When I met an Afghan guy on a dance floor in Delhi I didn’t really think much of it. Well, I mean, that’s if you don’t count the mildly offensive suspicions I had about a Muslim being at a nightclub; a nightclub Muslim? Nonsensical, right? It goes against everything the stereotypes ever told us. Anyway, you can imagine the surprise I got the next day when he found me on Facebook and handed me an out-of-nowhere declaration of his undying love. From fear to fascination to the birth of a weird sort of cyber relationship thing, I learned that two people with a world of difference between them could still laugh at the same jokes.
As I flopped around trying to keep to the rhythm of a Pop-Bollywood mash up, I was four tequila shots down and no doubt feeling like an incredibly huge legend. It was close to 3am at what I now know was Club BW, a dirty little secret located below a luxury hotel in Delhi. I did have friends somewhere amongst the sea of local clubbing folk, but at that point I was actively trying to lose the interest of a friend of a friend who I had inadvertently encouraged by being nice to him.
I think I’d done a few freestyle laps and Gangnam Styled with about five circles of strangers before my eyes uncrossed and planted themselves on a sturdy looking fellow being illuminated by the reflections of a shiny disco ball.
He barely flinched as I edged towards him all bright eyed and bushy tailed and his serious expression didn’t budge. He seemed pretty badass at first glance. His muscles bulged from his well-fitted garments and his modest bopping suggested he was on standby to slay a dragon. But as I looked a bit closer I noticed his lips were almost higher than they were wide which gave him a natural pout, and his gelled black hair indicated he probably knew more about hair products than disposing of evidence. So in whatever capacity it was that I could judge charm and lure, I decided he was rather endearing.
I appreciated that he hadn’t turned into a drunken goofball after I approached him with wiggling tequila hips; he’d simply given me a nod to acknowledge neither of us was going to make trouble. And after five minutes, when I’d well and truly set up camp amongst him and his friends, he noticed I was thirsty (I’m guessing) and offered me a sip of his Red Bull.
‘Where are you from?’ I yelled into his ear as we slowed down our bopping and shaking to appropriate dance-floor-chat speed.
‘Afghanistan,’ he replied in a thick accent.
This of course came after the fear-mongering stories the media has been producing about Muslims and the Middle East for the last fourteen years. I’d only been reading one a few days earlier, about a woman in Afghanistan who was beaten to death by a mob of men after someone accused her of burning the Quran.
Suddenly I felt a little uneasy.
‘Oh okay, you’re a Muslim?’ I queried, well aware of the answer.
‘Yes,’ he said smiling, as if to suggest my question wasn’t really relevant to anything this far into an exchange.
‘What are you doing here then?’ I blasted.
‘I’m a college student in Delhi, I study business’ he offered.
‘No, I mean in a club. Isn’t clubbing considered haram?’ I asked rather ignorantly.
He did the smile again and told me it was okay, and that’s about as deep as our conversations ran really. As a non-drinker, I imagine for him it was a bit like eating a packet of Cheetos – offensive with absolutely no substance.
For the rest of the night I was flying around between the bar, my friends and his biceps. I remember thinking he was a very attractive 21-year-old Muslim but I was more concerned about his religion than the fact that he was six years my junior. Not that there was anything inappropriate going on (unless anyone was reading my mildly Islamaphobic mind) – his hand casually resting on my waist as I slurred into his ear was about as familiar as we became.
By the end of the night I was sure he thought I was just some loose Australian scallywag, but he had been so sweet and hadn’t slipped me a Rohypnol or anything. So when he asked me for my number I gave him my business card and told him we could be pen pals.
After that I fell into my friend’s car, completely forgot he existed and demanded a kebab that I wasn’t possibly going to get at 5am in Delhi.
READ PART TWO
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