the Belly Story!

February 6, 2015
2210 hours.
I saw the waxing moon, and checked what time it was. It was exactly when I phased out. I thought I had died, and drifted into space. Music does that to me. Especially when it is played live (there’s a reason they call it ‘live’ music. It electrocutes you and kills you!) Music makes me travel off into the highs. It was that incredible. ‘The dream’ had come true. I saw it. It was in front of my very eyes. It was 10th of December when I conceived the idea, that I wanted my two favorite Bollywood playback singers to perform in VIT. It was very much mine and my co-organizer’s choice, and hence we made it happen. (#swag) and yes, the awesome Benny Dayal was here. He started his performance and a very unique euphoric sensation kicked in. Everybody was dancing and feeling every ounce of bass that was coming out of those 40 huge speakers suspended above the stage. It was all happening. Battameez dil, Locha-e-Ulfat, Kaise Mujhe… with an audience of 20000 students from all over India, erupting like an active volcano. The feel, was just breathtaking.
I went to Pal, and I hugged him tight. I whispered in his ear, “We did it bro.”

2305 hours.
We had a bad experience the previous day with a raft of people coming into the green room for Mohit Chauhan’s autograph and causing a lot of ruckus. A lot of acrimonious reprimand followed. So I had to make sure that it doesn’t happen to Benny Dayal today. We made a plan along with the guest care team, that we will transfer food and Mr. Dayal’s belongings to his car earlier than usual, and take him to his hotel straight away without any distractions in between. We asked all my team members to make a human-chain all the way from the stage to the car. And it worked. So many people came in, but just couldn’t get a glimpse of Benny Dayal, because he was off stage and into his car at the drop of the hat. Yes, I, my co-organizer and my managers were inundated with applauses for it. I agree it was rude, but our position was important too.

February 7, 2015
0130 hours
The “Proshow brothers” had finished their work. The enervating day was over. Shivam Pal, the dramatics club guy, famous for his pretty boy looks, a resplendent aura, beguiling attitude and an over hyperactive girlfriend was my co-organizer. I had a perfect guy to work with. That is, I was pretty retiring by nature, and he was extremely expansive and belligerent by default. All throughout Riviera, we had worked using these qualities to our advantage. He takes the fall, and I used that to get things done. Then, in the team, we had two gujju (Gujrati) managers, and they were so gujju that Thepla was their bread and Athaanu was their butter. They wouldn’t walk for half an hour, but for them six hours of Garba would be an energy booster. One was Kalrav Radia, the 110 kilogram monster ‘lurch’ with the heart of an 11 year old. Kalrav was a college prodigy, with an inherent talent of event management. He organizes events like he finishes sev puri. He was extra efficient, extra decent, extra excited and straight on the face to the people he interacted with. He was crisp, cuddly and I always depended on him if I didn’t have the confidence to finish a difficult job. Then we had Gyanesh Trivedi, oh sorry, Gnyanesh Trivedi, famous actor, dramatics club member and one debonair gentleman. Not forgetting that he was also, the gay partner of Shivam pal, Gnyanesh had girls from all over the university drooling over him and his innumerous short films. At 0130, all four of us, were free. Finally day 2 of Proshows had come to an end. the celebrities were back safely to their hotels, the girls had reached their hostels, the workers had food, the stage equipment was covered, the stall workers had packed up, everything was set for the next day (which was supposed to be a tough one) and the management was happy that the Proshows were spot on time. In that ground, all that was left were four people and a Toyota Etios (the Proshows car)

(Have you like ever seen silence? I did, at that moment of time. It was the huge Proshow arena, and there wasn’t even a single insect making any damn sound. And when silence startles you, your heart slows down, blood pressure dives and your eyes gaze into the darkness for periods of time that you can’t fathom! I called it my anti-adrenaline phase. It probably happened because for the last 10 hours, my brain was listening to all this ecstatic music: so many sounds of being busy and the noises of depravity that it craved for some silence. And when it got some, it went all crazy..!)

Pal woke me up from my goosebumpy hallucinating slumber. We decided to go to the Riviera reception area, where other organizers were waiting for us. And yes we were damn hungry.

