My brother-in-law is a fascinating person. And to think, I discovered this only the first time I saw him drunk.
Till that time, he had always struck me as a bright, sweet person, who always went out of his way to help others and was strikingly unselfish and accommodating.
However, a few years back, when Vijay and I were living in Bangalore, the BIL, Ajay, came over to visit on a short trip from the US, and we all decided to go out to Geoffrey's for the night. And that is the fateful night during which Ajay demonstrated his uninhibited side.
To begin with, all was the normal hee-hee-ha-ha bit. There were a couple of Ajay's friends who had joined us for dinner and drinks. Conversation carried on, but I soon noted a change in Ajay's temperament. To order the third round of drinks, he kept signalling the waiter closer and closer (the music was quite loud) until the man had his left ear two inches away from his face. He then proceeded to bawl deafeningly into the unfortunate waiter's ear 'Another Round for EVERYONE, please!'. The waiter, reeling unsteadily and shaking his head, went tottering off to comply.
Ajay then proceeded to regale us with this new (to me) side of his personality, with numerous little incidents and jokes, a bulk of which I unfortunately cannot recall now. But I do remember when a short, bespectacled man walked over and started talking to Ajay. Initially, Ajay looked at him very blankly, seemingly unable to recall who he was - but soon, the blank look changed into complete recognition - he then greeted him like a long lost friend, and insisted that he sit down with us - in fact, since the place was crowded and there were no extra chairs, he gave up his own chair, and stood there, his six foot frame towering over this new little man, who turned out to be only marginally shorter standing down.
All this was pretty much in the usual generous spirit of Ajay and we tried to be equally welcoming of this stranger - shortly after, however, we discovered that contrary to our impression so far, Ajay in fact had not known this man (named Raj) for many years - but in fact, had met him approximately three minutes back in the men's loo and they had bonded for a few seconds over the fact that they were both IIT passouts.
Now, I do not know the proper ettiquette for conversation topics when you are peeing next to a stranger, but a deep chord of friendship had clearly been struck between Ajay and Raj. And so, Ajay proceeded to use Raj as the scapegoat for the evening thereafter.
Raj was obviously a bit drunk himself, or perhaps he was just a strange man who had no friends - or probably, both. In any case, Ajay was frankly curious about everything in his life and Raj blossomed under all the attention.
When Raj mentioned that he had spent some time in London recently, Ajay immediately sprang into a discussion on the 'British Raj'. He evidently thought this was the joke of the century and kept referring back to it later in the conversation, even when there was no context to the same.
When Raj said that he was going to Germany in a few months, Ajay interrupted him with a very earnest expression 'But how do you truly feel about going away?' - and then, proceeded to supply the options, without a pause 'Happy? Sad? Mixed Feelings?' - and then, changed the topic abruptly before Raj could gather his thoughts and actually respond to the question.
When Raj did manage to get a word in edgewise next, he remarked that he didn't really miss a place, he misses his friends. Ajay then immediately pounced on him 'So if your friends are in India, you miss India? If they move to Germany, you will miss Germany? If they move to London, you will miss London?'. Raj, inebriated as he was, couldn't figure out the flaw in this seemingly logical conclusion, and Ajay was anyway on another plane by that time.
The evening continued in much the same vein, and we had a ball of a time watching Ajay be the most charming, friendly and amusing person around for miles. His final parting shot to poor Raj was 'Gimme your email ID, Raj', and as they said goodbye, a very serious 'And remember -if you get an email from me - delete it!'
Vijay and I told Ajay it was time to go home. He turned moist-eyed to his other friends, and demanded their credit cards. Shortly after, it was clarified that what he really wanted was their visiting cards. Examining the visiting card of one of his former colleagues, he noted that it said 'PMP' (which apparently stood for Project Management Professional). Not knowing this at the time, he exclaimed loudly, with an expression of shock and disappointment, as we stood there in the hotel lobby 'What?? Mahesh! You've become a PIMP?'.
Thereafter, we took him home in a hurry and he was very quiet on the ride back and fell asleep very quickly.
I was really amazed by this whole episode. I didn't know that a couple of drinks could reveal such a wholly different side to your entire character. When Vijay has a couple of drinks, he just becomes alternately cheerful and mournful, his poor jokes get even worse, and he likes to sing old Hindi songs, tunelessly but without inhibition - sometimes even with his eyes closed.But I've never seen someone so charmingly cut other people down to size, while maintaining a thoroughly friendly and innocent manner throughout.
And so, I have been looking forward to the opportunity to take Ajay out and ply him with a few drinks again - and maybe next time , I will deliberately invite along some people I don't particularly like. Either way, it should be fun.