The farewell went on for 3 nights.
On Wednesday, Rohan called up and I ended up at Legends of Rock (LoR). Two people, who were one of the first new friends I had made after coming to this city, had also come. The beer bomb came in and the music was softer than Heavy Metal. High on beer and a couple of large Smirnoffs, I was sitting behind Naman when the car hit us. I held my breath as he somehow managed to steer the shaking Bullet across the road and bring it to a halt. The leg guard had loosened and I felt a slight sting on my right foot but apart from that, everything was in one piece. For some reason in my mind I was singing Sing us a song, you're the pianoman....
Maybe alcohol does make you more alert.
Or maybe not.
Thursday and it was my treat to the office dudes. Along with another B-School-bound colleague. LoR it was again, owing to its proximity to Sidharth's, Ranchu's and my house. This time I didnt waste time on Kingfisher. So after tasting all the Belgian beers that they had (which were very different), we moved on to whiskey and vodka. I got really sloshed after drinking what I guess would be close to 10 pegs. Couple that with the occasional puff (yes, I do smoke a bit when I really want to get high!) and boy was I talking. In fact, everybody was talking. I thanked Pradeep for being the 'best team lead ever' and hugged Sidharth for making it such a memorable US trip. I finally told Prashant how uneasy I felt because of his calling me 'Sir' even though we were the same age. Oh, everybody was way too drunk. Pradeep made me promise him that I would come over to Minneapolis whenever he was there next. Let's see.
I sat beside Pradeep as we went to MG Road to look for more booze once LoR turned off the music and kicked us out at 11:30. The police caught us headed in the wrong direction in a One-Way. The alcohol meter went berserk as Pradeep inhaled and I had to cough up a thousand bucks. Back at Ranchu's place, I realized that I was drunk as dead. He laid the bed, I gulped down some tap water (he had run out of drinking water) and collapsed.
On Friday Shravan decided that I needed a farewell. And a unique one at that. The venue was Kyra and the band was Swarathma. We felt a little out of place in the beginning amongst the more elite looking crowd but as the drinks started to take their effect and the band started to up the tempo, we found ourselves enjoying. Quite boisterously at that. Anpadh was the loudest one amonst us. The bass player, Jishnu with his typical UP/Bihari accent provided the additional spark as people started turning around and looking at the 5 of us shouting at the top of our voice, clapping continuously to the rhythm and even trying to voice the lyrics as good as drunk 27 year olds could.
By the time it ended, we had done enough of shouting to make the percussionist come up to us and say, 'Thanks guys. You were louder than us!'. We also got hold of Jishnu and came to know that he was part of Bodhitree of GMD and Sabka Katega fame. A few ka bhaiya, kaisan ba later, we decided to head to Take 5. It was after all, only 10:30 and we needed to get high-er.
Jason Mraz's I'm Yours greeted us at Take 5. Rohan and I had reached earlier so we ordered drinks for everybody else before the bar closed. 4 large 100 Pipers and 1 large Absolut. Rohan had gone crazy. I've never seen him gulp down neat whiskey at such pace. He didn't even bother about putting a few ice cubes. Upon my request, John Mayer's Say started playing and we ordered a repeat of the drinks. As is the norm, people got a little senti and started talking about the days gone by and the things we will miss. In spite of all the alcohol and all the music, I knew that I was leaving behind the best place I've lived in and a wonderful bunch of guys. People with whom there are no inhibitions. With whom you never have to wonder if you have been misunderstood or taken out of context. Who have the same sense of humour as you and a similar taste in rock n roll. And even though I am the only vodka drinker, that was hardly a problem ever.
I drove the bike as Rohan clinged on to me. In hindsight, I'm glad that after 20 meters he realized that he was in no state to take us home. I was drunk too. More than ever, I might say. Perhaps that's what got us home. I was too alert!
When everything in life comes with an expiry tag - the last drink, the last get-together, the last concert; my feelings towards each of them tend to be ambivalent at best. To me, it's these moments of delight that shine through when you look back at your life. To use the cliche, you hardly remember the grades you got in college or the projects you worked in your job. And as sure as I am to trade this life for something which would be a different world altogether, I know that a good part of me would be what I was in these last three years. A lot of what I become from hereon, would be thanks to the life I've led here.
To my friends in this city with whom I have shared all the joys and disappointments of my life, till we meet again - cheers and keep the music playing.