Recap S2E16 – Harry’s Early Years:
The new of Masood Azhar being put on the global terrorist list by UN is welcomed by the group at the golf club. Everyone wants Swapna to tell them how she and Harry first met when she was 15 years old. Swapna tells them of their chance meeting at Samovar Café at Jahangir Art Gallery, followed by another when she joined college a year later.
Harry tells the group that Swapna reminded him of Nancy, an Anglo-Indian girl who was in his school in Calcutta. She had been his first involvement. Sadly, he had never met her again after moving to another school after class V.
Harry could do nothing when Nancy vanished from his life. Even Dilip dada was of little help. Memories were all he could cling to, until he landed up with Bumblee, a married but unsatisfied, desirable and desirous lady he learnt to satisfy. The years rolled by but the memories of Nancy continued to haunt him. He was frustrated for not being able to get any information about her. There had been a gradual exodus of Anglo-Indians that continued for 12 years and more. She could have been anywhere in the world.
He was in a world of his own when Swapna came to sit beside him. He looked at her in disbelief and she said something that gave him a start. “You won’t even bat an eyelid.”
The first time he heard this phrase was when Nancy had exclaimed ‘Oh my God, you won’t even bat an eyelid’. She had said this while inspecting her erect breasts in the mirror. Harry had been staring away at them without even blinking. It was the first time he had seen an exposed pair of breasts.
No one else had told him so. He felt there was a connection between Nancy and Swapna. They were so engrossed with each other that neither felt the presence of anyone else around, despite all eyes being glued on them. Natasha was thrilled to see this but she dared not utter a word.
Harry straightened up to reason out the possibility of Nancy and Swapna being one. His mind was racing. Nancy would have died young as there had been no mention of her in the school magazine. Harry was so engrossed in his thoughts that he blurted out, “so Nancy couldn’t have lived long, she must have died before she was even 18.”
“What is all this about Nancy? Enough of Cindy and Nancy. We want to know about Swapna now. What happened at Bullock Cart, how did the two of you meet?” asked Natasha.
“The 70s were heavily influenced by the Woodstock era, and Bullock Cart in Kala Ghoda was the most happening place in town. Students from Xavier’s, Sydenham and Elphinstone went there for the 11am jam sessions,” said Swapna.
“When I set my eyes on Swapna again, I was reminded of Nancy. I remembered seeing her at Samovar a year earlier. She had been on my mind since. I cursed myself for checking out such a young girl, but in a year’s time she had matured much. I was dancing away to Sugar, Sugar by The Archies,” added Harry.
“Who were you dancing with?” asked Natasha.
“A senior student from Xavier’s; I don’t remember her name,” replied Harry.
“What were you doing in college at the age of twenty-nine?” enquired Khush.
“I was friendly with Dhamu Malkani, Student General Secretary of St Xavier’s College for four consecutive years. I was a footballer from Calcutta and much sought after by their football team,” said Harry.
“Dhamu was quite a man. He was a Physical Trainer when I was in St. Xavier’s High School. How did you know him?” asked Khush.
“I was studying engineering at MSU, Baroda and lived in Bombay where my dad was transferred from Calcutta. I met Dhamu when I organised a musical event on the terrace of one of the buildings of Shyam Nivas at Breach Candy. This was possible thanks to Dhamu, who lived there. The damages were Rs 25 per couple; entry was free for single girls. To heighten the impact, I had the tickets designed with a psychedelic look.”
“All tickets were sold out and I made good money. Dhamu provided discotheque-like psychedelic lighting, powerful speakers and the best collection of music on big magnetic tapes. Rhythm and Blues, Soul Jazz and Santana-Soul Sacrifice were big hits. Rodricks was the DJ. There was no mixing equipment that modern-day DJs use.”
“It was the first-ever party in India that served marijuana joints. There was no fuss in those days; the stuff was freely available near temples. There were many know faces in SoBo who bought tickets. Top model and Miss India, Persis Khambatta was there. The famous long-haired hippy, popularly known as Jesus H Christ was also there, dancing with a beautiful blonde. He used to trade in trendy stuff outside Jahangir Art Gallery. That evening, everyone was bindaas.”
“How I wished Nancy were with me that night! But alas, she was long dead. I was only 24 and in my final year of my college.”
Swapna could not control herself. She drew herself close to Harry and kissed him. “Your Nancy is back,” she said.
Khush was nervous about his new-found relationship with Swapna. “You said everyone was bindaas that evening. Did the word exist at that time?” he asked.
“Of course! We called anyone who was high on pot, bindaas,” replied Harry.
“When did you get into bed together for the first time?” enquired Natasha.
That was too direct and everyone was amused. Harry just smiled and nodded. “Life was all paced out in those days. I couldn’t just pull her into a corner, plant a kiss to tell her how much I loved her and ask for her mobile number.”
“So what did you do?” asked Natasha.
“Towards the end of our first meeting at Bullock Cart, I tapped her shoulder for a dance to the Bigelow Beats, which was very popular in those days. We really jelled and the crowd cheered us. We set up our next date. She was only 15 I did not want to rush her. The attachment was mutual and we couldn’t get away, much as we tried, despite the difference in age.”
Natasha squeezed herself beside Swapna, almost pushing her into Harry’s lap. Everyone was all ears as Harry spoke of their encounter.
To be continued…