Friday, November 28, 2014

Working Picnic

Shekhawat announces picnic to Chhota Kashmir
After extensive discussions over the past two weeks, Shekhawat today concluded that the next picnic from the Club should be at Chhota Kashmir in Aarey Colony on December 6, 2014, i.e. next Saturday. It will also occasion the long-pending general body meeting, followed by a working lunch to celebrate the registration of Big Laaf.
Making a formal announcement in this regard, Shekhawat said that like the last time (ref post of February 15, 2014), we would be hiring autorickshaws to and fro, each unto his own. “We shall all assemble at the gate (of the Garden) and three to each autorickshaw, we will take off at 9:00 a.m. sharp,” he elaborated. “While the travel costs should be met individually, lunch and refreshments will be provided from a common kitty. Non-members cannot be part of this picnic.”
Barely an hour ride away, Chhota Kashmir is a popular weekend getaway for canoodling couples, school children and nature lovers.
Srichand Arora submits resignation
Tucked away from the hustle-bustle of the metropolis, this expansive stretch of forested greenery and water bodies close to Goregaon has served as a picturesque backdrop for many Bollywood movies in the past. It has a beautiful lake also where paddle boats are available on hire.
Last time around, the picnic was initiated by Dilip Babani and it was his idea to hop into autorickshaws instead of booking a bus for the trip. That was when half the members were already on tour in Kerala and many like Shekhawat, Srichand Arora, Monthi Serrao, Yusuf Rassiwala and Arun Patil had missed out on Chhota Kashmir. To an extent, it is for their benefit that this picnic is being organized at the same spot.
Meanwhile, Arora created a flutter this morning by submitting his resignation from Club presidentship. He cited ‘personal reasons’, but everyone knew from where it was coming and nobody took him seriously. Moreover, nobody is technically competent to accept a president’s resignation. Jagmohan Papneja’s sage advice to Arora was to wait for the next meeting and place his resignation letter before the general body for consideration.
Jagmohan Papneja:
By having a picnic and the general body meeting at Chhota Kashmir, we shall kill two birds with one stone. This is a beautiful place. The view of the lake and all the boats is great too. We are really lucky to have such an accessible picnic spot near our area. Surely everybody will enjoy this opportunity.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Tears and Laughter

Geeta Sardana
Nobody knows what transpired between Santosh Tyagi and Geeta Sardana today. All we saw were the two talking together during the exercises, till suddenly Santosh looked like she was on the verge of tears. She turned to Geeta and holding both ears, apologized aloud: “I did a mistake. I am sorry for what I said. Please forgive me!”
A hush fell. It was completely out of character for Santosh to confront anyone. As one of our seniors, she has always conducted herself with grace and dignity – verily a mother figure to most of us. What could have gone wrong suddenly?
Razia Khan and Shekhawat in full flow
The only plausible presumption we could draw was that it had something to do with Srichand Arora ticking off Geeta a few minutes earlier for refusing to wear the Club cap. Incidentally, they are so-called ‘rakhee' siblings and Geeta has been taking undue advantage of this, much to everyone’s annoyance and Arora’s profound unease and helplessness.
Lest the exercises be disrupted, Shekhawat made light of the situation and urged Santosh not to take anything to heart and relax. “We come here every morning to have fun, not to spoil our mood,” added Razia Khan and engaged Shekhawat in a hilarious banter in order to divert Santosh’s attention.
Yusuf's comforting hand brings relief and calm
They teased each other on an imaginary pact over bequeathing all their cash and property in one another’s name till someone remarked that Shekhawat would leave her with only Rs20,000. “So what?” Razia retorted gamely. “Even that is good enough. There’s not much left of our lives anyway?”
“Who told you?” Shekhawat countered. “There’s a lot in store you have no clue about.”
“Oh I see, yeh andar ki baat hai!”
Sunita Jajodia
was Razia’s straight-faced reply.
The double entendre did not escape anyone and Shekhawat turned ecstatic, dancing like a robot around Razia. Their antics finally brought a smile on Santosh, sitting at a distance on a bench. She had excused herself, saying she was “feeling unwell”. So after the exercises, everyone crowded around to console her while Geeta walked away. The most comforting gesture came from Yusuf Rassiwala when he placed his hand quietly over her head and advised her to stay calm. Santosh was so overwhelmed that she held on to his hand and later, much later, went up to Yusuf to thank him for being such a kind soul.
But more than Yusuf, if Santosh had been missing anyone today, it was her trusted friend Sunita Jajodia. She came to the Garden early morning only to see Santosh and left in a hurry as she had a train to catch to Delhi. We wish her a safe and pleasant trip.
Jagmohan Papneja:
The bond that links us is meant to prevent any altercation on trivial issues but to respect and enjoy in one another's lives. Thank you very much, Yusuf-bhai for showing a sense of maturity on consoling Santosh-ji.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Green Fixation

