Monday, May 02, 2016

Ghostly Tales

Shekhawat left on April 19 to attend the last rites of a relative in his village in Rajasthan. He cremated two other people and returned to the Garden this morning with a load of ghostly tales from the village.
The one to have freaked him out most was about a neighbour he had known rather closely. “He was a clerk in the district court and by village standards, was doing quite well for himself,” Shekhawat narrated. “He made around Rs3,000 every day from typing applications for litigants. On that fateful day, he left home as usual in the morning and thereafter, for some mysterious reason, abandoned work and disappeared.”
It seems when the man did not return home at night, a ‘search party’ from the village went out and traced his footsteps from his place of work.
No Laughing Matter: Shekhawat speaks of his Rajasthan trip
“They crossed four wells on the way and landed on a fifth well where three people had committed suicide earlier. The villagers found his body inside. Now tell me, if a man had to leap to death, why did he have to leave the four wells behind and die here? Obviously the ghosts of the earlier deceased were beckoning him.”
Another spooky tale Shekhawat recounted was of a wealthy neighbour who had apparently everything going for himself. “His son is settled in Italy and sends Rs150,000 by bank transfer every month. He owned two buses that were let out on hire, not to mention several cars in his garage. One fine morning this man was found hanging from the ceiling. Nobody can explain why.”
Shekhawat concedes that the incredible summer heat in Rajasthan has made people’s “buddhi bhrasht”. But he is also convinced that there are higher powers at play driving perfectly sane and otherwise happy people into taking the extreme step. He makes no secret of his belief that a certain chudail residing in his village is behind all this and claims to have even caught sight of the apparition once. When asked how it looked, his reply was succinct: “It is neither male nor female!”
Lt Col Angad Singh (from Mohali):
Ghostly tales have been prevalent in the past, especially in villages. At times to frighten children, someone would act as a chudail or play similar antics. However, this had ill-effects on those children in later life. The incidents narrated by Shekhawat have its own harrowing history. Our sympathies are with the bereaved families. May they have the courage to bear the loss of their beloved ones.
Kiran Prakash:
I am happy Shekhawat-ji has come back to Mumbai and is out of sight of those village ghosts and chudails. But what surprises me now is the ghost appearing in today's blog. Is it the same one which Shekhawat-ji is describing or the Blog Monster's discovery? This story needs to be buried forever before the entire Garden is haunted by it!
Dilip Babani:
We need to be careful as there are already chudails in our Garden. They have reversed feet and hunt for dinner and lunch. These ghosts and chudails are roaming free in the form of beautiful girls and women. Those who are scared need to put on a tabeej from some tantric baba like Asaram Bapu.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Day 1962

Pic of the Week
This was all thanks to Razia Khan, Bhaswati Bose and Kajal Babani. We enjoyed a lot. The new Recreation Committee, headed by Bhaswati, kept its promise of holding a Housie session on the last Saturday of every month. This is the only committee, out of six, which has started delivering. I am sure, it will continue. The other five committees, including that of mine - revenue generation, too have to be visible. --Kiran Prakash

Everyone enjoyed the Housie. Razia-ji conducted the session nicely while Kiran-ji and Kajal-ji helped in selling the tickets. Thereafter, we had a singing session and ate cream biscuits. The half-hour passed quickly without any tension. Everybody had a lot of fun. --Dilip Babani

