Friday, July 28, 2017

Shooting the Breeze

BREATH OF FRESH AIR: Back to exercising in the open
It was a cool and breezy morning. Mercifully, there was no party today. We got some relief from the rains as well. If the met guys are to be believed, a dry spell has set in, which would continue into the first week of August. Little wonder the grass in the Garden had been cropped and we happily vacated the China Hut to exercise in the open.
With normalcy thus returning and not much to do, the mind turned into a ‘picnic workshop’ – the destination this time being Khandala. How and when was this settled is uncertain because till yesterday, Dilip Babani was talking about Lonavala. “Khandala is different from Lonavala,” Shekhawat insisted as he went around asking, “Aati hai Khandala?”
Taken aback, some ladies wanted to know what was there in Khandala.
Shanti Singh (in yellow) is curious about Khandala
“What will we do in Khandala?” Shanti Singh demanded.
Shekhawat was only waiting for this question. Instantly he broke into a jig, singing lustily “Ghoomenge phirenge. Naachenge-gaayenge, Aish karenge, Aur kya?”
Shekhawat is back to his exuberant self, jumping about and playing the fool. There is a marked improvement in his health from the time he was down in the dumps (ref post of June 26) when it had taken
Bhaswati Bose narrates Ghalib joke
the intervention of Siba Prasad Maitra to put him on the rails.
Now again, it has taken Maitra to prevail upon Shekhawat not to risk going on the Bangkok tour (ref post of July 26). “Should god-forbid anything untoward happen, everybody will curse you,” Maitra reasoned. “The entire tour will be ruined.” For once, Shekhawat listened.
Meanwhile, here is an allegorical account on Bengali-Hindi sent by Banoo Apa which had us giggling no end: “A Bengali babu once went to Mirza Ghalib to learn shayari. Ghalib asked the man to repeat after him: ‘Na Gila karte hai, Na Shikwa karte hai.../ Tum Salaamat Raho is Duniya mein/ Yahi Dua karte hai!’ The Bengali babu repeated: ‘Na Geela korta hai, Na Sookha korta hai.../ Tum Saala Mat Raho is Duniya mein, Yehi Dua korta hai’!" Ghalib fainted!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Against Odds

Bunty sings for birthday girl, Razia Khan (foreground) 
It’s getting to be too much of a good thing. For we have lost count of the number of birthday bashes we’ve already had this month. And we were treated to yet another big one today morning.
Razia Khan was not in the best of health today. Yet, she managed to lay out an expansive spread, what with a variety of savories, fries, sweets and cake slices… clearly defying a persistent throat problem that causes her to break into frequent bouts of coughing.
What was even worse, her daughter-in-law Tahira has been detected with kidney stones and is under heavy medication. In spite of being in obvious pain, she popped in a few pills and was present in the morning to usher the birthday of her “best mother, best sister and best friend” – as she put it.
That was not all. Banoo Apa had hurt herself badly yesterday evening from a reckless auto-rickshaw ride that left her with a nasty catch in the waist.
Banoo Apa presents a gift
Siba Prasad Maitra presents birthday calendar
Defying all odds, she made it a point to be there in the Garden for her friend’s birthday and came in limping slowly, lugging two heavy flasks of tea and a personal gift for Razia – the only one to do so!
And then there was our good friend Bunty casting his magical spell and bringing cheer with
Razia with daughter-in-law, Tahira
Poring over the birthday calendar
two evocative songs – one for the birthday girl (Bar bar yeh din aaye… Happy birthday to you!) and the other, for all of us (‘Zindagi bhar nahi bhoolegi woh barsaat ki raat’).
Earlier in the morning, Siba Prasad Maitra did the honors of presenting Razia with her birthday calendar on behalf of the Club. We joined them with singing the birthday song and in true Big Laaf tradition, a fourth laugh was raised for her after the exercises. Once again, here’s wishing Razia Khan many happy returns of the day.
Section of guests at the party
Dilip Babani:
Happy Birthday, Razia-ji.

Geeta Latte:
Happy Birthday, dear Razia Aunty πŸŽ‚πŸ’πŸŽ‚

Siba Prasad Maitra:
Happy Birthday, Razia-ji. Thanks for expressing your desire to receive the calendar from a Bengali. So I got the opportunity, though there were two more Bengalis around, Mr and Mrs Bose. It was indeed a great occasion to celebrate and we enjoyed a lot.

