A major part of this month was spent planning the birthday. It brought back memories of the year before last, which was spent living it up at a nearby beach resort that after 10 pm was inaccessible to all (including the cops) because of the high tide. This year, everyone expected something that would last beyond 1.30 am. Like that would ever happen.
Nonetheless, a few options were considered — booking a small hotel room, finding a naïve friend to lend me his or her house and the last shady idea — hire a bungalow on Madh Island. Those who have done so in the past will tell you how R5,000 used to be enough to keep the ‘authorities’ at bay. But that doesn’t happen anymore. Considering the recent spate of events, where any party with four loud beats in fast succession is deemed a rave, this idea was quickly vetoed.
As it happened, a few days before D-day, police commissioner Arup Patnaik got the boot. And by boot, I mean a promotion. That Saturday, at Café Zoe, which couldn’t accommodate even one ant more, chants broke out at every table — “Dhoble’s gone!”, “F**k Dhoble” and so on. It seemed everyone had run out of any other reason to celebrate.
Planning the birthday became easier, but the options were still limited. Everyone said, “This is an opportune time, now you can go all out.”
No, actually. At the expense of getting ostracised, I attempted explaining how the ACP Social Services Branch was only the face of the nightlife crackdown and probably not the real villain in this story. But then, there are loads of grey characters in this thriller. For instance, who expected MNS chief Raj Thackeray to unwittingly help our cause by insisting that Patnaik and home minister RR Patil put in their papers? The latter, the mastermind as most suspect, has happily gone under the radar. And as long as he’s around, it’s tough to say whether Mumbai’s nightlife lovers have enough reason to celebrate.
But birthdays are special occasions that come year after year, remind people that they have fewer years to live and they have to be celebrated because Facebook says so. We eventually landed up at a suburban pub; and as expected, at about 12.45 am the famous words rang out:‘Last orders everyone.’