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Monday, December 14, 2009

old fort...new tune

My friend Gagan called me up on Friday night asking me if I would come for the annual college reunion on Sunday. I said I'd go if he came for it; he was in Ludhiana and said that he would come for it, so we decided to meet in college for the annual lunch. Well, being my lazy self, I ended up getting out of bed only by 1 p.m and by the time I left the house, the lunch had been over for half an hour. We decided to meet at CP - me on my bullet, and he in by metro rail. we reached around the same time and decided to go to Blues, the famous college hangout. While drinking a pitcher apiece, chatting up an Australian guy, and realising that we must be growing old, we got to know of the south asian rock concert happening at purana qila. We decided to go for that instead of heading straight to JNU to finish the bottle of old monk that lay in my bag outside.

After asking for directions and stopping to pee on the way, we reached the place. It was amazing to look at - the sight of an ancient fort lit up in the diminishing twilight, with bands from four different countries playing rock music one after the other, people head-banging next to dilapidated walls, a layer of smoke adding to the mysticism of well-maintained gardens of a different age... one bottle of old monk split between four bottles of spiked coke... it was an awesome experience. There was a band apiece from Bhutan, Burma, Nepal and India... we reached just as the Burmese band was finishing up, to be followed by the Bhutanese band, which followed up a good performance by throwing out 'limited edition t-shirts of the King of Bhutan' to the crowd (around twenty pieces).

Both the bands were cheered by the crowd. Then came the highlight of the day...the Nepali band (1976 AD??). The amount of support they got was tremendous, as the first 6 rows were full of Nepalis, who ensured that the band from Nepal didn't feel that they were out of the Himalayas yet. There was one long haired figure sitting on someone's shoulder, going crazy and head banging and well, finally took her?? t-shirt off. ahhhh...sigh, while I looked for elusive signs of femininity, I realised to my great disappointment that the figure was male. Anyway, the Nepali band sang a lot of popular numbers (evdently), the most popular being this song (Nepali Ho!) dedicated to migrating nepalis settled at various parts of the world, going through this whole identity crisis, but who still were nepalis at heart...and got much support from the audience, more than avial, a band from Trivandrum that sang mallu songs.

After trying to understand what they the Mallu band was singing about for some time, I decided to skip the avial performance and head to JNU(after having stopped for one more song, as an oriental girl (who looked either Mizo or singaporean)joined them and sand a song (either in mallu or in cantonese - I have no idea, except that the girl was cute). As Gagan and I were walking out, we decided to look around the fort a little. We were intitially whisked off the path by some security sentinel, but as we took a detour into the gardens, we discovered a path that took us to the walls on the far side, where we saw the most fascinating parts of the fort... the thick walls, the labyrinths inside, parts being renoveted, the lighting showing us an awe-inspiring view of the main entrance. Some of the outlets were completely unprotected, leading to a steep fall of about a hundred feet. We felt like warriors standing proud at the invincibility of our fort, looking below at helpless wannabe intruders trying to scale the walls as we shot them down with our arrows :).

Then we found some stairs that led to the top of the wall... so there we were... walking on the walls of a fort built centuries ago, and then we reached a part where the wall was broken, and there we were... cursing the Britishers who demolished the wall with their powerful cannons and other assorted artillery... emperors looking on with woe at a destroyed fortress... well, we spent some time in this self- glorification, and then headed back down the stairs, walked around a little bit. All this while, there was a silent figure walking around us, sometimes a little ahead, sometimes behind... with a camera and a tripod stand, quietly clicking away from the myriad angles that the lights and shadows offered for us to observe. We ran out of places to see, and after hopping around a bit, I decided to approach this figure to ask him if he can help us keep a few memories of the trip. The figure turned out to be a mallu pilot who had just graduated. I have forgotten his first name now, and hope that Gagan remembers it, but his last name was Jose. He was born in '88, and must have just graduated from college, and was already placed with Decan airways. Jose refused to partake of the old monk as he never drank and drove...'NEVER' he said, but he was more than happy to take a few pictures of ours, while he was also happy when Gagan offered to take a few pics with him in it. We got a few shots before the lights were turned off.

Happy with whatever we had, we decided to bid adieu to the young warrior pilot from 'malluland' and went on to JNU, passing by the restaurant inside the purana qila gate where we had had chhole bhature and aloo tikki before going in for the concert. There was no entry fee for the concert, which made it even more amazing. The atmosphere was full of 'no big, no small, all equal in south Asia' and with this feeling of euphoric security and symphony in our hearts, we headed to JNU. With a little help from some auto drivers, we reached the 24/7 Dhaba, where we had paneer, dal makhani and roti. After this I dropped Gagan to an auto and headed home, singing 'NEPALI HO!!!"