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"What the fuck is wrong with this whiskey, man? I'm on the fourth large, and still sober as a Padre."

Arun was getting frustrated with every sip, and not surprisingly so. After all, he was known to get tipsy, right from the second peg. Besides, sitting alone and drinking in that tiny waterhole of a bar in Bajpur, a small town near Haldwani, in Uttarkashi, India, wasn't really his idea of fun. Coming from a well-to-do, business family based in the national capital, he was used to frequenting one or the other upmarket, lavish bars every weekend with his group of friends.

Right from his childhood, it had been an annual routine for him to visit Bajpur every summer vacation, with his parents and younger brother, Varun. They had huge, ancestral, agricultural land there, which since the death of his grandfather a few years back was being looked after by his uncle, R.P. Sharma and his family. In fact, theirs was one of the biggest property in the area; owing to which, their family was revered and respected throughout the town. Almost everyone seemed to know them and greet them, whenever they visited there.

"O' Uncle, ye whiskey mei paani milate ho kya," he shouted, asking the bar owner sitting at the cash counter if he had mixed water in the whiskey.

"Putter ji, ye tumhari jagah kisi aur ne poochha hota na to thappar mar kar bahar fikwa deta. Sharma ji ki bahut izzat hai yaha par, isiliye chupchap yaha se chaley jao ab." The owner of the bar, a man as wide as he was tall, was visibly angry at being accused by the teenager.

"Theek hai uncle ji, gussa kyu hotey ho? Mazaak kar raha tha. Chalo ek patiyala aur bhejo." Arun changed the topic, saying he was just kidding and asking for another large peg.

"Mai bhi mazaak hi kar raha tha beta. Gussa abhi dekha kaha hai tumne. Waise saat bajne wale hain. Tumhe ghar nahi jana," the owner reminded him with a smile on his face that he should be on his way home as it was 7 pm already.

"Oh shit! It's 6:45. You're right. I should be headed back. Thanks!"

"Kya bole jaa raha hai angrezi mei? Chadd gayi kya," the owner said, asking him if he was drunk and to translate his mumbling to Hindi.

"Mai keh raha hu, bill kitna hua," Arun asked about the bill, getting up and putting up a 500 Rupee note on the counter.

"Ek sau chhabis rupay. Ye lo baaki ke teen sau chauhattar," the bar owner said, returning him the balance amount.

Arun quickly rushed out, picking up his mobile phone and the keys to the bike.

'Shit man, Uncle's gonna kill me today. There's no way I'm gonna reach home, before the curfew time of 7:30.' Arun was mentally scolding himself for losing the track of time.

As fast as he could, Arun hopped onto the bike, inserted the key and kicked it to start.

'Pttrr!!!' was all the engine responded with. Another kick, another 'Pttrr'. He was now, kicking it frantically, praying for the bike to start. After about 10 of those desperate kicks, the engine decided to show mercy, and lazily 'pttrrd' to life.

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