It was, indeed, a showcase wedding. The entire
elite of Mumbai and Delhi,
it seemed, had descended upon Jaipur for the event. Film stars, industrialists
and politicians intermingled in a fusion of power and affluence. The décor at
the scene took one back to the opulent times of the Mughals. The global
cuisine, lavishly spread over the vast venue, completed the picture of the
glitz and glamour on that memorable evening.
But the showstopper of the evening was not
any of the celebrities or the bridegroom or, even the bride, but it was the
bridegroom’s father – Rohan - my friend of more than forty years. Standing on
the stage with the bridal couple, he looked dapper in his black bandh gulla
with the top two buttons stylish left open to display a sparkling white shirt
with a Chinese collar. Needless to say, he was clean shaven. His athletic
stance was still intact but his totally gray hair, slicked back with a left
sided parting, made him look both debonair and avuncular. The guests who were
going up to greet him were all known and identifiable faces.
Therefore, it was understandable that I
felt a total misfit in this setting. My wife succinctly summed up the situation
– that I appeared to be the only non-achiever in the crowd! She is a great one
to pep up one’s spirit – especially, if one is feeling low!
Then it happened. Suddenly, I got
recognition. Rohan caught my eye, gave me a broad smile and topped it with a wave
and a thumbs-up. A bejeweled film star of yester years, sitting in a row just
ahead of us, turned around and in a well modulated silky voice asked me, “Aap Rohan ji ko pechhantein ho?”
With a put on nonchalant voice, I answered
“Oh yes. When we were both fifteen years old, we had together run away to Goa …….to become hippies.”
The unknown face of a few moments back had
actually made a former film star burst into a good-humoured laugh. In between her
mirth, she told the friends around her, “Can you believe it, yeh janaab and Rohan ji had gone to Goa to become hippies.” This was followed by another
round of hilarity.
A well known builder of Delhi double checked, “Do you mean to say
that Rohan Shenoy, the samrat of the
stock exchange, once upon a time wanted to be a dropout? Unbelievable.”
With a conspiratorial smile on my face and
theatrically raised eyebrows, I answered, “But it is a fact.”
Turning to his wife, he said with great admiration
in his voice, “Rohan Shenoy hardly pays any tax. Most of his income is
officially tax free.”
Sadly, as quickly as it happened, so did
it end - my fifteen seconds of fame were up and over.
However, Rohan’s generous acknowledgment
took me back to my school days. He and I had been bench mates from the KG
class. Then, in the final year of the all boys’ school, like everyone else, we
were also suffering from the onslaught of the hormones. Concentration on studies
was getting more and more difficult. Mere pictures of female models in
magazines would light us up.
Venerable female teachers had suddenly
turned into desirable objects. However, at few times, Rohan, looking at the shapely legs of a teacher, would sigh under his breath, “I wish she had opted for her
hair removal.” Rohan was beginning to develop aesthetic sensibilities. But the overarching turbulence of the testosterones continued to overwhelm us.
It was during one such time of acute stress that
Rohan told me, in all seriousness, that he had decided upon his future; he would
like to become a masseur. Massaging was to be his career of choice.
He told me all the positives of that
career. I was totally taken in by his argument. Day and night we would
passionately dream of achieving our aspiration to become masseurs. We would
think of new and innovative ideas that we would bring to our job. Client
satisfaction would always be our main goal. Studying for the Board exam was
proving to be such a distraction.
At that time, we heard stories that hordes
of hippies had descended on Goa and were leading
a totally carefree life – life free of all encumbrances, including clothes.
Better news was that enterprising Malayalees had set up Kerala massage shacks
on the beaches of Goa and were doing rip
roaring business. Rohan and I were drooling to set up our own shop on a beach
It was then that we decided to run away
from home immediately after the painful Board exam would get over. It would be
for the noble purpose to pursue our career dream. The entrepreneurial spirit in
us was aching to get started.
Finally, the two
charged youngsters landed in Goa. The Baga
beach was a voyeuristic delight. The youngsters found it difficult to suppress their
happiness; it was showing. But their top priority was to get an internship at
one of the massage shacks to get a hands-on experience of pressing, rubbing and
manipulating muscles and other soft tissues with their hands and fingers. But
apprenticeship was difficult to come by – the Keralites proved to be very
brought our dreams to a crashing end was an encounter with a 21 year old Swede
– one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen to date.
Rohan and I were
a dejected lot by Day 5 in Goa. We were
listlessly sitting on the beach when this beauty approached us and said, “Mind
if I join you? Do you speak English?”
Rohan was the
first to recover and suavely said, “WHOA, for your sake I am ready to speak
“Then Swedish is
what you will have to learn,” she replied with a saucy toss of her head.
observation took us by surprise. “Kids, it is obvious you have come here on a
naughty mission. Have you achieved it?”
We were left
speechless not knowing what to make of it. Was it just curiosity or a subtle
invitation? The androgens jumped to a rash conclusion that it was the latter.
Alas, it turned
out to be the former.
After a long
pause, she said, “I have also come here to have a mischievous escapade but you
guys are not the ones.”
We were crushed.
“Actually, I am
looking for a fisherman. I really get turned on by these bare chested, dark
sinuous fishermen here, especially as they cast their net in the sea. The whole
rhythm of their heaving the net in the sea drives me up the wall!!!!! And the
sexy colorful short wraps around their hips …………..drives me crazy.”
After being lost
in a long reverie she said, “Unfortunately, they don’t speak English. Hey
buddies could you help me out - be my interpreters? Of course, I could recompense you with some
pocket money for doing my work.”
Rohan and I
looked at each other. Rohan, with his usual sardonic wit, whispered to me,
“We had come here to become masseurs but it seems we will end up with a career
in the second oldest profession!”
decided to return back to Bombay,
as Mumbai was then. With tears in our eyes, we bid adieu to our dream career of
massaging. But one can never forget one’s first love.
A couple of
months after the splendid wedding, I read a scandalous news item in a tabloid.
An Indian actress, who had a few months back given a big Bollywood hit,
traveling first class on the national airline to London, was found having a surreptitious
massage under a blanket from a fellow Indian passenger who had recently celebrated
his son’s marriage in an ostentatious manner in Jaipur. Her alternating moans and
giggles had disturbed other passengers.
I called up
Rohan’s house and was told, “Saab London gaye hain.”
A short story, "The Unforgettable Afternoon of an Unknown Indian," written by me, was recently (2011) published in "Chicken Soup for the Indian Soul - On Friendship." Love telling a story. Can be read more at funtime.sulekha.com