Had been asked by a friend who runs a radio station to perform 45 minutes at the OGS Mela.
For the uninitiated, “OGS” stands for “Old Grammarians” which is an organization comprised of Karachi Grammar School alumni. A “mela” is like a carnival.
When I was a kid, Mela’s meant three hundred people lining up for hours to get
a) their face painted
b) buy a puddle of grease in a paper plate for lunch; or
c) play Bingo.
The OGS Mela is a little different.
I walked in half an hour before I was due to perform. Parked my lowly Toyota at the end of a long line of Mercs and BMW’s. Oh, and a Porche or two.
The mela entrance was thronging with teenage boys in sagging jeans smoking furiously. Showed the dozen or so security guards my Performer’s pass and walked in. There were several hundred people strolling around from stall to stall.
And the stall’s. This was no simple Mela. More a job fair.
A Capital Investment company had a stall. Two car leasing companies had stalls. Car tracking systems. Insurance companies. Cell phones. Hair salons. And placed randomly between them were face painting, sponge throwing, song dedications and, ofcourse, Bingo.
The food section was choice. I could, conceivably, have eaten fries, Dim Sum, hot dogs and nachos. Washed it down with a Mocha Frappacino and ended with a Sundae.
I, ofcourse, had enough money for just fries.
The crowd was a mix of teenage girls with jeans that had been painted on and whose blonde streaked hair barely hid the years of damage done to their youthful beauty by the twin addictions of Nicotine and Acne. The Pakistani girl’s poisons of choice. Boys all sported close cropped hair-do’s, checkered boxers crumpled over the edges of their Deisel’s and ironically-sloganed tee’s. And threading their way through them were hot young mothers being trailed by obedient nanny’s dragging indifferent 3 year olds.
You could wear a Sumo suit and slam a friend with a rubber belly until he was squeezed out of his clothes like a tube of toothpaste, battle American Gladiato-style with gigantic foam – well – dildoes, smash powdered paint on each other or send someone to jail. The last was a common feature at my school mela when I was a kid, which in contrast looked like a UNAID relief camp in Darfur. “Jail” was an area cordoned off with a thin rope where someone who lost a game or you felt like boring would have to spend 15 minutes alone. This “Jail” was an immense steel cage with thick bars, individual cells and gang-rape in the showers. Bring your own soap.
I made it over to the stage area after spending 15 minutes watching a gaggle of teenage girls excitedly licking a chocolate fountain and caught the closing fifteen minutes of a Juggling act. A lonely man in a tuxedo and red bowtie was tossing flaming torches into the air while balancing a stick with a wine glass on top ON HIS FREAKING TONGUE. In front of him, jaded 5-year olds stood unimpressed, while a repetitive techno-beat hammered on unrelentingly. A DJ scratched vinyl and turned tables with all the joy of a lung-cancer patient watching people smoke through the small window in a gray terminal ward. As the man on stage ended his act by juggling despair, misery and depression, the children shuffled away. 5 years old and already looking hung-over.
“Hold my sippy cup while I snort some coke off my girlfriends diaper mom.”
I turned to the organizer, told them they can keep the payment and lets just call it even.
God bless her soul she agreed and let me go.
On the way out the tide of techno rhythms broke for a few seconds and through the speakers a robotic voice murmured “SEX ON THE STREETS…SEX ON THE STREETS…SEX…ON…THE…STREEEEEEETS.”
I ran to my car.