While sitting in JJI Exile Kitchen today, and devouring another bowl of Thukpa, the month of May has been running through my mind.
I’m a fan of JJI Exile brothers’ band, whom I met for the first time in May, and it’s their mother who runs this small Tibetan restaurant. JJI lent us their guitar during a concert back in May, it was the first time we were on stage.
Yes, all sorts of things were happening in May…
Shikha had arrived the evening before Nikhil left for Mumbai, and along with her she brought the winds of change. She was staying with Nivedita for the first few days.
Away from our main purpose of coming to Mcleodganj, we hung out, indulged in conversations at every cafe possible in the town, meeting new strangers and then jamming at different places through the evening.
And one of those evenings, we found ourselves sitting in the balcony of Nivedita’s room, and staring at the mountains glowing in the orange hue of sunset. Later on, we moved to benches set up at the edge of a hill near her place, carrying the guitar with us.
While Jay started singing soaking in the whole view, Shikha joined in, as I sat there observing Nivedita, whose eyes kept deceiving her and kept staring at Jay. And then, when the snow capped peaks were slowly embracing darkness, as sun had finally set, I felt something was on the rise there, sensing a connection between Jay and Nivedita, even though Jay kept denying for the next few days.
It was an indication of the times to come, as Olivia had also arrived in Mcleodganj for a month, while I kept straying away from the thought regarding our impending project, the work was on hold and it did keep bothering me from time to time.
During one of those days, while Jay and I were lying in our room, lazing around and discussing our dwindling financial resources, we received a phone call from Sujoy, the owner of Indique restaurant here.
We had met him a month ago, when on one of the afternoons we landed at his restaurant and started jamming.
He wanted to meet us that evening and discuss the possibility of performing there. We readily agreed and started to playing music from that evening onwards, entertaining all the weekend tourists to Mcleodganj. While some simply enjoyed our performances, others just showered us with their love, we received notes, gifts and made many a friends while singing some of the songs they loved. We did it all, and it indeed was fun for a few days, until the monotony of the whole proceedings started to get on our nerves. But then, our project wasn’t moving any further, and we had nothing else to do to earn some money.
So, while we spent our days socializing, exploring different parts of Mcleodganj, our evenings were spent playing music either at indique or sitting and jamming at the platform, while staring at the flickering city lights of Kangra valley.
Jay and Nivedita were getting closer, and it was noticeable. Plus, Shikha had finally shifted to Waste Warriors office in Bhagsu. It was during this time when Jay and I had started visiting Shikha at Waste Warrior’s office, and we found a new place in Bhagsu behind the office, where we promptly shifted to from Dharamkot.
Then one day, Jay returned home with the news that we were invited to perform at an upcoming dance and music concert in Mcleodganj. I was petrified, I had never sang in front of a big gathering, however, Jay was happy, as he was back in his familiar terrain.
It was 10th of May, the concert night.
Jay, Nivedita and I had already reached TIPA grounds for the concert, where they were still setting up the stage while a storm brewed in the sky. The rain were imminent, and when it finally started pouring down, Jay and I found ourselves taking shelter in the company of the JJI Exile brothers, the biggest band in this region.
I had never been more nervous, and atmosphere in the backstage didn’t help in soothing down my nerves, everyone was busy practicing their acts. There were beautiful girls stretching their bodies, practicing their dance moves, while some of the Tibetan musicians strummed their guitar. We felt out of place, as outsiders, neither did we know anyone, nor did anyone in the audience knew about us, except few of our friends who reached there later on.
However, that night, ours was one of the best performances, and while walking down the road after the concert, we were greeted by many of the audience members going back home. It was a great night, as I found myself walking with all the friends, and everyone praising us; praising Jay, more than me. Even though he rightly deserved it, I was jealous.
Later on, Jay left to drop Nivedita at her room, while I found myself sitting by the road in the middle of the night with Olivia. I guess, it was that night when I finally confessed to someone about what I was thinking about Jay. Olivia had always been a mother figure to me, and she did try to clear my doubts, but it wasn’t much of a help.
It was during those days, when while performing at indique on one of the evenings, we met Rajeev. He immediately became a part of our group in Mcleodganj, and he used to treat Shikha as his sister. While they found great friends in each other, Jay had confessed his feeling for Nivedita to me; everyone had found someone, I did too, but we’ll talk about it later.
Now that Rajeev had been hanging out with us, our friend sphere was widening up, and through Shikha we also met Rajneesh, the Waste Warrior head in Bhagsu. We had started spending more of our time in Waste Warrior’s office, where we later met some more people, who came there to volunteer. And in a few days time, we were meeting and hanging out with different people all around Mcleodganj.
It was during this time, after the concert, when Sushant called us up to his office, and asked if we’d be ready to perform at indique 4-5 times a week, for a fixed amount of money, which wasn’t much but would’ve been enough for us.
For some reason, we refused. It felt like chaining ourselves to someone, and something we didn’t want to do, ’cause we still had a project waiting for us, and we knew once Nikhil would’ve been back from Mumbai in a few days time, we’d have been back on track.
We were so wrong. And that was an end to our performances at Indique after two weeks.
But May was slowly distracting us, even without knowing, our project was slowly fading away, but in the meantime our friend group also kept bulging up with the arrival of my sister and an old friend.
May was a month with a lot in store for me, which I now realize while looking back. It was offering me new experiences, and all I had to do was give in. It did feel good, with some moments of tension in between. But overall, it was a month of happiness, and the cold was slowly receding.