Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Dugout

The dugout outside the China Hut
Santosh Tyagi invites the Club for Ganesh Puja
Like in cricket, a dugout has come up on the periphery of the area where we exercise – except that, unlike IPL matches, our dugout is meant solely for those who cannot stand for too long while exercising. Plastic chairs are laid out for them, just in case they would like to be seated and still roll their heads or throw their arms around with the others.
The current regulars for these little white ‘thrones’ are Ved Prakash Grover, Sunita Jajodia and Ruksana Khan – all suffering from chronic knee issues. They need the rest. Today Santosh Tyagi became a new addition as she came into the Garden with measured steps and straightaway took a chair in the dugout. Apparently, she had suffered a bad knock at home, hurting her back. It seems she misjudged the sofa while sitting down and landed on a sharp edge.
But Santosh had a reason to visit us in spite of the physical agony. She is having Ganesh Puja at home and wanted us all to be there. So touched was Yusuf Rassiwala that he couldn’t help remarking why she had taken the trouble to come to the Garden. “You should have asked Ganapati-ji to come instead,” he quipped.
While on physical afflictions, here’s what might unfortunately read as a Medical Bulletin:
* Ghasi Ram Garg is out of coma at Kokilaben Hospital. According to wife Neelam, there has been “marked improvement” since the time he was admitted with brain hemorrhage (ref post of August 9). He can now sit up and recognize people – but cannot speak.
* Ram Shankar Shukla is fit and fine and was spotted walking around Lokhandwala Market. On August 23 (see post) he had suffered a mild fainting fit while exercising and had to be escorted home. Shekhawat is monitoring his health on phone.
* Mrs Harbans Kaur has been running high fever with chest congestion (ref post of August 20) the cause of which remains unclear. According to Monthi Serrao, her condition had turned so bad that she was almost hospitalized. The trouble is that her husband and grandson are also down with fever.
* Arun Patil was discharged day-before-yesterday from Prabhakar Shetty Hospital where he was undergoing treatment for an ugly sore below his little toe that had turned gangrenous (ref post of August 21). Pieces of broken bones had to be removed, rendering the toe lifeless. Arun has a diabetic foot.
Our prayers go to all of them.
Jagmohan Papneja:
God has answered our prayers for the recovery of our fellow members. May God bless all those who are going through a rough patch in life.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mahabaleshwar Next

MAHABALESHWAR: highest hill station in Maharashtra
It’s just over a fortnight since our last excursion to Lonavala (ref post of August 9). And today, Shekhawat has come up with a new trip, to Mahabaleshwar. “It shall be a three-day picnic, beginning September 16,” he announced. “The bus will pick us from the Garden at 7:00 a.m. sharp and drop us back here on September 18 evening. We’ll cover all the scenic spots and main points of Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.”
Anybody observing Shekhawat closely for the past fortnight would have known this was coming. Not for once has he changed his multi-pocket greenish-brown shorts during this period.
Santosh Tyagi
He has many other shorts (and a pair of dark blue track pants as well), but every time there’s ‘picnic’ ticking in his head, this greenish-brown shorts never leaves him. There’s some magic in those shorts which has ensured that all past trips, be it Lonavala or Kerala, Vaishno Devi or Himachal Pradesh has worked out well.
But then, the credit for sowing the Mahabaleshwar idea must go to Santosh Tyagi.
There's magic in those green-brown shorts!
She had visited Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar with her family during the Independence Day-weekend (see post of August 19) and since then has been singing paens over the twin hill-stations. That was just the trigger Shekhawat had needed to get cracking and now, within a week he has firmed up on the programme with Hotel Hill View and his trusted bus operators, Tour India.
The best part about the trip is the economics. Shekhawat has been able to negotiate a fabulous deal with the hotel which should take care of not only stay (in deluxe rooms on a twin-sharing basis), but also meals, sightseeing and local transport – all for a price that would make a Lonavala trip seem exorbitant. The hotel would have also provided the bus from Mumbai and back (as part of its package), but there too Shekhawat has been able to economise by drawing Tour India in. In effect, the Mahabaleshwar trip comes at a price offer that will be hard for any of us to refuse.
No wonder, Shekhawat refuses to shed those greenish-brown shorts!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Movie Shoot

