Jo’s recent post ‘sharaabi ka naam, sharaabi ka baap ka naam‘ reminded me of a recent stop-over at an adda on the Bangalore-Mysore Road.

We were coming back from Gangavathi Taluk, and a car ride of about 7 hours does need atleast one pee stop despite all withdrawal of water intake.

Our driver, Nagraj, has been with us on almost all our travels in the last 2 months. And he’s also become an expert at guiding us to pee-stops. Including once when we had to find a field, and once on the way to the God-forsaken Bengalaru airport, I had to make do with a construction site.

But this time, he seemed oblivious of our discomfort, speeding along on the highway, revving the car to 120 kms per hour.

Then we passed what looked like a garden restaurant. “We could have gone there”, I grumpily complained. He slowed down, backed carefully and drove in to the side of the road, outside the restaurant. I rushed towards the gate, my other 2 female colleagues following with a little more dignity.

A manager kind of person rushed towards me with as much alacrity, before I could cross the entrance. “What do you want, what do you want?” I said, “Tea, coffee?” He said, waving his hands for emphasis, “No, no, no tea, coffee here. Go next door.” I looked around.

This was a large garden bar. Surrounded by a row of small, dark cubicles on 2 sides, with dirty, flimsy curtains half drawn, dim naked bulbs hanging over each table, filled up with groups of men, engaged in the serious business of drinking. At the entrance, there was a small liquor shop, almost only a counter, surrounded by a mob of men, buying bottles, or tetra-packs of liquor, or just glasses of the stuff and quaffing them standing, one glass down and then yet another.

I said, “Is there at least a toilet?” For some strange reason, in that all-male bastion, there was a ladies toilet. There was no visible light switch, but I managed to find the toilet in the twilight. My two colleagues had caught up with me. The manager kind of person came after we had almost finished to show us the light switch behind the door. We were better off without the lights on, is all I can say.

We ambled out at a more relaxed pace towards the tea stall outside. The dustbin on the road was overflowing with ‘old blue’ tetrapacks.We turned around when we found a tall, dark shadow hovering 6 inches behind us, to find that one of my colleagues, a young and very beautiful woman, had lured a sharaabi to follow her and have tea instead of likker.

While we had our tea, the others told me that our driver Nagraj was most amused at my stopping at the bar. “Madam’s favorite place,” he was supposed to have said, and laughed most delightedly. He did repeat the joke a couple of times before we reached Bangalore. “Madam said ‘stop here, stop here’, Madam’s favourite place.”