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A collaboration over too much coffee.
coffee and pen

15 May, 2005

Insatiable Lust

Krish shifted gears smoothly, and the car lurched forward in one seamless motion. He let out a sigh then, before moving the joystick forward, and switched the radio on. As the hard beat of the Afro bongo banged throughout the car interior, the Baleno coursed out over the smooth stretch of tarmac that Mumbaikars (Bombayites? He wondered, idly, for a split second) called The Queen’s Necklace.

I stood out there at the tip of Nariman Point. Nothing ahead, but clear blue-grey sea. It had rained last night. The city was still wet. The roads glistened as if newly boiled tar had been poured on them. The archer on the Air India building was poised to leap clear of some invisible barrier, and I could almost see the target of his arrow. He was shining in a red neon glow that I so wished I could have. The water buoys below my feet were locked into place, and yet there was an immense sense of instability. There was an immense sense of satisfaction from that.

This is my city.

A great vicarious pleasure that you get only when you’re standing here on the edge. There were voices drifting down, but the glorious sea wind muffled them all. I turned back, and saw my friends standing farther away closer to the shore, jeans rolled up, slightly tipsy, and someone laughed, I don’t remember who, someone called out and told me to be careful, and I waved back. This is my life. Chapter closed, a chapter ready to start. I need my reading glasses. I need so much more than just that.

Nariman Point is a man-made spectacle of tall buildings, centaurs etched in neon, great big three-headed dumb-bells that hold back the tide and teenagers drunk with lust. I’ve drunk from the same broth, and I’ve licked my lips at the sensation. It’s been a grand life.

There was something engaging about watching families ‘at work’, Krish thought, as the Baleno zoomed past the makeshift balustrade of Marine Drive. This single stretch of road attracted you from miles away, you came unbidden to its call, and you sat and ran and frolicked under the great big trees that lined the pavement. There was sea and there was wind, and yet, there was your family, and that was the most important thing of all.

Faster than the speed of light...

Krish was the kind of man who seized life by the horns and wondered where on earth the matador was - and if he wasn’t going to show up, Krish might as well take his place and kill the bloody thing. It was something unmediated, something that happened, and he took his role in life without question. There was no room for any questions. Not now, not when he argued with the parking attendant in front of the Hilton Towers, who always demanded more money than he was wont to get.

Krish could react, as well. He could roll his window down, and yell at the poor bugger till he turned red and tearful, and took the meager change that was flung in his direction. I’m not a monster, he argued, when his friends teased him, I’m just a man who has worked hard and wants to keep everything he’s got. It’s about knowing what your worth is, he would say, and he chuckled at the line now, as the signal approached, a merciful green overhead, and he gunned the engine. The car shot forward, and he thought about the neon Sagittarius again.

The view from this window amazes me to no end, and yet I was oblivious to all that, with her sitting across me. Whenever she smiled, I wondered why. Whenever she didn’t, I wondered again. I know I was acting maudlin, not the way men in my position are meant to, but that didn’t really help. I extended my hand and covered hers with mine, on the table. The Hilton is a wonderful place to make love to, I thought. And I wondered if love was also on her mind.

I wanted desperately for her to fall in love with me, and I looked for any telltale signs. When her mobile phone rang, and she switched it off, after a cursory glance at the number. Or the way she scanned the menu when the waiter held it for her, and then looked back up at me as if seeking direction for what she should eat.

So I held her hand and told her that she was the most beautiful woman on the face of the earth that night, and for a second, as she believed me, she truly was. I laughed at my silliness and even more at her naiveté, but it was a fling, a casual affair that dictated the comings and goings of the world.

I smiled proudly that night, like a man supremely in control, yet I kept on wondering whether the waiter was the real one in charge. I was a puppet, a chief puppet for all my machinations, and he, the great white shape swathed in a great white apron who served and bobbed and curtsied and said ‘Very good, sir’, and ‘Excellent choice, madam’, he was the one who pulled all the strings. Sly bastard. I slipped him a five-hundred rupee note afterwards, when we left the restaurant. I told him to send up a bottle of champagne up to my room in an hour’s time, and he nodded, without a single flick of emotion, tongue, nose, eye or ear that showed me he knew me.

Signboards screamed for attention, streetlamps like steady two-second milestones, as the Baleno wound its way over the tarmac. His ears drummed to the beat from the radio. A part of him tried to listen to the words, and gave up, and then resumed the attempt again. There were ideas forming in his head, but the car stopped him from giving into those thoughts. It acted like a security blanket, a barrier to the thoughts he may have had. The only thing that remained were these – memories that flashed at the breath neck speed he was driving, and a libido that seemed to surge every time the car growled beneath him.

He grinned. He could do not much else. The streetlamps that lined their way through the center of Maine Drive were too blindening, and there was only a gut instinct that prevented him from dying. It had always been that way. And he knew another name for that instinct.I longed to see what else they could give me.

I longed to see what else I could give them. A simple give-and-take relationship, I was told, and so we called a general meeting. Fancy term for a bunch of college kids to hang out at Jazz by the Bay. Gary Lawyer was singing, and from time to time, I was craning my head back to see the man. His eyes were closed, and his lips moved in a trance. I wanted to sing like that. But I was drunk, and drunk people want to do so many things. I had wanted to walk here all the way from Andheri, and had certainly not done that. The walk from Churchgate had sufficed.

