“Let’s avoid crowds. The bigger the crowd, the more irritated we become!”
Sitting in a dim lit bar, Hari and Shiva were looking around sipping beer. The ashtray was full and there was smoke all around. Six empty bottles stood testimony to the long night. They came to have just one beer, but as usual, a lap turns into a ten kilometer marathon. Every table was minding its own business, lost in its own conversations and exchanges. Our guys were doing nothing of the sort that attracts attention too. So, it was more of a sober night, we could say.
“Let’s avoid crowds. The bigger the crowd, the more irritated we become! Kiran! Repeat the beer please!”
Our industrious Kiran shouts out a ‘Yes Sir’ and gets to work. Gulping down a little more, both of them look around again at all those goats around them. A guy at the corner table was shouting at the top of his voice as if the place was his bathroom. Another customer was fighting with the steward about how he was overbilled. Apparently, he was not convinced that he had so many pegs. One other was cribbing about too much oil in his dish.
“Boss. Just check your wallet once. Do we have enough cash? Can we order some more?”
Hari checks his wallet and nods his head in a way which signals ‘YES’ for about 5 minutes. His neck hurting, he finally stops. Shiva convinced, displays his ordering abilities again to Kiran. Some local music channel was being played on the TV. Local bars have more TVs than electronics showrooms, playing local stuff to please customers. The bar-tenders should never make the mistake of changing channels! If they do, then a verbal war will erupt over which channel has to be played. Table 1 wants a movie, Table 2 wants music and Table 15 wants news and so on. Nothing of the sort was happening that night.
“True. Let’s stay away from crowds. But aren’t we amidst a crowd right now? So this doesn’t count as a crowd?” asked a puzzled Hari.
“No, it doesn’t. I am talking about crowds we are connected to. These people are strangers. The possibility of shit happening with a stranger is remote. But, if it is a relative, friend or colleague, the chances are much more. Get it?” lectured, the wise Shiva.
“I think so. So we avoid people we know, in short”
“Yes my dear Hari. Yes. For some time. So that they realize our absence”
A lone guy across their table was trying to overhear what they were discussing. These lone rangers are one category who are really lonely and want to poke their noses into others conversations and give unnecessary gyaan. Shiva sensed some words trying to come out of his mouth and stopped him mid-way, “Uncle. Please! No!” Disappointed, uncle gets back to his brandy.
Ashtray emptied. Time to start smoking again. Hari and Shiva start smoking like steam engines.
“The point is not about helping and loving others Hari. They just seem to lack gratitude. It doesn’t mean that I want to enslave them for life or something. But, you know, for courtesy sake man. You get me right?”
Hari nods his head and blows out smoke into Shiva’s face. Pleased, Shiva returns the smoke.
“Kiran. Enough. Get us the bill”
Kiran smiling runs to the counter. He always loved the climax. This was the best part of the entire process. You get tipped. Collecting the bill, he places it in a dirty old folder and hands it over to Hari. Ah! He had seen Hari checking his wallet and got a glimpse of some fresh notes in it. He was sure Hari was paying the bill. Hari pays him the exact amount and closes the folder.
“Kiran. No change. Next time? I know you are a good guy. Double the tip next time!”
Kiran forces the best smile he can and watches them leave. They were regular anyway. So he was sure of a tip later.
Standing outside the bar, the duo light up their cigarettes. It was a ritual to light a cigarette again as soon as you step out of a bar or something of that sort. It’s like people just do it. So they too were doing it.
“Screw the crowd man. I swear I am not going to talk to them for a while!” blurted Hari.
Shaking their hands, they give each other a hug and start walking away. Shiva suddenly remembering something turns back and calls Hari.
“Hey Hari! Heard there’s a new budget bar that has opened up in town. Let’s check it out next weekend!”