Monday, November 05, 2007

For you S, a Thousand Times Over

"Question everything TS, even the conventional, because the root of conviction is validation, not belief."

S (1981 - )

4th November, 2007:

19:30 - SMS from L: Dude, sorry for not replying to your message yesterday, it was a crazy day. But yes, we must do something for S's birthday tonight!

Reply: Ok, I'm driving right now so can't really talk. I'll call you once I'm home and we'll figure something out.

20:45 - SMS from L: TC Gurgaon, 22:30. There was no time for a surprise so I've kept S in the loop. MC is getting a cake from Big Chill.

Reply: OK, sounds good, though a surprise would've been fun. Anyway, call me when you're leaving Vasant Kunj. See ya.

5th November, 2007:

00:10 - I get a frantic call from L. He demands to know why I'm not there yet, considering the clock struck midnight 10 minutes or so ago. I tell him about the unavoidable delay, and the fact that I'm almost there. He tells me they're at Buzz, and not TC, which is great because I'm in the mood for bollywood.

00:23 - I walk into Buzz, where the DJ is doing an impressive job of mixing Soni De Nakhre and Ride the White Horse. Blinded by the disco lights and deafened by the speakers and the screams, I fall back on my sixth sense.

I see drunk people.

After a minute or so, I feel a hand clench my arm from behind so I turn. Its L. He motions for me to follow him to the far end of the club, where most of S's universe is standing at the bar. The moment I notice S, I almost run towards her.

What follows is a warm wish, a warmer hug and courtesy L, a hot, hot Sambuka shot.

S: I'm impressed TS, this is the third year in a row you've made it to my birthday!

Me: Well, if the last two 5th Novembers were anything to go by, I'll make my way to your birthday without fail every year. That, and the fact that you still remain one of my favourite people.

She smiles and looks away. I go back to my drink, knowing well that this is the fourth year in a row I'm there on her birthday.


When the music finally gives way to silence, an indication, perhaps, that we need to finish our drinks and get the hell out, I feel some thing is amiss. With M and V missing, the details of which I'd rather not get into, the circle feels incomplete.

In that moment of incompleteness, I try and seek refuge in a song. Not just any song, but one whose lyrics have earned a place on my epitaph, and perhaps the epitaphs of the people who are here for S tonight.

I play the song on my phone and wink at S and L.

Is it getting better or
Do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now
If you got someone to blame?

Soon enough, I attempt to hug the both of them together, as has become customary over the last couple of years, since we have laid claim to this song as our own. L steps forward and S makes the initial gesture of a hug, but then backs away and says, "no TS, this isn't our song..."

L and I back away, and the song fades into oblivion as I begin making conversation with an acquaintance from work.


The night finally ends at the Bristol parking lot around 6:00 in the morning. The effects of alcohol have long worn off, and the only thing lining our stomach is the three plates of bacon we have just devoured. L, S and I smoke one last cigarette as MC stands there freezing. A plan for Pushkar is finalized for the weekend after Diwali. Once the cigarettes are over, we make our way home.

The last two 5th Novembers


Well, if the fact that I wrote six chapters about S's birthday weekend last year is anything to go by, you know how eventful it must have been.



Its 07:00 AM, and extremely chilly for an early November morning. The terrace I'm standing on is large and rectangular, outlined by a railing that reminds me of a house I once lived in during my childhood. There is plenty of light, but the sun hasn't, yet, shed its quilt.

Empty bottles and people are aplenty, scattered casually all over the available floorspace.

Two very close friends are trying to out-drink one another, with the more experienced one yelling "Bas? Ho Gaya?" at regular intervals, hoping to elicit surrender from the other one, who's obviously on the verge of throwing-up. (And to think that today these two shy away from making eye-contact)

A guy is perched on the bean bag, playing "Last Kiss" by Pearl Jam on his guitar. A few others are watching him play and revel in the attention. His girlfriend comes and sits right in front of him. He breaks into a grin and looks straight into her eyes as he ends the song, now only his fingers caressing the strings. Someone cheers them on and the girl blushes, not knowing what to do with all the attention. (This couple married sometime ago, only to separate within a month of their wedding)

Most others have passed out. On the cushions. In the bedroom. On the floor.

