Man, these people!

What sorcery is this? And, what madness? What makes people bundle up in a herd and move their body parts in this direction and that- you know jut their heads up and down, swivel their legs in and out, sway their hips left and right, thrust their pelvis front and back, you name it- and call it fun? What are you actually trying to do? Force yourself into the fifth dimension?

Bijay Upadhyaya

Like I said, utter madness! And the song isn’t any better.


Kaile gori mann paryo, kaile kaali mann paryo,

Sasuraali teke pachi, saali mann paryo,

Eh sasurabaa, malaai saali mann paryo,

Launa sasurabaa, malai saali mann paryo!


Recently I read an article which was critical of this song’s sexist undertones and at one point the writer asks the reader to imagine how we would respond if the roles reverse in the song.


Eh sasurabaa, malaai devar mann paryo,

Launa sasurabaa, malai devar mann paryo!


I bet that would induce a crisis of sorts in this happiest of all party and maybe disband the gathering. Imagine a woman singing about how she adores her husband’s brother. If there was a song people won’t like to dance to, that would be one. You can’t thrust your pelvis front and back to a song like that. But if the song is about a man thirsting over his wife’s sister, then, well, the floor is yours.


So a trio of three young adults- two men and one woman, who are dancing right in front of me, is going through an identity crisis of sorts. Apparently one of the men doesn’t like it when the woman points towards him every time the song plays, ‘ehh! Sasuraa baa’. He just asked her to stop doing that. To be young, to be tall, to come to a party in a shiny blazer and a fair of fancy boat shoes, only to be given the role of an elderly sasuraba, is not a good feeling, I agree. But to not be able to shed your hubris for a while and just enjoy isn’t cool either, no?

Bro, you chose to dance to a sexist song. It’s either the senile patriarch or the pervert bhinaju you can be. Be glad she didn’t think you’d fit the latter.

By the way, if you are wondering, I am not at the dance floor. I am sitting on a couch and watching all this. Yeah, I am that guy who is perpetually confused whether to leave the dance floor altogether and hit the bar or actually join the dance floor and try jiving some moves. So, I always find myself somewhere in the middle of the bar and the floor. Like on a couch or leaning against a wall.

I like to think that when the dance is over and when they go for the drinks and in any case, if someone mentions me and says things like “So, the socially challenged Bijay didn’t dance this time too, eh?” someone would snap and say, “ But he didn’t leave us altogether. It’s not like he went to the bar. He was around. I saw him on the couch.”

Though my experience has taught me that people who dance don’t talk much about people who don’t, I still like to imagine conversations of this kind play out and someone kind and warm, preferably someone I have been crushing on, will come to my rescue and tell what a caring friend I am. I also like to imagine people teasing her with my name after that and she responding with a coy smile and a red, juicy blush on her cheeks and asking them to stop teasing her while desperately hoping they don’t.

I am hopeless. I know.

There is a new song in the house and, boy, is it depressing!


‘Soche jhai jindagi rainacha

Soche jhai jindagi rainacha..

Haa..soche jhai zindagi rainacha


Yeah, like we could forget.

When the DJ switches to a song like this, you go to the bar and order whiskey and ponder on the misery and meaninglessness of life. What you don’t do is dance to it. But here we are.

I will tell you a thing and two about sitting on the couch and watching others dance.

Many times, I feel that though in a strictly materialistic sense I am all by myself on the couch, there are things that give me company. I have even given it a name – Bundles of Mess, or just BoMs if you please. BoMs contain interesting things, like fear, anxieties, unresolved emotions, trauma, anger, insecurities, and vulnerabilities. You see, more often than not people leave their BoMs outside before hitting the dance floor. I like to think that they dump them on the couch. And I, having nothing else to do, examine them.

Another thing about BoMs is that their shadows continue to linger on your dance. And if someone watches you keenly and acutely, they also get a hint of what is inside your, err…BoM.


Table maa kaaiyo ra aaina cha,

Table maa kaaiyo ra aaina cha,

Soche jhai jindagi rainacha,

Soche jhai jindagi rainacha..


