Monday, August 23, 2004

What Was I Thinking?!

OK! Here is my thesis then: Women deal better with age than men do! They get peppier and manage to remain enthused about everything with every passing year. As for– men... Well, we just age! As I looked up from the street into Cuba Libre, I felt seriously dated. It was at that point I realized that I hadn'’t been in a club for over eight years!

Our friends joined S and I for dinner at the DiNardo’s, –a sea-food place in the Old City in Philadelphia over the weekend. We were done fairly early and some of us decided the night was still young and we should go dancin'’ instead of dessert. There were a fair number of happenin' places just ‘round the block and we headed thataway.

To be very honest, if I danced after every meal, maybe, I could save on my gym dues. S and I are not what you’'d call conscious weight-watchers. We are usually on a see-food diet – we see food, we eat it!

So we walked a couple of blocks towards Penn’'s Landing and the clubs. We, in this case, being R, Mumbhai, Mo, Dr. Clean, S and I.

Café Spice – seemed like a very desi-adda. The neon over the entrance only suggested a desi-motif, but the few people inside were unmistakable dal-khor. It was just past 8 pm and the bar was about as happening a place, as my neighbourhood church on a Friday evening. Nobody would be shakin a leg until a little later.

We headed across the street to Cuba Libre, supposedly, ‘the chief hangout place hereabouts’. While there were a lot of people hanging around the entrance, it seemed like very few of the people outside actually went in. Maybe, it was the rather large man at the door –-- the dude who carded me.

I always get carded when I go out with S! Maybe, it’'s because she looks fifteen and I look like the dirty ol'’ cradle snatcher! That would definitely explain the dodgy looks I get!

The bar at Cuba Libre is a shoe-box, with the counter set along the wall. It is a small space and looked crowded with just a few people standing around the bar. R wove her way through to the far side and the barmaid’'s station, followed by Mo, Dr. Clean, Mumbhai, S and I. Mumbhai bought us each a Mojito. At $7 a piece, I understood why the crowds stayed outside.

We made an abortive attempt at conversation over the loud, heavy music, but soon gave up as we slipped back into a curtain-lined alcove. Beyond the heavy drapes to our back was the dining-area, which would be cleared out to open the dance floor. But, not for a while. We hoped the lounge upstairs would be opened. Meanwhile, we sipped our Mojitos and bided our time. However, there is only so long you can stretch a drink, and after a while, we decided to step out.

We hadn'’t quite made up our minds about where we wanted to hang out even as we drifted into Continental. From the outside it looked like your neighbourhood diner -- all chrome and tile, but the inside was surprisingly 'cool', rather '“retro-modern, meets the cover of high fidelity'. The menu was definitely interesting, especially if you cared for fusion food.”

We had just moved to Dinner –- Part Deux, when some of Dr. Clean’'s friends from the city joined us. With ample impetus from one of ‘'the friends'’, the conversation took off. It was all over the place -- from revitalization of Philadelphia to Salman Khan’'s proclivity to shedding his shirt in every scene. And was there something mentioned about Shilpa Shetty’'s navel? It's all a bit hazy right now. Anyway, Mumbhai seemed really intent on getting ‘'the friend'’ up the chic-pea tree. Oh! It was hilarious!

Dinner done, we went back to Café Spice. The place seemed to be definitely more populated now. There were a few men my age... In all fairness, they were probably a bit younger than I was, but my self-image stopped getting older the day I turned thirty. The men stood awkwardly in groups of twos and threes, some nursing a drink, some wearing an expression that might have been more appropriate at a funeral. Most were dressed casually in blacks and grays (there is that funeral theme again), though some sported rather clubby shirts. You know, the kind that sticks to your frame and make your biceps look bigger than they actually are. Anyway, a high fashion appearance none did sport.

The women, on the other hand, were dressed to kill. They all seemed rather young to me. They were clustered in groups of fours and fives. They giggled, and every now and then pointed at something (or someone) and laughed. The few, who were with men, seemed to be looking around the room hoping they could snag someone better. The men, they were with, just stared over the head of their partner in fear that they would be rejected again.

The DJ began pumping out the music over the industrial-sized speakers, and some people began tapping their feet while others shook their head from side to side – I guess, we were not dancing yet.

A mem stumbled past us and ran smack into the wall, before collapsing in the doorway. The bouncer rushed in to help her get up, but man was she pissed! Someone called for an ambulance, as a crowd gathered to watch the spectacle. The bouncer and his buddy were doing all they could to keep her from going into shock; that's when she threw up!

My friend, Basak had this theory that you never really buy a drink at a bar… You only rent it… You pick it up at the bar and... Well, I had to use the facilities, again.

On my way back I noticed the women had laid claim to one of the cubicles set into the wall like an alcove. Mumbhai sat at the edge of the table looking like he had run out of steam, Dr. Clean appeared very disinclined to join the festivities on the floor, even as music with a heavy beat began pulsing through the room. The DJ shifted gears and the backbeat sounded vaguely familiar. That was a definitely a “tappa” beat; and were those words Hindi? I really couldn'’t tell. But apparently, R and Mo could, and they were on the floor. S let herself be persuaded to step in too. This was not dancing as I knew it. Everyone was staging their own little show. Anyway, the women seemed to be having a good time.