The Time: 22:45
The Location: STONES – B’lore
The Scene: A single guy sitting alone and observing.
The Weapon: A mug of beer, a pack of smokes, a pen and a scribbling pad.
“Shine on you crazy diamond”, a song I grew up listening to, thanks to an older brother and his collection of audio cassettes. The speakers are blaring and I guess songs like this are composed keeping in mind the growing number of pubs around the world and people who always manage to find each and every one of them and flock into them. Change the bloody CD, a voice screams out. Popcorn flies in the air towards the counter where a short but plump man with an expression that only he can pull off on a Sunday evening stands meekly pouring beer into the empty pitchers and mugs in front of him.
The activity is slow today, not a typical Sunday evening crowd, this I know since am a regular here. The man at the counter waves a gentle hello to me, when I lift my head between my writing. I smile at him and signal for a refill of my beer. He is disappointed today. Disappointed that am sitting there alone and ordering for a mug and not a pitcher. The waiters and the other bartenders decked in a pale red shirt and black trousers seem to walk up and down the entire length and breadth of the pub. They seem pensive; they seem buried in their own world. They are working, occasionally stopping at tables where they see a known face. Am sure they know more about the people than some of the friends who sit in the same table. The favorite drink of one guy, the amount of spice in the egg burji of another, the capacity to drink of one gang and the amount of money another group would tip always. They know everything.
The song changes, “Where were you”… it says. I stare into the plasma screen above my head and smile. Feel like the song is directed rite at me. Where was I? Where am I? I really wonder. The sheer fact of me probably sitting alone in a pub and writing is a sign that I really don’t know where I am. A tap on the shoulder breaks my thought process. A guy in his late 20’s or even early 30’s holding a mug of beer looks at me, curiously. The mug is almost empty and am sure there has been a few down already. He was in this phase that I define as the “pleasantly high” phase. ‘Hey, what are you doing man?’ he enquires. Quietly I look at him, obviously a little upset with the fact that I was disturbed from my writing process. He peeks into my scribble pad and takes another drag from his ciggy. The smoke covers my face. I move away from the smoke blanket and smile at him. Gently closing my book, I tell him am working on a story. With a slight tilt of his head, he starts, ‘Oh, what story? Like a book or something?’ I take a sip from my drink and tell him, ‘No, not really. This is just some random ramblings’. I could see that he was disappointed about something. He turned back to the bar and ordered for another drink. I continued to look around, carefully observing the sights and sounds of the place that night. A group of adolescent kids were all sitting in a semi circle and raising a toast to this one extremely cute girl who was with them. I could see in their eyes and everyone wanted to make a toast and say something special. She was more engrossed with her mobile phone, smiling to herself and messaging someone. A tall and leathery young man walks in through the door and searches frantically for someone. He walks a few steps check the watch and then continues to look further. Is he late? Is he early? Is he alone? Or is he with a group? His expression doesn’t give me much scope on anything. He looks at the corner table right next to mine and smiles. Walking in a brisk pace he approaches my table and gently moves my chair aside to make way to sit with someone who was already there on the table. I turn around to see this person, whose hair was long and curly, covering her face. Her thin fingers pop up from under the table to clear the hair from her face. I could see a faint smile when the hair is cleared. I look at her as she goes around filling the empty beer mugs on the table and then takes a sip of her fresh lime.
I bend down and continue to write, when the guy taps on my shoulder again and says, ‘Nice crowd eh? Happening chicks’, an follows it up with a chuckle. I choose to ignore the sly comment and continue to write. He says, ‘If you are working on a story about this place, then have me as a character in the story. I would really like that’, saying that he goes back to his tall chair. I close my eyes after he leaves, smell of beer, and smoke is everywhere. People are talking real loud to be audible for the others in the same table because of the loud music. Crash!!! A mug falls flat on the ground and breaks. A girl looks embarrassed and the others from her table point fingers at her and are laughing. A cozy couple sitting next to them look and nod their head like they have just witnessed something completely sinful.
The crowd starts leaving the place. The music is switched off now. I look into my watch and realize that it’s a little past 23:30 rite now and they have already closed the bar and the bills are being cleared. The short man at the counter is counting the amount of money they made that evening and entering it in his little black book. I have always wondered about the numbers in that book. Mathematics was never my favorite subject at school, would have sucked at the job if I was there in his place. I get up and pay my bill, the waiter is obviously disappointed. I tip him an amount that is almost close to my bill. I guess I was there not to drink but to probably feel high on a different level….