Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Taking Strike

Mallika Kagzi conducts the exercises
Like an incoming batsman in a cricket match, Mallika Kagzi took guard in the middle – only that she had no clue from which direction the volleys were to come. “I shall conduct the exercises today,” she had offered bravely. “Just bear with me and prompt me when I go wrong!”
The initiative instantly triggered a round of applause – more so, because nobody expected Mallika to volunteer and secondly, both Srichand Arora and Razia Khan (the only experienced ‘teachers’ left behind by the Shekhawat gang) were under the weather this morning.
But that was only at the beginning. The moment Mallika started, Mohar Singh and Bijoy Gupta started complaining that she was not audible. She turned in their direction and started counting louder, only to have Arun Patil and Karuna Waghmare instructing her from the other end to raise her voice still higher. “We can’t hear you,” they chorused.
Mallika ignored them. Before matters could precipitate further, Arora intervened by adding his voice to Mallika’s and for a while, the exercises continued on double count.
Slanging match between Arun Patil and Mallika
People were now confused whether to follow the counts of Arora or Mallika. Let alone synchronization of movement, there was not even a semblance of coordination to get along.
At that point, Arun intervened and instructed Mallika to shut up – obviously because that would leave us to follow only one call, i.e. Arora’s. Effectively, it meant Mallika had no business to be in the middle now and she could as well join the rest of us in the circle. She walked away in a huff and Arora took her place.
But Mallika was not to forgive Arun. Soon after the exercises, she tore into him, charging him to be a congenital troublemaker, out to pick faults in others and himself being a good for nothing. In defence, Arun tried to say something about “keeping the rhythm and flow of the exercises”, but all that was drowned in Mallika’s high-pitched rage and uproar.
In all this, Razia Khan wisely kept her counsel and did not utter a word. Her scraps with Arun – long before Mallika was anywhere near the scene – is part of Big Laaf lore.
Bihari Milwani:
Well done, Mallika. Next time come with a loudspeaker; but do not give up. You will definitely be our new good and most feared teacher!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Depleted Numbers

Arora conducts the exercises today
As we took our places for the exercises this morning, nearly half of Big Laaf were winging their way on the first leg of the southern tour (November 24 to December 3) to Bangalore. They took off at around 6:15 a.m. in two batches – one by Air India and the other by IndiGo – ten minutes apart from one another. Unsurprisingly, attendance at the Garden crashed from 30-plus to just about 17 members today – 11 men and six women.
“Where have the other ladies gone?”
Gupta takes Shekhawat's call
complained Bijoy Gupta, who arrived before-time, clearly intending to appropriate Shekhawat’s place in the circle. Barring Mallika Kagzi, he was not on familiar terms with any of the six ladies present. Even Razia Khan had apparently ditched him today.
“What is your problem?” egged Mohar Singh. “You are free to take Shekhawat’s place today, for the next 10 days. We will even recognize you as President of the Club till he returns.”
“Forget it,” Gupta snapped back. “I don’t want any false recognition…”
As is well known, Gupta has always coveted Shekhawat’s position – evidently, in the belief that it would beget him the same level of respect and popularity. At one point, he even promised a handsome donation to the Club, provided the latter resigned and made way for him as Club president. But that was not to be.
Today Gupta saw his chance at playing the preening peacock -- to the extent he came dressed to kill, in matching orange t-shirt, keds and red socks. Let alone an appreciative audience, there was no audience at all. He became so crestfallen that for much of the time he sulked in silence – even refusing to head the rail-gaadi round.
Ironically, the only time Gupta’s face brightened up was when Shekhawat called him around 8:00 -- just as our exercises were getting over. He informed that the group had landed safely in Bangalore.
Bihari Milwani:
Gangaram kanwara rain gaya!

Monday, November 23, 2015


Lakshmi Naidu with Karuna Waghmare
The standard salutation in the Club has all along been either “Jai Sri Krishna!” or “As-Salaam-Alaikum!" An exception is made for Monthi Serrao, who is greeted with a “Good Morning” whenever she comes. Likewise, “Sat Sri Akal!” is reserved for Harbans Kaur while “Om Namah Shivaya” is meant for Ram Shankar Shukla only.
Kiran Prakash learns to say "Good morning"
And when Sitaram Hivarkar walks in, we have to break into “Jai Siyaram!”.
Quite clearly, the universal Indian greeting of “Namaste” is passé to us. We have become much too smart for it. We like to show off our knowledge in the many ways of saluting one another, even as the meaning might escape us. So this morning, when Mohar Singh greeted Lakshmi Naidu (a Malayalee) with the Tamil “Vanakkam!” nobody was surprised. After all, what difference does it make whether you greet someone with a “Namaskaram!” (the correct thing to say in Malayalam)
Hugs and wishes on the eve of the
South India tour
or use the Tamil word for “welcome”?
At least, Laxmi Naidu wasn't bothered. But Karuna Waghmare had an issue. She knew Mohar Singh had made a mistake, but instead of correcting him directly, pointed at Lakshmi and quipped sarcastically in accented English, “She is the Vanakkam!” When told that Lakshmi was not Tamilian, she commented, “Sure!” Seeing everyone around roll in laughter, she suspected something amiss. “English is a phunny language!” she added quickly as though to correct herself.
Meanwhile Kiran Prakash, in a bid to update his knowledge on Chinese salutations, cornered the ta’i-chi girls with the request for a polite translation of “Good Morning”. Obviously, he wanted to graduate from the level of saying “Ni Hao!” or Hello! all the time. And the Chinese girls, in their eagerness to educate him even more, taught him not just “Good Morning”, but what to say for “Good Afternoon”, “Good Evening” and “Good Night” as well. Well, Good Night??? Mmmmmm... Lucky man, he's got more than he asked for.
Kiran Prakash:
Don't be jealous, Blog Monster.
Bihari Milwani:
Everyone greets me with "Banke Biharilal Ki Jai!"
Kiran Prakash responds:
Yes, Banke Biharilal- ji. But you have stopped coming and we are unable to wish you 'Banke Biharilal Ki Jai'.
Adds Bihari Milwani:
Looks like KP is stepping in the shoes of Shekhawat with a Chinese accent!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Day 1818

