“Come on, we’ve been working on this presentation for hours now… we’ll drive to Murthal, have a good dinner at Pahalwan Ka Dhaba and be back before anyone knows. Pakka yaar!” Kartik kept trying to convince me.We had a big presentation in college the next day that we had been working super-hard at, and now, after many sleepless nights, I just wanted to curl up in bed and save all my energy for the big day tomorrow. But my friends had other plans. Kartik had convinced Somya and Lucky too, and now all three of them firmly believed that if we didn’t de-stress tonight, we were gonna suck tomorrow. With no energy left to fight their lame logic, I gave in. We stuffed ourselves into Kartik’s car, and zoomed away to SDA market to get the cheapest bottle of vodka, some cigarettes and packets of chips to munch on.
Kartik was an expert driver, and as he drove us out of Delhi, on that October night, the cool air, the loud music and the warm vodka put all of us in a great mood. “Maybe it wasn’t all that bad an idea,” I confessed to Kartik. “You need to listen more often to me. We’ll give a great presentation tomorrow, dekh lio!”I sat back while all of us laughed and joked around. It must have been about 12 in the night, and except for a few lorries, there weren’t many cars in view. Somewhere on the highway, a little before Murthal, Kartik stopped the car near some bushes, and he and Lucky stepped out to pee. While Somya and I were waiting for the guys to return, we heard Kartik open the car’s rear, where his prized woofers were placed. And in the dim glow from the rear lights, he started dancing right there on the street!! Lucky joined him and Somya and I couldn’t stop ourselves either - first we laughed at them and then we danced along! In the middle of nowhere, to 1990s Bollywood music!It was obviously the alcohol that had gone to our heads, but we couldn’t care less, we were having so much fun! Lucky had just started making a video, when someone flashed a torchlight in our faces, and a gruff voice asked, “Kya ho raha hai yahan?”
A police jeep was parked in a corner, and we were face to face with two U.P. police constables!“Haan bhai, suna nahin… kya ho raha hai yahan? Kahan se aaye ho? Aur ye ladkiyaan kaun hain?” One of the policemen asked Kartik.Lucky immediately asked me and Somya to get into the car and told us not to give our real names and numbers if asked. I heard him then tell the constables that we were friends, who were out on a drive. He even showed our project report to prove that we were in fact college kids! I was a little scared because we were drunk, even if we weren’t doing anything illegal otherwise. Suddenly the second constable flashed his torch inside the car at us. He went on to ask me and Somya what relationship we had with the guys, where had they picked us from and what “project” were we completing in the middle of the night. It was then that I realised what the real problem was. The policemen thought we were prostitutes!Before we could give any explanation, he asked us to step out and call our fathers. I was on the verge of crying - I knew my dad would kill me if he received a late night call from jail for his daughter’s bail!
Lucky hurried to where we were standing, and told the constable to let us girls stay in the car. In response, the constable slapped him hard right across the face! “Saale, tu mujhe batayega kya karna hai? Daaru peeke, mujhe bataega?!” By this time, my legs had started trembling and I was cowering behind Somya, who was trying to put up a brave front for both of us while talking to the policemen. I saw Kartik furiously dial his “contacts” who knew someone in the higher ranks of U.P. police.“Chal, register me naam likh apna, aur apne baap ko phone mila,” the constable repeated. Somya had lost her dad a couple of years ago, and told the guy that she couldn’t possibly call him. The constable went on to say, “Baap nahin hai, maa toh hogi, ya wo bhi chal basi? Pata toh chale ladki ki harkaton ka…mila usey phone!”Thankfully, Kartik got through to one of his contacts and the policemen let us go, but not without asking us to write in our names and numbers in the registers first. They suddenly turned super friendly to us, telling us the only reason they had been “strict” with us was because an “incident” had occurred two weeks ago in this area and we had jeopardized our security by being there like this! Like we cared! We jumped into the car and drove off.