Thursday, May 26, 2016

Holiday Season

Celebrating happiness with loads of laughter
Kajal Babani was back from Lonavala, loaded with its famous chikkis. She had taken off on a brief vacation, essentially to “chill” with friends at the hill station, not very far from Mumbai. We profited by getting to sample the very best of chikkis – even by Lonavala standards.
The other day Manisha Kolhe returned from a vacation in Nagpur and treated us to its special ‘santra barfi’. Mallika Kagzi brought us nankhatai from Surat and is now at her mother’s in Mumbra. Santosh Tyagi is threatening to make a trip to Delhi this week-end and Monthi Serrao is yet to return from her sojourn in Mangalore.
Loads of chikki from Lonavala
Likewise Kadir Banu, Mumtaz Jahan, Karuna Waghmare, Fehmida Khan, Laxmi Naidu and several others are in no hurry to return (from wherever they are), if only to escape the muggy mornings in the Garden.
This summer exodus is an annual feature for the Club and the effects get compounded with the onset of the holy month of Ramzan (beginning June 7) when attendance for the exercises comes literally crashing down.
We had a foretaste of this today with many regulars such as Shekhawat, Arun Patil, Rukhsana Khan, Bijoy Gupta, Khatoon Baig and Swati Punjabi (among others) not to be seen.
Yet, in making the most of our 20-odd friends who turned up today, we had our spot of sunshine after the exercises. For some strange reason, Siba Prasad Maitra wanted to designate the day as 'World Whiskey Day' (now, who’s going to dispute that?) and belted out a series of rib ticklers.
For good measure Bhaswati Bose and Kajal Babani pitched in and with well-timed wisecracks and one-liners from Yusuf Rassiwala, Geeta Latte and Kiran Prakash, it would seem that we were the only happy-go-lucky souls in an otherwise doleful and deserted Garden.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Out of Loop

Nahid Siddiqui
The sun rose in the west today. Nahid Siddiqui, a perpetual late-comer for the exercises, forgot her normal schedule this morning. She turned up at the Garden around 6:30 a.m. – a clear one hour ahead of her usual time!
Naturally, this was to take us all by surprise as indeed, she was also in for a mild shock. “Where has everybody gone?” she asked Santosh Tyagi, one of the early birds performing her breathing rituals on a bench. “Are the exercises over?”
Santosh’s eyes popped as though she was seeing a ghost: “People haven’t come in yet. How come you are here so early?”
Then the truth tumbled out. By mistake Nahid had set her phone alarm an hour in advance and had come to the Garden straight out of bed, believing she would be terribly late and miss out on today’s exercises.
CAKE CUTTING: Nahid celebrated her birthday yesterday
“I did not even have my morning tea,” she complained.
More than finding herself at a loose end, what seemed awkward for Nahid (and hilarious to us) was her effort at familiarising herself with the exercises. In spite of being a very senior member of the Club, she had not even seen most of our exercises because by the time she would turn up, we were done with them. She struggled with some of the initial numbers today before deciding to just stand by and watch us quietly. Later on, she joined us on the numbers she was familiar with.
Perhaps, there is a lesson somewhere in this for all late-comers.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 1977

Pic of the Week
BACK FROM A PADDY PLANTATION IN VIETNAM?
Spot the odd one out!

 Or are they visitors to our club? The one in the middle seems to be the leader and the only man at the back appears to be their manager. Will they be with us for some time? Are they under some exchange programme or on just a study tour?--
Kiran Prakash

Finally Mr Shekhawat has succeeded in getting the seven he can now name by the days of the week -- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday... Or perhaps, by the seven colours of the rainbow -- Voilet, Indigo, Blue... --Bihari Milwani

The conical caps are Geeta Latte's gift to the Club to beat the heat. We thank her for this thoughtful gesture. --Bhaswati Bose