Gupta pleads for presidenship
Bijoy Gupta did not bring any cash or cheque today (ref yesterday’s post). Let alone explain, he went on an offensive, accusing Shekhawat and Srichand Arora of monopolizing Big Laaf to the extent that ladies listen only to them. “Not one lady talks to me, have you noticed?” he charged. “I want to reverse this. I want to break your stranglehold on the Club. The ladies should laugh and chat with me also.”
As Shekhawat and Arora rolled in laughter, Sunita Jajodia valiantly took up for them. “You need to have some quality about yourself for ladies to feel like talking to you. Why do you think they like to hobnob with Shekhawat?”
“Because he is president of the Club,” he replied with child-like naiveté. “Otherwise I also shave in the morning like him, I too wear half pants, I’m even wearing a green T-shirt today…
Razia with green purse
Shekhawat in green dupatta
but still women flock behind Shekhawat.”
“So take the presidentship and give one lakh,” Shekhawat repeated, clearly realizing that the green-eyed monster had got the better of Gupta's mental faculties.
“I am not a fool,” Gupta cried. “There must be a catch somewhere. I want the respect of a president. You will have to garland me, take my photographs, make a very big announcement in Times of India…”
His diatribe continued endlessly, but the “green T-shirt” bit stuck to Arora. He noticed that quite a few members (and non-members as well) had followed his instructions on wearing green on Wednesday and for the benefit of those who did not, he offered to buy them T-shirts. Many thought they would come for free, but when Arora clarified that he would charge for them, demands began mounting: “I don’t like collars”, “I wear only XXX”, “But I like red”, “Get me collarless”…
Shekhawat took the easy way out by draping a green dupatta around him while Razia displayed a matching green money purse if only to prove she was more loyal than the king. What nobody realized was that getting T-shirts for others is doomed for disaster. It almost never works out.
Jagmohan Papneja:
A good idea to wear green clothes/ T-shirts on Wednesdays. No doubt this uniformity will reflect oneness and also create a good impression. At the same time, we need to consider whether any such imposition will keep the joy and happiness among us. This needs to be ascertained from individuals so that they may live the remaining part of their lives as per their choice.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two Much

Jagmohan Papneja's sweets from Delhi
Monthi has sohan halwa from Mangalore
By some strange coincidence, almost every time Jagmohan Papneja gives us a treat, it has to overlap with someone else’s. Today was no different. His box of sweets from a visit to Delhi collided directly with Monthi Serrao’s generous helpings of sohan halwa from a trip to Mangalore. Both rejoined the exercises today. And in effect, we ended up with a double celebration of sorts.
But were these really necessary? Isn’t it time we learnt to say ‘no’ to some of these rather over-generous people who have been treating us at the drop of the hat? Both Jagmohan and Monthi are arguably the most frequent travelers among us and every time they go out of station, we expect them to treat us when they return.
Shekhawat announces Bijoy Gupta's offer of one lakh
This is not fair. For, even otherwise they have been extra obliging -- occasion or no occasion.
There are already others like them who have together spoilt us silly by their munificence. No doubt, they can afford it, but there are quite a few among us who cannot and may find it hard to match up. They have families to whom they are answerable. This only leaves us with a sense of being uncaring and exploitative, not to mention behaving recklessly towards health hazards like excess cholesterol and sugar. The whole purpose of exercise every morning gets defeated.
But then, temptation and greed require no reasoning. So Shekhawat, once again dangled the carrot of ‘club presidentship’ in front of Bijoy Gupta soon after the exercises. He even announced that tomorrow Gupta shall be bringing a cheque of one lakh and a receipt for like amount would be made out in his favour. For once, Gupta neither confirmed nor repudiated the idea. Watch this space.
Bhaswati Bose:
All is fair in sweets and fries. Khatey raho, khilate raho!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Positive Vibes

Playing the fool... as always
Whatever we might do among ourselves within the Club, the impression others get about us appears to be very positive. Why else should people befriend us only to say how much they “admire” us? To them, we are a bunch of oddballs in blue caps who can be so unfailingly regular and dedicated towards the exercises and yet, remain forever cheerful and happy-go-lucky. “If I didn’t have a job to catch, I'd have already joined you,” said an advertising professional who is trying to persuade his wife to join us. Many say that they read more about us (obviously referring to this blog) and that some of our members have even become household names.
Little wonder, new faces keep popping up every other day during the exercises, enquiring about the modalities of membership. Some stick on while many drift away when they realize that there can be no compromise on discipline. Today also, we got two newcomers, a young man and a middle-aged lady. The man, who introduced himself as Prakash, had been observing us from the walking track and finally approached us on his own this morning.
Shiela (seated) exercises happily with us
Like most others before him, he promised to be regular from now on.
The lady, Shiela had come with a caregiver as she is a paraplegic – recovering from a paralytic stroke. Srichand Arora rushed out to bring a chair and seated her comfortably in the circle to exercise as best as she could with the rest of us. She said she had been observing us from a distance for a month, but could not summon the courage to get close, till Razia Khan invited her to join us last week-end. Despite her handicap, her happiness at being in our midst was palpable.
At moments like these, we are led to believe that there is a larger purpose in our meeting every morning for the exercises and (let’s admit it) playing the fool. We call ourselves Big Laaf, but more than having a good time, we are able to transmit our enjoyment to people who could otherwise be leading lonely lives. Nothing on earth can compare to that flush of joy we saw on Shiela’s face today.
Jagmohan Papneja:
There are also visitors who come during a certain period of the year and disappear after some time like seasonal birds. Sardar Teja Singh Bhambra is an honorable exception worth mentioning here. From the time of his association with us, he has made it a point to join us in our activites as and when he visits Mumbai.