Alice? Who the fuck is Alice?

Facts, before I get into a long drawn rant.
  • A. I do NOT belong to a family that teaches their kids to speak English before they could start walking. In fact English is a very new phenomenon to me, so new that I can clearly see the day when someone asked me to talk about "honesty is the best policy" for 1 minute for a job interview at a call centre and all I could do was repeat the same line again and again for about 30 seconds before I was interrupted and was told to leave. 
  • B. Since I am new to English, I do not really enjoy western music as a matter of policy. There are some that I do love but in general I do not like western music.
  • C. I went from a totally nondescript college to one of the best in India for my post graduation. And since I was at this totally cool place I wanted to be accepted in the herd. So much so that I faked all I could. Not that it helped me. I am still as socially inept as I was when I got there but I did learn how to mingle without getting noticed. I think I am so invisible in a party that if it was crashed by kidnappers wanting to take hostages, I could dance in the middle of the room and not even one person, hostages or kidnappers, would notice me. 
And here is the rant.

So we have this tradition of a freshers' bash at college where they throw a party for the incoming class and everyone gets drunk like shit. The lucky ones get to score, the partying ones get to party hard and people like me get to learn. And the first thing I learnt there was, how to dance. Not dance as in contestants on Indian Idol or Dance India Dance or something but like a chicken, who's feet have been tied together and is trying to escape the butcher. Its a huge step up for me, the last attempt to dance before this resulted in my parents getting worried and calling a doc.

The second thing I learnt was this song called, 24 years living next door to Alice. The song was like any other English song that I had heard till then. Someone sang in English that was mostly incomprehensible to me, save a few words here and there. And then the singer would take a break, a riff would play and the song would hit the crescendo and send the audience in maddening frenzy. However, on the Alice song, when the singer took a break and the riff came, I learnt that I was supposed to yell, "Alice! Who the fuck is Alice?" as loud as I could and if I did that, I'd become part of a really cool set of people. The ones who know their music, English music. And who knew all the cool things to say. And the ones who laugh like mad people after that. I loved it. For the first time ever, I was a cool dude. I thanked God, for I was a  believer then and requested the DJ to play it over and over again so that I could yell the expletive again and again.

And after that freshers' party on a summer sultry day in 2004, its been almost 10 years now, every time I hear the song, my mind automatically inserts "Alice! Who the fuck is Alice?" in that silence. Like the Pavlov's dog. Life was all good and I got giggles and smiles from the members of opposite sex when I yelled those words out loud. I thought it was the secret to the game. So I mastered it and whenever I wanted attention, I would get the song to play and then I would yell out the magic words and lo and behold, I would become a huge magnet to attention and envy. Totally loved it.

But then one day last week, en route to office, I heard the original Alice and my whole world came crashing down around me. It never occurred to me that the song could exist without the reference to the question. I mean I have often pondered over the song and I could never understand why such a beautiful love song has those agonizing words. The song is like a beautiful tribute to the memory of a girl that you could never talk to. It has happened to me so many times that I could be my story. In my case the names would change to D, M, A, R etc (each word is the first letter of the name of a crush that I have had for long but could never express).

I had to stop my car, park it on the side of a flyover that looks down to a huge green park and I thought and thought about it, till my head starting hurting. And then I said, "what the fuck, who the fuck is Alice" and I moved on. And then, it hit me. The real meaning. Of Alice. And who the fuck is Alice.

Do listen to the original. Its one of the most beautiful songs ever written. And yes, if you are curious, you may read about it here. And yes, this page, someday would be a part of my biography. And like all my other books, you may pre-order my biography here.

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