Lemons are passé. Life may as well throw you bananas. What will you do then?
It was the Christmas of 2012, just about three weeks after I had turned 19 (with much fanfare and drumroll.) I was on an AIESEC internship to Malaysia for a community development project. Ours was a group of 15 interns from diverse lands. We had worked ourselves to pulp, and hence to celebrate Jesus’ birthday (hallelujah!), took a breather off to a town called Malacca. Now, Malacca was this non-mainstream, gem of a town, with a strong Portuguese influence from its colonial days. It was famous for its water inlets and pub streets.
We spent the whole of Christmas Eve in one of the pubs; discovering new drinking games. Soon, midnight came and the streets erupted with classic Xmas carols and we joined in the revelry. Slowly, almost everybody from the group retreated back to the guest house, and it was just the three of us left; Mark, Vay (Vaibhav; shortened to convenience foreign tongues,) and myself. We decided to roam around and explore. But it was 3 AM now, and people had already made themselves scarce. Disheartened, we passed empty streets through arrays of closed joints before we struck gold! Our pub from from the eve was still open! (Hallelujah!)
The three of us marched to the entrance door with relief and glory. (I remember wearing a t-shirt with "SWAG" printed loudly.) The crowd was all chic and some great beats were playing in the background. Good vibes. One of us remarked on how this was going to be the best night in the entirety of our Malaysian trip.
Some free advice regarding the above statement. Never, I repeat NEVER make superlative claims on how great something is going to turn out. It will be jinxed. Trust me on this. Be optimistic, of course; but keep it to yourself. Saying it out aloud is music to the ears of your lifetime’s piled up bad Karma.
Once inside, something seemed subtly odd. The lighting was dimmer than before. Shady. Fifty 'shadys' of grey. But, hey! A strange environment cannot stop three young men from having fun, right? Vay and Mark disappeared to scan the place, while I decided to be company to this lady who was sitting all by herself at the bar.
With as much mojo as my inner baniya could summon at that short notice, I walked up to her and gave a casual, “Hi!” She turned towards me and smiled, and I looked into her eyes. HIS EYES! That was a man, elaborately dressed as a woman! (SURPRISE!) I looked around. Any and all signs of womanhood were actually men wearing drag! Vay came running and informed that we-actually-might-be-in-a-gay-pub! But we were here just an hour ago! It was so normal then! We immediately made our way to the exit, (hallelujah!), but wait a minute. WHERE WAS MARK?
Now Mark, being all Dutch and exotic in an Asian country, had caught the fantasy of a man who apparently owned the place. The owner was flanked by two super-human bodyguards and multiple (drag) queens. Mark, signalled us to his table. We went; and along with Mark, were tried to be wooed through free drinks and inaccurate cheesy English. Yes, I was made passes upon by a 50-year-old-man and objectified by countless others around me. Not the kind of stuff you dream to check off your bucket-list, eh? I noticed the super-human bodyguards making their respective dibs on Vay and me. Scared for life would be an understatement here. As scared as we might be, we gulped the drinks that the owner kept getting us. Vay and I hinted at leaving, multiple times, but were defeated by angry stares of those two colossal bodyguards/creeps.
Finally, Mark, on the pretext of changing into something more proper and smelling nicer got the three of us out, "We'll be right back.” We walked as fast as we could. Walk of shame. Then we ran. RAN FOR OUR LIVES.
Next day, over a breakfast of shrimp omelet and shandy, we wondered how a totally normal place turns all shady after midnight.
Do you remember yourself sulking on that particular Christmas? Atleast Santa got you better gifts than mine. Duh!