Thursday, February 23, 2017

Vegetable Mart?

Haggling over a cauliflower price
Time was when there were only a couple of fruit sellers outside our Garden gate. Today, there are no less than half a dozen of them who have set up stalls along the side walk. Some sell vegetables also to a fast growing clientele from the Garden. What’s more, hawkers with push carts are stopping by the gate early morning,
Happy Birthday KARUN SHARMA
offering farm-fresh produce at wholesale rates.
These vendors have all along enjoyed the patronage of our members (for obvious reasons) while on their way back home. But never has the mini bazaar spilled into the Garden -- till Kiran Prakash today deciding to hawk cauliflower at a discounted price. The exercises had just about got over when he stepped up making a full-throated pitch: “Phool gobi, 25 rupya – 25 rupya!” Thereafter, he fished out a huge polythene bag full of greens, making another fervent pitch "exclusively" for members of Big Laaf. Somehow, that did not find any takers.
Most of us were obviously taken aback by the suddenness of it all. Another reason for the lack of response could be that we have become so accustomed to freebies that the general expectation was that Kiran Prakash too would cut his price down to zero.
Bijoy Gupta justifies his phobia of naked camels
After all, not too long ago (actually, last Saturday) Shekhawat had been distributing bananas free of cost to members. It turned out that those bananas were ‘stolen’ from Bijoy Gupta, who had bought them for his home!
Incidentally, Gupta was to disclose today why he had become so upset about the “naked camels” of Rajasthan (ref past of February 20). “They were constantly staring at my wife,” he lamented. “Tell me which husband will tolerate that!” And as is his wont, he blamed Shekhawat for this disgrace and demanded Rs5,000 from him as damages. “You and the camels belong to the same place,” Gupta reasoned. "Since you did not warn us in advance, you must pay now!"
Meanwhile, here’s wishing Karun Sharma many happy returns of the day. He is currently away on work in Delhi, thus depriving us the privilege to usher in his birthday at the Garden. It would have been his first birthday with us. He promises to return by the first week of March and make up for the missed opportunity.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Matchless Wit

“Why is she wearing such a beautiful pink dress today”!
Banoo Apa: Always upbeat
If Bijoy Gupta must stand out as the funniest man in the Club, the distinction among ladies should belong to Banoo Apa. One has only to be within hearing distance of her to catch the unending stream of witticisms during the exercises and it would be hard to keep up a straight face. Her humor is spontaneous, artless, contagious and devastating.
Today, she had only to spot Kajal Babani in a lovely pink outfit to declare, out of the blue, that the latter ought to host a party. Anybody else would have complimented Kajal for looking good in a bright outfit.
Kajal's mom (l) treats us to sandwiches
But Banoo Apa’s reasoning for demanding a party was peculiar: “Why is she wearing such a beautiful pink dress today”!
Then there was that famous incident recently about a little puppy snuggling up to her feet during the exercises. Promptly, Banoo Apa abandoned the circle and parked herself royally on a bench, refusing to even keep count during the tai chi round. “That stupid puppy sniffed at my feet?”
Geeta Latte (l) gets us sweets from Jaipur/ Agra
she protested. "How can I do exercise now."
This is the kind of humour that rocks on timing and tone of expression. On both counts, Banoo Apa is simply matchless. Of course, there’s Karuna Waghmare who can be just as funny, but it all comes out in spurts, depending on her mood. Fahmida Khan’s wisecracks are also enjoyable, but again, much of it is meant for the gallery and contrived.
With Banoo Apa the sparks fly naturally and continually – regardless of anyone listening or not. She is perennially on her own trip, such that it would appear that there can never be a dull moment of grief or anger in her life. That apart, she is known for her impeccable dress sense, compassionate nature befitting a Club elder and for conducting herself with utmost dignity.
Little wonder, very few in the Club know her by her real name – Shaher Banoo Khan. In fact, the day she discovered that even people older to her call her “Apa” out of respect, she threw up her arms and in mock exasperation declared: “Call me Mother India if you want, I don’t care!” That’s Banoo Apa to us.
Bihari Milwani:
Beware, next time you come to the Club wearing new clothes, Mother India will demand a party.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Voting Day – 2017

