The Unofficial Guide To Slapping Summer In The Face

It’s that time of the year when you’re bombarded with headlines like “23 Ways To Beat The Heat!”, “Sweat: It’s Like Drool, But From Your Armpits!”, and “It’s Totally Okay To Sell Your Kids For a Box Of Mangoes!” In keeping with that theme, I present the only real solution to summer, i.e. leave. Head to the hills and come back only after the dawn of nuclear winter.

I did that two weeks ago, and it was great because now I get to be one of those annoying people who won’t shut up about their vacation. If you’re planning a trip to the hills, you might want to consider Shimla, Nainital and Manali, which offer great views of parents trying to keep kids from rushing into ravines, along with honeymooning brides showing off their forearm bangle armour kit.

(I always imagine them using the bangle armour to fend off sword attacks like Amitabh Bachchan in Shahenshah, with each blow sending up a shower of sparks. Yes, I’m single. What gave it away?)

Most young people go off in different directions though, which is what I did, and landed up in Kasol in Himachal Pradesh. The closest airport used to be an hour away, at a place called Bhuntar, as in, “Wow, she’s got amazing bhuntars!” But since Kingfisher was the only airline flying to Bhuntar, operations had to be suspended once the company shut shop last year, after having spent all its money on Sid Mallya’s hair gel.

So now, the closest airport is at Chandigarh, an eight hour drive from Kasol. Of course, I use the term ‘drive’ loosely, because the HP government’s brief to the construction companies was, “Our roads should cause backbones to disintegrate into a fine powder, which we can then smoke.” The roads are flanked by a lush green drop to the death on one side, while the other is reserved for truckers hurtling down the wrong way, probably in a rush to get back home to their sweethearts at the nearest roadside brothel.

But that’s a small price to pay for waking up to one of nature’s best photoshop jobs. Lazy rivers gurgle along, emboldened by the absence of people crapping into them, and snow-capped mountains rise up against the summer in what geologists describe as a “middle-finger formation”.

It’s interesting to watch city people turn into a raving, wide-eyed gaggle once they hit villages. The smallest things set us off. For example, it’s impossible for us to have a meal without making low moaning noises about the extremely mind-bending amazeballs freshness of local vegetables. And that’s because the bar has been set pretty low. I mean all a tomato has to do to make us weep with joy is to not look it just went four rounds with Mike Tyson. You could feed us goat fodder in the hills, and it’d still be tastier than the local greens fermenting in a patch of sewage water in the nether regions of Kurla station.

Kasol offers one of those rare, Parliament-like vacations where you can just sit back and do nothing. At most, you can check out some of the nearby villages, like Malana, which is famous for producing the world’s finest whatever it is that RGV has been smoking for the past decade. An hour-long drive takes you up to almost 10,000 feet, to within two kilometres of the village, after which an uphill hike reminds you that you have the lung capacity of an asthmatic corpse.

Malanis claim to be descendants of Alexander’s soldiers, and hence consider themselves racially superior to all outsiders. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. You’re better than everyone because once upon a time, some soldiers got bored of spooning each other. Also, if an army reaches Malana, it’s not really going to go very far ahead:

Commander: Men! We must march on, and conquer every land that lies ahead. Onwards, to glory!  *puff* Or dude, let’s just like, chill and like, play some Floyd maaaan *puffpuffpuff* Hey, is that my concubine or yours?

(Fun fact: Malana rules prohibit villagers from touching outsiders, which, on the snob scale, ranks somewhere between ’18th century pundit’ and ‘Colaba lady trying to pronounce Kandivli’.)

On the flipside, when your vacation ends, you’ll spend the next few weeks like a junkie in raging withdrawal, shuffling about, taking furtive hits off every AC unit you can find. Your friends might even need to stage an intervention. Ask them to bring fresh tomatoes.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 12th May 2013. Cross-posted from here.)

So Which Raid Do You Wanna Go To Tonight?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself being enveloped in an aura of safety and virtue ever since our brave cops raided that party at Juhu, and rescued hapless party goers from the horror that is a Pitbull techno mix. I can sleep well knowing that the people tasked with protecting us are worried about our health, even if it means sending us to prison – a really safe and clean place filled with about seventeen different kinds of AIDS.

At the time of writing, the cops were still trying to decode the Facebook invite that was sent out to guests, so as to prove that the organisers intended to distribute drugs at the party. Here’s an excerpt from that invite:

“Lets rock this town — so get ready to get high. Please do not try to FLY. Because Flying is an illusion not a Reality, come with us and we’ll make you feel Gravity.”

I don’t get why that needs to be decoded in the first place. Clearly, that copy is not the work of a sober mind. It’s as if a first-year mass media student was smoking a joint and accidentally fell into a vat of bullshit. And if you need further proof that drugs kill brain cells, just think of all the people who go to “raves” in the middle of the city. As far as subtlety goes, this is one step away from planting a giant neon bullseye on your building along with a sign that says, “THIS IS TOTALLY A DRUG-FREE ZONE. WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE.”

So given the current state of affairs, it’s only right that I present a brief overview of the most commonly used urban drugs.

(LEGAL DISCLAIMER: If there are any minors reading this, do not try this stuff at home. Go to a friend’s place.)

First up, cocaine. It is a naturally occurring white powdery substance that grows inside the nostrils of rich people. It’s very powerful and an overdose may lead to serious medical conditions, such as ‘being found in a bathtub with a dead naked fat guy, which will make you so irresistible to women across India that they will participate in a televised swayamvar just to win the honour of being your punching bag for life.’

Then there’s LSD, aka acid, aka OHMYGOD YOUR FACE IS LEAKING RAINBOWS! It’s responsible for many terrible things, such as Scientology, and showing you the meaning of life, and then making you forget it. LSD is known to sometimes induce an out-of-body experience, allowing you to basically look at yourself from the outside. This is great for people who don’t have mirrors.

Another popular drug is MDMA, or Ecstasy. Its users are characterised by an emphatic passion for crappy music that they flail around to, in a dance form known as Energiser Bunny Having An Epileptic Fit. Think jagran, but with more topless Israeli dudes.

And then you have the most maligned members of the drug world, the innocent bystanders that got shot in the war on drugs – the marijuana family. Its users are characterised by their ability to not care about anything except food and a long, sweet nap. Pretty much like the average BMC official. The only terrible side-effect of pot is that one guy who refuses to shut up about Pink Floyd. (Yes, it’s a great band and all, but I don’t want to hear about your stupid epiphany.)

If growing hash were an Olympic sport, India would Dhyanchand the hell out of that tournament. So legalising it is the only patriotic thing to do. But this will never happen because drugs are bad, and they lead to death and happiness. Well, so do cigarettes. And alcohol, while awesome, has disastrous side-effects such as liver cirrhosis, and waking up next to ugly people.

So clearly, these busts aren’t about the government trying to protect or reform you. And if you’re an educated independent adult who can afford a habit, then I could not care less about you being “reformed”. It’s your choice, and you’re obviously ready to live with the effects, be it the compelling desire to drive across town for Chinese at 4 a.m., or the need to shoot heroin straight into your eyeballs because all the veins in your body have collapsed. And after all this, if you still want help, just walk into your nearest pub and our nice cops will give you a lift to Bhabha or Cooper hospital.

(Note: This is my HT column dated 27th May, 2012. Originally posted here.)