Published in The Nepali Man on 28 February 2015
“I deleted you from my Grindr.”
“What?” Isaac was surprised.
“Ya. He has deleted me as well,” Arun turned to Isaac casually.
“I think that makes sense,” Arnaud drawled, taking a drag from his slim cigarette.
We were sitting around a table at De La Sol’s balcony in Thamel. It was loud. Sounds of wheels from the street below, various horns, mechanical stops and screeches mixed with Nepali and foreign voices, accents, intonations. Music from the surrounding bars and restaurants competed for attention. It was Friday night. I was with the boys.
“Why would you delete us?” Isaac continued. “I talk with Prabhat all the time on Grindr.”
“Prabhat’s case is different.” Arun explained. “He has a boyfriend in the US. He is not looking to hook up. And he sits at home all day, talking to guys.”
“Mmm. I love talking to boys,” Prabhat giggled. He sounded as if we were talking about different kinds of cheesecake at Annapurna’s bakery.
“Here’s the thing,” I said, “I don’t wanna be making dinner plans with you at the same time that I’m trying to set up a sex date with a stranger.”
“I don’t get it. I talk to several guys at the same time.”
“It’s not about that. It’s about your mood, how you are feeling at the time.”
“People use Grindr for different purposes,” Arnaud agreed with me. Isaac flashed a wide smile, still puzzled, and lit another Camel. Arun and Prabhat had started a different conversation.
“Don’t take it personally,” I smiled at him, “Friends don’t Grind.”
A lull followed. Isaac and Arnaud, French couple who had recently moved to Kathmandu for work, ordered a whiskey and a vodka cocktail. Arun wanted gin and tonic. Prabhat didn’t drink. I decided to stick to one more glass of plain soda. While we waited for drinks, the French exchanged a few French sentences. I looked past Isaac, at the collage of bricks and boards and lights across the street. Black wires, of various thickness, crisscrossed in mid-air. Despite the disorder, the lack of planning, there was something intimate about the montage in front of me. It was beautiful. This street in Thamel, this night, and the company of my friends, who were more like family.
Suddenly, Arun’s laughter brought me back to the group. He had doubled up on his chair, face down on the table. Prabhat, looking victorious, wide grin plastered on his face, was clearly the perpetrator. He had endless stories. Each one had elements of humor and drama.
“I also wanna hear. Tell us,” I turned to them.
“And then,” Prabhat was apparently in the middle of it, “Bujhinas?” Arun was hysterical.
The French, although clueless, were enjoying the scene.
“Stop.” Arun managed to say in between fits of laughter. “Start from...the...beginning.” “Oh is this about the Americans last night?” I asked.
“Yes,” Prabhat nodded his head, suppressing his own laughter. He was visiting from Michigan for the summer. It was only last week that he had managed to get his boyfriend’s permission over Skype.
“Three months is too long. Don’t you think?” he had asked our opinion earlier in the summer.
“Three months without sex. Yes. Too long,” I agreed.
“I’ll talk to James,” he decided. “I didn’t realize there would be so many guys in Kathmandu. From all over the world.”
“You sure he is going to be OK?”
“I don’t know. I hinted a little bit the other night. He seemed a bit jealous. But I have to talk to him. Better be honest, no?”
Now he was free to do what he wanted.
“So I met the Americans for drinks yesterday.” We all focused on Prabhat.
“The American couple, right?” I tried to put the pieces together. I had been hearing about them. “Oh, the open couple?” Arnaud clarified.
Isaac and Arnaud had been together for almost ten years. They had maintained their relationship through various jobs, countries, god knows what kinds of circumstances. But one thing had always been clear. They didn’t believe in monogamy. From the day they met, Isaac and Arnaud played with all kinds of men, together and separately.
“Yes. I was a bit nervous, you know,” Prabhat continued meekly, a little shy. “We met at Buddha Bar for drinks. And they invited me for coffee at their hotel.”
“And what happened?”
Prabhat covered his mouth with a hand. Giggling, hesitating.
“Fucking,” said Arun. He started gyrating his hips. “Yea baby. Lots of fucking. Prabhat got gangbanged.”
“Shut up. I didn’t. I didn’t,” Prabhat protested. “I wasn’t really into it. It was too much.”
“What was too much? Come on.” Arnaud nudged.
“I had never done it before. Threesome ke.”
“It can be fun...but sometimes tricky.”
“I just kept laughing the whole time,” Prabhat continued.
“Were they hot? Don’t think I have chatted with them yet.”
“Yes. Herchhas photos?” Prabhat whipped out his phone.
“I talked to them too,” Arun continued. “One of them is hot. And hairy. Mmm. But I didn’t like the younger one.”
“Were you into both of them?” Isaac tried to gets the facts out.
“I don’t know. Too many things going on. I couldn’t handle it,” Prabhat went on.
“Give us the juicy details,” Arnaud leaned over, trying to get Prabhat’s confession.
“Have you talked to these guys?” I turned to Isaac and Arnaud, passing Prabhat’s phone to them.
“I haven’t. But Arnaud chatted briefly the other night.”
“Are you going to tell James?”
“I’ll see. He might get jealous.”
“But you guys talked about opening up, no?” Arun pressed on.
“Ya, but we haven’t talked about the details.”
“Who knows, he might be having his own threesome party over there.”
“Why didn’t you invite those guys tonight?”
“They left town this morning for Pokhara. They should be back soon.”
“Ke ho? Bhetna mann layo ki kya ho?” Arun looked at me.
I smiled, a half-smile, but Arun had already turned around to focus on Prabhat.
Who knows what’ll happen, I thought, suddenly realizing that I had tuned out of the conversation and tuned into my own internal world. All these men. They come and go. I glanced at the building across the street and brought my gaze back to my friends, quickly scanning the group. Arnaud was still pestering Prabhat to give him more details; Isaac looked on, smiling, taking slow drags from his Camels. I took a sip of soda and tried to focus, once more, to the story being told.