I had a long drought–as you might have noticed–after date #6. It made me very sad and frustrated, because here I was, at the cusp of understanding lots of things I hadn’t seen before, and it turned out that the least positive of my three outcome scenarios was actually true: there are not enough guys. I spent the week on Tinder–I kid you not–and swiped my way through a bewildering array of random desi boys and horny firangis. Tinder being a terrible platform for conversation anyway most matches just died. But then, on Wednesday afternoon, one of the guys who’d transitioned to Whatsapp texted to ask if I wanted to go to karaoke.
Frabjuous day! I love karaoke. Possibly too much. For the longest time it was the only reason I’d ever leave the cocoon of my home was to go to karaoke. It has always been one public social space where I could compete with thin girls, and so on. And I’m really rather good at it, so it’s like a chance to shine and impress the boy. Only other option is to cook heh. But most people are strangely reluctant to participate in karaoke, making it a very difficult thing to orchestrate for dates. But here was someone who proposed it himself! Whee!
Wednesdays at the TC (100% Rock)* in Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj, they have karaoke. The DJ has become a friend; no one else comes there, so it’s like private karaoke; they have happy hours till 10. So I told him we’d go there. We plan to meet at 9, so I tell flatmate we’ll have dinner at 8 and so on. Only at 830 he calls to say oh I’m nearly there, hurry. Sadly I am a creature of planning so I only made it there at 9, but on the dot.
I walked in, and it was empty, as always, and the DJ greeted me with delight, asking if my actual rock star friend was coming that day. I found a table and plonked myself down to wait. TC has always had its own special look: very dark (I remember I went to Adchini once in the afternoon and it was like I was blind), lots of wood, rock star posters everywhere and, for some bizarre reason, a giant statue of Alien (or Predator?) from the eponymous movie. This venue is a practically cavernous space, and has very few tables for the floor area. There is also, for some reason, a sort of 3-d stained glass parrot (see photo).
He shows up, apologising for shorts and backwards baseball cap. He’s from the northeast and we have a small laugh when he says, ‘I don’t know what’s the word to use, I don’t want to say Indian,’ when he’s trying to talk about me as having had a different cultural experience from him. ‘I went to college in Delhi,’ I reply, ‘I’m used to the terminology.’ He tells me he’s a regular at Adchini and CP, and I tell him how I used to be a regular at Adchini but those day are gone. He tells me about how cool TC used to be when we were in college and I laugh and tell him that when I was in college I was in neither the income nor the coolness bracket to go to the concerts in the famous TC basement.
This is when he says the hands-down bizarrest thing.anyone has ever said to me on any date: ‘Listen, I hope you don’t mind, but I called a friend to come join us.’
I sit there, probably with my mouth open, for a couple of beats before bursting into laughter.
‘You invited your friend along on a date??’ I manage to sputter. ‘That is the most hilarious thing I have ever heard! This is going to make a great story!’
He’s mortified, and keeps saying he thought it wasn’t a date and that I’d have brought my friends and really he’s never done this before, and…and…and…
I manage to stop giggling and tell him not to worry. Said friend anyway takes forever to show, and when he does, comes with another friend, thus making it the boniest of date kababs ever. They are sweet though, and fairly easy to talk to, so the evening as a whole turns out to be a success.
Finally, I get up to go sing and the DJ has a new version of the song so I’m all wobbly. Hmm, I find myself thinking, this karaoke date might not be that great an idea; so much pressure! But #7 thinks I sing really well, and he tells me so. ‘I actually sing and play,’ he says, miming a guitar. ‘Do you play?’ ‘Only two songs,’ I tell him, ‘and maybe not even those two anymore! I haven’t played in years.’ He tells me how he likes to do blues versions of old Hindi songs. I get very excited. He asks if we can hang out and jam sometime and I immediately think of rock star friend and another dear friend and how we were planning a jam. It will be fun–I really miss bumming around with someone fiddling with a guitar: how I spent half my life in college.
The night goes by and he tells me he loves to dance. He demonstrates this by constantly bopping about the floor when songs are on. He’s a good singer and does what I cannot–he makes the songs his own. By the end of the night he’s trying to salsa with me while I laugh, and constantly talking to me while I sing–which means I don’t hear much of what he says. He apologises over and over for the mix-up with his friends and I tell him not to worry because it’s a great story.
‘No ya, I felt really bad. I walked in, in my running clothes, and you’re wearing a dress and all man shit.’
I reassure him that I tend to live in dresses in the monsoon because the humidity drives me mad and offer him the chance for a do-over if he likes. We giggle a bit. I sing some more. He bops. All four of us talk. And then it’s nearly closing time, and I have to be up early so I herd them all out and come home.
*TC actually has a very strange story that a lot of people don’t know. It opened in the 90s, in Adchini, and was called Turquoise Cottage, which became the ubiquitous TC. Some time in the late noughties their lease ran out and they couldn’t renew it, so they moved location to Gurgaon and then Vasant Vihar. Meanwhile, the owner of the Adchini place quietly opened a bar called TC that was identical in every way to Turquoise Cottage. A lawsuit raged for a while. They even closed for a couple of months. Then they reopened with the tagline 100% Rock, though at Adchini they still have TC everywhere, and a giant notice outside the door stating that they are in no way affiliated with Turquoise Cottage. Gimme TC over Turquoise Cottage any day.