The Room on Beltola Street

“How is Akash?”
“Aache Aru...” Amaresh replies.
“So what do you want? Vodka neat or vodka with water?”
I had come to visit him late in the evening. The idea was me drinking tea with him beside the Beltola
main road, the passer-bys and vehicles swishing by providing background to the familiar taste of
Amaresh’s company and the familiar taste of hot tea on our lips. But it had gotten late for that so i
had come to his room straight.
“Vodka with water,” i said, “That way i can prolong the sips.”
“Johnny Bhai take a look at the curry,” Amaresh said. Johnny Bhai standing barefoot and with an in-
the-mood smile turned to the gas burner. “Johnny Bhai you had disappeared, that you did!”
Amaresh exclaimed.
The music is playing in the background. Mmmmngggg Mmmmngggg... a trippy song. Johnny and
Amaresh are now discussing the debate between Arijit Singh and Salman Khan.
“Just as a mechanical engineer understands all mechanical stuff, similarly Arijit Singh understands
the mechanism of singing,” says Jhonny Bhai.
Those singers who have learnt Indian classical are the best,” Amaresh says.
Jhonny Bhai smiles at me, “Take a sip. Here’s the cup and here’s
the fried chicken.”
I sip from the cup. It’s an old friend greeting me home. The burning sweet-sour taste of alcohol.
The phone rings somewhere. But nobody cares.
“Amaresh. Phone,” I say.
“...With me is Conan, and the guy from the room next door—Vomit—Holi Colours—i motherfucku
have no memory of how i got back to my room—You motherfucku insult or what? (he laughs) That
day you were gone a-fuck—I had told him, “don’t give him”. He was shaking. It’s only after five times
does he eat food. Hahaha.
Ok! Good Night. Stay well.”
“What?” Jhonny Bhaai asks.
“I have a mad friend. I don’t know what happened to him? He is thinking of loosing weight. Today is
orange, today is watermelon juice. Bhai, I am no more drinking. You are the one who inspired me.
Today is not the day to eat rice. Only the fifth day i can eat rice. That motherfucku—why not go for
exercise, go for running—Loose weight by eating nothing! (He laughs). You will fall sick, man, i told
Amaresh extends the cup of vodka. I have really come to love alcohol i realize sadly.
And there’s the weed joint. There’s the JBL blasting out lungi dance from the movie Chennai Express.
“So how was your IIT Delhi experience?”
“It was amazing. I met a Bengali girl.”

“Anything happened?”
“Yeah! Remember that Tibetan Restaurant in Indra Vihar. We went there and had dinner. We
touched our finger-tips on top of the table. And then we rubbed our cheeks outside.”
“I hope she’s not like the professor.”
“Which one?”
“The ugly one—your first one,” Amaresh said, “Man, when you showed me her pic. I kept it to
myself then, but she really was ugly.”
“Yes, she was,” I said. Suddenly i was transported back to a roof-top in Indra Vihar. It was winter and
we were young and had a bonfire going. And i had just shown them the photo of the professor i was
newly in love with. I was pretty excited then, quite breathless after my first French kiss a day ago.
“Play the next song,” I said.
“Now a Sridevi Song,” Amaresh said, “Just wait.”
“Ok play it,” i said after some thought.
“How can anybody die on a bathtub. Alright she had drinks and dot dot dot ...but the water in a
bathtub reaches only up to the knee, actually just the ankle—she could have been electrocuted
though,” Amaresh said.
“The offer was for the younger Sanjay Kapoor. She married the older Boney Kapoor,” Johnny Bhai
Amaresh did not play the Sridevi song.
“Hey what are you writing?” Johnny Bhai got behind my shoulders.
“Just stuff,” i said, “Some people like smoking for fun, i like writing for fun,” i told him.
“Oh,” he said, “You have a talent!”
Then he disappeared out of the room. I continued writing. When he was back he had a brand new
diary in his hand.
“This is for you,” he said.
I accepted it with gratitude in my heart. He was smiling the same charming smile. His long wavy hair
and tattoos on his wrist. I thought he was like a Persian prince from yore.
I took another sip of the vodka and continued noting down their conversation. Now they were
talking about people in Malana where tourists are not allowed to touch the inhabitants. But you are
allowed to taste their Charas.


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