Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Squinting at the shimmering gold waters of the Hudson, I could only marvel at nature’s intoxicating beauty. The sun was a bright orb of amber brilliance that gilded the walls and flooded the surprisingly cold hall with warmth. I looked out at the metallic waters. The shadows were lengthening, the sun’s puissance was on the wane and it drove home the hard truth that it was the end of another day in the USA for me and the inevitable was another day closer!
It had been a long day for us. Hell, we had just come back from Niagara Falls the night before and we set off early on Thursday for a bite of the Big Apple. We sure had had our fill of this maddeningly marvelous, magnetic metropolis. We sat reflecting, as the ferries metamorphosed from specks on the horizon to rectangular barges with bellyfulls of people. Jethu’s mobile rang. It was Babandidi. Papa handed me the phone.
“Hello…” I said expectantly.
“Hey Riju” Babandidi began in her usual chirpy tone that would hold the attention of even the most bored bloke. Her voice, it was like a salsa dip, you know, one of those chunky ones with plenty of peppers, “we’re going out tonight to the city to party. Me, Babs, Miguel and Shinta. What I would suggest is you stay put over there and Miguel’s gonna come and pick you up because coming back to Ramsey makes no sense. Tell me where your shoes are and the clothes you wore at the wedding because they are a little strict in the clubs.”
“Ok, sounds good” I affirmed.
Papa and Mamma looked at me quizzically when I told them the plan for the night. The kids were going to let their hair down. Oh yeah, I had plenty to let down too. Papa gave me the usual gyaan about not drinking too much and yeah, offering to pay. He handed me forty bucks and suddenly I realized that how haggard Jefferson looked on the bills. Too much of black booty banging perhaps?
Hoboken was across the river and my parents hopped on to the ferry and suddenly there I was in the Manhattan ferry wharf alone. Buxom blondes, ravishing redheads, beautiful brunettes, ah women, we men just love ‘em. I had the cell with me for that was the lifeline. I admired them from afar, it was a buffet. Now where is that Giacomo? Ferries came, ferries went. Shintadidi called to say that they were leaving the Bronx and I told them my co-ordinates. The Intrepid was a block away and I drew courage from its presence.
Evening descended noiselessly in a riot of colour in the sky’s canvas. Even Van Gogh paled in comparison to the seductive mauves, lavenders and blues that bordered on the ineffable. It was like one of Dadu’s oils, mellow and soft, only this was nature’s artwork. The evening brought respite from the sapping heat of the day; the joggers were out in numbers wired to their i-pods. The lovers kissed and the poets dreamed, it was a starry, starry evening. I soaked in this dreamy atmosphere. Then my cell rang, I fumbled for it.
“Riju, start walking toward 13th and 9th. We’re almost there.” Shintadidi spoke with a sense of urgency for traffic in NYC was crazy.
I started walking and presently a black snazzy machine drew up. It was Miguel and Shintadidi in their Celica. A svelte beauty, I was finally getting inside her. Miguel maneuvered the car adroitly and she purred.
“Ecuador won! They beat Costa Rica and they’re through to the next round.” The delight was quite evident in Miguel.
Babandidi called again complaining that she wasn’t able to find my shoes.
“I hope you have your passport Riju. They are going to verify your age.”
“Damn, I’m not carrying it.” Miguel thought for a while. “Frank’s coming too, don’t worry we’ll think of something.”
“Riju, this place we’re going to basically a restaurant that converts into a club at night and plays Latino music mainly.” Shintadidi explained to me.
The narrow roads of Manhattan were abuzz with activity as people crowded the little bistros, cafes and bars to unwind. Parking is a prick in NYC but we were lucky to find a suitable spot. We walked towards the club. Iguana, I was told was one of those smallish yet nice clubs that played great music. A neon lizard on the board tried in vain to wiggle away as we entered the place. The bar was overflowing with people making the most of the happy hours were booze was dirt cheap. The crowd was mainly executive, chilling post work over a beer and finger food. The restaurant was operational too at this point.
The bartenders were both women. I was starving and I ordered a plate of nachos with salsa, guacamole, sour cream and beef. Miguel didn’t allow me to pay saying it would be my turn when he came down to Mumbai. I later found out the cause celebre. Shintadidi was carrying Miguel’s son and Miguel was only too relieved to hear that. The lady serving us was a Latina and she was busty. She brought us the nachos but I could’ve scooped up the salsa and guacamole from her rack! They were like juicy GM cantaloupes. Her falling neckline gave me a view of the grandest canyon. The nachos were terrific and cold, crisp Heineken was awesome with it. Miguel had converted me from a beer-hater to a beer-lover. Shameek too played his part in this conversion. Frank arrived soon and settled with a mojito. Shintadidi had to be content sipping cold water for obvious reasons.
