Monday, September 26, 2016

Autumn Exodus

Kiran Prakash
Hari Singh Shekhawat
With Dussehra and Diwali closing in, the annual festival exodus has begun. Shekhawat has already left for Rajasthan via Bihar. He shall celebrate Navaratri in his native village (ref post of September 24) before embarking on a pilgrimage with friends and relatives. He is expected to return to Mumbai in time for the Diwali festival on October 30.
Come September 29, Kiran Prakash will be off on a five-day vacation, to Dubai. On October 13, he would join the Club on a trip to Kerala that would cover Kochi, Munnar, Thekkady, Vembanad and Allepey. (Shekhawat had last led a 40-member group to these very places on February 2014.) The current trip has taken three months in organising.
While others are also drawing up their holiday plans, Karuna Waghmare returned today from a brief sojourn only to discover that president Mallika Kagzi had turned into a strict disciplinarian.
Karuna Waghmare (standing) protests against imposition of discipline
Karuna simply could not believe that she would have to hold her tongue while exercising and went around asking in loud whispers if Mallika had lost her mind completely.
“Then why is she acting so bossy?” asked the lady who Bijoy Gupta has christened ‘Char-ana Aath-ana’ (after her role in the Annual Function play).
Predictably, she confronted Mallika once the exercises got over and gave her a mouthful. “What is all this?” she exclaimed. “At home we cannot laugh and joke because of our children. This is the only time in the day when we get to express ourselves freely. Now if you impose restrictions here on even talking, you are being grossly unfair.”
Karuna was merely voicing the sentiments of members, particularly ladies, for whom the Club is the only place where they get to ventilate their true feelings. Mallika understands that perfectly, but can do nothing about it: “I am damned if I impose discipline, I am damned if I am lenient. What shall I do?”

Sunday, September 25, 2016

DAY 2032

Pic of the Week
Identify the 'killer' from his wrist watch!
He is Chhupa Rustom! --Bihari Milwani

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Unfinished Business

Tiny Farhad receives his gift box and blessings from Zarina Khan
Four-year-old Fahad Kagzi had to attend to an unfinished business today. About a fortnight back he performed a little jig with some little ladies at the Annual Day function (ref post of September 10) of Big Laaf. And like any chivalrous male, he allowed his co-dancers to first collect their gift boxes at the end of the performance and thereafter, patiently awaited his turn.
The wait has been long but worth the while. This morning he accompanied his grandmom, Mallika Kagzi to the Garden and there was Zarina Khan to present him his long overdue box of chocolates. Zarina is just back from performing Hajj and nothing could have been more auspicious for Fahad than receiving her blessings and of course, the gift box from her hands.
Zarina had brought dry dates and holy water for us along with lots of stories on her pilgrimage. It had been a grueling experience, more so, as daytime temperatures in Mecca were hitting 50 degrees when she was there. “It was unbearably hot in the open,” narrated Zarina.
Arun Patil enjoys Mallika's tea
Swati feeds Dilip Babani mithi puri
“But the arrangements by the Saudi authorities were so good that we had really nothing to complain about. Most important, there were no accidents this year.”
Supplementing Zarina’s Arab dates was Swati Panjabi’s unusual mithi puri treat, washed down by Mallika’s refreshing hot tea. Pity Shekhawat could not join us for these as he had to excuse himself midway through the exercises. He said he had a flight to catch to Patna and after that, he would take the road to Gaya. Turns out, Shekhawat is on a major expedition that would keep him away from the Garden till October 22.
Shekhawat leaves mid-way through the exercises
On September 30, he would leave Bihar and head towards his village in Rajasthan, in time for the Navratri festivities. Thereafter, he would escort a contingent of village elders to the many pilgrimage spots of Rajasthan. The trip – partly by air, partly by road – is his personal treat to near and dear ones he had spent his formative years with.
“They are all around my age now (mid-seventies), some even older,” Shekhawat said, a mischievous glint in his eyes. “The best part is that they have never travelled out of the village in their lifetime. For them, air travel is unimaginable. The experience of stepping into an aeroplane and being transported across the skies would be almost like a dream come true. For all you know, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them.”
He elaborated that even stepping into an elevator is a big deal for those simple village folk. “That is why I have booked them in hotels that have lift facilities. I have deliberately taken rooms in the upper floors. I cannot wait to see how they behave when they get into a lift… or in the aeroplane.”
We wish Shekhawat an eventful, safe and enjoyable excursion.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Relentless Rains

Waiting for the rains to subside
It has been raining relentlessly night and day for a week. Usually monsoons in Mumbai recede by the end of the Ganesh festivities on Anant Chaturdashi day. But this time around, the rains had struck with renewed vigour on the very same day (last Thursday), throwing our lives out of gear.
At the Garden, attendance dropped drastically during the exercises. Today, it was in single digit as thunder and lightning streaked across the skies early morning. The fear of slipping and falling into potholes and wading through swirling slush on the roads is proving a major deterrent. One has to be either utterly foolish or else, raving mad to be risking life and limb in these conditions for the sake of a few laughs. Or so it would seem to any observer.
Nahid Khan had a different take though. “Those of us who report for the exercises in this foul weather have only one thing to prove. We are unwanted in our homes. Why else should any sane person leave the comfort of a warm, cosy bed early morning
'Bosswoman' Mallika Kagzi (l) flexes her muscle
only to get drenched and brave all odds to reach the Garden?”
However, if truth be told, it is nothing but addiction that draws us to the Garden, whatever the circumstances. Like junkies who need their daily fix, we get our high from all the crackpot jokes, clowning and fooling about in the morning.
Tara Chand Seth
And then there are the occasional but hilarious surprises – the latest being Mallika Kagzi asserting her authority as president of the Club while getting to ‘tame’ Shekhawat and enforcing order during the exercises.
Meanwhile, news comes in from Tara Chand Seth in Delhi where the weather is not so wet. Still, he is having a rough time, following a major attack of pneumonia and certain age-related issues which have left him with a sudden weight loss of 8 kilos.
Tara Chand is in his mid-80s. He says that much as he has “recovered and feels better now”, there is the occasional bout of weakness he must contend with. Nevertheless, he believes he will be able to gather the strength to travel to Mumbai and visit us some time before Diwali.
We wish him speedy recovery and the best of everything.
Bhaswati Bose:
Get well soon, Tara Chand-ji. We are missing you.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

DAY 2029

Pic of the Week
UNGUARDED MOMENT: Any guesses why she is so amused?

Her amusement is amusing! --Lt Col Angad Singh

Jab bhi aankhe bund karti hoon, tumhe hi dekhti hoon!
--Kiran Prakash

She's the SMILING BUDDHA of Big Laaf! --Bhaswati Bose

In deep meditation. --Dilip Babani