Pic of the Week
Kiran Prakash:
Congratulations Banoo Apa, Prabha-ji, Yusuf-bhai and Niloufer-ji. Great celebration at the Garden. Banu Apa's treat is becoming bigger and bigger. Hope she stops at this level. Prabha-ji's 20-20 continued up to my tea this morning. BTW the Pic of the Week reminds me that the time has come for the next round of digital display of our blog's photographs. End of December or beginning of January should be ideal considering the Mumbai weather. We can call it either Christmas or New Year Party.
Ajit Choudhary:
Heartiest congratulations to all winners of Big Laaf. Keep it up!
Bihari Milwani:
Winners are actually losers because (I think) they cannot participate in future contests.
Prabha Kapoor:
Thanks Kiran-ji and Ajit-ji for your good wishes. Special thanks to Mr Bose for the excellent organization and lovely words.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Awards Presentation

Dr Mohd Farooq with Prabha Kapoor 
Banoo Apa (l) with Khatoon Baig
The day finally dawned for Prabha Kapoor to stand tall as the proud winner of the 13th Pehchaan Kaun Contest (ref post of November 1). She received a handsome crystal trophy from our guest of honour, Dr Muhammed Farooq Khan for being the only one among 30 contestants to have identified his wife, Banoo Apa from a black-and-white photograph taken when she was 22 years old (post of November 11).
“She obviously knows my wife better than I do,” quipped Dr Farooq in jest. But sure enough, for Prabha Kapoor to emerge winner had taken many of us by surprise.
Yusuf R receives trophy
Niloufer Rassiwala receives trophy
“Let's give her a big hand,” applauded Srichand Arora. “Who would have imagined that such a quiet lady who does not interact with anybody and always keeps to herself could have recognized Banoo correctly from the photo?”
“That is because she interacts with Banoo only,” retorted Jagmohan Papneja, another contestant.
While Prabha Kapoor has made no secret of “knowing Banoo Apa for eight years”, there are many in the Club who have hobnobbed with the latter for much longer. They were the ones who had come up with the most outlandish guesses, some even identifying her as Mallika Kagzi or Geeta Latte, of all the people. Her mother tongue and place of birth were the cause of a far bigger mystery.
Hostess of the mostest in the grand party
Akshat Chaudhary
Above all, to the credit of Prabha Kapoor, she had as many as 50 names (49 actually) to sift through -- every one of them an equally strong suspect – before zeroing in on Banoo Apa.
The brief but well-attended ceremony also saw Yusuf Rassiwala and Niloufer Rassiwala collect their respective trophies for the musical chairs competition at Royal Hills Resort three months back (see post and slide show of August 22). It was a rare coincidence for husband and wife to win successive rounds of the fiercely fought competition during the picnic. Our t’ai chi ladies, Wu Mei-Hua (a.k.a. Melody) and Chi Chi did the honors for the Rassiwala couple.
But in the end, it was Banoo Apa all the way. Today was her day. Had she not loaned her picture, the Pehchaan Kaun contest would have meant nothing and the trophy handed to her (by last time winner, Khatoon Baig) was a mere token of appreciation for all her cooperation and support.
Friends (and foes) cheering the winners
More than that was the massive breakfast serving today, the kind the Club had never seen before – let alone savor. A platter full of the choicest delicacies, no less than a dozen in number and with tea/ cold drinks to wash down was a treat that would befit royalty. This is Banoo Apa to us – forever supportive, large-hearted, generous and selfless in whatever she does. She expects nothing from us and nothing we do in gratitude, can ever be enough.
It was also very kind of her husband, Dr Muhammed Farooq to take time out and grace the occasion so early in the morning. In fact, this was the first time in so many years that he has visited us in the Garden.
In the end, if there was one person everybody missed, it was little Akshat Chaudhary. Pity he could not be part of today's fun and food because of a running tummy. (His father and grandparents were there though.) Let's hope Akshat recovers over the week-end and is able to join us in the Garden on Monday.
Bhaswati Bose:
Hearty CONGRATULATIONS to all the winners!
Muhammed Farooq Khan:
I do not have words to thank you all for the love, kindness, hospitality and attention shown to me on Saturday. In fact, it took me one day to get out of the hangover of your love to post this comment. May you all keep loving each other irrespective of your color, gender, religion, language, caste and temperament. Once again thank you all for your hospitality. HAPPY LAAFING. And yes, keep up the good work. I do not go to the Garden, but I regularly follow, appreciate and enjoy your blog immensely.