THE BIG NIGHT
On the first day of the Chinese spring vacation, two under civilized barbarians from the Northern land of Chengiz Khan came down to the modern city of Shanghai. Their delight towards nocturnal pleasures and plundering local markets and smuggling them back, made me use those adjectives. Their names were Viki (from the ancestral Vikings) and Magu (again from the ancestral Mangu Khan). After gluttonizing the food of the civilized men they were tamed a bit, I took them to the most visited place in Shanghai - The Bund. The Luijiazui trade zone, the signature view of Shanghai, wore a heavy winter haze which reduced the visibility and there by, beauty. Their love for Wine and Women made me take them to Bund 18, an open terrace pub with soft couches, expensive drinks and panoramic vista of bund. With a faint smile I asked the receptionist "Is the terrace open?” Without even lifting her head, she pointed me inside "Yes, go in". The terrace was completely ripped out for renovation, with no couches around and litter of wooden hollows. I said "Thank you" for the receptionist and took leave. We strolled up to Three on the Bund, a similar open terrace, minus couches. There was no service outside, but we were not stopped to buy drink and guzzle it on the terrace. The northerners were awestruck by the view of Bund, swilling their beers down the throat they said “Shanghai is awesome”. Bips, my friend joined us there in an hour’s time. Their thirst for nocturnal pleasures were not satiated by a mug of beer or a view of bund, we grabbed a taxi and took them to Tongren Lu.
We passed "Blue Angel" the pub with a live music and few hot bar girls waving at us from the inside, with an inviting graceful demeanor. We slid the door and meandered among tables, occupied mostly by westerners giggling with and caressing the bar girls, to an unoccupied one. The air contained a heavy smell of tobacco and cheap perfume. The singer was skimpily dressed, she sang in noisy and scurrilous manner that reminded me of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. In such a cacophony a skimpily red dressed B-girl appeared out of the blue and screamed "Whadya drink?” Even the northern cold-blooded men were intimidated by her shriek and countenance, still scared Viki says "Hang on for a moment" and thankfully she digressed from our table. Bips was quite hungry and wanted to eat a thing or two, but he haplessly said "I can’t eat to this kind of music" and we quit without a second thought.
A couple more steps I found the most hilarious bar name I've ever observed "EAT + DRINK + MAN + WOMAN". (Even the '+' was present) As I pointed my camera towards the nameplate, like a miracle its lights got switched off, but my darling camera was fast enough to get the shot. I presume even the bar authorities felt a bit weird seeing me shooting such a weird name. Bips also gave a hardcore philosophical explanation for the name, with his aphoristic wit he said "That’s life guys, what else do we have in life? Eat, drink, a man and a woman, that's all".
Bips guided us to "Melone's" after hurling ourselves out of "Blue Angels?” For the uninitiated, Bips is a professional nightlife guide in Shanghai and a good friend of mine. Just buzz him and utter the magical keyword "nightlife", he surely will postpone the meeting with the CEO or lie to his girlfriend or cancel his travel plans to accompany you. Nice guy, isn't he? A tri-storied pub with a loud pop music on the ground floor, a pool table on the first and soft and melodious live music on second floor is what Melone's is. They call it a sports bar for three reasons - presence of a pool table, a dartboard and telecasting ESPN on a large screen. We made our way up to the second floor, ordered four shots of nice and strong cognac, a fresh garden salad, a plate of cheese fries and a tall veggie burger. A westerner was playing a Boyz2men song, with an acoustic guitar and synthesized music; it was quite mellifluous I should say. When the food arrived we immediately found the answer as to why most westerns are quite bulky in size. The veg burger required Bips to open his mouth twice the maximum width he can, the fries were fatty and nicely iced with an inch of cheese. Four of us (two being northern binge eaters) couldn’t finish that. By the way cognac was awesome. Played dart before going out, I hit the bulls eye with my left hand!!! Reminded us of Haywards 5000 promo.
It was approaching twelve; the big night was drawing closer. We hit the streets for witnessing the colorful skies. The whole city was awakened by the bursts of fireworks and we kept rambling on the streets. It was cold and colorful, and smelt fireworks. There were healthy looking beggars on the streets uttering "Happy New Year" without even knowing what each word means and sending their kids for mooching the foreigners, since they were found profusely on the streets. As we strolled along the noisy streets, we reached the pavement just opposite to "Blue Angels" to witness the noisy crackers. They burst for nearly twenty minutes with no pause, men kept throwing longer chains of crackers into already bursting ones. The half drunk men, bar girls, those sluttish singers, some classy Indians, beggars, cops, passers-by stopped for the noisy rendezvous. I kept clicking photographs, looking at my long bazooka lens; a drunken white man questioned "Are ya from news?” Feeling glad deep inside, I said "No, not really". For God known reasons he shot back "This yeu caam?” I proudly said "Yeah" and passed him.
We decided to have a final drink before calling a taxi, we hit "Blue Frog", an immediate neighbour of "Blue Angels". The ambience was truly beautiful, especially the scheme of lighting they've employed. On to the right, was a set of sloshed white men, who were playing with the beer mascot of the bar. I found them to be nice sottish entertainers, one of the guy was actually trying to speak with that doll, in the end he wanted the bar guys to sell it to him. On to the left there were another bunch of white men, with one fat Chinese lady, we spent nearly three quarters there and was surprised to see that lady didn’t utter a single word and almost unmoved, that mascot which I referred to was more lively than her. In front of us was a couple having foreplay, of course, with clothes on.
Grabbed a taxi and barked "Zhangjiang gao ke, Loushan Lu tao Gao ke Lu tao Bibo Lu". This is a protocol between taxi driver and me, with no further questioning, he gets me to my place. The northern guys found it extremely hilarious and started making fun out of it.