Karun Sharma:
Razia-ji, I missed your party. I wish I could be around to wish you, but you were in my thoughts. May God give you all happiness.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Uncertainty Over

Shekhawat (in green) insists on going to Bangkok-Patayya
The Bangkok Tour is on. All uncertainties over it taking off in November were lifted today when we were informed that more than the requisite minimum of 20 have signed up for the tour. Prominent among them are Kiran Prakash, Bihari Milwani and his wife, Nahid Siddiqui, Pushpa Gupta, Naseem Khan and of course, Bhaswati Bose. They have all paid the advance for their flight tickets, thereby confirming participation.
This is however, the first step in a series of formalities we shall have to abide by for our first overseas tour from the Club. After securing the best airline deal (based on which the exact dates of the trip would be fixed), the next step would be to obtain confirmation on hotel bookings and local travel, both in Bangkok and Pattaya.
There is also the detail of travel insurance and only after that, can we venture into applying for a tourist visa. Clearly, there will be many a slip between the cup and the lip and in the event of rejections/ dropout, a back-up of 10-odd names on a ‘waiting list’ is being drawn up. (In fact, there
The tree falls upon a car (photo courtesy Siba Prasad Maitra)
are many who want to go, given the attractive economics of the tour, but their passports have not yet come through.) Should all go well, the contingent will balloon to 30 members.
In all this, a big question mark hangs over Shekhawat. He was actually the one to have initiated this tour, but his health has let him down of late. It is not even a fortnight since he has come out of a critical medical procedure, but he is now gung ho, eager to go to Bangkok-Patayya. Much as nobody wants to exclude him, prudence (and more importantly, his wife) demands he does not risk his life by going on the trip. A clearance from his doctor (also required for his travel insurance) should settle the matter.
Meanwhile, a tree crashed in the neighborhood due to the rains, causing panic in the Garden. Newspapers and TV are full with reports of people getting crushed to death under falling trees in different parts of the city. Dilip and Kajal Babani rushed home to check. Banoo Apa informed she had to crawl her way through the fallen tree which was blocking her path.
Siba Prasad Maitra has sent us this picture (above left) of the devastation he was witness to early morning.

Geeta Latte:
Best of luck dears... πŸ‘ΌπŸ’πŸ‘

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Surprise Party

Birthday boy, BUNTY
Bunty singing with wife, Priya
Today we got a glimpse of how two beautiful and enormously gifted individuals were drawn together and went on to tie the knot many years ago.
For a while Bunty (a.k.a. Mahendra Singh Thakur) pretended to be Rajesh Khanna and with wife Priya agreeing to do a Mumtaz, together they sang the popular romantic duet of the seventies, ‘Yunhi tum mujhse baat karti ho…
“This was the song I sang for her during our courtship days,” Bunty revealed as he celebrated his birthday this morning.
He had turned 51 last Friday (on July 21), but since the date coincided with Rakhi Bansi’s birthday, he agreed to defer his celebration by four days. Today was the first convenient date available to him as there was no other birthday on in the Club. In this behind-the-scenes planning and organising, Vasudev Batheja played a key role.
Since many in the Club were unaware of all this, Bunty’s treat came as a pleasant surprise to most.
Vasudev Batheja
Banoo Apa for one, had brought a box of rose-flavoured mawa barfi (a rarity these days) little knowing that Bunty had already lined up a rich spread of savories that included saboo-dana wada, samosa, pedas, muffins… and of course, tea.
Banoo Apa cheerfully explained her treat as a measure of prolonging Yusuf Rassiwala’s 70th anniversary celebrations from Sunday (ref yesterday’s post). Her husband, Dr Muhammed Farooq Khan also graced the occasion.
Arnav stands tall in the middle
Another big bonus of the morning was that we got to meet Bunty’s son, Arnav. He is a bright college kid
Banoo Apa treats us to mawa barfi
preparing for an MBA course. But today, he was his mother’s right-hand man, helping with preparing the plates and attending to guests. He has a sister, younger to him. We would hopefully get to meet all of them together some day. Meanwhile, here’s wishing Bunty and his wonderful family the very best.
The party spills out on the street
Bhaswati Bose:
Belated Happy Birthday, Bunty. We have had many birthday parties, but this was the first time the birthday boy and his wife sang together for us. Their melodious duet made our day.

Kiran Prakash:
Belated Happy Birthday, dear Bunty. It was indeed a musical birthday party today. May God shower his blessings and both of you continue to progress in your personal and professional journey.

Yusuf Rassiwala:
Bunty-ji, thank you very much for inviting our Big Laaf members to your birthday party. We all really enjoyed it very much. It was very pleasant to hear your duet song with your beautiful wife, Priya. Lovely couple, lovely song and melodious voice. A graceful combination. With all good wishes to you and your family. ALLAH BLESS YOU ALL.

Geeta Latte:
Happy Birthday to you, Mr Bunty πŸŽ‚πŸ’

Bunty Thakur:
I'm priveleged to be a part of this group. Thank you, everyone.