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Passing the Hat

Mallika Kagzi
Big Laaf continues to evolve and innovate with every passing day. For the first time, a cap was passed around to cover the costs of today’s naashta in the Garden. Mallika Kagzi had brought some keema-pao and tea from home and it was only in the fitness of things that we paid for it -- partially, if not fully.
Of late, Mallika had turned extra-generous, treating us to goodies every other day after the exercises. If nothing else, she would have a flaskful of hot tea ready for us. This had become increasingly awkward for many, more so since none of us is in any position to either reciprocate or refuse her. After all, who has the time and energy to get up in the middle of the night – that too, on a regular basis – to cook for a bunch of people in the Garden?
Mallika’s explanation has been that she “enjoys feeding people” and we believe her because rarely, if ever, does she herself partake in what she brings in the morning. Today also, she did not even take a bite of the keema-pao she brought. Still, this ‘indulgence’ costs money and the least we could do was to defray some the expenses to the extent we could individually afford.
The idea of passing the hat around came up when plans for a picnic at Juhu Beach were being made last week.
Swati Punjabi (centre) is terrified by the waves of Arabian Sea
It was decided then that we should have a potluck after the exercises. But we also knew that most of us (especially the men) would turn up empty-handed and as it happened the last time around (ref post of September 20, 2014), the burden of feeding everyone would fall mainly on Mallika’s shoulders. This would be grossly unfair.
Meanwhile, a date for the Juhu picnic continues to evade us. With the holy month of Ramzan round the corner and consequently, attendance expected to drop sharply, we must set out before June 6. Swati Punjabi excitedly offered to celebrate her birthday by the beach on June 2, but soon changed her mind. “What happens if my birthday cake gets washed away by the waves of Arabian Sea?” she asked, giving a terrified look.
That was a good question nobody had an answer to.
Bihari Milwani:
We should have the Juhu picnic before the onset of monsoon. We can perhaps have the picnic on June 6, Mallika's birthday -- before Ramzaan month begins. Or else, Swati may get a 'waterproof cake' to protect it from sea water.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Beautiful Minds

Kiran Prakash with the daughter he never had
Kiran Prakash came to the Garden today sporting a bright crimson t-shirt. This was in marked variance from the sober blues and greys we are used to seeing him in. But the crimson suited him well. Teamed with ecru trousers, it made him look still younger for his years.
And thereby hangs a tale.
Yesterday Geeta Latte, the youngest member of the Club, presented Prakash the t-shirt when the exercises were over. She tried being discreet, but the latter was so taken by surprise that he refused point blank to accept the gift. Seeing him protest vociferously, Geeta broke down. All she managed to say was “I see a lot of my father in him!”
Sadly, Geeta has lost her father. And Kiran Prakash does not have a daughter. Such are the ways of nature that over time they had come to share a special space during the daily one-hour routine in the Club. He realised he was becoming extra affectionate, even protective towards her and happily, made no secret of his feelings.
Likewise, Geeta looked up to Prakash as her ‘foster father’ and was never ashamed to accept that extra samosa or kachori he would save for her from his share of a morning treat. She knew he had a sensitive stomach and was unable to consume anything fried or spicy.
The t-shirt took the father-daughter bonding to another level. As Prakash was to confess later, he did not expect Geeta to “go to this extent” of getting him the gift. So overwhelmed was he that he (foolishly) commanded her to accompany him right away and buy whatever she liked from anywhere. Prakash had to be told not to be in such haste and that a give-and-take would only amount to hurting Geeta’s sentiments.
Prakash gathered himself before long and WhatsApped his friends: “It is an honour that somebody tells me she sees her daddy in me and cries when I decline to accept her gift. It’s a feeling that’s difficult to express. I don’t know what else is in store for me in this Club.”
Kiran Prakash:
Geeta is a gem of a girl. She is principled, honest, respectful and caring. I am fortunate to have her as a daughter. I wish and pray for her happy and prosperous life. And I am always there for her. God bless!
Lt Col Angad Singh (from Mohali):
The small and affectionate gesture by Geeta Latte in honoring Kiran Prakash as her daddy only proves that Big laaf is like a family. The one hour spent together augurs well and reminds us of our culture when, in a village, all children used to be treated as children of the village. They enjoyed the love, affection and wrath of village elders without discrimination.
Bhaswati Bose:
The picture speaks volumes - the fond look in the eyes of 'papa' Kiran-ji and the expression of soaking in the affection on 'beti' Tai Chi's face cannot be expressed in words. In these times of extreme tempers, such a beautiful bonding between two members is hard to come by. The Club rejoices in their happiness.
Kiran Prakash responds:
Thank you very much, Bhaswati-ji. We all at Big Laaf share such feelings of love and affection towards one another. What we need now is to organise some games of 5-10 minutes duration on weekly intervals which will strengthen the bonding and create team spirit among members. Think over it. We may have this on Saturdays.