High On Life

Gleaming lights, booming music, all-pervasive cigarette smoke and alcohol, the morning after headache and hangover, strong smell of smoke on your hair… Sounds familiar! Most of us have been there and done that. When Oliver Cheatham, an American R & B singer crooned years ago, “I like to party, everybody does,” he may not have estimated how many millions of young people identified with it. Or maybe he did when the song continued to rule the club circuit decades after!

Who doesn’t like to have fun? With age and means on our side, we feel invincible. As if life is one big party.  And why not? Partying is a sensorial experience and heightens all five of them. When you’re in that zone, you forget the things you’re supposed to do, there’s no time but the present and you live it up.

Scientists claim to have discovered why some people like to spend their nights at wild parties while others prefer to stay home. The brains of introverts and extroverts differ in the way they respond to experiences, according to a new study conducted by Yu Fu and Richard Depue at Cornell University in New York. Their research says that extroverts like instant gratification while introverts tend to be distressed by excessive stimulation. Extroverts experience rushes of dopamine as a result of their environment while introverts do not. As a result, the researchers concluded that party animals have fundamental differences in the way their brains work.

So now we know why some of us are wired differently and why we love to party, whether it’s good, bad or ugly! After every party, there’s always a new story to tell. However, no matter how euphoric a moment can be, you have to acknowledge, at some point in time, that it’s only as good as it lasts.

So why do people prepare for hours to go to a place where the unexpected can be expected but the outcome is more or less the same? And what happens when it’s no longer fun and games but turns into a serious addiction, an irresistible dependence? When does that moment of reckoning appear in the lives of party animals when they say `enough is enough, let me get my act together?’ When do they feel they have over stayed their limit in the party zone? When do they realise it’s time to clean up?

RITZ seeks answers from well-known South Indians…

There is a thin line between being a party lover waking up with a hangover and a party addict sleeping through a black hole. Many who live in the fast lane start slowing down and get their life back on track. This is the story of party lovers who transformed into achievers with a focus and a balanced way of life.

danish sait HOL

Danish Sait

For Danish Sait, actor and anchor from Bengaluru who describes himself as “ambitious, passionate and determined,” the change happened all thanks to his determined mother. “Too much drinking and partying in my late teens had made me quite the waster. I would spend the night drinking with friends, not return home for days, wouldn’t get out of bed when I was home, plough my way through jars of Nutella…. in a word, I was ridiculous.” His wake up call came to him when, “One day, when I was 20, I remember my mom waking me up and she literally threw me out of the house. I had ` 2,000 in my pocket and she told me not to return till I had sorted my life out. It was like a wake -up call for me. I began hunting for a match-box to live in (laughs at himself) and hats off to my mother, she sent me everything that I would need to live there – my Play Station, TV, bed etc. She just didn’t want me back under her roof!”

If you thought Danish was a early starter at 17, wait till you hear the super successful and suave Oum Pradutt, Founder & Managing Director Phase 1, the award-winning Entertainment & Events company from Bengaluru, “My stint as a bad boy began early in life – I was in my early teens when I actually began moonlighting on the wild side. All of my friends were older than me and looking back now I am shocked at myself for the things that I did and indulged in.”

Oum Pradutt HOL

Oum Pradutt

All party animals have crazy incidents in their lives. “Depends on what you think crazy is.  I don’t think you should stop doing crazy, you make sure you have the right gear and are in a space designated to do your kind of crazy. And you start calling it a hobby,” is Hichem Osman’s take on it.

Too many people get hurt when things go out of control. And all of them realise that in retrospect. On a lighter note both Danish and Hichem concur that they “gave parents sleepless nights.”

And in Oum’s case, “I was living my life on fun, never caring for the worry and stress I put my folks through. There were no mobile phones or pagers then, just simple land lines. And I think at times my folks were just a step away from heading to the local police station and filing a missing person’s complaint. Whether it was cigarettes, liquor, driving fast, roaming the streets at night with friends and basically bumming around, I think I tried them all.”

For Hichem, co-owner of Silkworm Boutique, Studio BAS and Splendid Food Co., which focus on handwoven sarees, bespoke tailoring and catering respectively, the idea of fun changes as one gets ahead in life.  “Change didn’t happen overnight. It’s been gradual. Thanks to parents who always kept it very real for my brothers and me. We were constantly reminded that there are no free lunches. Everyone’s got to work! ”

So how exactly did they set out to change their lifestyles and habits? Says Danish, “So I got myself a job with an event management company and started earning `13,500 a month. After paying my rent with my first month’s salary, paying for utilities and groceries I hosted a small party for my friends; and that’s when I realised how important it was to balance your life and do both – work and party.”

Hisham Osman pic by Satyajit C P, Stream Imaging LLP

Hichem Osman

Says Oum, “Finally, when I was 20, I realised that all my peers were making something of themselves, while I chose to sit around and waste my time and my life. It was like a revelation to me. I realised I needed to get a job and get my act back on track. Four years later I opened Phase 1 World and the rest is history. There has been no looking back since and from being an absolute bum I’ve catapulted into a success story.” According to him, the change has to come from within, “I firmly believe that unless one reaches that stage of self-realisation through an incident, a tragedy or life-altering event, it never works to get off the downhill ride and get one’s life back on track.”

In Hichem’s experience, ““The transition from college to work and deciding what one wants to do with the rest of their life as a profession or a career is always tough. Looking back, I did give my folks a tough time with that. After giving me all the space and time I needed to try my hand at anything that caught my fancy, I made a choice, to do something positive and constructive, and Silkworm Boutique came about.” Passion for something also plays a role in finding your fun elsewhere he says, “Another big change happened when I started to ride horses again at the Madras Riding School. It’s important to find a hobby or sport that you enjoy the most, it’s important to give it everything you got, it gives you a sense of purpose and fulfilment, and helps you focus and grow.”

If you have no regrets, you haven’t lived, goes the Yiddish saying. And if you you don’t change, you don’t evolve, we all know that.

Says Danish, “No regrets, only fond memories. You hurt, you get hurt, it’s all a part of growing up and life!  Learning to accept your faults and saying sorry eases the lousy feeling of screwing up! You learn from your mistakes. Most important, you learn to be humble and gracious. Not that I have given up partying but the realisation that balance and moderation are the keys for a healthy lifestyle has made all the difference. I still do both today, though maybe I work harder and by the time I’m done with work most days I don’t have the energy to party. But yes, life is good now and I am who I am all thanks to my mother Yasmin Sait.”

Hichem says, “One has to evolve, your idea of fun changes as you get older, things happen and suddenly you realise that it is not compulsory to party right through the weekend.”

So that’s how the story of people who indulged their wild side and went on to err on the side of caution goes. Yes, they gave sleepless nights to their dear ones but they woke up in time to take life and work seriously. For them it’s all been about letting life happen, getting the reins back in their hands and understanding the stages.

Like they say, there are no mistakes; everything is an experience. What you do with that is entirely up to you.