Like, for example, there is a guy who is dancing in a very peculiar manner to this part of the song. I don’t know what this style is called but it pretty much looks like how we used to dance in school. Yes, your boy used to dance in school, until one day he dropped his trousers in the middle of a dance that he and his class were performing onstage for the Annual Parents’ Day and to everyone’s horror and chagrin. But that’s a different story. Let’s return to our guy. Okay, here is how he is dancing.

When the song says ‘Table’ he points to a table on the far corner of the dance floor. When the song says ‘Kaiyo’ he actually takes out a small comb from his pocket and emulates the act of combing hair. When the song says ‘Aaina’ he points to a woman in a shiny kurta-salwar whose sleeves are embroidered with little, circular trinkets of mirror. When the song says ‘Soche jhai’ he points his index finger to his temple. When the song says, ‘Zindagi’ he stretches his arms and turns 360 degrees, and finally when the song says ‘Rainacha’ he waves his index finger left and right.

See, the process of examining BoMs begins with a simple question, ‘Why does somebody dance the way they do?’ In this case, why does this man find the need to point at objects that feature in the song?

And the second part is to try to find an explanation. And not just an explanation but an explanation that is poignant and pensive and makes you feel sorry for people who dance and good about those who don’t.

Returning to the guy yet again, I think the guy carries a deeply seated fear of being misunderstood whenever he expresses himself. Or that he won’t be able to make people understand what his feelings are. And he has taken on the burden to polish his expression skills. He wants to say the right things. The internalization of this fear and its complimentary coping mechanism runs so deep that when it comes to dancing to a poignant lore about the misery of life, his first response is to point at the right objects.

I will also like you to know, dear reader, that though at this point I might appear a presumptuous prude judging and labelling people solely based on how they dance, I don’t actually take these hastily devised explanations seriously. Like I said I just want to feel good about myself. And the Nepali way of feeling good about yourself is to deprecate someone who is actually having fun, living their lives their way and dancing their dances their way. I am not immune to these socio-culturally formed patterns of thinking.


A middle aged uncle has just flung himself to the dance floor and by the looks of it he has come from the bar. He’s also brought with himself a nauseating stench of alcohol and a very depressing vibe. I think there is a reason why dance floors and bars are located far from each other. They don’t blend very well. Ideally, they must complement each other. Alcohol rids you from tension and a dance floor provides you the perfect place to celebrate your newfound, tension-free exuberance. But as most of us have seen and maybe experienced, alcohol also gives sexual predators a socially acceptable excuse to not respect people’s boundaries and bodies and a dance floor provides you with people who to these predators might appear as if they have let go of their boundaries and bodies.

“I was drunk and she was dancing. It was the alcohol!” How many times we have heard someone say this. No. No. Dance doesn’t blur boundaries. And alcohol doesn’t blur decency. And No, it wasn’t the alcohol. It was the person.

And what has our uncle done? He’s just gone to the DJ and asked him to play his favourite song. And what song?


Choli ke piche kya hai? Choli ke piche?

Chunri ke niche kya hai? Chunre ke niche?


My first instinct is to check on our pointer guy and see what moves has he come up with? Apparently, even he is awestruck and is trying to figure out the right moves. Or, maybe locate the right objects. I just hope he doesn’t start pointing to bosoms of the women on the floor. The others carry on with the usual. But they look a little anxious as to when this song will end. Nobody goes to the DJ and asks him to change the song because it has made most of them uncomfortable. Expressing discomfort is again not our cup of tea, or is it?

I think as much is the dance floor a site for merriment and social fun, so it is also a site for power dynamics to unwind. If you are keen enough and curious enough, you can feel some kind of competition palpating along with the music. People compete for social power in a dance floor. They compete for attention and admiration. They compete to shake legs with the bigwigs and big-shots in the house. They compete to occupy the centre stage. And fifty year old drunk uncles have their own version of making a mark in the competition. Even if that version involves asking the DJ to play a sexually charged song and make others uncomfortable.

And I am in the competition too. You see, the floor is not the only place where this competition pans out. The couch is too. And the competitors are not just the dancers. Silent observers like me are too. And though I might not be in the dance, I am a part of its ecosystem.  And writing a cynical, satirical monologue about a dance I didn’t participate in is vying for attention too. I hope I have got yours.

