Saturday, September 20, 2014

Laaf by the Sea

At 7:00 a.m. sharp, four cars left the Garden gate and in less than 15 minutes, deposited its' 20-odd passengers on Juhu Beach. The weather was pleasant – dark and cloudy, but quite breezy and more importantly, the sea was in high tide.
Exercises in progress
The waves rolled onto the shore, stopping short of the circle we had formed for our exercises this morning.
Wah!” Sitaram Hivarkar exclaimed.
Salutations to the sea
“How often do you get to enjoy such wonderful weather? We are so close to home and never before has it struck us to come here in the morning. We must come here more often.”
Indeed, this was a world by itself with beautiful young men and women (some with handsome dogs) jogging and walking past, skirting around and giving us the thumbs up in acknowledgment of our presence.
All fun and games...
An elderly couple (obviously foreigners) stood by watching us as we went through the regular drill of laughter and free-hand exercises. A young lady in leotards half-way joined us, but was dissuaded by her companion.
Lavish breakfast spread
Soon another woman, amused by what we were doing, interrupted her walk, clicked photographs on her mobile and sped away.
Srichand Arora conducted the exercises, but could not stay long as he was committed elsewhere. That was when the picnic baskets were opened, courtesy Mallika Kagzi and Razia Khan – ladles of lip-smacking keema with different types of bread, two varieties of veg noodles, packets and packets of biscuits, hot tea, fresh fruits, cold drinks… properly served in paper plates and cups with paper napkins and hand sanitizer. What more could we have asked for?
Mallika Kagzi is helped out of water
Santosh Tyagi and Nahid Khan
Building sand-castles?
Thanksgiving, for a morning well spent
And then the fun began. Santosh Tyagi announced she’d be getting in the water. “What is the point of coming to Juhu Beach if I don’t wet my feet?” she reasoned.One by one, all the ladies followed and the “wetting of feet” turned into an orgy of tomfoolery and madness out in the sea – the ladies gamboling raucously like kids what with Bhanu Appa singing her lungs out, Santosh breaking into smart Michael Jackson moves, Bhaswati and Razia screaming and shouting while wave after wave lashed at them till suddenly Mallika, unable to hold herself, collapsed in a heap in the water. Luckily, no damage was done, except for a few bruised egos.A beach bum, standing at a distance, advised the ladies: “Amma log, you were not supposed to have gone out there!”

Friday, September 19, 2014

Grim Shadow

Exercises continue amid uncertainties 
Shekhawat is in two minds on tomorrow's picnic
The weather gods have cast a huge shadow on our Juhu picnic tomorrow (ref yesterday’s post). Suddenly, for no reason, the skies were overcast this morning and we had to exercise close to the China Hut amid a steady drizzle. Many regulars, including Srichand Arora, Monthi Serrao and Santosh Tyagi did not show up, obviously fearing the worst.
Luckily, we were spared a cloudburst and managed to complete the exercises without event. But a niggling concern remained uppermost in our minds: What if the bad weather persists till tomorrow? Will it be feasible to set out on a picnic in these conditions? Rather, would it be advisable. While Shekhawat, Razia Khan and a few others declared that come what may, we must go on the picnic tomorrow, many were not too sure.
“Even if nobody goes, I shall go,” Razia said valiantly. “Anyone wanting to join me is welcome. If not, it is still fine by me. From Monday I would be away in Pune. This will be my last chance to enjoy Mumbai's departing monsoon.”
“Should I get breakfast?” inquired Mallika Kagzi. “Believe me, it is absolutely no problem organising breakfast for everyone. It will be enjoyable having something to munch on by the sea after the exercises. After all, what is a picnic if there is nothing to eat?”
Shekhawat was caught between the devil and the Arabian Sea. On the one hand, he had realized that the timing was all wrong for the picnic and that chances were it could rain whales and sharks on Juhu Beach tomorrow morning. On the other hand, he could not overlook the enthusiasm of some members, knowing that cancelling the trip at this juncture would be a bigger dampener than any thundershower.
Finally he took a call: “We will all assemble in the Garden as usual at 7:00 a.m. tomorrow. If it rains, we shall drop the picnic idea. If the weather is fine, we will pile into cars and the rest of us will take autorickshaws. All depends on the weather tomorrow morning.”
Srichand Arora:
I may not be joining Juhu picnic and / or laughter in the Garden due to some domestic work. Sorry.
Jagmohan Papneja:
Juhu beach is most famous for its street food and local elegance. They offer excellent meal and snack items. The question is whether anything will be available to eat in early morning.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Interim Picnic

