Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sagas of the Spring - V


Finally I couldn’t take any more looting and I howled "Buggers, no more shopping today, I'm not gonna take you to any damn shopping mall in Shanghai" and took these men to Changfeng park, where they could see more civilized mortals alive and kicking. They showed the park to their gizmos more than what they saw and I had my share of fresh air and few good photos. I'm still pondering over the meaning of "ROYAL SPLENDID THE WORLD SUBLIME", a T-shirt print worn by a lady in the park. It was bon appetite time and they again wanted to hog Punjabi food. Bips and me said no more Punjabi food, for we hate that place more than any Chinese restaurant. We had a nice Chinese vegetarian meal next to Punjabi and decided to hit JZ club for a drink.

On the way a very cute kid came begging for money inside the metro. Magu had grown so fat these days, that his fly could not be locked in position and it had slid open. The kid almost forgot begging and started laughing its heart out. He pointed his finger to Magu's groin area and kept giggling till his sister came. Then he reported the fly open thingy to her, before she could bend over to Magu's fly our station had arrived and we got off.

JZ Club, located on Fuxing Lu, had a very typical Jazz ambience. The waitress ushered us to a table so close to the stage, that the singer could hear my whisper. Now this place was quite interesting, two tables away from us, there was presumably an Indian, a non-mongoloid Asia would be more precise though, was sitting with a white lady. They were exhibiting their overt carnal desire without giving a slightest damn to the human race around them. An intimate kissing, caressing and cuddling is still an understatement to describe what they were upto. Bips started envying that guy. Just as I was returning from the restroom, I happened to see that the lady's pant was almost below her ham and the two fleshy, rounded parts at the back of the hips were so humongous, that each of them were resting on two separate stools. The moment I reported this to Bips, he stopped envying and started pitying the poor, presumably, Indian. Finally music kicked in at half past ten. Unfortunately Eliza's band played, who had no idea about what jazz is. She opened up with a Beyonce track, which I hated whole-heartedly. After the drink in our glass was wholly consumed, we quit and reached ARK, Xintiandi. Bipin exhibited his artistic skills by quickly sketching the ham of the lady which I just told on the windowpane of the taxi, we were in splits to see that.

ARK is supposed to be one of the classiest pubs in town. I wanted to check out the kind of music they played. The elevator took me to third floor along with two other Indians, jaded Gujjus, who leeringly asked, looking at my camera "You look like a photographer". I said, "Oh Yeah! but not a professional one". They said they also wanted to check out the place, they were looking for a place to shake their hips and drool over babes. With my limited wit about discotheques I recommended them to hit "Zapata". ARK played Bryan Adams music in a very Chinese way, which was not something we were looking for. Grabbed a taxi to "House of Jazz and Blues".

A shot of Green Label and a soothing Jazz music were waiting for me at HJB. I was glad that Thaddeus, the front man still remembered me and asked if I sent the photographs to him that I took the other night. Happened to talk to other band members, Quinn and Evelyn. We stayed till they stopped performing, I guess it was about half past one.

Grabbed a taxi and Viki uttered the protocol this time in the most incomprehensible way "Zhangjiang gaoke, Bibo lu". I had to translate that to the driver who did both dozing and driving the car at the same time.

Sagas of the Spring - IV


Northerners, today, wanted to loot more. They raided pearl market, Magu got 24 pearl necklaces, Viki got 10 of them. They thieved few clothes from Meters Bonwe and Baleno show rooms. Again they wanted to loot more of Digital gizmos and I took them to Xujahui. Magu bought 10 mp3 players, the shop girl had already half fallen for him. He was inquiring about a USB stick, I thought he was trying to get it for free (for buying 10 mp3 players) and I said, "She may not give it for free, you may have to buy it". He giggled back "Of course, I'm buying it". Then I said, "What are you waiting for?” he says, "I need 10 of them!!!" with a louder laughter. I said "#$%@ you man, you crazy damned northerners are literally looting Shanghai". He got totally 10 mp3 players, 10 USB sticks and had he called the sales girl for a date, she would have been more than happy to join him. For getting such ridiculously outrageous and scandalous customers, the lady gave me a pair of headphones for free. We were all famished by the time they were done with their dirty deal, again hogged at Bread Talk, like the previous day.

Rushed to Lujiazui to make them witness the Pudong side of Bund. Now these primitives had a digital camera and a mobile phone (with camera), they clicked till the devices were drained out of its batteries. We guzzled Paulaner draft beer with our eyes relishing the beauty of bund and drove to Punjabi for dinner, for these men were desperate for Indian food. A heavy food without alcohol is like painting without turpentine, so we needed more beer for digestion and we hit WA-bar a laid-back, silent bar on top of Carrefore. Had two rounds of beer, with a game of dice to entertain and hit home early.

