Once upon a fine early February, sunny pleasant Ras Al Khaimah , Khat in a chalet morning. Just woke up on the floor. Only a blanket separating me from the floor. Sharing a blanket with Sadiq . The blanket is far too small for two guys. My jaw felt like it was bent to the right side permanently . From sleeping on that hard floor.
“ooo , Shekhar stop talking bastard. That’s all I fucking need . waking up in the miserable state that I am in , listening to your voice”
Fucker was yapping , and my temples were pounding in sync with his voice.
Got up in that bleary eyed state , pull out my stay over toothbrush that’s always stashed in my car – ‘just in case’
Splashed my face with chilled water and felt a little better. Then came out and ate a little kheema , a little Dal with those scary tasty malbari thick parotas .
Then some wise ass, behind me opened the front door allowing a mad fucking blast of this oooh so painful light to hit my being,
After like 49 seconds of near blindness , I could just about make out the figure of this wise ass – Ducky.
“Fucker close that door . AAAAHHH . Why the fuck you trying to kill me ?”
After being snappy and grumpy and basically lying around the rooms for about two hours much to everyone else’s amusement we was. “T-rex” . We started to pack up.
My memory of last nights shenanigans kicked in and I recalled that my rear-right tire was appearing really low on pressure status. It looked less than half as normal.
“Fuck , FML now I have to deal with this shit”
“Don’t worry Monkey , there are plenty of shops around , find one of those and get the tire fixed up.”
Sorry , I should explain at this juncture. I can change my tire with a spare. Like I totally know how to do that. I am not some spoilt guy who can not change a tire. I have done it plenty. I drive a ’98 Mitsubishi Galant with over two years old tires , it comes with the territory. But you see, * ahem * ahem * clears throat embarrassed * I don’t have a spare.
Said all our goodbyes . Hugs . Kisses . Promises for a repeat performance of last night sometimes.
Clever old me, in constant anticipation of this moment in our story . I cunningly only mentioned the names of people who got in my car . Three of my closest mates . And the only ones I have mentioned in this story up until now. For the story really only starts here , you will see what I mean.
So after a squabble between Ducky and Sadiq with regards to who gets to sit shotgun , Ducky seemed a little lost this morning and was beyond his usual rules of politeness and told Sadiq ,
“All the way here , from Dubai you got to sit , and now I am going to sit.”
Ducky shotgun, my best mate for the last six years . the one who has been through it all . we came of age together. Behind him sat Sadiq , my friend from eleventh grade onwards to graduation from university. Always been in the same class , same group even the same specialization – marketing. And to his left sat my male – bonding younger “bro” . Both of us the same kind of “malcovhichs” . we have the same take on this life . been through very similar shit.
We got onto the road. Driving the car not more than sixty Kmph on account of the tire that looked “Dangerously low” to Sadiq , who kept leaning out and checking the tire every time I asked him .
After a failed attempt at this small time garage , where the Bengali personnel were on their Friday lunch break naps. And just “cant help you , we are sleeping”
Back on the road slower now . Made it to a petrol station . Filled the tire to its required 32 psi, from 6 psi as the machine claimed.
There were these two young locals in a Lexus 3 digit RAK number plate. Asked them directions to a tire shop.
“fee puncture “ pointing to my car.
One of them knew urdu
“follow me , we shall take you there”
We followed , not entirely trusting them , you have that kind of a lack of trust in fellow humans when you grown up in a urban environment like Dubai. We reached this road with several car workshops on both sides, all closed.
After pulling over besides their car,
“most of the shops are closed , this is the place.”
“No problem, Zaza-Kallah-Khair we saw one small one that was open on the opposite side so I guess we shall go check that out.Salam-Wa-laikum. Thank you.”
We headed for the first U-turn we found and as we completed the U-turn found a small “tire –works “ open.
Pulled up to its entrance. Saw a Iranian fellow , walked over
“As salam-walikum, Alash-ma-Khoobe Agaa?”
Explained to him about the tire and asked if he could plug the puncture.
He got the tire off and turned it around in , get this , bathtub filled with water to check for bubbles to point out the puncture.
Well he kept at this for a while , leaning onto the tire to force the air out of the alleged puncture. Then looked at me and,
“There is no puncture.”
“how can that be, there must be a puncture”
“Show me where the puncture, no puncture.”
He was rapidly becoming more snappy and cold having now realized that there was no puncture and therefore he wasn’t getting paid.
Back on the road, for a while none of us said anything. All struck in awe to the oddity of the situation , we all knew for sure the air was less, and now – no puncture . this magically disappearing puncture ,
“Monkey its like magic” laughed out Sadiq.
And from that moment on . It was like a sense of that magic, had seeped into the four of us. Windows all the way down . Pumped up Kicks – Foster the people , besides its unique brand of dark cynical ironical sense of lyrics and rhythm had us up in the clouds , blaring from my car speakers. All of us smiling.
