In Transit: Fresas and other Oddities -
Or An Ongoing Game of Chess
Board Description: Steam Nightclub Jaipur: a small stationed train, almost a toy, refurbished as a stage car sits, seating those resting from dancing or the prices of the drinks they neck. On the wall to the left projected is stock footage of some European fashion catwalk baring the feather near touch of high heels – the clamping of beautiful mindless lemmings. The tall lanky girls strut making shadows over the center where individuals chat openly and bounce back and forth as if in a middle school dance, but here they sway to Bollywood intermixed between hits of Pop, Euro-trance, and Salsa. The players jump strategically, some engaging more often than others, none seem however to know their ultimate goal or purpose, yet still roam in patterns aware of the gazes of others. Are they looking for the king?
Horsemen: 2nd Class Argentine Polo Players decked tall in their Rajasthani Jumpers, hair slicked greasy and back, standing like camels with their noses pointed high, they exclude the stereotype of their nation, unwarranted pretentiousness. They will be knocked out soon for they are useless and awkward and care little about the game. They stand dreamy and bored. They play for the local Army team making what must be a misery, looking as if they are chewing grass, too bored to converse even when spoken to in Spanish, they plant themselves firm like giraffes in a hot afternoon.
The Castle: A German on business, but looking for pleasure hides his frame in layers of gray turtlenecks and jackets of leather (non veg that is). He floats between crowds, greeting men of all races, insisting that he had met them before and refusing to believe that this was their virgin visit to the bar. His chatter grows cold when he picks up the fact that you are not gay. He is the one most often forgotten until the end of the game when the board as been cleared, when one almost always relaxes and bends to his way. He bounces waiting for your bite, even awkwardly off beat; his mechanic, almost robotic manner hypnotizes you nonetheless.
Spades: Women of all sorts exist on this board but remain limited by two directions: either as fodder for men’s gazes, or as fag hags in support of their still closeted gay friends. You meet an untypical and strangely alluring Spade, a mid twenties Taiwanese woman who flirts with you, asking you to dance. She is a buyer for an Asian conglomerate, snapping up jewels, and first press textiles for export around the world. She has been in India for months living out of a small bag and like most women who visit has gone native, dawning colorful prints, and large looping earrings, living cheaply and masochistically sharing with you her pleasure of cold showers, earth covered walls, and road side samosas. You are too lazy to engage in any serious flirtation but keep dancing happy that being with her distracts the attention of the Castle. You salivate and realize that you too are like the other men, noticing the curves of nearby German girls, or imagining again the rotations of the salsa steps demonstrated by the imported dancer and wondering why you are not attracted to the dancing maharana…
Queen: At the center of it all, taking calculated steps, the favorite target of all is a Mexican girl, 23, the one who works at the famous, elegant hotel that owns and houses this nightclub. She is the one who invited you here serving as your link to the expatriate bubble and the echelon of wealth that controls Jaipur. She is relatively pretty, not particularly, but sufficiently enough that today for the Latin themed party she encourages stereotype and imagination. In your hand she twirls efficiently and smooth, people stare amazed, even though in the west you would be considered a joke, but here even the most basic knowledge of the steps grabs their attentions and grants you over deserved applause. Released she floats to the bar where she flirts with others making jealous a king.
King: Exalting confidence with a feminine glamour, he is tall, impeccably dressed. You learn later that he was raised in Switzerland, speaks most fluently almost all of Europe’s main languages, and is heir to some great gem fortune that takes in even an emperor’s kowtow. His face reminds one of a great lizard, his eyes cut across the crowd, and when he realizes that the queen has grabbed some of his usual attention, he squirms to the bar demanding a bottle of tequila, shouting in Hindi at waiters nervous and unprepared for the wealth that is about to be wasted. He rips open its box, snapping his fingers for shot glasses and limes, pouring the agave, he hands them out to as many as he sees, calling forth others, even giving a hit to the small Japanese man who sits alone watching it all. His roaring grabs the attention of most who hold up high the potion and beat forth, repeating the cheers, “Viva México, Viva India.” But like any king, once the liquid is downed, and the gold has stopped pouring, the villagers turn to others and forget, the king left in the center unable to win over his own people. He seems almost pathetic, defeated, only if he would fall to his knees would you feel sorry.
Peons: Servants and cooks, bartenders and cloaks men, fire attendants, security, men who snub tickets and open you the door. These are the uniformed, the faceless who move invisibly picking up trash and choosing to quite their souls as they navigate and wonder as you practice your strange ways. For we are the reality of the Hollywood myth. Women dance freely and sexy, liquor pours as openly and norms and customs forgotten. We seem like rich shahs, laughing like pigs forgetting the shit that surrounds…