Memories are always like those phone calls you get, asking whether you are interested in taking a credit card. When you actually want one, no one ever calls. But, the moment you are engaged in some work that has a deadline..
Of course, in this particular instance, deciding to get drunk on whisky neat wasn't also helping the case. There were three of them in that room. Five, if you included the fictional puppies in the B&W label. They had to make sure that everything was aligned before the sale went live tomorrow. It was mundane work and the alcohol was supposed to alleviate the boredom that could plague them.
For reasons unknown to Raghu, his thoughts went back to his geography class and the things that he had to mug up. Sirocco. He vaguely remembered that the name of a local wind in the Mediterranean region. He took a peek at Lachu, who had burrowed herself in her laptop.
"Hey. Do you remember about the local winds that we studied back in school? Sirocco and all that?"
She looked up and so did Nihal. Their face were contorted into expressions of bewilderment. Though he was looking at Lachu when he was asking the question, he could make out that Nihal was shooting glances at both the bottle and his glass.
"No, Nihal. I am not drunk."
"What's with the random nonsense then?"
"Wasn't Sirocco the hot, dry wind coming from Africa? Weren't there two more? I think Bora and Mistral. But, they were centred around Europe, I think." Lachu interrupted.
"Are you encouraging this? We have a deadline." Nihal looked at her.
"Oh shut up. I need a break. What's with your sudden affection for geography anyway, Raghu?"
By that time, he had already opened the Wikipedia page for the said names in his phone browser. There was a time in the not-so-distant past when his dad would have made him get out their Britannica Encyclopaedia collection, if they had to search for some information. That collection was expensive, he remembered and his family could barely be called middle-class, straining much in order to make their financial ends meet.
"Not sure. According to the wikipedia page, Sirocco is not exactly a hot, dry wind. It picks up moisture when it crosses the Mediterranean sea and causes rainfall in Italy."
"That's funny." Lachu replied. "I was so sure that we studied about it as one part of a kind of duet. Sirocco being hot and dry. Borah and Mistral being the cold ones." Her voice trailed off towards the end.
Winds, like the ones that blew over his face, when he drove his rickety scooter to meet them at their usual haunts near the beach. His graduation gang. They had studied at the same branch in his college in Trivandrum. He couldn't remember how they came to be - Priya, him, Ravi, Natasha and Imran. But, it happened somewhere during the middle of second year and had remained so for a decent amount of time after college. Given how conservative Trivandrum was in those days, they had to be careful in order to ensure that they had some place, where they could sit and drink in peace with the girls. This usually meant a some posh beach side hotel, with a view. It also meant a constant drain on their pockets. As long as he told his dad that he was borrowing it to buy some books, he didn't mind. Raghu was sure that he would have guessed eventually since his shelves were not exactly overflowing with the books that he was supposed to have bought. But, his dad never asked and never stopped giving him money, when he asked for it.
His mind drifted back to the conversation. "..school books don't usually give a complete picture" Nihal was saying. "It's like the concept of a map. Technically, there are a lot of inaccuracies that crop up when we a project an oblongated sphere onto a rectangular piece of paper. But, spending time explaining all the intricacies is just futile. This is especially true for kids."
"So, does this mean that we cannot trust anything that we once studied?"Raghu asked.
"I don't think that's true. Most education curricula is built in a manner that even if they give simplified versions of the facts during the lower stages, more of the pieces are exposed to us as we go up." Nihal replied.
"Like a jigsaw puzzle" Lachu mused, as she poured another round for all of us. Simplified versions and jigsaw puzzles. Priya, the quiet and studious one. But, always ready to bunk the class. Ravi, who used to be a good dancer and therefore the centre of attention in college. It was every guy's dream to be someone like him and yet Ravi was always uncomfortable with it. Natasha, loud and ballsy, always ready to pick up a fight. And, Imran, who alternated between weed driven hazes and political preaching. It was an odd group. Raghu was always amused by the loyalty they had shown to each other during their college going phase. Priya's tutoring before examinations. Natasha and him dragging Imran out of his bed and into classes, when he got a bit too comfortable with weed. All of them cheering wildly, when Ravi participated in various dance competitions and Imran calling all his political connections, when Natasha landed into trouble. They needed each other and they were there for each other.
The last they had met was at Natasha's wedding, nearly four years ago. She had married an N.R.I. that her parents had found for her. She would eventually emigrate to the States. They were not able to call Imran for that wedding. They had no idea what had become of him. He had barely passed college and immediately disappeared afterwards. And, Priya and Ravi. They had married before that. Neither he nor Natasha had any clue as to what was going on, till they told them some three months before their marriage. When Natasha had called a month back, he came to know from her that Ravi and Priya had been quarreling a lot, almost to a point where they were thinking of separation. Priya used to call her once in a while. Neither Ravi nor Priya had kept in touch with him.
"You are in one of those moods, aren't you?" Lachu lightly tapped his forehead with his hand, as she placed the glass near his side. He smiled. She sat near him. Nihal, always conscientious, had gone back to his laptop after putting in his two cents.
"I was thinking of the names of the winds. For all we know, it's the same air that circulates between all of these. It's kind of stupid to have names anyway."
"True." Lachu replied "But, for people over there, it make sense. They know that Sirocco blows from the south. And, they know where Bora and Mistral come from. They also know how it'll affect them. That's all the matters for them. You sitting over here and never having faced those winds, you have the luxury to think these thoughts."
"You are right as usual." Raghu smiled, as he slightly raised his glass towards hers.