M, S and I are looking at the sky, sharing a cigarette. S asks me about plans for the day and I tell her I need to be at work in less than an hour. She looks at me in disbelief, while M immediately asks to confirm if I'm still dropping her half-way home. (M is an ex-colleague who now works for a high-end luxury and lifestyle magazine for teenagers. Every now and then, she also doubles up as a reality check for people like me and S)


That day, for the first time in over a year, I didn't show up for work. To make matters worse, I didn't even bother informing my manager, which ultimately led to the initiation of disciplinary action against me.


We share a special relationship, S and I.

It began in the October of 2004, when she trained me on the nuances of the English language, and we ended up spending over three weeks arguing over the correct pronunciation of the word 'govern'. Post which we graduated to casual acquaintance thanks to a common friend A, drinking all night, every now and then, at TC Delhi and Zaika. However, it wasn't until mid 2005, when all of us from work began frequenting TC Gurgaon and Buzz, that we actually started hitting it off, and I don't think we've looked back since.

The funny thing is, S and I don't talk on the phone, and neither do we meet, just her and I. Even so, in the last couple of years we have, thanks to common friends (especially M, L and V), we have managed to meet at least twice a week.


I want to use this space today to express my gratitude S. You've made the last three years something I never thought possible. Worthwile.

I also want you to know that the social landscape will continue to change in the years to come, like it has these last couple of years. People will come in and out of our lives, and we will continue to forgive, forget and move on, trying desperately to seek the happiness that we believe is ours. And though I hope not, there may even come a time when you and I may go on for years without as much a single thought about this chapter of our lives.

If that does happen, I hope all this comes back to us someday. Many, many years later. When we're old and unwanted. When the kids from the neighbourhood force themselves to listen to our stories only because we haven't paid them for mowing our lawns yet. When its early November, and the smell of the sunlit morning reminds us of a time we have long forgotten.

i want you think of me then and
let your eyes swell up a little
and if your pride permits
maybe even shed a tear

i also want you to hum that tune
the one you once let go of
because for every memory you've disowned
there is a forgotten song


Joy said...

Those last lines..beautiful!

Memories are such beautiful things, I know disowning them would break me.

Joy said...

Yeah, I tried clicking on the name and it didn't work.

I leave comments using the 'other' option and eblogger is a li'l snootish towards non blogspot users. Hmpf. ;)

This should work:

TS said...

Thanks, you bring me Joy.

Karan said...

I got distracted after hearing about the Big Chill cake. Did you get the chocolate mud pie?

TS said...

I don't really remember, but it was mostly melty and overloaded with dark chocolate.

Was completely wasted when I dug my fingers into it. You heard me, fingers!

maya said...

Very nice post. One of those that tugs at the heartstrings (if you'll forgive the cliche, and makes one think of old friends, new friends, no-longer friends, all with a sense of love and happiness.
Also, good work on the title. Hosseini would be happy :)

TS said...

@Maya: Thanks. And the Hosseini catch phrase has been inserted because S was the one who asked me to read The Kite Runner.

kriti said...

Hey Tanmay ..i must compliment u on yr writing skills , have to tell ya that i landed on yr blog accidentally , however its so freakin addictive ,,u shud pursue writin , a lot of things u write , the feel, the choice of words are so apt ...somethng one can relate too ,,beautiful :)))....

TS said...

@Kriti: Thank you. You're generous.

Pri said...

no she's not being generous. u write good and coming from someone who says 'u write good' u know that that's a complement. can u even count the number of things wrong with that last sentence? mine. not yours. right so i was saying that the person wasn't being generous. they were just appreciating the fact that u actually wrote something. a story. we like stories. and u lazy fuck write once oh like what once every 5 months. write more! fool!

TS said...

@Pri: Ok. Promise. Don't scare me.

frissko said...

hmm..nice..that was a feel-good post...
and i was breaking my head over why i found the title very familiar...(thankfully answered in one of the comments)

utopia said...

Touched me :).
I have an S too in my life and I am sure someday when I look back it shall be a lot like this.

