The Nocturnal Sounds – The Initial Nights in Kathmandu

After another satisfying trip to Banchha Ghar my colleague and I decided it was a bit too early to call it a night. The casinos were an option, diagnosis generic but having tried out most of them, information pills I was not keen. Fleetingly, I mentioned a restaurant that had been in my eyes for long; however, I had been wary of going there alone. It had some of the most corny music playing always, and I had an inclination from the dimly lit sign-board what to expect. Catching at the slightest nod from the colleague, G, I pulled him towards the Belly Dance Bar and Restaurant, on the main Darbar Marg.

Even before we could enter the slim entrance, shady and dirty, with the walls and staircase with myriad graffiti, G remarked, “Man, this seems sleazy!”

I laughed out aloud. “Adventure, my friend” and continued my confident stride up the stairs. What hit us when we reached the first floor restaurant cannot be described by the mild term ‘sleazy’. The dark interiors beckoned with flashy strobe lights, and an ill-clad, hefty girl was dancing to some cheap and loud Hindi film number. A plethora of girls caught us at the entrance, and literally pulled us into the cavernous interiors. To say G was scandalized would be an understatement. However, I played along. The girls piled on, forcing us to drink something. In one far off corner, two guys sat with garishly dressed ladies. Behind us, a couple was snuggling cozily. As one of the girls pestered, I ordered my forbidden second drink ( I had the first at Banchcha Ghar), and poor G settled for a coke (he is a tee-totaller).

The raunchy music played on; at the stage, the same hefty girl, with a belly the size of an of over-done pitcher, danced to the shady number “Log aate hain log jaate hain, pyaas apne dilon ki bujhate hai, raat din husn ki rangraliyan hai, yeh toh badnaam logon ki galiyan hai”. They could not have found a more apt number to dance on ever! If the name of the restaurant was anything to go by, there was ‘enough of belly’ being displayed; beyond that, the dance was irregular and awkward, and meant purely ot tittilate.

My drink came – neat! I asked for a soda. The same girl who had stuck on to us and pestered us for the drink, smiled suggestively. “Iss mein kya milana” Keeping in mind the ambience and the entire scene, I smiled leerily and said, “Ab issme raat guzaardi toh kya mazza, please get me a soda”

The flashy dance of the girl on the stage continued, complete with strobe lights and spotlights. Man, was she some bulk! She could have gone for the WWE contest and passed without any overt efforts. She wore a skimpy and hot shorts with a top that started late and ended early. For one of the songs ( err, that went, Kiss me come quick, jaanu jiya or some such shit ) she was accompanied by a guy, who wore a vest and an open checked shirt.

With spirits soaring, I gave a few hoot calls, and G looked at me flabbergasted. “In the past one hour, you seem to have upgraded yourself by several notches” he remarked, sarcastically. I gave a loud drunk laughter. Jokingly, I asked G if he wanted to make his night out in Nepal colorful (well, I used the word ‘rangeen‘, and it sounds much better). Too shocked to react, he simply shook his head convulsively. I said he would never forget this visit to Nepal ever! I enjoyed his abundant discomfiture.

The girl was back. “Hamein kya pilyaenge?” she questioned.

Playing on the charade, I replied with a naughty smile. “Pilayenge? Aap saaqui ho, aap pilao humein; Waise kya lenge?”

Aap kya denge?” she asked huskily. “Bolo na kya pilayenge?”

“Aapko peeni hai toh aankhon se piyo, na” I winked.

Aankhon se pyaas nahin bujhti

Woh bhi bujhadenge, pahle humein to geela honede” I picked up the glass and pointed to towards it. “Let me finish the drink, and then we shall see” The girl understood that we were not exactly her ‘clientele’, and backed off. She never returned.

One more song, and G was upto the neck. Gulping my drink, we called for the bill. It came, we paid, and G rushed out of the place. I lingered for a moment at the entrance at the crowd of the girls. Putting my entire heavy weight in front of one, I asked, “Kya daam mein?”

