Monday, March 30, 2015

Digital Exhibition

Kiran Prakash (rt) with Siba Prasad Maitra
A digital exhibition of photographs from this blog is being put together as part of our Annual Day celebrations, to be announced soon. It will be held on a Saturday, most likely between 7:00pm and 10:00pm, inside the China Hut and shall be accompanied by a variety programme by Club members, followed by dinner.
The germ of this idea was today sown by Kiran Prakash, the objective being to showcase some of the most candid and visually striking moments in the Garden captured on camera, otherwise lost in the clutter of everyday images appearing in this blog. “If we could select 100 to 150 outstanding images from the past five years and these are played in loop on a big screen, it would be a memorable evening, well-spent,” he said.
“It will also strengthen the sense of bonding among members,” noted Siba Prasad Maitra. “We could perhaps invite spouses and family members so that they would get to know us better and vice-versa. But let the refreshments and dinner for the evening be a contributory affair.
After mass desertion by members, the Garden wore a barren look today
The Club should not be burdened with the expenses.”
One reason the exhibition should generate instant appeal is the peculiar fact that quite a few members have not even seen their own photos in the blog – simply because they do not have access to a PC at home. And not everybody is inclined to depend on their children and grand-children for this. Images of antics in our unguarded moments (not to mention, the process of ageing over five years) would surely strike an emotional chord in many.
Srichand Arora, who is equally kicked by the idea, offered to curate the pictures with Kiran Prakash and has called an informal meeting at his home tomorrow evening to get the process started. Harish Wadhwa has confirmed the availability of a projection system and what now remains to be decided is the date. That should happen this week-end and the rest would follow automatically.
Bihari Milwani:
Brilliant idea. Cheers for KP and SP!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Day 1601

Pic of the Week
Kiran Prakash:
Is the Sun at his command? An exclusive privilege? Oblivious to the void around him, he is reposed and lighted by the Sun.
Renu Babani:
A beautiful Sunday. Being one with nature. What a privilege!
Bihari Milwani:
'Man in Blue' wondering whether to watch today's finals of the World Cup-2015 between New Zealand and Australia... or plan for winning the World Cup-2019!
Srichand Arora:
My game in Australia and New Zealand is over. Now at my home ground, I am a little sad. But I am planning for the next CWC in 2019.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gangtok Gone!

Goodbye! Have a great trip!!!
The day we were waiting for dawned this morning. Shekhawat and his troupe of merry trippers took off by the 7:25 am Indigo flight and as you read this, they would have landed at Bagdogra Airport in Siliguri, before undertaking a four-and-half road journey to their destination in Gangtok. They are expected to reach their hotel by 5:30 pm.
This marks the culmination of nearly six months of planning – airlines and hotel bookings, repeat cancellations and re-bookings, drawing up itineraries, firming up on the composition of the group and so on. Never before has so much time been invested on a trip so short – just about six days.
Santosh Tyagi (right) serves Ram Navami prasad
Jagmohan Papneja (right) distribues prasad of Shirdi Sai Baba   
These guys would be back on April 2. Theirs is like the Introduction being bigger than the book!
But that’s all very fine, so long as the mood stays upbeat for the duration of the trip. Shekhawat had called up the Garden from the airport early morning to inform that everybody had checked in properly and more importantly, he could manage a window seat in the aircraft, just behind one of his ‘saalis’.
Srichand Arora in turn informed him that inside the aircraft, there would be beautiful maidens in uniform and make-up moving up and down the aisle and a couple of them might even give him the glad eye. “Don’t ever make the mistake of turning them also into saalis,” he warned Shekhawat. “Those women are called air hostesses.”
The other good news trickling in is that the weather has cleared up in and around Gangtok. After two days of unseasonal rain (bringing temperatures down to near-zero levels) the sun peeped out of the clouds this morning.
This has come as a major relief for members of the group who were hard-pressed at packing rain coats, umbrellas and additional warm clothing in the eleventh hour. Now that the weather has ‘improved’, they can look forward to a pleasant trip.
Meanwhile, at the Garden, Santosh Tyagi celebrated Ram Navami with prasad of suji-halwa and boiled gram. She had done the ashtami puja at home yesterday. Also, a Sindhi couple in the Garden had brought us prasad from a visit to the Sai Baba temple at Shirdi. Jagmohan Papneja distributed the offering among the 15-odd who attended the exercises.
Bihari Milwani:
The group has gone on the auspicious day of Ramnavami. All expected difficulties and hurdles will vanish and everyone will enjoy. We are expecting the photos and videos on WhatsApp.