Shooting in progress
We all got to be two-bit actors today. This was for a movie no one had any clue about, even as Jagmohan Papneja had sounded us in advance. Additionally, Shekhawat reminded everyone to be in their best attire and appearance for the shoot.
Shekhawat conducts laughter exercises for the camera
People not belonging to the Club were also invited. Extra caps were kept ready for them if only to give the impression that we were collectively united by a common headgear.
So there we were – nearly 30 of us – nattily dressed, capped, powdered and perfumed, ready for the shoot. The laughter round got over with no sign of the film crew. For the main exercises, Razia Khan stepped in the middle amid grudging noises from the likes of Nahid Khan. Everyone wanted to be in centre-frame for the film. But Razia had no luck. Eventually, during the second laughter round, a young man with a camcorder and a girl walked in.
Jagmohan readies for his shoot
Soon, they were joined by another girl.
Earlier on, Shekhawat had been  invited to conduct this round and sure enough, he was in his elements -- lustily clapping, laughing and jiving for the camera. It listlessly whirred, zoomed and panned… and suddenly it was all over. Or so we thought. For, as the yoga group settled in the China Hut, the actual shoot began. One by one, we were tutored to say, “Mera poora bharosa hai…” (followed by any rubbish) for the benefit of the camera. Without a second thought, we mouthed the line little realizing that we had unwittingly provided valuable sound-bites for stock footage, patently meant for a commercial. Now nothing stops this ‘film unit’ from splicing the clips as an endorsement for any product or service without spending a rupee on studio rentals, actors fees, equipment hire, permissions, etc. Big Laaf has generously provided it all for free.
We wish we can be proved wrong. But till then, don’t be surprised if you see a smiling Monthi Serrao or Yusuf Rassiwala showing up at the end of a TV commercial, plugging a health product, cockroach repellant, skin ointment, detergent, insurance policy, just about anything… with the catch phrase, “Mera poora bharosa hai!” delivered with aplomb and complete conviction.
Bhaswati Bose:
Just a suggestion: If and when there is a shoot involving Big Laaf members by outsiders, we ought to charge them and the money should go to the club fund. This would be a way to generate revenue for the club.
Harish Wadhwa:
Bhaswati-ji, you forgot snacks and chai, which are also a must for the hard work we put in for such shoots. LOL
Monthi Serrao:
I agree with Bhaswati's suggestion. We give our valuable morning time to them and the money should go to BIG LAAF.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Noble Deed

The wheelchair is wheeled into the Garden
For all our madcap antics and wayward behaviour, we were able to claim some credit today for a good deed done – thanks entirely to Jagmohan Papneja. As secretary of the Club, he was under pressure to provide a wheelchair for Sitaram Hivarkar’s wife. The latter is down with a crippling knee problem, making it almost impossible for her to walk. As Sitaram has to attend to her from early morning, his exercise routine had gone for a toss.
Being the proverbial good samaritan and also, fully aware of the financial constraints of the Club, Jagmohan did the next best thing. He went around looking for someone who would donate a wheelchair to the Club.
Mr and Mrs Sitaram Hivarkar
Eventually, he zeroed in on a retired director from the Geological Survey of India in Lucknow who was on a short visit to Mumbai.
Virendra Mohan’s daughter is physically challenged and uses a wheelchair. Last week, she packed her bags and left for Delhi, leaving the wheelchair behind in Mumbai. Apparently, she has no more use for it as she has another wheelchair for herself in Delhi.
On Jagmohan’s request, Virendra Mohan turned up at the Garden this morning and delivered the wheelchair.
Jagmohan with Virendra Mohan
“My daughter will be only too happy if this could come to anybody’s help,” he said with extreme humility. “Otherwise this will just lie unutilized here, gathering dust. Tomorrow, I shall be going back to Lucknow.”
Sitaram was not present to receive the gift. Failing to contact him on phone, Jagmohan rushed to his house in Bihari Milwani’s car, hoping to get him to meet Virendra Mohan. But there too, he drew a blank.
Returning to the Garden, he entrusted the wheelchair to Swati Punjabi, Sitaram’s building neighbour. “We needed a donor, we already had the donee (sic), my job was to get them together,” Jagmohan quipped before slipping out of the scene.
Watching the happy turn of events, Srichand Arora spoke on behalf of the Club: “Jagmohan-ji, we are indeed proud of you.” We applauded the good samaritan, basking in his reflected glory.
Harish Wadhwa:
A noble gesture of Virendra Mohan-ji to donate the wheelchair and we all thank him very much for this. Thanks also to Papneja-ji for discovering Virendra-bhai. Help can come in simple and in heartwarming ways.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 1384

Pehchaan Kaun – 10
Sure, you have all seen this ‘boy’. You could even be meeting him every morning.
But how many of you really KNOW:
(a) Where he hails from (the city or state)?
(b) How many children does he have?
(c) Was he in business or holding a job before joining Big Laaf?
You have 10 days, beginning today, to identify this person and reply to the above three questions. It could well be your turn to pick up the crystal trophy for your effort. So get started and post your entries NOW. Past winners are also eligible to participate. But, for a change, the winner among the all-correct entries this time will be decided by the ‘boy’ himself.