Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Withdrawal Effects

Zarina Khan
Monsoon has officially withdrawn from Mumbai, but it still rains during the evenings every other day. While this helps in bringing the day temperature down by a few degrees, the relief is temporary. For what follows is an extended spell of stifling humidity, the effects of which we are witnessing every morning at the Garden.
Today, of all the people, a relatively quiet and reticent Zarina Khan was to narrate a “genuine joke”. She simply could not contain herself on how Monthi Serrao responded when informed that two of her grandsons were aged three months apart. “One is aged 18 months and the other is 15 months and Monthi just refuses to believe me,”
Monthi narrates the Bagdogra joke
Zarina complained pointing at Monthi standing a few feet away.
“How is it possible?” Monthi asked giggling uncontrollably. “Just three months difference?”
We were still not getting the joke, till someone quipped Super Fast Express. “No, none of you are getting the point,” Zarina exclaimed.
Siba Prasad Maitra
“You are not asking if they are from one son or two!”
The nickel dropped, but slowly. Only Ved Prakash Grover fully understood the joke and to humor him further, Monthi narrated another ‘funny’ incident – this time of her brother-in-law stranded at Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri yesterday. “He called up to say that his flight was delayed. But there was another aircraft on the tarmac ready to take off for Mumbai. He wanted to know if he could board that one. I told him don’t give me tension!”
Even this one was lost on most of us. But what did strike a chord was when Shekhawat pulled up Siba Prasad Maitra for turning up “after more than a month”. (In Shekhawat’s mental universe, the smallest unit of time is one month.) Arora interjected to suggest that a fine be imposed from now on for every wrongdoing of members.
“We should not charge money,” he declared. “For the first offence, the member will have to exercise without a cap. For the second offence, he will remove his shoes. Third offence, the T-shirt comes off. Fourth offence, the belt…” He did not proceed any further. Still, it made perfect sense to all of us!

Monday, October 05, 2015

Potty Bombs

Don't miss the white Laksman Rekha on the ground
Little known to many, the Garden is a busy place night and day. Its verdant expanse with beautiful flowering plants and bushes, well-manicured lawns, the crisscrossing walking track and shaded stretches make it a popular haunt for countless health enthusiasts, courting couples and many aspiring film writers and lyricists.
By nightfall, the denizens of darkness take over. Mainly stray dogs, they too have important business to conduct, just that they do not need a gate to enter the Garden. But before leaving, they would dutifully defecate around so as to record their visit at night.
The randomness of this act has turned the Garden into a veritable minefield of ‘potty bombs’ which only a trained eye, like that of Santosh Tyagi or Sunita Jajodia, is able to detect. Many members insist that it is unfair to blame only stray dogs, because stray humans are also capable of defecating and going by evidence on the ground, their involvement cannot be ruled out. While nobody has dared to ask what that evidence is, one thing has become eminently clear: Dog potty is acceptable around the Garden, but human potty is not!
All this has left us with no option but to shift position every other day (“a few feet left, a few feet right”) for the exercises in order to avoid treading upon a hidden mound of fresh excreta. Still, for all their alertness, people are often seen walking away in embarrassment, dragging their feet and leaving behind a soily, sticky, squishy and stinky trail
Arora wants to host a party on Thursday
for all to see.
Today a solution of sorts was found by marking out a circle on the ground with a spare hose pipe lying about. We were told to exercise within the circle as this was a ‘safe zone’ free from all hidden dangers of the grass. But out of politeness and not making things too obvious to the ladies, Srichand Arora described this as our Lakshman Rekha. “If you step out of this circle, Ravan will abduct you,” he joked.
Tara Chand Seth did not quite get the point and remarked that there were “already so many Ravans around that no Lakshman Rekha can help”. But Arora was to have the last laugh when Jagmohan Papneja did his usual disappearing act midway through the exercises. “Watch out, Sita will now abduct you!” Arora warned amid rousing laughter. Jagmohan walked away regardless, taking care not to step on slippery ground.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Day 1769

Pic of the Week
War between 'black belt' and 'black knicker'! --Bihari Milwani

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Fooling About?

Father and son
Prabha Kapoor treats us to
biscuits brought from Delhi
Yesterday’s kids did not show up today. But an old man did. He had come from Bihar and according to his son (accompanying him), he is recovering from a paralytic stroke that had, till a few weeks back, rendered him immobile waist-down.
Apparently the son had attended our exercises earlier (not that we remember) and was familiar with our routine. “I feel that if he joins you every morning on a regular basis, he will recover faster,” he said. “We don’t mind paying your membership charges.”
Now, this is something that beats us.
Jagmohan Papneja wants to take
everyone to a musical show
On the one hand, we hold the reputation of being a bunch of foot-loose, fun-loving, happy-go-lucky people who have nothing better to do in life than to play the fool every morning in the Garden -- and eat and eat.
On the other hand, there is this enduring public perception of we being a well-disciplined and regimented group such that, we never skip the exercises even for a day, come hail or high water. Many in the Garden say that they set their watches on our movements. It is also not unusual to have crowds gawking at us from the walking track, as though we are some kind of a tourist attraction. This is very common on Wednesdays and Saturdays when most of us are in uniform green or white tops/ T-shirts.
So every time someone takes a leap of faith and seeks permission to join us, we are flattered. We feel reassured that we are not as bad as we make ourselves to be and that we could be doing some things right after all. This is also reflected in the ever-expanding exercise circle – as was evident today. A time would soon come when we would cover the full section of the Garden where we have been ‘fooling about’ for the past ten years or so.
Lt Col Angad Singh (retd) from Mohali:
Laughter is contagious. If one laughs, everybody starts laughing. Laughter is also a great medicine. It cures a lot many diseases. You forget all your worries and your heart starts functioning well. I cannot say about paralytic attacks, but I am sure the father and son duo from Bihar will be happy doing the exercises with Club members.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Gandhi Jayanti 2015

The kids join us for today's exercises
The Club does not celebrate Gandhi Jayanti. Never did. But we were reminded of the great man who got us freedom from British rule when a flock of little children descended upon us while we were exercising.
They were all in regulation white cap-'n'-T-shirt with the legend, ‘Spark a Change’ printed in large, colorful lettering. Where they came from and why, nobody asked. But Tara Chand Seth surmised that they must have all run away from school, till someone reminded him that schools were closed today.
“Today is Gandhi Jayanti,” he was told.
Those mysterious kids came in two droves – each time departing en masse and as suddenly as they had come.
Arora invited them to join us for the exercises – which was another way of telling us to be at our best behavior in their presence. Shekhawat looked restrained and crestfallen for a while… till he could not hold himself any longer and burst out declaring with his arms outstretched, “Hai Mera Dil!”
Time to disperse...
Promptly the children ran away.
Confused, Shekhawat tried to explain that he had not spoken to any child in particular and in any case, there was no bad intention behind the declaration on his ‘dil’.
But Mallika Kagzi insisted that it was buri baat (a bad word) and in future, he better hold his tongue in front of kids.
Shekhawat simply dismissed her and started needling Bijoy Gupta till he found another flock of kids, similarly dressed but older, landing unannounced and uninvited.
Shekhawat peered at them suspiciously, then turned his back and started making phone calls to kill time.
Turns out that some kind soul somewhere was treating those kids to a movie, Singh is Bling, first-day first-show, as part of some Gandhi Jayanti celebration. He had told them to gather at the Garden, from where they would be herded to a cineplex close-by.