I spoke rapidly and with excitement.
The others all nodded. A good idea they all said. We decided to go at once to book tickets. There was sudden rush to get up and run out of the door as the last person at the table usually paid the bill. Today when I got up I noticed someone had tied my laces to the chair. Oh my friends! They are just so much fun to be with. Don’t you wish you had some like them?
As we stepped out Cappucino had an important question “Which restaurant should we go to for dinner? Somewhere new perhaps?…”