We all have our addictions. Now, some addictions take fewer hours than others; while some other addictions may make way for even more addictions. Singh and KK learned this the hard way. So, to manage the addictions that got out of hand, they found some new and less harmful addictions. At least, that’s what they have convinced themselves.  What looked like an addiction to fake online gambling; slowly matured into addiction to watching useless youtube, while playing some fake online gambling; somehow then took the form of ‘Imaginary Journalism.’

3 hours after the ban:
They parked their Van and started brainstorming ideas for their virtual but very real journalism. That was exactly the thinking behind label ‘Imaginary Journalism’. That one addiction, without which other more serious addictions would start ruining their sleeps.

“Remember that video where a programmer got drunk and purposed to marry his Tesla 3 as soon as it arrives?”
“That one from Hyderabad?”
“Yup, with that epic char-minar and moon shot. Let’s play it with that driver we interviewed today. I’ll get today’s video, you get that one.”
“Okay, as soon as I finish this mini-Veronica-project on Instagram.”
“You know some teenagers consider chatting on Instagram, a crime?”
“And what is the source of your information, Mr. Journalist?”

“Hello! Welcome to Hotel Paradise,” a receptionist who gave a vibe, she’s been dead-inside after working all these years in a Hotel, welcomed as well as interrupted them. “Can I please have your any two i.d.s please?”

Singh pulled out four already photo-copied white sheets from his back-pocket of his cargo-pajama. Even KK, of everyone, was sometimes baffled by the things Singh did. Most people would meet Singh and just conclude, “Something is definitely going on inside that brain. I don’t know what, and I also don’t wanna know.” KK was smarter than that. If he could follow, he would come to the same conclusions as Singh, most of the times.

Receptionist again picked up her face and requested, “If you don’t mind, can I also see the originals?” They both celebrated Singh’s failure of intelligence and over-planning with an intense eye-contact, which continued all the way till they removed their wallets from their respective pockets, and all the way till they had removed their i.d.s from the wallets, and right till they realised that they are standing in front of a reception-desk with their one hand out with an i.d, and receptionist is standing exactly one desktop away.

If she was left with even a little bit of common sense after ten years of gossiping about guests, she would not have let them in, classifying them as border-line sociopaths. But no, not even a psychopath has any problem in checking into an above average hotel. Instead, she asked the most important information to her, “How many days do you want to check in for?” They again looked to their respective left and right and, while nodding their head, in unison said, “One!”. They again buried their heads back in the parodic art-works hanging around them, while she continued typing like she was writing a 500-word love letter to someone.

“I’ve put you into 206 and 207. They’re corner rooms and here are your ke…”
This time, KK interrupted her, “Sorry, but can you put us in the same room because we are eventually going to hang around in the same room.”

Of all the things that were going around in her head, the only thing she could muster was, “Okay. Here are your keys to 304. Thank you for checking in with us…” and Singh completed her sentence, for her, “…and have a nice day.”

She gave out a smile, which was more genuine, more original than the one she had greeted them with. Singh also stretched his mouth in a way, which when perceived would feel like a warm neutral smile; taking out the topic of homosexuality in her mind, at least for the moment.

KK envious of the presence of mind of Singh, felt obliged to comment on the situation, “If you can make that thing smile, don’t you think you can make just about anyone smile.”

Even after all these years only thing Singh did not know, was how to take a compliment. He intentionally continued the flow of mild sarcasm through his mouth, “Are you saying, I should quit this job and continue my dream of doing stand-up?”

The lift’s door opened. and both got in. As soon as the door closed, KK continued their ongoing conversation, “No! No! No!, we’ve been through this. You know you can reach much more audience through your memes as compared to a whole-lifetime of stand-ups with your talents. All I was saying was, if you can make that thing smile, you can make any girl smile. That’s a rare talent.”

Singh replied, continuing his show of presence of mind even at the end of the day, “And we’ve also been over this. It’s not something that can be taught.”

After settling in, freshening up, KK went on to order the dinner, while Singh just completed rolling his hand-rolled cigarette. Singh went on to take his smoked bath.

