I live in a surreal locality. It only looks rural and enchanting if you don't actually live here. If you do, you know that weird things happen more frequently than not. Such as, young men are liable to accost you and ask the way to the Bhoot Bungalow.
This Bhoot Bungalow (also known, locally, as Ghotala) is the very Heart of Weirdness. And in my more confessional moods I admit to myself that I feel partially responsible for this: after all, I once got married on the terrace of the house there and basically walked to my own wedding in rubber chappals. I may have set in motion a series of events that now comes back to haunt me (no one please say, what did you expect - it is a Bhoot Bungalow)
After that marriage, it occurred to the owner that he wasn't putting his over 40 acres of land to good enough use. The film shoots started, then TV serials. Eventually, after a major film was shot here and a gigantic set constructed, no one had the heart to tear it down. Subsequent productions altered the basic set - a large Charminar-y kind of structure in Jaipur pink - a little bit, tweaked the colour here, put in a street there, or a few shacks, and before you knew it, it was a permanent settlement.
More recently, the owner's brother has sanctioned the dumping of all kinds of construction debris there: not just a dump, but a whole mini-mountain. A hundred trucks pass by everyday, carrying small boulders, mud and such-like and they climb to the very top of the heap where they let go of it with small explosions and mudslides.
Occasionally, the place is hired out to parties. It is these that I chiefly object to. When it's once a year, one learns to grin and bear it; but when it's every Saturday, as has become the practice, I want to weep and drum my heels on the ground.
But this Saturday, when the organisers had done checking the sound (it was loud. I think that's the effect they were aiming for), I decided I would not lie awake all night resenting them and wondering if I could, should call the cops to complain about the noise and the sleep of decent citizens and taxpayers. I decided I would check out what was happening on the party scene, just aurally, as it were.
Being a DJ must be much like being an editor - one primarily makes decisions about whether to do smooth and seamless or startling and revealing juxtaposition. But whoever this guy or girl was, the music was 1) from what was playing in nightclubs three years ago or thereabouts, 2) Punjabi retro-cool, with lots of - yes I know - Daler Mehendi, 3) standard filmi populars such as 'Pappu Can't Dance' and 'It's The Time To Disco' and finally 4) very, very loud. My window panes were rattling in time to the bass.
The party was taking place in the ruins of the permanent set. The recent rains had torn off some of the scaffolding and had very likely churned up some of the unpaved ground. I was imagining all those people, the heat of bodies, arms upflung, hearts thudding. Above, the clouds had gathered and were obscuring the eclipse that had begun.
It rained and still they went on. Some people left. I know because their cars hissed by, the lights sent lacy leaf patterns travelling on my wall. The music stopped. It was only a little past midnight. One half-hearted (and incoherent) announcement later, a loud cheer went up and the music began again.
Were they getting wet? Mud-spattered? Weren't they afraid for their equipment? Did they even know there was an eclipse on, far above the rainclouds, where the bruised moon was turning yellow or orange, more wild than the dancing, taking as its due the little tribal ritual being enacted far below?