Dilip Babani:
Happy Birthday, Bunty-ji.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Baap of all Parties

Yusuf Rassiwala
Dilip Babani skipped dinner last night. An unabashed foodie, he took us by surprise when he declared this morning that he was on a starvation diet. “I have had only one biscuit and a cup of tea in the morning
Sharing a private moment with guests
and that too, to go along with my diabetes pills,” he informed.
Dilip was not the only one to have denied himself even a morsel of food since attending Yusuf Rassiwala’s grand luncheon party at Courtyard Restaurant yesterday. Such was the irresistible array of starters and beverages on offer, not to mention the mind-boggling variety on the main course that most of us, if not all, had perforce retired to bed last night without dinner. We were stuffed to the gills.
Yusuf R had booked the entire ground floor of the restaurant to host what was a combination of his annual Eid party and birthday celebration. He turned 70 yesterday.
Panoramic view of the party hall
More than 80 invitees turned up to felicitate him, 45 of them members and their spouses as well as friends of Big Laaf. They included Bunty and wife Priya, Vasudev Batheja, Harish and Geetika Wadhwa, Dr Farooq Muhammed Khan, Devraj Das and some others.
So overwhelmed was Yusuf R’s wife, Niloufer at the massing of so many guests that she could not hold back her tears.
Niloufer turns emotional
“All I ask of you is to continue giving my husband your
Cutting the 70th birthday cake
love, blessings and good wishes and to pray for his good health and happiness…” she said on the PA system before breaking down sobbing. She could not complete the sentence.
The programme for the afternoon was phased out in three stages:
Intros: Welcoming of guests with Yusuf R making his introductory remarks: “I have two families, both equally dear to me. One comprises my wife, my two beautiful bahus and my two able sons, my lovely grandchildren and the entire Rassiwala clan, its offshoots… and the other is my Big Laaf family
Morning after... today
in the Garden with whom I cannot
Kajal Babani presents the Club Calendar
but begin my day every morning…”
Entertainment: On demand, Bunty took charge of the mike with a series of foot-tapping film songs (Harish providing the karaoke score in the background) followed by Priya Thakur and thereafter Siba Prasad Maitra, Banoo Apa, Bijoy Gupta, Vasudev Batheja and the usual suspects.
A proud and blessed family
Razia Khan compered this segment with aplomb, peppering her lines with trademark witticisms and Urdu couplets.
Cake Cutting: This was the time for the kids in the hall to scramble around Yusuf R as he cut his birthday cake to the strains on ‘Happy Birthday to You’ playing full-blast on the music system. Suddenly the music stopped as Kajal Babani weaved her way through the crowd and with some ceremony presented Yusuf R the Club calendar to the popping of cell-phone flashes. The action thereafter shifted to the lunch area and it was not without a beautiful perfume roll-on bottle as ‘return gift’ did the guests leave the premises.
It was this attention to detail and more importantly, the personal courtesies accorded to every guest that made this party stand out. Every person was made to feel a VIP. Given the numbers and the scale of the do, it was no mean task ensuring that there was no room for any complaint -- all thanks to the host and his wonderful family. Long live all of them!

Bihari Milwani:
When is Niloufer Rassiwala attaining the landmark of 70 years so that we get one more chance to enjoy such a party?

Dilip Babani:
Yusuf-bhai, it was a very very nice party. Lovely food, lovely people and lovely atmosphere. Lovely music with nice song and nice dance. Our Big Laaf family members enjoyed every moment of the party. Bunty-ji, Priya-ji, Banoo Apa, Maitra-ji, Gupta-ji, Razia-ji and the entire Rassiwala family made the party very, very nice. Harish-ji's music system made the party more enjoyable. Thanks Yusuf-bhai, for such a lovely and fantastic party. Happy birthday, once again.

Geeta Latte:
Bestest party ever πŸ‘†πŸ‘ŒπŸŽ‚! ! !

Karun Sharma:
Yusuf-bhai proved that he is a great host. He took care of everyone and ensured that everyone receives the best attention. Rightly said, this was 'baap of all parties' and it was was thrown by the Baap of Big Laaf. Another noticeable thing was the time plan was in place and the span of 12 to 3 was perfect. Whistling by Dilip during songs reminded me of my college days. Geeta and Dev were busy with the video coverage. Both of them are extremely warm and beautiful siblings.

Lt Col Angad Singh (retd):
Yusuf-bhai, congrats for entering into the age of a revered group. Wishing you a very happy, healthy and long enjoyable innings. I wish I could be there to felicitate you in person. God bless you all.

Yusuf Rassiwala:
I am thankful to all the members of Big Laaf for attending my birthday party. The party was organised with the help of our club members -- Dilip-saab and Kajal-ma'm, Harish-bhai for his music system... I also thank Razia-ma'm for compering the programme in such a nice and professional way. Last but not the least, our friends Mr and Mrs Bunty (Mahendrabhai) along with Vasudev Bhateja who took to playback singing, attracting all to the dance floor. Blog Monster was at his best capturing the beautiful moments. It was completely the joint effort of all members that accounts for the party's success. Once again I thank all the members and guests for showing their affection and love to me and my family. Bihari-sa'ab will have to wait for 5 years for Niloufer's 70th birthday. I will be 75 years then -- my Golden Jubilee. With all good wishes and love. ALLAH BLESS YOU ALL.

Intekhab Alam Khan:
Belated Happy Birthday, Yusuf Uncle.