Monthi Serrao excuses herself due to prior commitments  
Shekhawat has finally succumbed to mounting pressure in the Club on taking a picnic out locally. The last outing was seven months back (Kerala) and the next one is scheduled seven months hence (to Darjeeling). Besides, it has been ages since he had taken us out somewhere in the city. So upon the insistence of some seniors this morning, he agreed to an outing at Juhu Beach on September 20, i.e. Saturday.
“We shall set out at 7:00 a.m. in whatever transport available and do laughing on Juhu Beach,” he announced. “Four or five cars should take care of all of us to and fro. If not, some of us will have to take autorickshaws. For a change we’d do our exercises by the sea and after that, we will have breakfast nearby if possible. Or else, we’d come straight back.”
The impromptu programme took many by surprise, but nobody resisted. Monthi Serrao however, had some reservations as she is already committed elsewhere on Saturday.
Yusuf Rassiwala takes guard for today's exercises
Moreover, she would much rather connect with her friends at the Juhu Laughter Club in advance so that they could host us for the morning. Three years back we had played hosts when they visited us in the Garden.
But then, as many were to say, that can always be kept for the future should we be invited and it is better we do not impose ourselves on them. For the present, we are merely seeking a change of venue for our routine exercises and in that sense this will not be a picnic proper. “The more we keep planning and mobilizing people, the bigger the chances of things fizzling out,” Shekhawat noted.
Monthi agreed with this logic and gracefully urged that on her account the picnic should not be postponed or cancelled. Sunita Jajodia however, got into a minor altercation with Shekhawat when she too wanted to excuse herself because of some shraadh in her house this Saturday. Shekhawat just refuses to believe that anybody can ever have shraadh when he organizes a picnic!
Jagmohan Papneja:
So far our exercises were limited to the Garden where 80% of the area is covered by grass. But during the monsoon, we moved to a hard place near the temporary shed to protect ourselves from rain. It has been a different kind of experience. Now a new idea has emerged from Shekhawat-ji to hold a laughter session at Juhu Beach. The beach is a great place for exercising. Enjoy the fresh air, the sounds of the ocean, the sand under your feet... It is an altogether new experience. Thanks to Shekhawat-ji for initiating this idea. Change is always for the better.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In Agony

Sandhya Narang
Sandhya Narang is in pain. She is bed-ridden with multiple fractures, having broken her hip bone and shoulder blade in a freak accident at home. She had to be admitted to the Brahma Kumari hospital (near Andheri Station) in a precarious state and after a month, was discharged recently. According to her friend Vandana Kankanwar, she is out of danger now.
Sandhya happens to be one of our more senior and much adored members, but has always maintained a low profile because of her painfully shy and diffident nature. After the untimely demise of her husband four years back (ref post of September 20, 2010), she had turned even more reclusive and irregular for the exercises.
Lt Col (retd) Harvinder Jauhar
It is a shame we did not notice her absence for the past two months or make any inquiries.
Turns out Sandhya was playing with her dogs (she has two of them) at home when she slipped and fell awkwardly on the floor injuring her hip. She lay immobile groaning in pain, giving the dogs the impression that her falling down with a thud was also part of the fun and games. Playfully the bigger dog jumped on her body, cracking her shoulder instantly. The lady was in no state to defend herself.
Although it would be unfair to disturb Sandhya now as she recuperates, we would, through this blog, convey our concern and wish her a speedy recovery. We know it is agonizing for her to perform routine activities and even stretching out to answer the phone can be excruciatingly agonising. But to her son and daughter at home, we can only say that if there is some way we can be of any use, they must not hesitate to get in touch.
Meanwhile, for the record, Harvinder Jauhar has had to say goodbye to the Club for now as he leaves for his hometown, Meerut today. He isn’t sure when he would return. We wish him also the very best and look forward to his early return.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Back to Place

Inertia comes with age. And sticking to the status quo speaks of multiple insecurities. But for us, to resist leaving the concrete area outside the China Hut (now that the rains are over) and return to a grass surface for the exercises had nothing to do with a fear of the unknown. It had more to do with the fear of keedas.
So today, many put their foot down when Srichand Arora, Shekhawat and other ‘youngsters’ led us to our old stomping ground in the middle of the Garden. The monsoon had left our patch lush green, the grass glistening in the early morning sunshine and it was more airy out there than where we had been exercising till yesterday. But Sunita Jajodia, Mallika Kagzi and a few other ladies refused to budge out of the China Hut. Ved Prakash Grover shuffled across to hang out with his friends, much to Shekhawat’s amusement. Only after we were half-way through the laughter round, did they trickle in one by one.
But their protests did not end there. They found the grass too damp for comfort. The ground was too soggy, they complained. Some looked for booby traps in the form of potholes and jutting stones meant to “disbalance” them. Bhaswati Bose stood apart to exercise, imagining there were snakes and scorpions hiding in the grass. Monthi Serrao was at her wits' end searching for the creepy-crawlies and could not understand why most of the “ghaas-phoos wallahs” (read vegetarians) were afraid of the grass. “No, not the grass,” Kajal Babani exclaimed. “It’s what lies hidden in the grass…” Such was the prevailing paranoia that left to themselves they would have even seen ghosts hanging from every tree in the Garden.
Somehow they survived the morning and also said a thanksgiving prayer in the end. But tomorrow, we shan’t be surprised if some of them come marching in wearing gumboots and helmets… just in case.
Jagmohan Papneja:
We may not admit it, but we are all plagued with fearful tendencies. Due to this reason some of the members did hesitate to go back to the former place for laughter yoga. How can we convince them that there is no need to worry about unknown fear?