A quick pit stop at a grocery at the petrol station close to RAK international airport. Sadiq and Ducky got into the grocery to get us supplied with cigarettes and water for the two hour long drive home ahead of us. Looked at Shekhar and realized for the first time since we left from the chalet that he was wearing Deb’s awesome corona tweed hat. And me a total hat lover , got Shekhar to give it to me for the drive , and wore it.
On the road again . Windows down . Sunlight pouring in . A cool sweet clean breeze flowing through us. Awesome morning music . Simple carefree smiles pasted on . Hangovers magically disappeared , as the puncture disappeared . cigarettes dangling from our lips. Sadiq wearing me shades, staring out the car. Me in my extremely comfy 2 sizes probably two big for me.
It felt like one of those awesome early 2000s soft rock music videos. With the awesome color corrections , couple of friends in a car on one of those awesome road trips.
Driving on a two-way , one lane road. In the middle of a beautiful wadi like terrain. Desert trees , dunes , hills , palms , rocks , roots , the sun.
Cruising at not more than 110kmph , even thought the road was empty for miles , and I could have easily hit 160kmph . just , wasn’t in a hurry anywhere , did not really have anywhere to be later today.
Stopped , to check out this road killed , fox or dog couldn’t really tell from the mangled mess, it was scary. Got a picture and then drove.
Click . scenery . click the road ahead. Click all of us.
Inhale the self-liberating-calming poison that is nicotine. Laughter . making fun of Ducky’s fuck ups of last night. Pondering on the last nights meet with the neighbors with their toys.
Music. Genuine , honest , real , carefree smiles. Feeling a unique new sense of freedom . kind of bohemian vibe. Chilled out . One of those perfect situation feeling things. The perfect amount of all the right ingredients, you know it right then you will never have just that same feeling ever again. The right friends, the right music , the right amount of sunlight , the perfect cool breeze , the perfect scenery , the right amount of cars on the road , the right dunhill cigarettes .
Stop just off the road . Click . Pictures of huge dunes behind us. Camera on the car , 10 second timers . Wacky poses . palms joined pointing to the sky like in puja. Hands stretched out in a total sense of one with your surroundings. Probably evoked some judgmental stares from the occupants of vehicles passing by on the road.
Wind on my face, right hand at 12’o’clock on the steering wheel. My left arm resting on the sill off the open window , best friends for company . The tweed hat on me head. My white loose shirt fluttering in the wind like a flag in a sandstorm , like a shirt on the clothes line on a windy day.
One of those rare smiles of mine , that I am told reaches my eyes . It’s not a forced smile , but a smile of my heart.
Dancing . grabbing each other. ( not in a sexual way or nothing , except Sadiq was grabbing Ducky’s breast but hey! That’s not sexual , just guy love)
Just naturally all the occupants in my car were stoned on the high of life. We were as high as you can get on this high of life.
Chugged a red bull, and drove , sometimes , rarely there was sand sweeping across the road, it’s a truly amazing rare sight. For you can see the sand , plain old sand suddenly transformed into this beautiful being sweeping across the road with a grace that puts silk to shame.
Chit-Chat “last night felt good”
Then eventually we got onto emirates road . By this point of our lifes most of us are already really bored of this road what , with the constant trips to Barracuda .
At one point of time , it use to be a weekly trip.
Now … fuck! Now we are 21 . Legally allowed to do what we want , but the zeal is lost . For as much as how much everyone else prays “21 come here fast” I dreaded it . I don’t know , I guess I am not supposed to be a adult yet , or heck ever! I can not be a adult , I never felt like one .
There with the music and all these thoughts I had flying around in my head I had a flashback to this morning , when bunny called me up with a,
“So how drunk were you last night?”
“hey to you too, wait how did you know I was drinking last night .”
“umm just the five am miss call from you .”
“ohh that , well yeah , haha .”
Then a weird kind of silence, the ones only ex-es get to have when they talk on the phone. Its such a heavy kind of silence , filled with all the unspoken things, soaked in memories, tinged with pain , dripping in the need to hold back , hazy with confusion , it’s a unique brand of uncomfortable.
Then laughed, told her what had transpired the night before.
With that flashback done , now at 130kmph , I came to the realization that in this car , we were all just that . by every legal measure we were adults, but not one really an adult. Not one of us had yet felt that way.
As the car got closer to Dubai , 42 kms to go …… 38 kms to go . Slowly constantly ,the awesome , honest , carefree feeling was leaking out the car,
We each were silently , pondering , getting home , and then acting like adults again , cause that’s what was expected of us.
The realization that this awesome morning , a most fucking apt kind of morning to have at this juncture in our life’s .Beautiful , rare , precious and forever tattooed on our memories was coming to an end.
And slowly , so ever slowly , but definitely noticeably the magic left us . As we came to a stop , at the K.M trdg Signal on Oud Mehta road , the final lingering essence of the magic of the disappearing puncture that disappeared with all our fucking worries left us. And returned what it had hidden.