Jokes' session after the exercises
The civic polls today robbed us of a majority of members who report for the exercises. We were left with 18 this morning – nine males and nine females. The remaining had obviously gone to cast their votes at a nearby polling station, which opened at 7:30 a.m.
Still, we had our share of fun. The sky was (surprisingly) overcast and with a cool breeze blowing across, it was unusually pleasant in the Garden. Santosh Tyagi showed up, still limping from her Rajasthan trip (February 5 - 12). Dilip Babani narrated a few jokes. Bihari Milwani hung around longer than usual as it was polling day and
Lt Col Angad Singh (retd)
he had a two-hour reprieve from work...
In all this, Lt Col Angad Singh (retd) offered to host a party as “he felt like it”. He was dissuaded since he is still in mourning, having lost his wife and son-in-law recently. Besides, there was no real occasion to celebrate (his birthday is in April) and if at all, we ought to be hosting a party for him. He has been away from us for almost a year and it is no small joy to have him back now in our midst. He had brought us revdis yesterday (see post) from Mohali to mark his return to the Garden.
That said, it must be mentioned that “Colonel Sah’b” (as Angad Singh is endearingly addressed) is coping remarkably well after the twin tragedies that have overtaken him. At age 83, he conducts himself with the stoic fortitude only an army man is capable of – thus setting an example for the rest of us. “This is part of life,” is all he is prepared to say about his personal loss.
The Club salutes this man.
Lt Col Angad Singh (retd):
My thanks to Blog Monster for his kind comments. His comments and the positive approach exhibited by other members of the Club are very encouraging. They have raised my morale and made me fit to bear my personal loss. I feel quite happy and engrossed in the company of my Club members. This is a God-gifted time for me when I feel completely at home when all my negative thoughts turn into positive ones. I hardly realise how time passes in the company of members of the Club. May God bless you all.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Nude Camels

Naked camels of Rajasthan
Bijoy Gupta’s story can now be told. For it had taken a rare stroke of genius on Saturday for him to deduce that his bumchum, Shekhawat is not responsible for his behavior. “Even the camels of Rajasthan are shameless,” Gupta proclaimed in the middle of the exercises, sending everybody reeling in laughter.
Recounting his recent trip to "Shekhawat’s quam", Gupta was at his hilarious best as he went on to elaborate: “Can you imagine,
Bijoy Gupta
the camels in Rajasthan roam around stark naked? I can understand small animals – dogs, cats, rabbits, mouse… but such huge, tall camels, absolutely nude in the middle of the desert!”
And then came the absolute whacker: “The niyat (intent) of those camels was bad. They were least bothered that we were izzatdar (respectable) people representing Big Laaf in Mumbai. Still they roamed about naked in front of us.”
“If you were so concerned about nudity, why did you not get the camels to wear knickers?” Shekhawat challenged.
Pleading helplessness, Gupta pulled a long face: “What could I have done all alone? There were so many camels -- such huge, big naked monsters – walking around audaciously.
Lt Col Angad Singh treats us to revdis on his return from Mohali today  
I was badly outnumbered.”
Clearly, this explains why Gupta had refused to climb up on a camel, even as his wife, Pushpa had galloped away merrily with the rest of the group on the camel safari in Jaisalmer. Left stranded in the open expanse of the sands, he tried to retrace his way on foot to the desert camp – only to realize, before long, that he was hopelessly lost in the middle of nowhere.
In the gathering darkness, a tall, burly man spotted the solitary figure walking aimlessly. “He must have taken pity on me because of my age,” Gupta narrated. “But I had no clue where I was. I could not even recall the name of our camp. All I could tell the goonda was that I was with a 28-member group from Mumbai and we were lodged in a camp somewhere. Once I reach there, I shall be able to recognize my tent.”
The goonda turned out to be Gupta’s savior that fateful evening. To cut a long story short, he dispatched a henchman to escort “the old man and deposit him at his thikana” in one piece. The henchman did as instructed and Gupta lived to tell his tale. So much for his phobia of 'naked camels'!
Bihari Milwani:
The nude camels Gupta-ji saw, were they male or female?
Dilip Babani:
Gupta-ji, you were lucky! People in the desert, once lost, are lost forever. You do not know where you are going or coming. And if you were wearing gold that evening, that goonda would have taken you somewhere else. So next time don't go there alone.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

DAY 2171

Pic of the Week
WARM SEND-OFF: A MOMENT TO BE TREASURED
Such joy... you can see this in Big Laaf only. Incredible! --Bhaswati Bose

Have a nice stay in Delhi, Tara Chand-ji. --Dilip Babani