All Boys Trip
I came home little late after office on a Friday evening . My little boy was asleep, my wife was making sure I do not wake him up and pretended to sleep as well, else he would wake up. I started watching TV , there was this program on Fox Traveler called Boys weekend. It was about a group of friends, all of them great chefs , they go out on weekend , cook delicious food , have some great time. There was a scene where they play poker and cards , whoever loses had to cook a dish.
That reminded me of another similar scene, where another group of friends were playing cards as well on a beautiful early morning in Ooty .It was a group of 6 guys, I, Kumar, deepak, Kiran, Manuj and Junaid. This card playing session was something which we could not dream of, if we had come with our spouses. In this group, some guys were married and some single. All had this sense of freedom , of not having to go anywhere ,just play cards , do nothing. Everyone enjoyed every bit of it.
All the memories of that trip just flashed back . It was June of 2012 , we started early in the morning in two cars. Deepak, Junaid and I were in one car. Manuj, Kiran and Kumar were in the other. It was a rare boys outing after a long time.
Our first stop was around 80 KMs from Bangalore on MacDonald’s, it was early morning so we did not get the usual burger stuff but who cared . After light breakfast and fueling our car tanks, we hit the road , after an hour reached Mysore. That year was of loneliness for me , my father is a diabetic , due to his health issues , my wife had to stay with my parents for almost six months. She and my son were at my parents, when we planned that trip. I believe Kumar’s wife was also not at home , Junaid was about to get married in few months. Deepak took permission for this boy’s trip from his wife. Kiran a free spirit like me, always ready for an outing, got ready the moment we asked. Manuj like Deepak, who is always life of our parties, agreed to join us as well.
We were switching drivers, to make sure nobody gets tired. But I heard later, there was another scene going on in Kumar’s car, where Kiran and Manuj were pulling Kumar’s leg and not letting him drive and we all know, how much he loves to drive, especially if it’s his car. We played all kind of music and repeated few songs a lot of times like Imran khan’s Amplifier. It was such a fun drive. The moment we reached near the heights of Ooty’s niligiri mountains, the hairpin bends, Deepak took the driving wheel, as that allows him to avoid mountain sickness.
It was cold in Ooty, it was afternoon already and we had not pre-booked any hotels for stay. So we started our hunt for a nice hotel. After searching for a while, we came to know about king’s cliff, in fact Kiran found it. King’s cliff is a heritage British style hotel and restaurant. They had resort on a cliff which was near to king’s cliff’s restaurant and main resort. Since its main resort rooms were all booked, we decided to stay in the resort on the Cliffside.
After long drive, we were starving, after waiting for some time, we got table and ordered food. On food table, we were pulling each other’s leg. I still remember Deepak’s Punjabi English jokes , Kumar’s wish to ride a horse got him roasted by the gang. I was catching that on camera. Finally , food arrived. On a trip, food can make huge difference about how much you loved it. It was mouth watering authentic north Indian food , tandori chicken, butter chicken, garlic naans and much more, we all jumped on it.
Later , as we were all tired, by 3pm most of us wanted to have a nap instead of going out. We decided to rest for couple of hours and then go to market, to get stuff to party all night. Around 6 pm we went out to the market. It was not far away, we walked on the streets like college kids, wandered around a bit. Evening was getting even colder, so we bought jackets and sweaters. Clicked few snaps while having fun there , bought drinks and other stuff for the party.
Kiran is multilingual, that also includes southern languages. He used this skill with the house keeper in the resort to arrange wood for the bon fire. We then started the bon fire and circled around it. Our DJ and cocktail king Manuj started helping guys with cocktails and other drinks. We did not have the music though but we never felt its need as we had special talent deepak with us. I had my own fake beers and other non-alcoholic drinks with me, Junaid who also lives on fruit juices gave company to me. Few guys tried my beers and finally gave up due to its bitterness. Kumar had huge plans for the night but somehow he was not able to throw a drink inside his throat. We had photo sessions in between, while having fun.
As night slowly progressed, the heat of the fire started to feel even better as it was getting colder. Drinks started to show its effect as well on few guys. I remember a conversation, when one of the single guys was talking about his girlfriend , how much she resembles his ex-girlfriend and later one of us found that it’s the same person’s photograph we were looking at on the phone. Later, Deepak sang few nice Punjabi and Hindi ghazals and songs. Few of us got back in time , remembered some of their romantic encounters. For hours, we talked about the times we spent in Bangalore, about our friends , also about a special friend Ashvini, who could not join us on the trip and wished if he was also there.
It was very late in the night, It was getting cold and fire was also getting mild, the food we had ordered got cold long time back. Junaid got a brilliant idea of using this fire to heat up the Tandoori rootis , Naans , Daal makhni ,chicken dishes etc. We started having food while we were heating it on the fire. It tasted even better that way. I even imagined to repeat that on a future trip.
We finally went to sleep. After few hours in sleep, I noticed I was working on a complex case , probably I was analyzing data , to put the pieces of puzzle into an order to make sense of it. After endless loop of the sequences, I realized it was a dream , opened my eyes and checked time on phone , it was 6 in the morning. I also realized my head was aching. I had some biscuits and medicine, which I usually carry with me. Felt better after some time, went to sleep again. In few hours, I again woke up to noise around, apparently everybody else was awake and had ordered tea and were having it.
Somebody carried pack of cards with him and brought it, that’s when the card playing started. We enjoyed that for a while, probably it was first time we could do that on an outing, usually on an outing ,we follow orders of our women to get ready to go out, for sightseeing or shopping. There was no such compulsion and we loved it.
But some of us are so habitual of the routine, of getting ready and go for sightseeing or shopping with wife on a trip, that they follow it even when they are not with wife. Kumar was the one who became butt of jokes, when he mechanically followed that routine. After playing cards, everybody got fresh and had breakfast in the garden and were enjoying sunshine and the view from the cliff. That’s when Kumar came out, all suited up and was about to light a cigarette, when deepak asked him, if he was seeing his wife around. Kumar was surprised at question and then another question came from one of us ,”why are you so dressed up as if you are going to shopping or sightseeing with your wife?” Kumar knew he was caught in a wrong situation, another minute there and he will be bombarded with similar such pointed questions , he threw his cigarrete , ran to his room , changed to short and t-shirt then sat with all of us, doing nothing. We enjoyed that morning in the sun, just lying there in the garden on the cliff.
It was almost noon when we decided to pack up and return. By that time, we had clouds in the sky and it was about to rain, ooty was looking beautiful from that cliff. We were back in our cars and started our journey for home, enjoying the beautiful views on the way and the talks about last night.
All of us remembered that journey after returning home. We even planned another with Deepak, before he leaves Bangalore for Australia but it did not happen again. That is why as a rule, I do not deny a sudden request by a friend, to go on a trip ,as trips with friends are hardly planned, they just happen and leave long lasting memories.