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Sunday, October 7, 2001
Article

Those were the days, my friend...
Raaja Bhasin

SOME of us married the girls we had danced with — and their children are now ready to sally forth with ‘come-hither’ looks suitably enhanced by coloured hair decorated with barbed wire. It was a while before lot no. 2 fell before the hammer and waltzed off to the tune of a well-orchestrated family symphony.

Every now and then, we, the members of lot no. 2 bump into someone whose hands we had once held and to whom we had promised the eternity that only teenagers seem to know. Sometimes our eyes meet. We let that sunset — when we had stepped out for the breath of fresh air, compulsory after Paul Anka or Lobo — be said by the slightest of slight smiles and the mildest of crinkles around the eyes. But then, depending on who it is, we pretend that it is just another face in the market crowd. This is when we bury ourselves further in the toothpastes and shampoos, or suddenly, find the gospel being revealed amidst the oranges.

Today, our parties would be probably regarded as a drag. It was a time when we still wore crisply-ironed trousers and ties to dances — blue jeans being the only exception. These, whether begged or borrowed, or if the lucky dog possessed a pair of original Levis — were something better than airy talk about coupes. This was real.

 


Preparations for that Saturday afternoon jam session began well in advance — after all it was no less than a battle for hearts that had to be waged over the next few hours. The place could be a "permission-granted" room at a friend’s house, the club’s basement or (joy of joys), a room at the mess. The music system, if you could call it that, was plugged into place, tested and re-tested. The food was placed under the guard of someone who had just had a hefty lunch and could be trusted for the next couple of hours. The dusty durrie was rolled and the floor (sometimes) swept. Then came the last minute touches — hair to be combed, a quick brush-up with the book on palmistry, the last rubbing of shoes over your neighbour’s trousers.

Then in panic of being let down, we would wait for the girls to arrive. When they did, a collective sigh of relief would rise to the ceiling of that acne and fuzz-filled room. The prologue was the girls sitting in one corner and talking and giggling and ignoring us. We stared as unabashedly as could be. Act one was launched when someone of today’s lot no. 1 would take the floor with his wife to be and slowly the others would follow suit. The record player could be heard in distant corner along with the occasionally cry, "Watch it. Don’t scratch that rec. It’s mine ya".

Act two sometimes developed a glitch. Someone decided to sneak out and quaff a couple to the outrage of those who hadn’t or couldn’t. Act three was the best, this was when the ‘slow numbers’ took over and the day’s drama wound-up with a couple of really fast-pacers and a line of Galahads waiting to escort the ladies home.

The last time I bumped into someone from that time, I was tempted to tell her that we had run out of water and that the glass of orange squash I had presented with so much panache, had been suitably diluted from the cast-iron cistern in the loo.

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