KK wasn’t that big of a pot-head as Singh. He went out to bring some pieces of equipment along with OSCAR from the van.

KK almost knew his way around the parking lot. They have been in this area twice before this, and this was the only good hotel in the region. Part of the reason was its policy towards allowing pets in the hotel premise, and the open bar on the rooftop.

Their relationship with booze was very similar to another unique personality trait common to both of them: they both hated the general idea of war but loved the company of soldiers. In fact, had a tremendous respect for the employees who had that difficult of a job. Similarly, both rarely drank liquor, but loved the environment of a bar, in fact, drunk ex-armymen were the best choice for the company, especially when they felt this low about themselves and everything.

5 hours after the ban:
By 10 o’clock, both stomachs were full, the bar was almost closed, brains hammered, and eyes fixated on a foreign-comedy soap opera that was allegedly on the same ironic level as them.

An alarm dragged them back to the reality. Singh checked the remaining length of that episode and snoozed the alarm. By the time alarm hit them back again, Bluetooth speakers were playing something from the classical playlist of Mozart-Beethoven-Bach, Singh was logging in on Quora, and KK had already started compiling the video they were talking about.

This was the part of the day they didn’t think about anything else other than the only project they had clung onto for more than five years. At almost every social network, there was the presence of something named ‘Imaginary Journalism’, where they wrote their hearts out. Just their Facebook page gave them the audience of more than 600,000 people, making it their largest public base.

Memes were the language through which they could communicate large complex ideas to largely dumb users, without offending them in any way. General theme was to point out the outliers – In the era of startup buffs, they were the first to point out towards this yoga baba’s startup which was becoming the most successful among all, – in the era of Alia Bhat jokes, they were the only to point out that , by saying, “I love my parents, especially my Mom and Dad”, she’s wasn’t being dumb this time, but it was the result of growing up in a divided family – all the things which they couldn’t possibly say in face of people, but they would pour their poison out in the Quora feeds. This was what they had very interestingly named ‘Imaginary Journalism’. This is what they lived for, what gave them some feeling of purpose, some feeling of importance in this world; which otherwise looked completely messed up, and beyond saving, at least in their minds.

‘What motivates them to wake up in the morning, and get to work?’.
It was this strangely optimistic nihilism which came out through the portal of Imaginary Journalism.

The latest topic of discussion in their private lives was the question of retirement. They had saved enough through class A means, as well as class B means, that they could feed themselves, a dog, and a van for 20 years or so. But they hadn’t found enough guts to just quit and walk away from everything to start a travel journey towards an eternal bliss.

Singh had predicted that someday, a near-death experience will happen, which will shock them so much they’ll get the chance to perform the ‘i-QUIT’ song by their imaginary band, ‘Imaginary Journalists’. They have improved and altered the lyrics for hundreds of times, that its original satirical tone had changed into a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fictiony, and country-side music.

“…Not today.
No, I won’t do this.
Not today.”

KK also joined for the chorus, as the Jupiter symphony was reaching its climax, “A foo apple, but now, i-QUIT, A foo apple, but now, i-QUIT.” For the end, Singh went onto his best full-on high toned opera mode, “Yes it’s A foo Apple, but noooow, yes now, iiiiiiiiiiI-QUIT.”

After observing and absorbing all the positive energy created by the all of this, KK went on to upload the video to Youtube, and passed I-pad to KK, “Here’s a question request. It’s about how the rest of the world thinking about the AI-protests in India.”
“And?”, Singh poked back.
“Do that thing about how the rest of the world is busy watching the Solar Eclipse and we are once again sillily protesting.”

“Say, it. Say it that you are also one of them, that you also don’t have any idea about all of this. That you honestly don’t know wtf to write about all of this. That you also are unable to make any sense out of all of this. I just want to hear you admit it.”

Singh picked up a water bottle, opened it and emptied half of it down his food-pipe, and began mimicking KK’s favourite scene, from one of his favourite movies, “Hey Villagers, You see this mofo bitch, he used to be my Kiku darlin’, but then she got obsessed with an obsession of getting famous, and now that she has realised, all of it is just in her mind, she can’t stop playing make-believe, and wants me to write on question-and-answer website for her, when really I should be just sitting in the lap of my Mona darling. But no, here we are, just a teeny-tiny part of a big fat joke.”

