It’s probably the biggest cliché. But the best morning-after stories come from drunken conversations in unexpected places. It could be a dive, a house party or the time spent smoking outside bars. You could meet someone who claimed he was an inventor-scientist for the Indian government. I have at Janata. “Diplomats drink Diplomat, aristocrats drink Aristocrat, I’m an Old Monk,” was his one-liner. Or there’s always the chance of getting a first-hand Bollywood report from Ajay Devgn’s driver who told us how he got paid Rs 40,000 a month for the job. He quit a year ago to drive a rickshaw. True tales these.
The most recent such chat was with a starlet friend that took place at 1.10am after we were kicked out of a bar. She had recently returned from Lahore and Quetta, Pakistan. “That place is crazy,” she says. “There’s obviously no liquor, but there is this cemetery in Lahore…” The story, at this point, could have gone anywhere. And no one was growing soberer (it really is a word) by the minute. “That’s where the nightlife is, dude!” she says. One of Pakistan’s most popular drummers was banned from performing at live venues a few months ago. “So he began playing at this cemetery because no one disturbs anyone there.” Her film crew went looking for this man. “We found him, thanks to the people at the dargah.” What?! “Oh right, that dargah. Best gig venue ever. We walked into this room that reeked of marijuana. A woman was singing Sufi ghazals and a very, very old man was lying on a bed smoking a joint.” Visitors piled up cigarette packets as offerings to the man before finding a spot to sit. This, apparently, isn’t weird at all.
But what’s even less weird is the fact that like them, we too have an audience, the culture and the artistes. We also have heavy entertainment and liquor taxes that have been throttling the city’s nightlife for a while. Tickets to global acts often come at the price of an arm. Licensed events are raided. Partygoers are rendered barless at 1.30 am, regressing from the 5 am deadline that existed less than a decade ago. Apparently, India and Pakistan have a lot in common, even in the party space. So, how long before Scribe might have to find itself a cemetery in India? Long enough, we hope.