Apparently my friend has decided to give me some attention. I can see him coming towards me with outstretched hands and a big smile on his face. I know this scene. I have been in it a hundred times.

The great tragedy of our times is that people open up their arms for a hug without even thinking if the other person has any mind to join in. Frankly, it’s not the hug that bothers me. I am all in for reciprocating to affection. It is what follows this hug that I am bothered of.

A grasp of the hand. A slight pull. My ‘No, I am fine’ laughed off and ignored. Words like ‘common, be a sport’ thrown at me. And I finally relenting to do something that I cannot and don’t want to.

Another tragedy of our times is though we troll erudite scholars like Sashi Tharoor for using big and heavy words whose meaning we fail to grasp, we don’t realize we don’t understand simpler words too. Like a two lettered monosyllable ‘No’.

And voila! Just like that, I am on the dance floor.

I look around. People are having the time of their lives. Okay, I have to do something. I clap my hands to the beat of the song and try swaying my hips. I know I suck. I also check if my pants are fastened tightly. I check the crotch zipper too. Everything seems to be fine.

Something brushes against my shoes. I look down. It’s the fifty year old drunk uncle. He has twisted his body – torso on the right, hips on the left, and he is trying to slither on the floor, arms raised above his shoulders. I look at him, perplexed. He catches my eyes and says “It’s naagin dance, young boy”. My god! What did this man actually drink?

I have to run, right? But guess what has just happened. People have decided to do a circle dance. They have hold each other’s hands and are now dancing in a circle. I am in the middle with few others.

And the song has changed too.


Khaini, churot khanchau ki daatai kaalo cha,

Hai daatai kaalo cha hajur oothai kaalo cha.

Didi ko magni bhai sakyo, merai paalo cha


I don’t know why but as soon as the song says ‘merai paalo cha’ the drunken uncle jumps to his feet and lands just in front of me. He holds my hands and starts swinging them violently. See, for a guy like me, the spectrum of ways I can indulge in a dance is totally polarized. So, it’s either sitting idly on the couch or it’s this – getting your arms swung violently by a drunk man. There isn’t any grey zone in between.


I let the uncle harass my arms and focus on the song.


Yespali hiudo mahina ma, bihe nagari bha chaina,

Kanya ko thahar, thegana, kei pani tungo laa chaina


And other interesting bits like,


Birko maa laako chini maa, kasari pasyo kamilo?

Daada paari ko suntola, guliyo cha ki amilo?




Raaja ko haatti mai sita, sau tola sun cha lhasha ko,

Padhai lekhai maa abbal chu, baigyanik banchu NASA ko,




Chimeki hu ma baagaiko, santan kaali naagaiko,

Timi ta raichau mitini, koyeli haina kaagaiko


The woman on this song is a very curious and inquisitive person, let’s give her that. From asking if teeth turn black because of excessive consumption of narcotics, to expressing her disbelief over the presence of ants inside sealed bottles of sugar and to inquiring about the taste of oranges growing in the other side of the hill, she has put her mind to a variety of questions.

But the guy completely evades her questions. Though she had asked him about the damn oranges, he says that he is a descendent of a big, black serpent and that he carries an ambition to become an astronaut at NASA. Dude, tell her about the blackness in your teeth and gums first. The spaceships and rockets can wait.

Also, how come someone who actually believes that he is a descendent of a snake – something that doesn’t fit well with science, declare his scientific ambitions in the next sentence? But again when has scientific integrity been a bench mark to start courtships?

I also think this song reflects how our culture and society shape the trajectory for romance and relationships. The woman is concerned that since her elder sister is already betrothed, it’s her turn now. The man also seems to be in a lot of pressure to get hitched by the end of winter.

It is societal pressure that drives this flirtation and that will drive this courtship if it has to happen. Not compatibility. Not shared values. And in any case if it dawns upon either of these singing birds to ask the right questions and give the right answers, I hope they won’t ask about oranges and won’t answer about how they want to kill it in the American space agency.