Dressed in a decent saree, she clutched the menu card tighter and shot back, “Kya kya daam mein?”

Aapko pata hai mai kis cheez ki baat kar raha hun? Daam bolo!”

A giggle came out of the girls behind me. Pointing towards one of them, the lady said, “Usse poochho, woh batayigi

I turned towards another outlandishly decorated female. “Daam?”

Aap kitna doge saahib?” she asked, putting on her best seductive professional smile.

Tum batao…”


“500 se ek rupaya zyada nahin”

She nodded. I got a cold feet, and murmured. “Aaj dost hain saath, kal aayunga” and fled down the staircase.

I came out on the Darbar Marg corner; G was nowhere in sight. I called out; he had gone off at some distance. “Hey G,” I exclaimed. “Since I have been negotiating your shopping deals here, done one more for ya”

He stared at me incredulously, and started walking with a furious pace. If only I had a camera to shoot the shocked cum scandalised cum surprised look on his face! I let out a hearty laugh.

(After this, still in mood for more adventure, we went to the hotel casino; for the INR 200, we won a profit of INR 34 at the slot machines; not bad, it was an evening well spent, I guess)

Statutory Warning : I am a decent guy; the above incident was only a reckless piece of adventure; I am not given to such vices; please do not mistake me.

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What is it about the number two that it keeps cropping up in Hindi film titles so regularly? No other number gets such preferential treatment from our Bollywood makers. Sample this:

Do Kaliyan – The first of The Parent Trap remake starred a cherubic Neetu Singh as the adorable twin sisters who re-unite their warring parents. The songs Bache man ke sachhe (Lata Mangeshkar doing an absolutely astonishing childlike lisp act!) and Tumhari nazar kyun khafa ho gayi (Lata Mangeshkar, rx Mohd. Rafi).

Do Chor – A trite and forgettable seventies film, troche starring Dharamendra and Tanuja as two petty thieves out to take revenge on some past crime committed by the villain, check which I had the mis-chance of viewing one early Sunday morning on Set Max. RD Burman s music held interesting nuggets like Mera chhota sa balamwa (Lata Mangeshkar), Yaari ho gayi yaar se (Latadi sounding suitably tipsy) and Chaahe raho door (Lata Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar) the latter song’s antaras borrowed by master-chor Bappi Lahiri for a song in First Love Letter!

Do Raaste – The Rajesh Khanna-Mumtaz morality saga which is perhaps today best known for Bindiya chamkegi, a song much abused through its numerous cover versions and remixes. The title referred to the two paths that one has to choose from- easy but essentially wrongful one and tough, but the truthful one. The film was a big time hit when it released in the early seventies.

Do Badan – Another musical blockbuster of its times, a weepy starring Manoj Kumar and Asha Parekh. Asha Bhonsle’s Jab chali thandi hawa was a hot Chitrahaar favorite, though my allegiance will always lie with Latadi s Lo aa gayi unki yaad woh nahi aaye.

Do Phool – The predecessor to David Dhawan’s Aankhen, starred Mehmood and Vinod Mehra as the two good-for-nothing sons of a rich businessmen, always up to some fresh mischief till the time they fall into their own trap of cons and get stuck in serious trouble. Like Aankhen’s Govinda, Mehmood had a double role here. Watch the movie and you will realize that David Dhawan has stolen much more than just a story idea ; even the scenes where the youngsters woo the two friends/cousins heroines are similar. Or, is there some foreign source? Of the songs Muthukodi kawadi haya (Asha Bhonsle, Manna Dey) is very famous. But the most lipsmacking piece was Latadi’s Lelo sharaab laayi jhoom jhoom ke.

