By Tarun Chandy
A lot of the time, stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something different can lead you absolutely nowhere. Mostly because, when you make that bold lead into the unknown, you have high expectations for where you might land. You’re doomed to be disappointed.
I tried a number of options in my attempt to write this blog post. I watched a really weird 90’s Bollywood movie that was exactly as cheesy as I expected it to be. I started to read a self help book and only made it twenty five pages before I decided I was beyond all help. And then, finally, I made the call. But this story isn’t about the call, as much as the night that followed. A night that reunited me with more than one long lost friend.
My family and I were in our house in the Nilgiri mountain range, where we go to escape the city every once in a while. The weather is a lot cooler and when the winter isn’t shrouding the valley in a thick cloud of mist, it’s got one hell of a view. But, after two days I found myself bored out of my wits. There’s only so many hours you can spend, wrapped in a blanket in front of the T.V. So I found the one spot in the house with decent cell service and looked through my contact list for someone I hadn’t spoken to in a year or two.
I must admit, Rajiv was not my first call. I pointlessly caught up with a guy I hadn’t seen since my freshman year of college and never planned to see again. One friend from high school didn’t pick up. And then, I scrolled down to his number.
Rajiv was a distant cousin of mine, who also had a house in the Nilgiris, about a half an hour drive away. The last time I was there, I got shitfaced in front of all his friends and threw up on a number of rather valuable antiques. I hadn’t spoken to him since the following morning, when I called to apologize, as a gentlemen should. Rajiv lived in Bangalore, most of the time, but by some coincidence just happened to be at his house in the hills for one night only, to attend a friend’s wedding. After an amusing chat, he mentioned he was having a couple of friends over for drinks and invited me over.
The next question was how to get there. My dad wasn’t going to let me take his car and we were beyond the reach of Uber’s and public transport. So, I convinced our caretaker to drive me there in his Auto Rickshaw. For those of you who’ve never been to India, an Auto is essentially a gas powered tricycle cab. My caretaker drove one when we weren’t in town, but it was definitely not made for the mountains. It took us an hour of bumping, grinding and pushing its little engine to the limit before we arrived.
Rajiv welcomed me in with a big hug, and a bigger glass of beer, clearly having forgotten about my previous escapade. He was the same guy he’d always been. Laid back, jovial and still trying to graduate from a college he’d been in for far too long. He wrapped a humongous arm around me and pulled me into the lounge to meet his friends. That was when I saw Pablo Khan, a boy I hadn’t met since I was fourteen.
Pablo’s family owned a large estate that my class had once spent a week at on a school trip. Him and I got along really well at first. We were into the same music, both played the drums and we ended up spending some time together. Then the girl I had a crush on at the time threw herself at him and I distanced myself in jealous resentment. That night, a few of my friends thought it might be fun to shoot out all the light bulbs in their families guest house with our pellet guns, and the next day his father made a sweeping declaration that no student of our high school was ever allowed on their property again. It was probably a wise decision on his part. In case it wasn’t already evident, our school had a way of churning out little assholes with no value for money or respect for other people. I hadn’t seen Pablo since.
We had quite a laugh about the whole thing. At least, I hope he actually found it funny and wasn’t just laughing to be polite. He was now trying to make it as a musician, and I must say he wasn’t half bad. We spent the evening drinking, playing pool and sending selfies to my confused high school classmates. I was even convinced to go with them to a wedding I wasn’t invited to, which really didn’t take much persuasion.
My caretaker patiently waited until I was done to drive my drunk ass home, and I spent that rickety ride reflecting on the fact that a seemingly menial assignment had pulled a pretty exciting night out of my boring mountain holiday. I suppose sometimes, that leap out of your comfort zone can be everything you hope it will be after all.