June 2007

It is 7 in the evening and we are on the fung wah bus from new york to boston. We were just in time as the queue was getting long and were lucky enough to get two empty seats, in the fifth row.. Well, I have traveled with a stranger next to me, but couldn’t imagine doing it tonite, with him around.

In front of us were two girls and before them a Chinese hetro couple. They looked like teens, but I can never tell the true age of a mangolian race.. They always look as if they are in their early twenties, may be i am exaggerating a little bit. But don’t you think they never age..

Anyways, as the bus picked speed into the crazy weekend traffic, and the sun reluctantly was setting in, every one around started to get comfy. We watched the skyline of the city as we crossed the bridge, and then soon it passed through the long row of grave yards, before it was just trees..

The lady sitting at the window in front of us took her book out and started reading from where she had previously bookmarked.. I couldn’t really tell what the one sitting next to her was up to, since i was sitting behind her and he was sitting next to window. I peeped through the gap in between the front row seats and I saw the chinese girl resting her head on the guy’s shoulder…..

Very cute indeed. I made him look at them and said.. ‘what if I rest on your shoulder?’. He smiled and said.. ‘hate crime..’. I smiled back.. After all what he said is true. It was just a week ago, we had that unfortunate incident (or hopefully an accident). Walking home from a friday evening dinner, we had to pass a bunch of teenagers just a couple of blocks away from home. As we passed them, someone in the bunch said, ‘is he your boy friend?’. Not really aiming at one of us in particular, but i sure did think – ‘not yet, but would like to..’. Before that thought ended, I sensed one of the kid trying to steal the wallet from my back pocket.

In a reflex, I turned around and looked him in the eye and in the next moment some heavy object made an impact on my face.. which fortunately was his bare hand. There was a stream of blood and a feeling that something broke, which sent us in a panic run into the building and call the cops.

They never followed us and I (and he) keep wondering if it was a just an act of hate or an display of superiority. The wounds have healed but the trauma isn’t settled yet.

Of course, in this bus nothing of that sort would ever happen (i hope..). Nonetheless, we settled to holding hands as he eventually drifted into nap. And my thoughts drifted into the events of day.. The reason we were in new york..

It is pride parade day,
the march from central park to stone wall park.
fifth avenue from timesquare to east village flocked by queers..
an flamboyant display of diverse queer life styles..
from dykes to bears, drags to jocks, clubs to cops..
unbound by ethnicity and geographies,
supported by human rights and religious institutions
promoted by commercial organizations
and of course.. the politicians shaking hands..

It is a feeling that I can hardly express with words.. It is the numbers, that show up on this day is absolutely stunning. What was more delightful this year was to watch tapak and husbear march in the saalga. tapak was bearing the flag.. I tried screaming at the top of my voice, but so were many others..

Oh.. and like a six year old I enjoy screaming for the beads that they throw.. And for some reason, I get the beads and he gets the condoms, not just at this parade but even at the parade in boston..

It is practically not possible to stand at the same point and watch the entire parade. We did though almost till the end.. Thanks to the bite we grabbed earlier and my friends who joined us.. Hanging out with them was … well.. again one of those feelings that can’t be expressed truly with words.

The bus stopped for a short break..

The sun was completely out of sight now and as we settling in for the remaining drive.. I saw it. The lady towards the window opened her book again.. and the one sitting next to her reached out for the lights above..

Wrapped around her wrist was a chain of beads.. just like the ones that was in my bag…

The chinese guy and the girl were back with their cute state and we held our hands together as we drifted again into a light sleep…

It is still mild summer, flowers have bloomed, pollen has dropped and birds busy protecting their nests.. It is sunday, I am sitting in my backyard, cracking and munching pista, still savoring those morning moments..

How amazing it feels to wake up with that soft touch instead of a buzzing alarm, the energy that builds up through sensuality rather than caffeine….

And it happened. I had just cracked a nut that I shouldn’t have and it was too late to get it out. The bitterness took over the sweet and salty taste I was enjoying…..

Some will never get a bad nut, lucky for them. Some might have the bad one the very first time, sorry for them. And for some it does happen once in a while.. i wonder what i feel for them stupidity or pity.. They are smart to be watchful but not smart enough..

It feels like ages, but it has only been five summers since.. I took a ride to the not-so-pleasant side of the bangalore queerdom.. After which I wasn’t the same person anymore..

I had a few good friends by then through chat. And it just seemed like everyone kept warning me to be careful about the people I meet, which of course didn’t make much sense. How difficult would it be to handle a stranger? If one is cautious about STD and is taking it easy, what else could go wrong? How naive could I be?