Sagas of the Spring - III


The crude men from north wanted to witness the high tech gizmos of the south and I took them to Xujahui. They stood in awed amazement at the gigantic Pacific digital mart, thrilled to their depth by the gizmos, their looting list grew like a beanstalk. Mp3 player, digital camera, portable hard disk, USB sticks, mobile phone and what not!!! It took almost a third of a day for their plundering to get over. Those gluttons got hungry and I had to satiate their epicurean pleasures with varieties of baked stuff from Bread Talk.

It was dinnertime and I drove them to Vedas, since they wanted to hog Indian cuisine. The dinner consisted of rotis and dhal, which we devoured down swilling the beer and rested our tired asses at the lounge. We started walking in search of a place where those nomads could quaff away spirits and drool over women. We found an interesting toilet board, arrow pointing 50m right below the ground. While I said, "Borat would have shat right below the board", Magu observed, "A Bihari would have said 'abe 50m kaun jayega, yahipe kardenge'".

After paying a hefty sum of 40CNY to the guardian of our jackets and bags, we entered the clamorous and glamorous "Zapata", a Mexican discotheque. The first scene that hit our eyes, were a quartet men dancing on the bar table to the high-octane music. Bips was quite terrified "Have we come to the right place? We aren’t gays, are we?" he cried. I liked the dark ambience and Mexican outlook of the place, but the music made me feel that the DJ is suffering from amnesia, sometimes forgetting to play dance numbers. He played songs like Summer of 69 and Sweet Child O Mine in a discotheque!!! The most interesting part of Zapata was the people, there were innumerable hot and spicy blondes, svelte brunettes belting out alluring pelvic thrusts, huge and tall white women who could break my spinal cord with a single strike, horny white men dancing with and caressing Chinese girls, dozens of white Neanderthals, few Indians giving away their business cards to every person they met and asking for the same. I tapped my feet for a few selected numbers, swilled down a couple of Johnnie walkers, kept chatting with a Filipino dude, a base player and someone who knew rock, jazz and Iron Maiden. Nice guy I must say, he bought Viki and me a drink and we discussed a lot about history, Philippines and India (wrong place for that though…but what the heck!!!). At about half past one, the music stopped like a much-welcomed silence after thunderstorm. Bips was missing and we found that he was in the neighbouring "Cancan" bar.

"Cancan" bar read “a tiny house where beautiful B-girls serve drink (and also asks you to buy them) and contains a pool table and table football” and not as "exuberant ladies French dance marked by high kicking of legs". He was having drink with and chatting with a Texan who was thrice the size of me and introduced himself as "Country boy". Played a game or two of table football and took leave to Zhangjian gao ke. No! that's not the name of any pub, that's the place where I live.

Sagas of the spring - II


The northerners were getting restless to start plundering the city. I took them to the famous Shangyang gift market. It is a multi-million dollar sister concern of big names - Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Armani, Gucci, Rolex, Cartier, Microsoft, Adobe, Mathworks, Northface, Columbia and many more. Spanning an area that would require about a third of a day to traverse, it features "unpurchasable luxury" products at highly affordable prices. A Hugo Boss shirt costing 1800CNY also costs the same in the market, the difference is it could be bargained down to 80CNY. The number of Windows Vista CDs produced in this market is easily hundred fold more than what Microsoft ships for the entire USA, costing less than hundredth of the latter. Gucci would be awestruck to see that they are lagging behind Shanghyang market in terms of design and sales. Viki was excited about the market and he wanted Undis, the CalvinKlien ones. I've seen people buying stuff in bulk, which would mean 3-4 pieces to me. But this barbarian was so overwhelmingly impressed by the price of CK that he got around a dozen of them. He wanted to give few to his fellow northerners. Black, gray, V-cuts, striped ones, designer ones all of them bearing a prominent CalvinKlien on the strap, were bargained for about a twelve bucks each.

Next day was Viki's birthday and he threatened me to take to a genuine market to buy dresses (yeah northerners are not nomads covering their groins with leaves, they are slightly undercivilized compared to us, southerners). Bababan is a gigantic shopping mall, we hit the Giordano showroom straight, and we were bewildered to see Viki buying another half dozen Undis along with other trousers and shirts. I did some shopping too; not plundering like them and each of us got a travel bag as a gift for shopping at Giordano.

Post dinner (at Nizang, Nepali restaurant) we came to Xintiandi. It was dark and the nightly instincts of the two men were working. We (me and Bips) took them to Paulener, a German beer-guzzling place. Had an hour-long session of beer, jokes and paparazzing the neighbouring couple (couldn’t get any decent shot though), we headed towards The House of Jazz and Blues.

The best pub I've been till now and northerners were also tamed a bit by the sensational mood of Jazz. The front man Thaddeus, was an astounding trumpeter. Jazz is particularly my favorite genre music and it made me drink whiskey on the rocks, a shot of tequila and a tall mug of Erdinger. I also happened to talk to and got photographed with Thaddeus and Mr. Paul, the guest guitarist, who knew a great deal about Indian classical music. Magu and Bips were missing after sometime, we set out to search them and they were playing pool at a nearby bar.

Grabbed a taxi and uttered my magical protocol and gaily the driver got us home.

Sagas of the spring - I


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.