Both stayed exactly the way they were and allowed the awkwardness to sink in for a few moments, which slowly leaked into a laughing fit, which then ended with both dancing – which couldn’t really be called a dance, to their singing – which couldn’t really be called a song, “A foo Apple, I foo Quit! A foo Apple, I foo Quit.” Eventually, Singh’s throat really quits, and everything climaxed up to a coughing volcano.

They scheduled a few more posts, saved few more drafts, and finally slept at some odd hour.

20 hours after the ban:
Sun would have been up and be shining for more than five hours before any of the two minds thought about waking up.

KK pushed his eye-lids hard to see the number of notifications that were visible on the screen. Checking the previous night’s comments by his ‘fans’, was standard push KK gave his mind. He read, liked, and replied to all the good ones. Out of habit, or not, but all of this really put a smile on his face.

KK finally got out of the bed, kicked Singh twice on his ass, and went on to freshen up. Singh hadn’t loosened up even a little, even after the breakfast was in the room.

He would be the only guy in the world who hates bed and breakfast. Even after waking up at that odd hour, he’d first have a glass of lemon water, freshen up, fast-forwards through the least amount of yoga, and only then come back to attack the breakfast. After all of that comes the question whether or not to have a bath.

They checked out of the hotel, got in the Van and roamed around the village to catch something they could push as news. The village seemed as if nothing has ever happened.

Singh told KK to avoid NH-11 because there would still be some vehicles blocking the way. Even though that was the last resort, the road was as clean as freshly shaven skin.

24 hours after the ban:
On route to Jaipur, they stumbled across a hitchhiker. Having hitchhiked in the past, Singh had a soft spot for slackers. They picked him up, and after the mandatory introductions continued on their journey. Singh’s playlist was already bursting the speakers. He’d ask the guest for one song after each and every one from him. This continued for a while, till they encountered a blockage by traffic police. After waiting in queue for fifteen minutes for their turn, they found out that the highway ahead them is blocked. Apparently, the vehicles left by drivers during protest had created a gridlock and now people were finding it difficult to find the drivers of neighboring vehicles.

A day before, same people with same vehicles at same place were trying to place them with minimum gap possible. Now, everything is same except it is getting harder even to open windows of some of them, let alone pass a two-wheeler through that.

A person acting as traffic in charge inquired about their route and whether they were on the positive side or the negative side of the traffic jam creation and suggested to take a different route, through some villages to avoid the blockage.

Hitchhiker argued otherwise. He had gone in the opposite direction earlier that morning and encountered similar blockage and predicted they’d come across many such blockages on the way to Delhi.
He offered ‘Live Twitter’ as his proof.

KK suggested against the traffic-men’s order of turning back and instead shoved his journalistic attitude for going ahead and covering whatever was going on for news. They verified their i.d.s and kept them for security purposes.

They could go ahead but will have to back here within an hour to collect their i.d.s. They explained the situation to Hitchhiker and apologized that they couldn’t take him further. The European-N.R.I.’s strange smile would ignite the candle of jealousy in their hearts for next couple of hours. They wished they could continue with him to whatever adventure he was pursuing, but there’s always a huge gap between the things that you want to do and things you have to do.

Singh took out the drone for some epic shots starting from that traffic blockage. This was the part of the job that he liked. Availability of the kind-of-limited resources from the conglomerate. Drone followed them for a while, but they had to stop every now and then to let it catch up to them. Finally, after very long twenty minutes or so, they saw the glimpse of the first few vehicles. The line grew till it filled up all the horizon.

This was the consequence of the protest that no one in the country wanted to talk about but was the favorite thing for news-creators. This was even a bit more special for both of them. This was the fuel which pumped their so-called ‘dark-side’ of the personality.

The disappointment of not being able to reach their destination and being stuck in this vehicle-storm, disappeared, and changed to the excitement of making some real headlines.