I met him after work for coffee in koramangla 1st block. Yudhistir, he told his name was. Mangalorean but raised in Mumbai. His was staying at his uncle’s and was working on a Hotel Project. He seemed to think that Koramangla had a scope for a new cafe coffee day. Wonderful thought, and he was right koramangala is one of the well developed blocks in bangalore with more and more IT folks settling in. Vanity seems to flourish.

The week that followed was very eventful. I started sneaking out from work for long lunches with him talking about his plans. From lunch, it was time to spend the evenings. He was going to that gay bar on residency road.

I had never been to any club or bar and I wondered if I should say no. The next moment I was going with him anyways. After all going with a friend is better than going alone. Also he mentioned his friend was going to meet him at the bar.

The smoke, sound and the smell was all very suffocating. It was a strange feeling to see so many people, some gay and some just here to have some cheap drinks. His friend seemed a little mellow and seemed to feel sad about something. Yudhistir whispered he is going through a breakup, while he was away in the rest room.

Later that night, it was too late for me to go back home so he said I could crash with him. He was taking me to the medical college hostel and as we were stepping in he said, he had a clash with his uncle and is staying at his friends place today. How do you know this guy at hostel? He said the room belongs to his cousins friend.. (apparently his cousin is doing his internship.) That night I stayed at the hostel with Yudhistir and his mallu friend..

The next couple of days were same, lunch.. bar and then sleep at the hostel. And one evening he took me to the park near the state house. I don’t remember now which day of the week it was, but apparently that day was a queer day at that park. This was a little too much and too soon for me.. Before I knew I was meeting people – half of the names I don’t remember anymore..

The following saturday trumped everything that we had done during the week. It was a house party. We were the first ones to go there and he suggested we do that to get me familiarized with the host. It was thoughtful since I was getting apprehensive about being in another big bunch of strangers.

Soon, the house was filled. And to my shock I learnt that they have this house party every saturday night. And as people started coming in, I could recognize some whom I had met earlier that week at the bar and at the park.. and some whom I had met through chat earlier and never wanted to meet them again.. I had a feeling this was going to be one long night..

To my relief, just before midnight a car arrived and that was filled with people I knew and whom I could relate to. I wasn’t in a strange land after all.. Once in a while I would watch Yudhistir dancing but it wasn’t like I was with him that night. And I felt that was a relief…

It was sunday and I was already getting a little irritated with lack of sleep and the overwhelming activities. We met for lunch that day and bumped into someone who for some reason was unexpected by Yudhistir. “Hi Vikram” – he said. Yudhistir is Vikram?

A week followed with similar pattern but I skipped the lunches and some evening parties. I was finally catching up on my sleep. In the middle of the week, he got me to buy an new expensive cell phone on my credit card and he dropped a cheque for that amount..

I did go to the next house party and it was rather fun this time around. I started to notice and meet new people and after all partying is fun.. Yudhistir’s friend I met the previous week at the bar was here today. We started talking and he seemed a little himself today. Yudhistir was checking in on us every once in a while and making sure everything was ok.

It was sunday again and we were going to the park. The friend was there too and Yudhistir had a new visitor today whom I recognized from last nites party. Oh yes, they were dancing like a couple last nite and they looked very cute.. So they were riding together while I drove to the park with Yudhistir’s friend.

The friend started to get a little watery eyed. I was wondering if the new guy that Yudhistir was going with was his ex boy friend. As it turns out, the one on that bike was indeed his ex. But it wasn’t the new friend but Yudhistir himself. It started making sense why he left me to be myself the first night at the house party while, he was checking on me the next time around. In fact he was just making sure that his friend and I din’t get very personal.

That evening I got to know from others at the park that Yudhistir has the habbit of taking money and not giving back. Some seemed to think he was vikram and was from punjab while others thought he was from mangalore. That night I went home.

I called the bank next day from work and found out that there was no cheque dropped last week.

That evening I met him with his friend from hostel. Took the cell phone from him and walked away. That was the last I saw him.

Later I learnt that he had no uncle in Koramangla. His parents lived in bangalore, but he was staying away from them, changing boy friends like clothes. Trying to extract as much money as possible from each of them. (He never asked for money, but made them spend it on him.) The friend at the hostel was no friend of his cousin. He was his ex too.

A lesson learnt. It is not just the STD but there are people out there to take emotional advantage. The bitterness remained for longer than I had wished for. It took me a while and a few friends to get back together. For what it is worth, I was now part of the queerdom.

Well, it was indeed a long time ago.. but if it wasn’t for him, I would have never gone to any clubs (or may be I would have eventually). And in one such club nights I met him.. Ateet. And in another one such club night I met the guy I am with now..