That life comes full circle we realise often and in unexpected ways. Our social life is changing and going back how things were when we were teenagers.
Until recently it was almost the norm in Bangalore to socialise with friends, and quite often with extended family, only at pubs, clubs and restaurants.
The change was triggered by the huge burst of energy coming in from the sunrise industry of Information Technology and from others like advertising and education that rode the IT wave. The abundance of opportunities drew people from across India and the denizens were more than happy to embrace the new flock to their bosom. There was money to be made and people wanted places to spend it in. This led to the trend of hanging out at watering holes that proliferated from the late 80s and early 90s.
The party ended a few years ago when the police imposed a closing time of 11 pm and enforced it with force, barging into pubs and on some shameful occasions, wielding their lathis on people who didn’t take to their heels quickly enough.
Even as the populace was reeling under this blow, came another dampener with the ban of live music and dancing in places where alcohol was served. As happens all too often in India, music and dancing crept quietly back to their usual haunts. Things, though, are not the same as they once were.
With workloads and congested roads, people can’t get together until almost 9 pm; in a couple of hours, they down drinks at alarming speed, often without having had time for dinner.
Our police have a remedy for that too and station themselves at strategic locations with breath analysers. The move against drunken driving is laudable indeed; but it crimps all the joy of an evening out. Designated drivers, hired drivers and cabs are all options that people explore with dissatisfaction.
The ideal solution that we have hit upon is to throw open our homes for informal get-togethers of friends with similar interests. Some groups are mobile like the Bangalore Music Group, where we take turns to host the monthly sessions. Others have a fixed address; film nights are always at my friend Saugata’s house every Wednesday. There are others hosting quiz nights, poetry nights and game nights.
Unlike formal dinners, there is little pressure in hosting an informal get-together of the usual suspects; guests know where everything is, they help themselves and make themselves useful while they are at it. Food and drinks can be basic or lavish, and over a period of time, guests fall into a pattern of bringing their contributions to the bar or the table.
One is sure to meet others with the same interests and we have the luxury of time to engage in meaningful conversation. Be it ever so humble or fancy, no pub or club can match the warmth of home. Now, who can quarrel with this?
This is a column I wrote for the OheraldO