The Blue Lagoon Of Sector 38

Love and Sex

The Blue Lagoon Of Sector 38

Illustration: Akshita Monga/ Arré

I

f you’ve ever passed by Fashion 2 Passion, a small booth in Chandigarh’s Sector 38 market, you’d never guess it was the place that pacified the raging hormones of hundreds of school and college students. The Fashion in the name was loosely justified by a couple of gaudy belts (white shiny leather straps with big western buckles) that gathered dust outside the shop. The Passion bit was what actually drove the business.

For a princely sum of ₹15, you could take home a porn star (in CD form, of course). The owner, the pimp to our youthful fantasies, was a young thin man named Tinu who had a slight overbite and a flock of hair on his forehead. Apart from renting out pornography, Tinu also ran a legitimate gift shop. This sometimes led to some logistical and communication issues. Often, youngsters throbbing with desire and desperation for a CD would have their designs foiled by a 60-year-old Punjabi aunty buying her grandson a birthday present. Such unforeseen obstacles left the boys tongue-tied in front of Tinu. They would awkwardly fidget around, hoping and praying that the aunty would leave soon.

Advertisement

Like all enterprising entrepreneurs, Tinu soon figured out a solution to this problem. He implemented a code word that would have been applauded by John Le Carre and deplored by Subhash Ghai (you’ll know in a moment why). In the presence of regular customers (read Punjabi aunties and uncles), when us degenerates wanted a porn movie, we were supposed to ask for Taal. Taal soon became the nom de plume for porn that every self-respecting, pimple-sprouting teenager in Sector 38 knew. Taal served us admirably, until a nincompoop, who had been sent by his parents to rent the actual Taal, took home a porno and played it in front of them. The boy never came back to the shop again, but the show had to go on. So Tinu changed the code name to Gadar and it was business as usual again.

Despite him being their saviour, the boys were not too kind to Tinu. Often they would return the CDs, complaining that they were scratched and didn’t work. The truth was they had copied the movie and now wanted another one without paying for it. Tinu knew what they were up to, but he let them get away with it. Tinu knew, like any good businessman, that the best business is repeat business.

Tinu had a hard time keeping up with us. We would run through his entire collection in a week or two and then demand newer CDs. And Tinu would have to magically conjure more material to cater to our insatiable fantasies. He also had to first try them out. Some boys would often want a guarantee about the quality of the movie and whether it was truly worth their precious fifteen bucks. Since Tinu didn’t have Imdb or Metacritic ratings of his collection, he could only vouch for the movies personally. “Bhai, kal raat hi dekhi maine. Ekdum mast hai,” he would say, with great enthusiasm and send us off happily into the night. Tinu taught me that anything said with enough enthusiasm could be taken as gospel.

I always wondered what Tinu’s parents thought about the business. In a moment of frankness, I asked him the question. He looked at me like I was an idiot and said, “What do they think? Our whole family sits and watches the CDs at night.” I was shocked. He looked at me like I was an idiot again and said, “We have to label the CDs na. Russian, Lesbian, Latino, Ebony. So we take turns to see the rushes and label the CDs. One man or woman can’t label all CDs; it would be too tiring and take too much time.”

Tinu had taught me yet another lesson in ingenuity and professionalism. Business always comes first.

I wonder what Tinu would have thought of NoFap. The promulgation of fapping was how he made a living for many years.

Towards the end of our school days, there came a time when Tinu began to fail us as a service provider. He would go missing for hours on end, leaving his father to man the shop. We knew Tinu’s father was aware of the CDs, but we did not dare rent them from him. When we asked Uncle where Tinu was we would get vague replies.

On a Saturday morning, three of us regular customers decided to confront him. Tinu had just rolled up the shutters when we barged in.

“Where are you these days Tinu?”

“You are never at the shop.”

“We need the CDs yaar.”

Taken aback by the barrage of questions, Tinu fumbled for an explanation. “I had gone to deliver CDs,” he said, and instantly regretted having opened his mouth.

“Deliver CDs? Since when have you been delivering CDs? You’ve never delivered them to us. What’s going on Tinu?”

Tinu sighed and said, “Look. What I am about to tell you is a secret, okay? These days, I go the girl’s PG to deliver some CDs.”

“What kind of CDs,” we asked suspiciously.

“Taal,” he said, defeated.

That day, Tinu taught us yet another valuable lesson: Women watched porn too!

It was the last lesson Tinu would teach me. Soon after, the 12th board exams came rolling and after that I left Chandigarh to study, work, and become another brick in the wall. Tinu and his little shop were relegated to some obscure corner of my memory as the internet became the fulfiller of all my carnal desires.

***

Last year, on a trip to Chandigarh, I went to the market where Fashion 2 Passion had reigned for many years. The dark little booth was gone and in its place stood a brightly lit travel agency with the board Sai Shirdi Travels. I went and asked one of the shopkeepers what had happened to the shop and to Tinu. The bespectacled man told me that Tinu had shut shop and was working in a private company now. With the arrival of high-speed internet, his business had slowed down. The new generation of fiber-optic powered pimple-sprouters didn’t require the services of Tinu. The compact Disc and his business, both were dead.

It was the end of a pornographic era. Kids who came after me didn’t know Tinu. They had it at the tips of their fingers with two clicks. The code words, the effort to suss out the good CD from the bad, the call to your cable operator pleading with him to play a “blue movie” on one of the special channels late at night were all gone; and so was the need to plan a carefully plotted watching hour on the family TV. Now in fact, the easy availability seems to be spawning a reverse trend — there’s a TedX video called “Why I don’t watch porn” and a Reddit Thread called “NoFap” dedicated to those who want to abstain from porn and masturbation.

I wonder what Tinu would have thought of NoFap. The promulgation of fapping was how he made a living for many years. I also wonder if he, these days, streams porn like everyone else and if his family is so hooked on to it, that they watch it even though there are no longer CDs to label. Or maybe Tinu and his family have brought into the whole NoFap thing with all their relentless viewing. Whatever the case, Tinu can rest safe in the knowledge that he was the ultimate saviour of hundreds of testosterone-fuelled boys of Sector 38, Chandigarh, the messiah of their blue days.

Comments