Having weird friends is fun, but unsettling at times. I am not complaining here - thanks to these chaps, I always have funny stories to tell people, but just when I feel confident that nothing these guys can do would surprise me anymore, they rattle the confidence.
A few nights ago, we - Kakkar, Shrik, and yours truly - made one of our too-late-in-the-night-to-be-decent visits to a friend's place, and created enough ruckus to wake her poor husband up, who staggered into the living room with an expression that initially reminded me of what Jack - the chap who climbed all those mutant beanstalks - may have seen when the giant lumbered towards him. The expression changed to one of resigned recognition, and after mumbled hellos and a 'happy birthday' thrown at me, he promptly fell asleep where he sat. Probably because Shrik, within five minutes of arrival, had fallen asleep in the most comfortable divan in the room, thus preventing the head of the household from roosting in what may have been his favourite spot.
After conversation had died down to the level of discussing the latest game the couple had loaded on their computer, we decided it was a clear cue for us to exit smiling - we gracefully withdrew, with Shrik - fast asleep and grinning from ear to ear - in tow. Kakkar was not one to let a few drinks go to his head - or so I thought until that night - and pulled his car out, turned on the heater, even played some soothing music for Shrik's benefit - the man was continuing his sleep in the back seat... I could not make out if he was still grinning owing to the subdued lighting - and moved on into the cold night, with the usual dogs chasing us on the street.
In Pune, as with any other place in the country, one can always count on dogs chasing all objects that move in the night. It is more or less the dog's birthright to do so, and they have never been discouraged, except perhaps by irate cyclists wearing heavy boots. The dog chasing us was looking at a small period of excitement in a dull night, chasing a car for about twenty metres or so and then returning to its pack with the air of "the triumphant return". It was in for a bit of a surprise. Kakkar, otherwise a tolerant chap, has never liked dogs barking at him, and has on occasion tried to tell this to our neighbour's dog, not that it listened very carefully . Tonight our man decided enough was enough. and before I realized what was happening, we were going in circles, with the dog firmly fixed in the headlamp beams. Now one can imagine the poor animal's shock when the retreating prey turns back and gives it the run of its life, and if it could talk, it would've probably let out a few surprised exclamations, beginning with "What the-" and ending with a string of profanities.
Now like I said, the transition from the chased to the chaser was so sudden that I had only time to hold on to the B-pillar, exclaim "What the-" and let out a string of profanities. But I am an ordinary chap whose idea of excellent physical shape is being able to walk down two flights of stairs to my bike and back. Shrik, on the other hand, bench-presses pickup trucks and bicycles down the length of the Konkan coast before breakfast. Thus he has always had amazingly low response times to sudden changes in motion/mood/relative humidity and so on. Thus, while I was still trying to realize what the heck was going on, Shrik had got an immediate grasp of the situation, and laughed. I mean, not the hysterical laughs that I heard myself laugh when I went down one of those slippery tubes to hell in one of those amusement parks, but the real thing. The laughter seemed to indicate that he regarded chasing dogs down streets in the middle of the night, scaring them out of their wits, as a fine idea.
Now if I'm conveying the idea that these people are the animal cruelty sponsors, I'm not good at this. No, they are otherwise nice to animals, and some people as well. Kakkar, for example, was careful not to catch up with the dog, though it may have been for the fun of prolonging the race, and once he got bored of the activity, we had an uneventful ride back to my place, barring the few detours to put other errant dogs in their place.
The neighbour's dog still barks at Kakkar. Thankfully the fence is high. Too high for Kakkar.