More people have joined the circle now and they have started to move their legs front and back in unison. I don’t see a way out. I also fear if I move too close to this circle, I might get kicked in the balls.

Wow, this is such a nightmare.

I once wrote a monologue where I had compared ICUs with black holes. I think a dance floor is a black hole too. A dance floor sucks people inside but won’t give them an exit. I think this circular chain of people is like an event horizon- the ultimate threshold. And now that I have crossed it, I can’t uncross it.

My phone rings. It’s from my friend- the same friend who pulled me in this mess in the first place. I pick up. And amidst the cacophony, I can hear him say, “Where are you? I am waiting for you at the bar.”

“How do I get out of here?” I ask. He doesn’t understand a word.

“Just get out and join me in the bar.” He says before hanging up.

He makes it sound so easy.

I guess you must be wondering why the hell won’t I just get out as my friend just suggested. After all it’s not a big deal to excuse yourself out of a dance floor. It is for me. I am a socially anxious person. Exiting a social function is as hard as joining one. It involves explaining myself. For example, if I go to a person in the circle and say that I have to go get a drink I might be asked to bring a drink for her also. Or worse, I might be asked not to become such a wimp and just dance. Because if I am told so, I will actually retreat to the dance floor and think myself a wimp. I need help. Please don’t laugh.


I look around. The drunk uncle has apparently teamed up with the pointer guy and is shaking his arms violently. The pointer guy is trying hard to pull his arms away. I think as much as it is for the pain the uncle is causing him, he also wants his hands to be free so that he can once again point to the right objects.

A brilliant idea just crossed my mind. If it works, it’s going to save me and probably the pointer guy too from this hot mess.

I approach the uncle and tap him on his shoulder. He turns around with a jolt. He looks at me, bewildered.

“Let’s go to the bar, uncle.” I say. His face lights up.

“That’s a good idea”, he says instinctively. He looks around bemused and confused. Yeah, the man has forgotten where the bar is.

I turn him towards the bar and his face lights up again.

I let the uncle take the lead. He raises his arms in front of his chest and joins his palms. He looks like a human-spear with its tip pointing away from his chest.

“Ready?” He asks me. I nod, but I am not sure what is he trying to do actually. Is he trying to do a naagin dance again? Has all the talk about the singer’s serpentine ancestry woken the serpent inside him?

“Brrrr….brrr…piii…piiippppp” He makes the sound of a motorcycle and runs…actually runs towards the circle of dancing men and women. I run along in his wake. The sight and smell of the incoming human of a spear scatters the folks away and creates a chasm in the event horizon- a gateway from where we exit.

I knew the uncle would get me out but I had never thought it’d be so eventful and so dramatic. I let a sigh of relief once I am on the other side. The uncle has already whisked away to the bar. I have changed my mind. I want to return to the couch and loiter for a while.

But there is someone already there- a young woman in tortoise-shell glasses and hair tied to a bun. She looks at me and smiles. I smile back.

“Are your arms okay?” She asks after a while, “I am sorry but the way that man was moving your arms, it was incredibly funny.” And she bursts into a laugh.

I join in her laughter. I know she doesn’t mean any offense. We turn our focus to the dance floor.


Galabandi chyaatiyo timle taanera,


Exchanged with,


Pachyauri chyaatiyo timle taanera


“This sounds like something Nepali parents would say after an intense session of domestic violence.” She says.

“Or love making.” I add, half admiring my wits, half cursing my guts.

She bursts into a laugh again. I feel relieved.

We return back to watching the drama unfold in front of us. It is as messy as it was when I had left. The pointer guy is running around looking for the right fabric on people’s bodies that resemble galbandi and pachyauri. The trio of young teens has gone into a crisis mode again. Apparently the disgruntled guy who was earlier chosen to be the sasuraba wants to be the romantic male lead this time. The fifty year old uncle has returned back with a glass of martini. People in the circle have decided to shake their bums left and right in unison. “Please, don’t touch me”, a woman cries somewhere. Even the DJ has left his station and is dancing.

I look at the young woman sitting by my side. She looks visibly amused. She leans back on the back rest and mutters something to herself. But I hear her words. I understand the nuances of these words. These words are mine too.

“Man, these people!”