The first time we ever went out together was on New Year’s eve 2000. It wasn’t a date. It was just a bunch of people hanging out. G was there and so was his cousin, me and my hostel-mate, and a few classmates. We went to Orion, a discotheque in Bangalore – it’s no more now, like so many other things.
I remember how I had to convince my mom to let me go. This was going to be my first night out in a new city, first time away from home. I was excited, mom probably was terrified. This was the first time I drank a modest small vodka and coke – a took an instant liking to alcohol. But I knew enough not to get drunk while everyone else was. This was also the first time I saw a couple make out in public and go at it for 45 straight minutes! (Remember I am a small town girl)
G and his cousin between themselves finished 12 big bottles of beer. And he was smashed. I think his cousin encouraged him to ask me, and he – emboldened by the alcohol – asked me if I’d come home with him. I laughed and said no. I laughed a lot then. And the funny bit is, he didn’t back down. He kept promising me he wouldn’t ‘do anything’. And that made me giggle even more. Ya right buddy, I was so not going home with you!
We didn’t know each other well then – it was just 2-3 months since we had met. That evening out was just everyone wanting to exert their freedom and do something new – not sex. But overall it turned out to be super fun. I also found out G couldn’t dance. But he kept barging in anytime anyone else tried to dance with me :). And once we’d said our happy new year’s we compromised and all of us went to a friend’s house to stay the night -chaperoned by his parents.
But this wasn’t our first official date. For that we went to Windsor Manor. I don’t know how he afforded the dinner at that time, but he did it without blinking an eye. We decided to go to this fancy place on a whim – I think he wanted to make it special for me. We dressed up – as much as we knew how to – we were really kids playing at being grown ups. I remember I wore a grey satin concoction. A kurta with noodle straps and parallel bottoms. I don’t remember what he wore – Is that terrible; to not remember?
We went in and were directed to the Indian restaurant; the maître d’ being very firm that we would not enjoy Dublin. We were pissed off at his attitude, but not wanting to spoil our day, headed off to his directions. At INR 100 for a glass of juice, the prices were steep. But we weren’t really hungry (and good for that because for all the fuss the food was terrible). So we ended up ordering a mulligatawny soup, an aloo paneer gravy, and some rotis. And yes, a glass of watermelon juice – just to be extravagant.
When I think back now, I know he must’ve cursed me for that aloo-paneer. He was a hard core non-vegetarian and hated paneer with a vengeance. For him to shell out a month’s pocket money for a dish he hated must’ve hurt. And unfortunately the mulligatawny also turned out to be ‘anna sambar’ that his mom made on a daily basis! So overall, the meal left a lot to be desired, but not the company. We were already best of friends by then, and I think the experimentation was about to begin.
Strangely, we frequented many fancy places in the years to come, but we never went back to Windsor Manor.