Thursday, August 25, 2016

Joke Gone Sour

Shekhawat takes a breather after exercises
One of the long-standing jokes during our exercises is the chest-thumping number performed in the tai-chi round. Nobody likes doing it – least of all Shekhawat. For some (presumably superstitious) reason, it is associated with mourning the dead. But everyone has been intent upon ‘trapping’ Shekhawat into leading this drill, even if it were to mean some people shifting positions or having to rejig the sequence of exercises.
Shekhawat understands this perfectly and has been very sporting about it, much as he’d make a major song and dance over trying to avoid or skip his turn. Such antics only add to the mirth and general bonhomie within the group during the exercises – till Shekhawat threw a fit this morning.
Suddenly, for no particular reason, he declared that there was a ‘calculated conspiracy’ to corner him on the chest thumping number. “Once in a while is fine, but every day how can it be my turn?” he asked incredulously and stomped away to park himself on a bench at a distance.
The situation, by itself, was hilarious beyond words.
Santosh Tyagi and Bijoy Gupta rehearse their parts
For, nobody can deny that there has always been a deliberate move to ‘trap’ him, simply because we felt he enjoyed being made scapegoat. But today, in any case, it was to be his turn -- coincidentally. Dilip Babani explained this was all in good humour and Mallika Kagzi left her place to take Shekhawat’s position, if that would comfort him. But he kept sulking in silence.
It wasn’t for long though. Within minutes, Shekhawat was on his feet, back to his pranks and the moment the rehearsals for the Annual Day function began, he had become irrepressible. There was no stopping him from coming up with bizarre lines (for the skit), butting in when others (like Bijoy Gupta) were in flow, insisting on dancing in his 'style' and even introducing words in the lyrics (eg. “Darling Ho!” instead of “Taliho”) which only he can imagine!
Incidentally, a professional choreographer has been coming in to train our dancers on their steps and moves. To a large extent she has succeeded with everyone – excepting one man. But then, how does it matter so long as he is having a ball?

Sunday, August 21, 2016

DAY 2020

Pic of the Week
This lonely boy found an unlikely sister on Raksha Bandhan day.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Shooting the Breeze

Saturday Morning Fervor: Time to unwind...
Kiran Prakash (in cap) treats us to khaja
Saturday is usually the busiest day at the Club. This is one day when we tend to unwind from a week of ‘rigorous exercising’ and generally chill out, shooting the breeze. Consequently, the maximum footfalls are recorded on Saturday mornings.
Things turned out even better for us today as Kiran Prakash marked his return from a trip to Bhubaneshwar-Puri carrying a white bag of goodies.
He had brought along a special sweet called ‘khaja’ – actually, a crispy confection of flour cake, deep-fried and soaked in sugar syrup – peculiar to Orissa.
He had some lovely photographs also on his cell phone to show, including one in which he is seen astride a bicycle on Puri beach.
There were others like Siba Prasad Maitra and Yusuf Rassiwala as well, which was to revive the enthusiasm in preparations for the Club’s Annual Day function. However, it appears that instead of September 3, the date for the event will have to be pushed to the following Saturday, i.e. September 10.
This would enable participants (read ‘performing artistes’) to prepare themselves better and have joint rehearsals with one another .
Some technical issues on the lights and sound system also need to be ironed out. A final call on the date however, remains to be taken.
Meanwhile, the ladies and particularly, kids are going full throttle on the singing and dance rehearsals. This motely group has been meeting in the China Hut every evening for the past few days, come rain or sunshine, and are working on their parts, much to the delight of onlookers in the Garden.
If anything, this should revive childhood memories in many -- of the rehearsals they might have been part of during their school and college days.

Friday, August 19, 2016

What a Relief!

ONE WITH NATURE: Back to our old stomping ground
After more than a month of exercising in the dark, musty confines of the China Hut, we finally got a reprieve today. The rains had subsided, the weather had improved – it was neither sunny nor wet. There were still some clouds hovering above,
Swati Panjabi (in brown slacks) extends invite for packed puri-bhaaji breakfast
but we took our chances and returned to our old stomping ground in the Garden.
What a relief it was!
We were greeted by a passing shower, but that did not last beyond a couple of minutes. The skies cleared soon after and a gentle breeze blew across. That apart, the liberating feeling of openness in the Garden lawns with beautiful, rain-washed greenery around provided the much-needed mood booster for the exercises. We were one with nature.
As an added bonus, Swati Panjabi came up with home-prepared breakfast boxes at the end of the exercises. The (masala) puri-bhaji is something she excels in, a taste of which many of us have already savoured. But it was the surprise element about it that endeared her all the more. There was no reason for her to lavish such a sumptuous treat on us today.
But then, that is Swati Panjabi: enormously warm-hearted, selfless and generous to a fault.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

‘Angel in Disguise’

From left: Shekhawat, Mumtaz Jahan, Vandana Kankanwar and Rakhi Bansi
Surprises do not cease at Big Laaf. Every morning we are treated to something new or refreshing that would break the monotony of our daily Garden routine.
But rarely does an occasion arise when we would come face to face with an unexpected incident that warms the cockles of our heart – as it happened today.
Vandana Kankanwar, a former (and to many, a forgotten) member of the Club, had turned up unannounced after the exercises with a bouquet of flowers and a box of besan luddoos.
She wanted to share her joy with us upon her son Tejas securing admission in the prestigious IES College of Architecture, Bandra.
More importantly, she wanted to publicly thank and felicitate Mumtaz Jahan for making this happen.
“Were it not for her, my boy would not be studying architecture today,” said Vandana. “His application for admission had been rejected by the college authorities and he was on a loose end
Vandana celebrates with besan luddoos
Mallika shares nankhatai from Surat
as we could not afford the exorbitant capitation fees. That was when Rakhi (Bansi) suggested I take Mumtaz Jahan’s help. No sooner did she intervene than my son received a call from the college to resubmit his papers. I have not seen God, but this lady has come to me as farishta, an angel in disguise.”
Tickled pink, Mumtaz narrated how the college initially refused to reconsider their request for admission till she decided to throw her weight as vice-president of the Maharashtra State Council of the International Human Rights Protection Council (ref post August 2). She showed the college officials the rule book and demanded that Vandana’s son be admitted under the EWS (economically weaker section) quota. “Not only he, three other applicants who had been turned down, were recalled and given admission under the same quota,” Mumtaz added.
Suitably impressed, Shekhawat quickly slipped in a request: Why doesn’t she get us the permission for our annual function?
Lt Col Angad Singh (from Mohali):
When you help someone deserving in any manner, the joy is doubled. You might have to throw your weight around to get the result. But it cannot be helped because without that, success is not possible. It is also very delightful to know that three more candidates could get admission. Three cheers for our 'good laaf' Club.