Even ‘Chameli’ didn’t want it!

I had sent this to the Times of India people 'n' number of times (wer n=2) to publish it in the Soul Curry collum of the Sunday Times and was not even acknowledged yaar !! Someone read it Plzz ...

LONELY trips on empty trains sometimes make you think a lot – about things you never imagined would enter your head. On one such journey, in a window-seat on a local train, I thought about my visit to a dance bar the previous night.
I was travelling back from a relations place to my hotel. As it was very late in the night, the bogie was almost empty. I was 24 then and was to Mumbai, only for the second time, on a business visit. As I sat alone, thoughts of my meeting a girl at the dance bar entered my mind.

I went to this place at the insistence of a colleague and a friend of mine. I was not sure if I desired going to a dance bar, but certainly wanted to know what it was all about. After a quick search we found a dance bar near our place. There were three of us and as we entered, I felt weird and spooky. It was a dark, dimly lit room, filled with cigarette smoke and deafening loud music. There was nothing like ‘dance’ in the dance bar. Within minutes the manager arranged a table for us and a few girls came to sit with us. I had ordered my drinks and was at peace with it.

The girl who sat beside me introduced herself as Neha .She said she was from Delhi. Perhaps I was with the holdover from the movie ‘Chameli’. After some time into the conversation with her, I told her that she would be wasting her time sitting with me, and that I don’t intend to go further. She gave me a slight sarcastic smile, the first installment of many such she would deliver during our conversation. She was a 16-something girl, trying hard to hide the child she was.

I spoke to her about her profession, family and things concerning her life. My demeanor, then, was a motley mix of hypocrisy, genuine interest in the life of people like her, guilt, sarcasm, egoism, altruism and of course the ‘Chameli’ influence. I asked her why she was in such a profession; she was still a child, probably still a minor, why did she have to spoil her life? For which she giggled and said “kya mein bacchi dekthi hoon ?” (Do I look like a child?).She was trying to act sassy by saying that but, with her innocent child-like face, failed miserably.

She even narrated her story, which sounded familiar -father dies of snakebite; mother and young siblings to take care of; comes to Mumbai with aunt in the search of job; finally ends up in a dance bar.

“You are an idiot to believe all that!! This is the kind of story all such girls narrate”, my friends said when later I told them about it. The story may have been cooked up, but I was sure, truth wouldn't have been much different. I couldn’t imagine her coming from a happy family background, working at a dance bar just out of greed: surely not about a girl of her age?

There were many young and extremely beautiful girls like Neha .If only they were shown the right path, given the support they needed at the right age; they would have had if not a splendid, a normal life. To be frank, it would have been a love-at-first-sight (if only there was something like that) if I had seen any of these girls in my college canteen, in the HR department or at the office reception for that matter.

I suggested she went back to her village, got married and settled down. No one may ever know she worked at a dance bar. She would have a better life.

“And who would feed my family and me? You? “, she asked, looking straight through me and without a smile, for the first time during the conversation. I told her that at a later stage she would have regrets; her mother wouldn't be there forever; her siblings would get on with their own lives, and she would be left alone in the world. To which she said,” I know that, but by then I will have enough bank balance to support myself for rest of the life“

At least she believed in what she was saying and doing. I was there offering lip service, which she never wanted, satisfying my pseudo-altruism out of egoism. We say and do things, showing off our greater maturity and superior level of intellect, with rubber spines strengthened by few slugs. We are not ready to bring in the change; instead we live in the comfort of offering sympathy and pity. These people don’t need the pity; even ‘Chameli’ didn’t want it. It is we, with our shady desires, inabilities, fears and mainly the guilt out of these, who crave for it.

I had enough of the pseudo-curiosity to know the life in such places; never again though of going to such a place.


  1. What do you think the girl is going to do after making herself financially secure?????

  2. May be she is happy not thinking about the life after that...The only aim she has now is financial security.We all live with a dream or atleast a hope...its sometimes better if we dont look beyond that...

    Thanks for the comment


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