The evening reeks of vodka and beer, sweat and cigarettes and some expensive Chanel or Davidoff 'fragrance' just like any other. The dj-who has been constantly reminding me of Gabriel Batistuta for the last ten minutes, is playing his assorted quota of shit trance music and disco numbers just like any other night. A gang of three girls, who are my age but look like teenagers, are casting him lustful glances like a pack of hungry wolves eyeing a piece of dead meat.
Malini Arora who has made her entrance about 20 minutes ago has been doing the same. But then she has a more sophisticated way of leching at a guy.
The last time I met her at a similar night-club she spent the entire night downing bloody marys and flirting with the handsome bartender. Although nobody could really tell whether it was Malini 'flirting' or Malini in the mood for some serious boozing. I could. I have had way too many run-ins with her.
At 45 and after 3 divorces Malini Arora,the top-boss woman of the most established modelling agency in the city, has settled into the stage of frequent one-night-stands with younger attractive men.
My editor almost sighs with frustration every time I talk about her.
'If only we could write about what a slut she is...' he would grimace.
We can't. So we make do with pictures-of her dancing provocatively or drinking without a care.
Speaking of pictures..where the hell is my photographer Ravi?
Oh there he is at the other end of the dance floor chatting up a woman in a backless short red dress.
He adores these parties. In fact everybody does-right from the bitches sitting beside me at the counter discussing Batistuta-lookalike to the wannabe models over there who are always among the most scantily-clad in this crowd to the couple of guys on the dance floor who are switching partners all too frequently to that gay moron who could put Bobby Darling to shame but passes off as a connoisseur of high-end couture.
Everybody except me.
I sit at the counter with a Red Bull can in my hand throughout the evening and watch over the crowd like a hawk. Nobody forces me to get drinking if they see that I already am. Although this is some shabby energy drink we're talking about. I've been and always will be a teetotaler. Sometimes I indulge in a cranberry lime pitcher drink or smoothies for variety.
'Oh my...if it isn't the ambitious newswoman..' somebody almost coos from behind.
I turn around slowly still seated on my bar stool.
'Hey Malini...' I offer my usual nonchalant greeting, the plastic smile on my face intact.
I get down from my perch and let her kiss me on both cheeks. I do the same, cringing internally.
'Technically I report gossip..not news..so I hardly qualify as a newswoman.' I say laughing.
'Tch tch you are as touchy as ever aren't you?..come on woman enjoy the party. Have fun. Go find a man and dance away the night.' she suggests.
'Yea and miss out on all the fun you'll be having with Batistuta tonight?'- I think.
Outwardly I reply-'I am a picky one. Nobody suits my standards here.'
Her smile disappears for the tiniest fraction of a second but she recovers fast.
'Then I suppose you're bound to hunt for gossip for the rest of your life. Shame.' she says sweetly.
It doesn't even sting anymore. I laugh alongside.
'Okay darling...you enjoy yourself I gotta go catch up with the rest' she says and moves away into the shuffling crowd.
I stand rooted to the spot for a few minutes pondering over whether to go fetch Ravi or move amidst the crowd doing my 'job'.
Little did I realize that despite my top grades and a degree from the most reputed university I would have to delve into the murky world of celebrities and page 3 parties and concoct stories about their personal lives for a living.
Yes I'm a gossip columnist working for the best-selling daily of this city. I was never meant to report news. I was destined to 'create' it rather.
I move around aimlessly as if in a trance my eyes scouring the entire hall in search of my lost and most probably 'intoxicated' photographer. But I just can't spot him anymore amidst this madness, this frenzied bout of dancing and meaningless merry-making. There's not enough space, not enough air to breathe right now.
They say these parties offer you a gateway into another world, a fantasy-land where you'll only come across handsome princes and beautiful dames. A place where anything is possible.
You might catch the eye of a rich playboy and ensure yourself several months' worth of free Ferrari rides, elite club memberships and spa holidays in Bangkok. You might suddenly bump into a balding, middle-aged man with zero aesthetic sense or creative ideas but with enough cash to be the owner of a corporation producing saas-bahu soaps or family dramas in other words. Your lucky day. You get your chance to hand him your photo-shoot pictures you've been carrying around with you for months in the hopes of becoming an 'actor'. If you are thin enough to remind someone of a cheese stick, tall enough to make an average guy shy away from asking you out, and can suck up to Malini when she is dead-drunk who knows you might even bag that coveted appointment with her within the next week. If sleeping with corporate executives, political hotshots, and horny celebrities is what your career is made of, then attending such parties will expand your client-base and enhance your rates.
At times I feel I'm caught in a never-ending nightmare where I'm forced to relive the same experiences over and over again, where I have no other way but to fit into this world of lies, deception and charades. It's not like I never considered quitting my job but then ending my stint here would mean I would have to start from scratch at some other place.
"Taubaan tera jalwaa......taubaan tera pyaar
Tera emosanal atyaachaar"
As the nasal voices of bandmaster Rangeela and Raseela resounds throughout the enormous hall, I smile for the first time in the evening.
'Batistuta has incredible timing.'
P.S: This is my entry for IndiBlogger's 'Emotional Atyachaar' contest. Please vote here if you find it worthy enough.
Side note for Non-Indian readers : 'Emotional Atyachaar' (atyachaar meaning 'torture' or 'torment' )is a very popular track from the cult hit Hindi movie Dev-D.