The meeting started, and the questions began.

What was I looking for? Had I ever been anything other than a man on the prowl for them? Did I love anyone? Did I believe in love?

(That irritating woman had a nasal voice, and I could not stand it, as she drawled, on and on and on.)

What about lust? Was I truly insatiable? Did I think I could have any woman I wanted?

(That irritating woman with the nasal voice had a nice set of legs, and a good set of boobs to match, and I kept on looking at her. I may have smiled.)

Was I thinking of something?


Would I force myself on a woman who did not want me? (Was she giving me a hint? I smiled some more at her.

The questions were meaningless, and everyone laughed at the end of it. Gary came over to our table and shook hands when we told him we were fans. It was funny, watching the women giggle like school girls in front of him, and then, after he had left, to collapse on their boyfriend’s laps. They would probably shag them tonight, thinking of Gary lawyer. I looked over the irritating woman with the nasal voice and the heaving bosom, and announced that I was going to the loo.

The good thing about this place is that it’s got an amazing blue lighting inside that’s so frikkin’ dark and sexy. And it’s full. Perennially. So, I was pretty clear, that as she snaked her way through the dark blue crowd towards the men’s loo, they wouldn’t be able to trace her path. And I was waiting for her, just inside the door, when she came in. I grabbed her and pushed her against the wall, and started kissing her hungrily. The only guy in there gave me a thumbs-up, which I ignored, and left. I took her into one of the stalls, and when we came out, the rest of the gang were into the fifth round of beers.

They were not interested in the answers to the questions they had asked me, and I never bothered to reply.

Krish smiled at the words of the song, and he yelled them out to himself. Seconds were all it took, for the car to zoom out from beneath the Marine Lines flyover, and the Baleno swerved to the right, to avoid hitting a Zen that careened down from it. The driver, a fat Punjabi with a headful of turban, screamed an obscenity that never made it through the thick windows of the Baleno, and Krish calmly showed him his middle finger in response.

It was an orchestra that he knew well. Soon, Thackers would come up ahead, and he would pull down the car a notch, coax her/ it into settling for a pace that would give the rest of these mother-****ers a measure of peace, but it was still some way ahead. There was Bachelors, and Barista, and as he sped past them, the yawning mouth of Chowpatty started forming to his left. He pressed his foot down on the accelerator. Jennifer Lopez jived to Get Right on the radio.

Green chilly ice cream from Bachelors’. The shot that it gives you. It drives your breath out of your nostrils, and the back of your throat surges in something much wilder than what a piece of menthol will do for you. It takes time to get used to it. It takes a few seconds to let it overwhelm you. But the trick is never to lose control. The trick is to let your taste buds tingle for a few seconds and then inhale deeply, master the flavour and the cool texture leaves you hungry for more. The second spoonful is so much easier, so much tastier, and yet it’s never enough. The scoop of ice cream in your cup finishes too fast, all too soon, and you’re left gazing at the empty cup with a touch of accusation.

‘Drama King!’ he said, and I grinned at him.

‘God, you can make a masala film out of the silliest things!’ she said, in tandem, and I ginned again.

‘I can’t help it. That’s how I think of it. It’s quite sexy!’

‘Ass!’ in unison.

I could think of other things. She was having some strawberries with cream, delicious and frothy. He stuck to tried and tested vanilla. I nudged him, and told him that he would have to do better than that. He was shy, and laughed it off. So I never pressed him, because he was my friend. He’d been through it all with me. I would let him be. I would leave her alone. But you could see that she needed me.

She needed Ethiopian coffee at Barista, steamed just right, whirling brown qawwah, a flavour that decided it would do nothing else but intoxicate you. She had changed since that stormy night at the Hilton, we both had. I wondered what it was she wanted now, but I think I knew. It was something insatiable, and there could hardly be a single word for it. There were subtle nuances to it that I could not catch, no matter how hard I tried.

I needed to drive. She needed to drive me crazy.

The end. Fiction that never exists. Songs that tell you lies. A road that tantalizes you with its length and curves at the last moment.

The Baleno shot out through the wide curve of Marine Drive like the armed Centaur on the Air India building, and Krish guided her/ it left towards Malabar Hill. He cut the gas, and the car groaned softly to herself in protest, as Krish wheeled her in, after the other cars that stood their chance to alight the hill. A huge hoarding changed colours and shapes overhead, and he laughed to himself at the pun on the billboard. The drive wound itself down, and a sigh escaped his lips, even as Jennifer Lopez reached the crescendo of her song on the radio.

This was the end, he thought, as the car snaked upwards at a tamed pace, and he could see the long trail of streetlamps that glowed in the dark far off into the sea, the Queen’s Necklace they called it, and many other names that reminded them of how much they coveted it and wanted t own it, but now as the Baleno climbed up, he could only think that the sight of majesty somehow killed it, this was the end. The dissipation of lust.


Blogger Pincushion said...

WOW! Exquisitely built up!

16 May, 2005 13:29  
Blogger livinghigh said...

well, thanx cushion. ;-)

16 May, 2005 23:01  

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