Friday, April 29, 2016

New Milestone

In the mad crossfire of comments on yesterday’s ‘terrorists’ (see post), we had missed out on one small but significant detail. The number of hits on this blog has quietly crept past the half-million mark. At the time of today’s post, the counter alongside read 5,00,119 page views – a major milestone for any blog on health and wellness from India.
We can only thank the many hundreds of our readers, members and followers across India and around the globe for their abiding support and encouragement. When we started out in 2010, it was beyond our wildest dream that we would ever reach this point. After all, why should anybody in some far-flung corner of the country – let alone world – be ever interested
Another happy morning in the Garden
in the antics of a group of senior citizens meeting every morning in Lokhandwala, Mumbai, ostensibly to enjoy a good laugh? We are all on the last lap of our lives, none of us are celebrities… nobody even knows us outside our immediate circle of friends and yet, dear reader, you have persisted with us. For that, we shall remain ever grateful.
We would like to also believe that a reason for the sustenance of this blog is its regularity. Rarely has a day gone by in the past six years when there has been no update/ post. This has doubtless helped build a strong and loyal readership base. But six years is also a long time. Fatigue sets in. It may no longer be possible to sustain the blog on a regular basis and as such, it would appear only off and on. In other words, it shall cease to be a daily blog henceforth. This has become all the more necessary for another reason. It should hopefully dispel all doubts/ suspicion about a financial motive/ interest in running this blog.
Once again, thank you EVERYBODY.
Kiran Prakash:
Congratulations on hitting the 5,00,000 mark. Blog Monster, you have created history. Unbelievable, unimaginable. Credit goes only to you and your reporting -- continuous, uninterrupted for the last six years. Reporting, which has been factual to the core and fearless to the extent that inspite of being threatened, you did not compromise. 5,00,000 hits is readers' reward to you. Kudos!
Dilip Babani:
Congratulations and god bless, Blog Monster. With you, the Big Laaf family will grow and grow... and grow.
Lt Col Angad Singh (from Mohali):
Blog Monster deserves not only a big congratulation but also a big laaf for crossing the big milestone of 500,000 hits. It is a unique opportunity for celebrating. We are sure Blog Monster will continue to keep us glued to the blog by his sincere, witty and eagerly awaited reporting of the Club, especially for those like me sitting far away. It makes us feel we are still part of the activities of the Club.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Kajal Babani (l) and Bhaswati Bose
In the new dispensation under Mallika Kagzi, the Club is witnessing a major transformation. Absenteeism has dropped dramatically. Attendance hovers around a healthy 30 or so on any given day. Ram Shankar Shukla, Yusuf Rassiwala, Mumtaz Jahan and many others who were not-so-regular earlier, are reporting before time these days and hanging around long after the exercises are over. Clearly, the mood is upbeat. “There is so much shanti now,” is the common refrain.
Many would like to attribute this easy bonhomie to the absence of restrictions (in the name of discipline) and the freewheeling manner exercises are conducted, peppered with lighthearted banter and random leg-pulling. The jokes narration after the exercises is proving to be another big draw (ref post of April 23) what with Bhaswati Bose and Kajal Babani dominating the session. They are supposed to be repositories of Internet jokes and have become huge crowd magnets for their style of delivery and the variety on offer.
All for a laaf!
“From tomorrow both should come prepared with five-five jokes each,” demanded Dilip Babani when the ladies ran out of their stock of jokes today.
But appearances can be deceptive. Behind their cheery exterior, Kajal and Bhaswati are known to nurse a mischievous streak that can scare the daylights out of an unsuspecting murga (as they describe their victims). Ask Siba Prasad Maitra. On occasion, he has been taken by surprise by their practical jokes and has had to counter them with equally effective (if somewhat misplaced) rejoinders. Kiran Prakash is another. Having been a victim earlier, he too is always on his guard and must rely on his ready wit and presence of mind to save himself from potentially awkward situations. There are others as well (women included) who are aware of the consequences of letting their guard down when Kajal and Bhaswati are around.
That these two peaceful looking ladies are capable of terrorizing people by their antics is by itself a joke.
Kiran Prakash:
I cannot figure what these two ladies, Kajal Babani and Bhaswati Bose are up to. In spite of having their husbands in the Garden, they are together so mischievous and always looking for a potential murga. Individually though, they are harmless. I will team up with Maitra-ji and devise a strategy to ensure that they don't see eye to eye.
Siba Prasad Maitra:
Dear Kiran-ji, why do you want to team up with me when I am most irregular to the Garden? You are saying both the ladies are harmless. Then why to worry? Have courage and face them boldly. I will be behind you.
Kiran Prakash replies:
Dear Maitra-ji, let us fix days when both of us will be present in the Garden. And please be on my side, not behind me. Please also do not encourage terrorism.
Kiran Prakash adds:
I have known Maitra-ji since the last 30 years. He has never supported anti-social elements. He has always been very cordial to me. I am sure, his mind has been polluted by these two innocent looking, terrorist ladies. I am surprised. He will regret later for supporting these elements.
By the way, I am not feeling too well -- having fever, cough and cold. I feel, I should take rest for a few days.
Bhaswati Bose:
Kiran Prakash retorts:
This is getting a little too far. I will approach the Anti-Terrorist Squad. There has to be complete peace and harmony in the Club. Two ladies cannot take control of the Club.
Siba Prasad Maitra:
You are right Kiran-ji. I will be there tomorrow. But if you are not well and don't come, it will be difficult for me to manage alone. Get well soon.
Lt Col Angad Singh (from Mohali):
The hidden aspect of big time terrorism of these two young ladies was unknown to all of us. Was this simmering behind the cult of discipline imposed by the earlier Managing Committee? Unleashing it now proves that the ladies can hide any secret for a long time innocently -- which is contrary to popular belief.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Morning Melody