Do Jhoot – A not so famous seventies movie, starring Mausmi Chatterjee and once againVinod Mehra in another double digit titled movie. I recall the film due to its hit Shankar (Jaikishan) number Chhatri na khol ud jaayegi (Usha Mangeshkar, Kishore Kumar). There were few other good songs Do jhooth kahe ek sach ke liye (Lata Mangeshkar) and Beesvin sadi ki hoon (Lata and Usha Mangeshkar).

Do Anjaane – A super flop Amitabh Bachchan – Rekha film based on a Bengali short story written by Dr Nihar Ranjan Gupta. The plot had quite a few thrilling moments, keeping the viewers on the edge as to who the mysterious man is who has come to shake up Rekha’s life. Personally, I found the film pretty above average.

Do Jasoos – Admittedly, it was extremely embarrassing to see a grossly overweight Raj Kapoor go through some idiotic scenes in this comic thriller. Rajendra Kumar’s pitiable presence didn’t help either. As Karamchand Jasoos and Dharamchand Jasoos, the two came up with a sangam that viewer’s outrightly rejected!

Do Dilon Ki Dastaan – An eighties blooper starring Padmini Kolhapure and Sanjay Dutt, I vaguely recall seeing it. The song Humrahi mere humrahi hai jo tu mere sang toh darr kya(Lata Mangeshkar, Suresh Wadakar) is superb!

Do Aankhen Barah Haath – I’ll restrict to V.Shantaram’s classic on jail reforms than say anything on Govinda’s bullshit in the nineties. In the former version the cult prayer Ae maalik tere bande hum (Lata Mangeshkar) continues to haunt and hold music lover’s in its throes.

Do Gaz Zameen Ke Neeche – A Ramsay horror film that came at a time when they hadn’t still established themselves as the brand kings of B-grade spook flicks.

Do Bigha Zameen – A famous Bimal Roy film containing some superlative performances by Balraj Sahni.

Ek Phool Do Maali – Devendra Goel’s social starring Sadhna and Sanjay Khan is quite well known, especially for Ravi’s music. The film was typically sixties, with loads of melodrama and crying! [Thanks to Taarika for the tip]

Do Aur Do Paanch – An eighties entertainer starring the mega-star Amitabh Bachchan with trusted partner Shashi Kapoor and two beauties Hema Malini and Parveen Babi. The film had several light moments and its music is best known for the rapid-fire title song sung by elan by Kishore Kumar. [Thanks to Taarika for the tip]

And if you thought these were enough, take a look at this list Do Bhai (four films in various eras), Do Bahnein, Do Badmash, Do Chattane, Do Boond Paani, Do Dulhe, Do Aankhen, Do Aadmi, Do Auratein, Do Baatein, Do Bachhe Dus Haath, Do Yaar, Do Dost(same difference!) Do Dushman, Do Shatru (well, it had one Shatru, the Shotgun Sinha indeed!), Do Dil Diwane (is it some original for Ek Duuje Ke Liye, since it stars both Rati and Kamal Haasan?), Do Hawaldar, Do Dil, Do Musafir, Do Ustad, Do Shikari, Do Ladke Dono Kadke, Do Ladkiyan, Do Madari, Do Khiladi(and no, it didn’t star Akshay Kumar, it’s Vinod Mehra, yet again!), Do Premee (surprise surprise, the director is the famous Raj Khosla), Do Dishayein, Do Gulab, Do Quaidi(I think I ve seen this one), Do Sholay(gulp!shockingly the casting includes our Garam Dharam Paaji in this ‘sholay’ as well) and Do Fantoosh.

Related Readings – Recycled Titles

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It is strange that in your comfort zone one tends to take for granted the sounds that emanate in the night. In Delhi, this I live very near a railway track; but till the time a staying guest points out, order I never realize the bursts of train rambling along at regular intervals. Honestly, buy more about how many of you have actually listened to the noise and sounds before slipping into the cushiony tenderness of sleep?

Despite a month of staying here, my sub-conscious has still not befriended the nocturnal acoustics of Kathmandu. Since I stay in a virtual greenhouse, surrounded with a lot of trees and shrubs, the rustle of the leaves is a consistent background score, joined in by insects shrills.