"For you a thousand times over."
Funny thing is I finished reading "Kite Runner" on Sunday and these lines like so many of us readers remain embedded in my mind.

For S a thousand times over.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, you're my favourite office-time read! :)

Sunlit mornings in November, a steaming cup of tea and a cigarette... reminding us of times long forgotten...

You can sit alone for hours with memories of such times and not feel alone...

- Jane Doe

TS said...

@Utopia: Amen.

@JD: I know, what a feeling eh? Btw, when are you guys doing an all-nighter at Malibu Towne again? MG's got herself a new car which I'm sure you've heard about. We should get her to host before the fog gets deathly.

The Darkling Thrush said...


i like the honesty with which you write.

very hard to find that.

J' said...

your posts tug at my heartstrings...

U2... sigh... I've got an amazing accoustic version of this song...

your post made me remember a quote from 'The Wonder Years'

"Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. "

Bless you TS..

Jane Doe said...

We should, we should! I will start working on it! :)

Jane Doe said...

@j': Thank you! Was trying to remember that line :)

TS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J' said...

@jane doe: :)

J' said...

TS maybe you should also start giving 'Etiquette Lessons' too

kriti said...

hey ...guess wat ..i was here apparently to see if uv written sum more ...but u havent:(( anyway i guess u have earned a fan already ,,,in me:) ....and just BTW i have read everythng on yr blog,luved shine on ....particulary , you make the people in yr life sound like characters by glorifying them ....amazin ....waitin fr some more....hopin im not beein a intruder lol...cheers!!!

Spunky Monkey said...

Things don't remain the same, no? The thought scares me more than I choose to let on. Especially in the wake of college coming to an end, and the fabric us friends had kept woven over the past four years, undoing itself in individual strands. Sigh.

This one, god knows why, made me sad.

TS said...

@Kriti: Ha ha, check this space on Mondays. Hopefully you'll find something.

@Spunky Monkey: That line sums it up SM, well done.

The Dragon Reborn said...

woah.. i'm not really sure what else to say! i remember asking u last week at TC whether ur still writing.. and S replied on ur behalf that u were.. so i looked ur page after a long break.. and was.. well.. for lack of a better word.. stunned.
brilliant piece of writing TS.. and just the number of comments on it should speak for itself.. i believe the secret lies in letting thoughts and memories flow straight from ur heart. When u think about the story too much, it usually comes out sounding too carefully structured.. this, however, is pure emotion.
Tell S she's one lucky woman.. to have something this crazy dedicated to her!!
Rock on!

TS said...

@TDR: Thank you, o' Dragon. Coming from you it means a lot.

Dan said...

Tanmay, you haven't blogged in a while. Everything OK dude? That profile photo is super cool. But it needs a Santa hat. LOL!

Yes, I'm back blogging. Can't keep me away.

TS said...

@Dan: All well, my friend! Just been caught up in the festive season et al.

And you, I know things haven't been easy for you this last one year. I wish you all the strength in this world, and hope this festive season turns things around.

And just FYI, its GREAT to have you back and blogging.

Xai said...

for some reason, I always remember that your blog exists when I'm spaced out, looking for something to read and just generally running background processes in the head.

i know that statement was completely irrelevant to your blog. but, whatever...

something not so irrelevant but will surely make you realize you're not alone: I can never bring myself to type less than whole words on sms either. :P

P. said...

Hmmm... I came when there were 2 comments and I've come back now that there are more than 30 and I'm still not sure what I want to say. Knowing the people in a story always make it harder to really be objective.. And it's a little too easy to get emotional.. :)

Let me just say that S and you are both very lucky to have each other in your lives. And we're very lucky you write so well so we can occasionally glimpse the workings of your world.

TS said...

@P. - Don't get emotional right now, save it for the dinner. I've zeroed in on the loveliest place in town. Give me a date and time.

UL said...

Ah such a beauty of a relationship you share with S, hope it lasts eternity and beyond...for such things should never end. Thanks for sharing.


Anonymous said...


If I may be allowed the privilege, I would like the last few lines hand written and signed by you on the first page when your book gets out.
All the best.


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