Egged on by peers and one’s own curiosity or hunger as Priya Raju calls it, most men (and some women) undergo this experience in their early twenties or late teens as the case may be. Read on for Priya Raju’s latest story.

“Are you tense” – asked Mani. He was only 2 years older than others, but he already behaved like a man of 30. Self assured, calm.

“Mani: Have you been to such places before?” – Vipin asked. Damn voice – kept shaking so much, just nerves, that’s all. God, if only there was some wind. it was stifling.

“No he hasn’t – he just wants us to feel inadequate” – Joe mumbled in a barely audible voice to Amar. Amar cackled nervously – his throat was so dry that it came as a hiss. All of them burst out laughing. The pressure came down a little.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of. This is sort of like a rite of passage” – Mani said calmly & paraded them inside the Strip Club. “My father took me to one when I turned 18”. Vipin followed unsteadily on his feet, pondering this unusual father-son relationship.

This was their 1st field trip to this strange town. For Vipin, Joe & Amar, it was their 1st field trip ever. They had worked thru the week, setting up the new application. Friday evening saw them with nothing to do. That’s when Mani nonchalantly asked them out on a field trip of a different kind.

It was pitch dark inside the club. Slowly their eyes adjusted & they saw a large, cavernous room with muted lights. There was a bar, doing brisk business. There was a lighted stage. “Oh, here is where the girls…” – Joe stammered. “Yes”, said Mani tersely.

Tables & chairs were arranged around the stage, lighted discretely. They moved towards the chairs, in a daze. Vipin felt numbed. Strangely, all feeling had left him.

A smartly dressed usher received them & politely took their drink orders. “Do you think he’s a pimp?” – Joe wondered aloud to Amar. Amar cackled again. This was his safety valve, his mechanism to release pent-up pressure. Mani gave a piercing stare – if looks could kill, Joe & Amar would be lying in a heap.

Some drink was thrust in Vipin’s hands. He nursed it mutely, wondering what he was doing here. Joe & Mani were downing their drinks. Amar was shaking in his socks. “Can I drink this, uh, later?” “Suit yourself, you wuss” – said Joe.

The lights came on at the stage. A skimpily dressed young girl, not much older than Vipin’s sister, came on the stage. She had something on her hands. Vipin stared stupidly at it. It took him some time to realize it was a mike. She was belting out a Hindi film song. She was attractive in a cheap sort of way. She slowly danced around the tables, singing in a nasal voice.

When she came close to them – “Khapde Nikaal, Khapde Nikaal” – shouted a big, burly man in the next table. A vein in his temple was throbbing. “Yea, take off your clothes” – shouted Amar, frenzied. He was standing on his chair – the burly man laughed at him. The girl looked at Amar coldly & said – “I’m a singer, not a stripper. Get it?” Amar fell on his seat like a deflated balloon.

When the girl finished, 2 women entered the stage. “Aren’t they over-dressed” – asked Joe. “It all comes off” – replied Mani smugly. So this was IT. The air around was stifling. The stage lights turned a fiery amber. For some reason it bothered Vipin. If only it would turn a normal color. “Mani, the lights” – “Sshh”.

The women were not too young. They must be above 30, thought Vipin. He couldn’t fathom the expression on their faces. It looked strangely familiar though. What was it?

The music – was it a Samba? Vipin wasn’t sure. On his right, Amar was gulping one drink after another. The crescendo of the music increased steadily. The women started by removing their scarves in unison. The crescendo increased steadily, little by little. Vipin eyed the folks around him. Joe’s eyes had a glazed look. The big, burly man’s face resembled some animal’s. Jackal, perhaps.

An hour later, the friends emerged from the club. Nobody spoke. “I – need – to – stop” – blurted Amar. And he vomited copiously on Mani’s feet. “You Jackass!” howled Mani, losing his cool. Amar fell like a log. He then wetted his pants. “Its my mistake, buying drinks for mamma’s boys like you” – Mani gave him a kick.

Vipin noticed that Joe still had that glazed look. “What cute….” – Joe started, then stopped. His eyes flickered open. “Oh, God – why did I come to a place like this!” – Joe started sobbing hysterically. “What will my f-f-father think if he knew!”

“Vipin – Its left to you & me to drag these slobs back to the hotel” – grunted Mani. He looked disgustedly at his fallen friends. Joe kept sobbing – it sounded like a hacking, labored cough.

After reaching the hotel, Mani lit a cigarette. “I know now” – said Vipin. “What” – asked Mani languidly. He looked satiated. Joe had stopped sobbing, but the glazed look had returned. “They looked tired” – said Vipin. “Who did?” – Mani. “The, what do you call them, dancers”. “What? Look Vipin – you are the only one that hasn’t gone weird on me today. Don’t start now”.

Amar mumbled something in his sleep. Mani switched on the fan. A stiff breeze started.


  1. Quote
    Anonymous said May 12, 2007, 6:41 pm:


    I liked the way you have narrated the story. Please keep writing. You have chosen a very interesting subject. I would call it (Hunger + Curiosity) divided by 2 😉

    Coming to the story, what Mani’s father did when he was 18 caught my attention. Do you think it was an appropriate action to keep our teen population on track and make them more open minded? I think it was appropriate.



  2. Quote
    Anonymous said May 13, 2007, 11:52 am:


    Thanks. I honestly don’t know if what Mani’s father did is correct or not. Do i think going to a strip club is wrong? Well, all i can say is – it is a personal choice – it is neither right nor wrong. It is probably not a noble thing 🙂 but so are so many other things.

    – Priya

  3. Quote
    Anonymous said October 18, 2007, 1:18 pm:

    Priya.. I dont want to comment on whether going to such club is right or wrong. But, definitely such a job is one of the cheapest one, equivalent to Brothels. I could only pity on those strippers, who has to do this job only because for money.

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