Before coming here many people (including my mother) had warned of snakes, and cautioned me against taking a ground floor residence; but as luck would have it, I could not find any suitable top floor one, so I ended up with this one, on the ground floor itself. Of course, with the population rising, and open spaces devoured up by concrete, the snakes have now retreated to some obscure corner of invisibility; but I do remember asking this question to the landlady, who replied with a loud guffaw that why Indians are so obsessed with snakes. Apparently, the tenant before me had similar fears. Perhaps it is the collective effect of all those ‘nagin’ films (despite knowing scientifically that snakes are deaf, I still went and lowered the volume while the ‘cobra dance’ came up in Bride and Prejudice), but yes, snakes do bother me; as do lizards, another of the most repulsive creatures of nature!

So, in the night, I often stay awake with my ears perked up, trying to listen to some odd slither or hiss. Luckily, till date, I have not come across any- visually or aurally. But, apart from the rustle of the leaves, I do take note of each small reverberation or sound- the dragging feet of a drunkard on the lane outside the back gate; the signature tune of a late night serial flowing out of some house; the clatter of utensils in another household; the laughter of the boys (the landlady’s sons) upstairs; a few far off animated throaty discussion over drinks; a car whizzing by; the landlady’s dog (unleashed only in the evening) doing a round of the house; another dog’s bark far away; a third dog’s howl ( it seems Kathmandu dogs start off a party every night); the tap dripping ominously in the kitchen; the squeak of the gate, off the driveway.

Let’s see how soon I assimilate all this in my subconscious system, and learn to ignore it, naturally. Perhaps, only then, can I say that I have finally ‘settled in’ here!

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2 Responses to “The Nocturnal Sounds – The Initial Nights in Kathmandu”

  1. […] I walked to the kitchen, to have a closer look. And then, it came to me the reason for the dog’s behavior.A snake was slithering its way out towards the gate that I had come in from. Shiny grey, and pretty long, the snake meandered in its creepy curls. The dazzling sunlight reflected off its smooth skin. Even though I was inside my house and far off from the creature, a shiver ran my spine. It still is running there, as I type this, and recall the sight of the reptile.Remember some months back when I had written about my shifting process to Kathmandu, I had mentioned my overt fear about snakes in the post Nocturnal Sounds. Even if I see them on screen or photograph, I get petrified.The snake moved out of the gate, through a hole in the carved design. My house is such that there is a long corridor, grassy, sandy and sort of unkempt, which needs to be crossed before reaching the main gate (on one side of this is a high rise wall, and the other end are a line of two houses; my house is at the end, where the corridor closes). The snake would have gone there, and goodness knows where from there. In the night, this stretch is extremely dark, without any lighting. Often, I have seen toads there, especially, when it is rainy and puddled. Toads are small precocious creatures; I can bear them. But snakes are a different story altogether. I will have to avoid or be extremely careful while coming in from the front gate during late hours. But there is another fear – what if it returns and decides to snuggle inside the compound itself, or, in the garden; and what if it manages to enter the house, though the chances seem to be slim as I do take care to keep all doors and windows closed (netted, at least), but the house is old, and the windows might not be all that secure. Shudder! Shudder!!Just yesterday, when I had returned from my dinner out, the October post and the snake-issue had crossed my mind. My mother had warned me about them before I transferred here. While changing clothes, I had laughed off the fear. More than eight months, I told myself, there has been no sign of snakes, not even an unduly disturbing rustle anywhere. Today, I am proven wrong, and very badly, and it’s not some story heard from someplace. I see one with my eyes!I am sure there would have been many other positive thoughts running in my mind last night. Wasn’t there anything more promising that God could have fullfilled? […]

  2. […] Related Reading – Nocturnal Sounds – The Initial Nights in KathmanduA Snake In My House […]

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