0215 hours
It was the Riviera reception area and the scene was that at least 10 people, including organizers and managers were sitting outside after a hard day of work. Some guy intimated that he was hungry, and like falling dominoes, everyone almost instantaneously agreed to go out to get something to eat. But it was 2 in the night. Where would we get food at this hour?
Would you imagine, that there is this sardarji-run Punjabi Dhaba in the middle of nowhere in the land of Jayalalitha jingoism? It was roughly 40 kilometers from VIT and we had three cars. One was our Etios, and then we had an i10 which belonged to the Sponsorship Team. Third vehicle was a Toyota Fortuner, which belonged to Special Guest Care committee. And by around 0230 we were off. No sooner we reached, we started hogging food like pigs. The food was surprisingly amazing. We ordered paneer, naan, butter chicken and what not and ate until we were gonna burst. Somebody out of curiosity asked Gynanesh whether his parents wanted to put that extra ‘n’ in his name, or was it just a spelling mistake by the guy who typed the birth certificate out. Gnyanesh made him believe that it was a saint who asked his mum to name him this. It was an hour and so many arguments later, that Gnyanesh revealed that he was just goofing around. All the tiredness of the day had gone amidst all the jokes and the erratic banter by Gnyanesh and me. We decided to leave by 0400 at least to be back on time.
Shivam the Pal, who was sleeping until then (in the car, on the road, while eating, on the waiter…everywhere) all of a sudden wanted to drive the Etios. I was really not sure, and I was almost sure that it will be my last trip. I didn’t even know if I was insured. So I decided that I’ll force myself to sleep, so that if I die in between, I’ll die when I’m in deep slumber. It was 4 AM already, and I hadn’t slept for the last three days.

(After the Riviera inaugural ceremony the previous day, me and Pal were extremely tensed about a lot of things. We didn’t have a car, the music competition hadn’t started; the sound check of Mohit Chauhan was three hours late etc. etc. I even had a nervous breakdown the previous night. So we both, dressed in formals darted to our hostel, all the while discussing what to do next without a single remedy to any of our obstacles. We entered the room, and we saw two beds, almost properly made up. And the beds, almost easily gave out these huge smiles. With the danger of being late still extant, the busiest people in VIT at that moment of time, had a two hour long nap. And trust me, we slept like babies.)

And trust me, with this guy driving, I couldn’t sleep a bit. I was galvanizing myself, with the fact that he at least had his glasses on. But, I was back alive. Praise the Lord.

0545 hours
There were Mihir, Kalrav and Gnyanesh sitting at the back seat and trust me they were happy about being alive too. (Mihir, the oldest ‘good’ friend I have, the big little guy, was the humane version of the apothegm that “good things come in small packages”. the organizer of documentation and ISO, he was the wittiest guy in Riviera with a #surprising popularity among girls. Known for his temper, and a controversial rapport with his classmates, he boasts of his ‘perfect’ score in TOEFEL. All this extant, he is a bitchy lil’ girl)
We reached VIT back at 0545. We parked the car at the parking lot and we knew that the dance club comprising of 200 people are scheduled to come to the proshow stage for rehearsal at 0630. So we had 45 minutes exactly to kill. Gynanesh came with the very forlorn idea that we’ll sleep in the car itself for exactly half an hour rather than going back to the hostel and getting late. Reluctantly, we all agreed and got comfortable in the little space that we had in that car. All of a sudden, Kalrav, our ‘Proshow Lurch’ had some ambivalent thought and just randomly started laughing. He admitted to not knowing why exactly he was laughing for. It was like somebody switched him on or something. And he went on laughing for 8 complete minutes. And yes, it felt like he was erupting because the entire car was shaking in harmonic motion in rhythm with his #jelly belly. It was an earthquake, when actually; all four of us were trying to get some sleep. We finally slept. Pretty sedulously though.

0625 hours
My legs were outside the window. And in half an hour, day light had come. There was a swarm of mosquitoes around my feet, and I was bitten all over. Even my face was all huge and red. There isn’t any visible red to the dark skin, but I understand when I’m flushing. “Grand advantage” we dropped Mihir to the hostel and reached the Proshow area. Since nobody was up yet, we had to go to the dorms where the workers were staying, and wake them up for the rehearsal. (I was so reluctant in doing that, because the poor beings had slept only at 2 AM). Suddenly the ground started shaking, birds flying in all directions and the morning silence of the Proshow arena, was broken with the commotion of three buses filled with the students who had come for stage rehearsal.

And that was just the beginning of our day.
We thought dance rehearsals would take one hour at max. Because after that we could change the present set of clothes that we were wearing at least. That was a fleece. It went on for three frickin’ hours!

So, that was our night. We were all tired. We had a long day coming up but there was this sudden burst of energy that, at the heat of the moment made us all work so much. All this begged this one question, that why were we all doing it for? I do have a very innocuous answer to that. We did it all for each other. Because if the college gets worldwide fame, global recognition and appreciation on such a large realm, because of us just being friends, what else can be better?
And THAT ascetic friendship is still extant. And it will be…! It was imbibed in us, that we have to make those people proud, who even though having bleak prospects, had risked everything by giving this crazy position to us. And in hindsight, we succeeded that too in grand style.
This was Riviera, the real ephemeral essence of it.

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