Frank was another fun guy who was actually the man responsible for the events that followed. After sometime, Babandidi and Babs arrived in full party mode. Hassle free parking is as rare in NYC as a blonde in Timbuktu. Babandidi fed quarters to a parking meter and even then was apprehensive for the police were the biggest mofos everywhere. And tickets burn holes in wallets too.
We all toasted to the newest Granda, who floated in the amniotic fluid oblivious to all this. The dance floor was downstairs and it was just about getting warmed up. Babandidi and Babs did some scouting and the news was grim. The bouncer was going to be a tough nut to crack for he was insisting on IDs. The drinks flowed. The mojito was particularly good, fresh and crisp with the perfect amount of tartness and minty infusion to offset the rum. The bartender was certainly eye-catching, but thankfully she didn’t verify the patrons ages. Moreover, she had quite a booty, bubble butt apart from her luscious pair. Her brown hair was streaked gold and looked sexy. I loved the way she would prop on her elbows on the bar and seductively ask, “What should I get you Sir?” her boobs threatening to pop out as she bent over to take the order. Voluptuous vixen with some dangerous contours. The other bartender was a little older but attractive, tall and leggy with a pleasing demeanour, sweet smile and cute hair.
It was getting late and soon it was time for Miguel and Shintadidi to leave. We trooped downstairs. The bouncer was a hulking man, just the kind of man you don’t want to walk in on you when you are screwing his girl. Babandidi and Babs were let in after he checked their IDs. Frank was a smart cookie, and his idea of going down with a drink in hand worked and we were let in, no ID, no nothing. He merely asked us to transfer the contents into disposable glasses. We sure had the last laugh.
The music was blaring and it was dark and very dimly lit. People lounged about on the couches while a few people were already grooving. I am as bad a dancer as there is and I had no inkling that this was going to be my dance lesson. Babandidi was all enthusiasm but I was initially a bit skeptical about it the whole thing.
Babs is a fantastic dancer with some hot moves. Yeah, and it was only imperative that she would attract attention. It arrived in the shape of a tall Indian guy who was dancing with clients I presume. It was too loud to talk so he whipped out his card and handed to Babs and then sat down and tried to chat her up. For Babs, of course, sky was the limit, and she negated his overtures by showing her engagement ring. We inspected his card later and Babandidi couldn’t help but crack up at his name. There was a Korean guy who was too enthusiastic and friendly about Babandidi but he left all of us in splits with his unique dancing style that would give mine a run for the money. The music was good but they were hardly any people around and sadly, no women. It deflated my enthusiasm but then learning some hot merengue was fun and some salsa too. Babandidi tutored me in the intricacies of these soulful dances which was crazy fun. Babandidi then danced with this lanky, bald dude who sure had the moves. I was kind of tired at the end of it all. Frank was at it too with his own crazy moves. But I sure learnt all about dirty dancing and the slick moves to sweep a girl off her feet, how to turn her and losing oneself in the rhythm divine. The fast paced, foot dragging merengue was the one I loved best but the moves are quite risqué too at times, while the street salsa was fun.
The bar was again where the action was with the single men trying to woo the women. A last Captain and Coke rounded off the night for me. Weary after a long day, I longed to sleep tight. Finally around two we decided to call it a night and exited the Iguana. The neon reptile glowed bright as we walked out of the doors past a bouncer with an expressionless face. The sky was red and the heavens threatened to part any moment. The streets were semi-deserted as we walked towards the car.
Ha, there it was, no ticket thankfully in sight. The night of the Iguana had ended rather tamely. But it afforded us no respite from the crazy traveling for we were to leave for Maryland the next day which was quite an ordeal without the AC and a sleepy Dave on the wheels.


Blogger Nithya said...

nice one!
i loved this line in particular.. "Even Van Gogh paled in comparison to the seductive mauves, lavenders and blues that bordered on the ineffable."
and ya maybe you could have been a little subtle with the bartender's description! :P

4:14 PM  

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