They enquired with the (H.Q.)headquarters and requested to take them live. They found out they weren’t the first in the organization to reach such a place. They were already covering the similar problem all over the country.

This was a new development, which nobody had expected could result from any kind of protest. The protest was yesterday, the decision was taken in their favor, but now they just couldn’t wrap up their demonstrations. Singh’s mind was already working on trolling the situation – They were like the painter who started to paint on the floor of the room, and has found himself cornered after the apparent successful completion of the project.

More fireworks than Diwali went on in Singh’s mind for the whole evening. Most people would find it uncomfortable to see someone so happy for such a situation.

Time went so fast after that, that they were distracted from reality only when Sun was starting to go down.

Instead of decreasing, it seemed like the number of vehicles had increased due to today’s more incoming traffic. They decided to head back, picked up their i.d.s on the way, and went back to the same hotel. On the way, they also decided to see how far they could go in the other direction of the road before finding another such blockage. Part of their mind was scared of the answer, and another part suggested, ‘Holy, shit! think about how good of a news will this make, “5 km jams after every 50 kilometers.”‘

26 hours after the ban:
Again, they checked in for one day, enjoyed the same three-star experience, and were back in the same place, as early as they could. It was once again their day, the days for which a 24-hour breaking news network is really for.

48 hours after the ban:
If some news remains a breaking news for 50 continuous hours, it doesn’t just say it’s important, it gets upgraded to an extra emergency level in minds of everyone involved. That weird anxiety remains in everyone’s mind, at least for the time that thing goes on.

After 50 hours of the results of banning the advanced vehicles, while protecting the antique near-obsolete vehicles, the effects of that unorganized protest were still out in the open, now affecting almost every other ongoing business.

Again, they called it a day at 7 in the evening and headed back to the same hotel, but this time found a blockage over there too. The hotel was running at its full capacity, at double the regular rates.

Singh and KK weren’t the only ones happy with this shit going sideways. Singh tried to ask for help from the same receptionist he was trying his very least to flirt with, but she saved the pain of searching for other places to stay nearby. They were all over-booked. It wasn’t really about the rooms as it was about the food and water and supplies and taking out the trash.

They say if only electricity is cut-off permanently, it can slowly lead to the eventual downfall of human civilization as we know it. The same thing can be said about transportation too. Overpopulation will not just seem like a joke then.

For the last shot, KK asked if by any chance Singh had taken the photo of the visiting card that one of there fans gave them the very first day, but wasn’t surprised by the response he got. Every particle of the card has been converted to smoke and would remain wandering in the atmosphere forever.

Finally, they decided to go for the coolest option available – to go out in the open, camp for tonight, and have a real adventure.

Liked what you read? Check out more of their adventures in Volume-3 (Everything is fair in love and war):

50 hours after the ban:
“Just like the word ‘right’, ‘wrong’, and even the word ‘god’, the word ‘adventure’ also has a different meaning to different people.”

“Okay!” he paused for few breaths and continued, “Therefore, all those different people will have a different answer to this question, “can you plan an adventure or do they have to be unplanned?”
“Theoretically, if you know the adventure is coming, not only that, you even announce on Facebook, that you’re going out looking for an adventure, doesn’t that kill the whole purpose of adventure in the first place?”

KK just listened to all the satirical commentary, while installing floodlight on top of the Van.
Singh too began participating practically, and took out the camping equipment, and started assembling it, and continued, “but if you don’t plan out the whole thing, but just go with what is coming along your way, like hitchhiking or… or…”

He unsuccessfully kept on thinking about another similar activity like hitchhiking for a while.

The sun was almost setting. Yellow shades of the OSCAR matched with the same color transmitted by the horizon. While Singh and KK were busy raising the camp and unloading the mini version of all the necessities they could need that night, OSCAR examined his new territory and finally got hooked looking at the setting Sun.

Among 69 other things, Singh was also a part-time dog-trainer. He had trained OSCAR for things, others would simply be astonished if they saw a dog doing them. Getting hooked by the rising or setting Sun, was one of those things.

go to volume 3