Bunty Bhai holds his audience spellbound
For a change today, the morning was filled with lilting melody and pure nostalgia. Instead of just jokes, we had a couple of singers from the Garden joining us in the post-exercise session and on request, rendering a few yesteryear hits that could only leave us asking for more.
Vasudev Bhateja is of course, a familiar voice to all, having earned the reputation of a flawless Mukesh soundalike. But oddly enough, he started out with a vintage Kishore Kumar number today -- Mere mehboob qayamat hogi from Mr X in Bombay (1964).
Happy Birthday, Shekhawat
Hearing him from a distance, a young man in red T-shirt abandoned his workout and came up to us to pitch some more chartbusters – the most haunting one being the Mohammad Rafi classic, Abhi na jaao chhod kar from Hum Dono (1961).
Mallika announces Housie
Turns out that Bunty Bhai is a professional singer, having an orchestra group of his own and is known to several members of Big Laaf.
The bigger event of the day though, was Nafisa Sayyed’s visit to the Garden. It is more than two years since she had shifted to Pune and looked as cheerful and sprightly as we saw her last. She however, complained of a worsening diabetes condition, which might necessitate an eye surgery.
Luddoos from Nafisa Sayyed
Otherwise, she maintained that all is hunky-dory with her, the family business (in textile trade) is expanding (“We have three shops now in Pune”) and that she had come with a box of luddoos to share her happiness with us. She said she would be returning to Pune tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Mallika Kagzi announced that a Housie Session is being organized in the China Hut on Saturday, April 30 soon after the exercises and that it would be open to non-members also. A revenue-generation initiative, she explained that “Housie shall henceforth be a regular feature of the Club and be held on the last Saturday of every month”. She would however, be away at Surat from April 29 and not be able to attend the first session this weekend.
In all this, we had clean forgotten that it was Shekhawat’s birthday today. We usually raise an extra laugh on every member’s birthday – but probably, it would have been inappropriate for Shekhawat as he is presently in mourning, attending the last rites of his brother-in-law (sister’s husband) in Rajasthan. Nevertheless, through this blog, we wish him a long, healthy and cheerful life as always.
Kiran Prakash:
* What is there in this group for people to keep coming back even when they are on a short visit to the city? Nafisa's visit this morning only speaks of the love, affection and trust she shares with the members. Big Laaf continues to surprise me. This is a new- found love for me. I pray it stays like this.
* I wish Hari-ji a very happy birthday and many happy returns of the day. Pray for his long, healthy and happy life.
Bihari Milwani:
Gupta-ji, your president is proceeding on leave. Seize the reins and issue an ordinance: The uniform for Housie (to be played on Saturday) would be half-pants, both for ladies and gents. There must be no discrimination on caste, creed or gender.
Lt Col Angad Singh (from Mohali):
* Big Laaf has a strong magnetic field. It attracts people sitting miles away. It is this magnetism that keeps everyone together. I wish the club and its members long life. Happy Birthday to Hari Shekhawat.
* Change is the spice of life. Be it Housie or the joining of an old member for a day or so, it revives memories which we all cherish.