My father was a Central Government employee. And all Central Government houses are of the same make and colour. And they also produce people of the same hue. Dull. Nevertheless, I had it good. Some things in life are free, till supplies last.

Ever since I remember, till my father retired from service, I had never stayed in a house with less than two bedroom and always a Hall. And Hall means a Hall! In some houses we even had two gardens – front and back. It was no less than a sprawling bungalow. The only thing missing was, it had less style inside. But all my growing years, I always had a room for myself and a library. 

1996 father retired. Suddenly we found ourselves in one bedroom and a tiny hall “shocker”. This was from Three Bedroom, Hall, two toilets, storeroom and balcony. For months, ghost like, I roamed around my earlier house, trying to re-live the crashed experience. Gradually, I reconciled, but the memories still persist. This rapid decompression dented my self-esteem.

In 1997, I went to Kolkata as my new job required. There I rented a Two Bedroom, Balcony, Garden House and lived like a king. Well almost. I bought a Music System, T.V., Car, lots of drinks and made lots of friends. I attempted to re-create my earlier glorious living space.

But penury struck me. Within a year I was reduced to credit cards and parental bailouts. What was provided free by the government, I had tried to acquire the same through my private salary! You will find fools or greater fools. If you find anyone who beats even that, call him “Neeraj”.

Anyway, I came back to Mumbai in 2001 and these days I stay in Two bedroom, Hall apartment, but with my parents. Instead of a room, I live in a hall with my “library” strewn on the floor. I “hope”, one day, I will get back “my space”. That’s the desire.

So, when yesterday I saw “Dhobi Ghat”, I couldn’t but smile on the character of Aamir Khan. In Kolkata, that’s exactly the way I lived, drank and smoked. Aamir painted. I read, wrote my diary. It’s such a freedom to be all alone, be with your own self and enjoy the tranquillity of the night. Sometimes you miss a company. But there are some characters who tread this path, not because they like it, but they are addicted to it. I Understand.

In “Dhobi Ghat”, Aamir’s character conveys apologies after his sexual encounter. I find that feeling to be so very true. People like us, who are not “relationship type”, yearn to be intimate yet do not want to carry the baggage. Our selfishness is disguised behind a facade of goodness. Actually people like us are much more dangerous than those who are more explicit.

But “reality” shows up in drunken stupor.There is a shot where Aamir says he becomes erratic after drinks. The same happens to me. I become wild and do strange things. I find that I can compose poetry when I am drunk. Hindi and Urdu words starts appearing in my vocabulary. I am amazed of what all I do when alcohol rules my mind. Some day, I will write it.

There are things others do, which you wish you had done. I wish I would have played the role of Aamir Khan. I would have done better. I identify with that “loner” character. It is so “Me”.

Check out – Dhobi Ghat. You may like it for art sake. Or if you are a “Bohemian” and have your own “hidden” Ghat – a Ghat where bachelors take a dip, you might even live it.