A Party at Flaxton Apartments
My first residence after taking up a job at Calcutta was at Flaxton Apartments on Russell Street. Ideal in many ways for a young bachelor. A short walk from the office and just off Park Street, the heart of Calcutta’s night life. My flatmate was a smart, handsome (if somewhat narcissistic) Syrian Christian named Mathew. We met through the receptionist at the Head Office to whom I had casually mentioned my need for a suitable accommodation. As it turned out, Mathew and I were both single-minded in our pursuit of the good things in life – wine, women and song. And not necessarily in that order. Over the next few months, we created a fairly strong base of common friends.
Across the landing, lived an elderly couple – the Khannas. What an elegant duo they made. Mr Khanna had served in the Foreign Service as Ambassador. Looking back, we must have given them a rough time with our noisy, drunken parties. But given their gentility, there was never a complaint.
One Sunday, Mathew decided to host a lunch. Soon, we had around twenty people – slowly getting into the mood. Among them, was Karan Singh and his gracious and lovely wife Reena. Karan was a burly, six foot plus, a gentle giant when sober but a terror under the influence. Many had suffered at his hands, but as everyone knew of his problem, he was largely tolerated. Only Reena could control him when he was inebriated. Also present were Sunder, looking natty in his kurta pyjama, and his wife Anita. I single out Sunder a bald-headed, slim man of serious demeanour, because of the stellar role he would play in the afternoon’s proceedings.
As the day wore on, the decibel levels rose and as the alcohol consumption increased, Karan got steadily out of control. Lunch had been laid in the landing. Laxman the cook had prepared a huge bowl of dal alongwith the other standard fare. Next to the table were a couple of flower pots. Before anyone realized, Karan had taken out his weewee and was busy peeing into one of the flower pots. All we could do was look on horrified. Having successfully, if somewhat laboriously, reinserted his weewee into his pants, Karan now directed his attention to the contents on the table.
Picking up the huge bowl of dal in both his massive hands, he proceeded to put away the dal. Before our startled eyes, the entire contents, enough for twenty people had been swallowed. The next thing we knew, Karan had caught hold of a hapless Sunder who happened to be standing by, Bloody Mary in hand. One enormous hand caught hold of Sunder’s neck and the other ripped off of his beautiful silk kurta. Expecting further assault, Sunder bolted down the stairs. Karan immediately set off in hot pursuit. Soon half the party was running down Russell Street towards Park Street. Being a Sunday afternoon, traffic was fortunately light. A few minutes later, Karan somehow lost interest and staggered back to Flaxton. The party broke up soon after these tumultuous happenings.
Flaxton is no more. Broken down to make way for another multi-storeyed building. And the people who lived there have moved on. Time, the only real victor, has won. Again.