Friday, March 27, 2015

1 Day to Go…

Vijay-Bhai (in white cap) discussing cricket 
The much-hyped, long-awaited Gangtok-Darjeeling trip is finally taking off tomorrow. Ideally those on this six-day excursion should have been given a formal send-off from the Garden today morning. But cricket hijacked the occasion.
Many were yet to recover from Team India’s crushing defeat in the ICC World Cup semi-final against Australia yesterday. For them, the entire nation ought to be in mourning. For others like Srichand Arora and Siba Prasad Maitra, the result was a foregone conclusion the moment Australia won the toss and elected to bat. According to them, India’s fate was conclusively sealed when the Aussies posted 300-plus runs, a score Dhoni’s grandfathers cannot even defend in their dreams.
And then there was Vijay Bhai, our in-Garden cricket expert who still cannot believe that India had actually lost the match and is out of the World Cup. He had many questions in his mind: Did India play to a plan and if so, what was it?
Mallika Kagzi hosts a tea party for the Gangtok Gang
What was the need for a well-settled Shikhar Dhawan to go for that big hit and surrender his wicket? How could Virat Kohli get out so cheaply? Why were yorkers introduced so late in the game by India… In spite of the presence of knowledgeable cricket lovers like Jagmohan Papneja and Kiran Prakash, Vijay Bhai could not get the answers to his 'existential' questions.
Fortunately, Mallika Kagzi salvaged the situation by proposing a tea party “in the honour” of those proceeding on the tour tomorrow. “Chai pila-pila ke, pila-pila ke, maaroongi,” she declared. “I will kill them by plying them with tea. Why aren’t they taking me with them?” Yusuf Rassiwala did not miss the mock grievance and was at a loss of words praising the “noble lady”. Arora too was dumbstruck by the altruistic gesture.
At least someone had the good sense to do what should have been done collectively by the Club.
Bihari Milwani:
Happy Journey to all colleagues. Please bring back cheerful memories of experiences and pictures to fill a big book equal to the Mahabharata. And let us hope India wins the ICC World Cup-2019.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

2 Days to Go…

Shekhawat consults Siba Prasad Maitra
Gupta is flat on his back, tossing and turning with cramps
Two days remain for the 'Gangtok Gang' to take wing and the scaremongers have got into the act. Conspiracy theories are being hatched at random in a bid to frighten the living daylights of the 25-member group, if only they would change their minds and stay back. Why else would an innocent question from Fehmida Khan on the “special food” available there elicit responses like fried scorpions, snake stew, lizard curry, pickled cockroach, monkey brain and other bizarre delicacies of Chinese cuisine? Why? Because Gangtok and Darjeeling are close to the China border!
So far, the group has been receiving sane and well-meaning advice – be it Siba Prasad Maitra’s guidance on medical emergencies or Jagmohan Papneja’s precautionary note (ref yesterday’s comments) on personal safety or Bihari Milwani’s helpful instructions to stay connected on phone. After all, being forewarned is being forearmed.
But now advice has turned to instilling fear and tension. What happens if you lose your way there? The consent letter does not provide for this eventuality. Remember, during the Kashmir trip, no mobile phone worked; in military areas, mobile jammers do not allow connectivity to civilians.
In Agony: Bijoy Gupta
Suppose you are untraceable – abducted, by aliens? Who will be responsible then? And so on.
In all this, Bijoy Gupta managed to create an advance scare when he collapsed to the ground, complaining of muscle cramps. Clearly a case of dehydration, he lay on his back, writhing restlessly in the grass while the exercises continued. It was indeed extremely humid today and Gupta has the tendency to sweat profusely.
Before long, Swati Punjabi showed up offering to give him a full body massage on the spot. But it was more in the nature of single finger pokes, the way a veterinary doctor would examine a fallen buffalo. Gupta deserved it.
Bihari Milwani:
The best education is to travel to unknown places. This is a golden opportunity for all of you. Do not be afraid of any food, veg or non-veg. Always remember that the fear of losing is the biggest hurdle in the way of success. Go fearlessly and discover new territories like Columbus discovered America.
Kiran Prakash:
The last paragraph: "Bijoy Gupta... collapsed... Swati... finger... poke... veterinary doctor... buffalo... deserved..." I wonder whether I should laugh, empathise or express my solidarity with Bijoy Gupta.