If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Dec 18, 2008

Carols 2008

A Carol for Mumbai...
All of us on St. Anthony's Road invite you to CAROLS 2008 on Saturday 20th Dec at 7.00 p.m.R Nine years and counting.
It's fun and it's free.
The line up....
Suzanne De Mello,Beven Fonseca,Merlin and Rhys,Rajiv Raja,Prabhakar Mundkur,Gsus [Suresh Rupert and Friends],Mahia ,Clarry Devisser ,Franco Vaz,Neale Murray
& Megan,Cliffy The Pope,Brian Tellis,Jazz Junction [ Colin Dcruz, Lester Godhino, JoAnn Fds.]Jean Michael ,The Jingle Bell Dancers,Dean Gregory ,Dominique Cerejo,Cyril,Joe vessoakar And his Big Band,Samantha Edwards,Elvis Sid Meghani
The Glee Hive with Celeste Cordo ,Denzil Smith, and Bashir Sheikh.
A Carol for Mumbai with Lyrics by Asif Ali Beg and Music by Merlyn will premiere on the 20th. Holding it all together will be Sandia Furtado and Conrad Curry.
Santa's gonna be there. Are you ?Come get that Christmassy feeling again.

Jai Jai !

We were in college . A part of a group that did things together. Or did we come together because we did the same things ? Go for movies. Exchange cassettes of the Beatles and The Blue Oyster Cult. Spend hours at the USIS [ United States Information Something…? ] Waiting in line to use one of their two VCR’s to watch grainy footage that went from Martin Luther King to Jimi Hendrix . Take home our two allowed books a week from the British Council. While we worked at whatever it is college students do Jai would keep us laughing with his bad jokes.
College finished . People went their different ways. Within the country and without. Jai went to Japan. Where he worked in graphic design. For Sony. He married. And then his eyes started failing him. Retinal disintegration. Where you start going blind and all you can do is stand by and watch. And as Jai would say you can’t even do that well because your retinas are disintegrating. Right before your very eyes. Yes . That’s a typical Jai line.
It got worse and he couldn’t live without assistance. So he had to come back to India. To live with his parents because his wife did’nt want to live with him anymore. So he came from Japan where assistance to people who are visually impaired is an art form to here where assistance to people who are visually impaired is a myth.
He moved to Bangalore where he made a career shift to training. Where he talks to people he cannot see. Where he has a computer that talks back to him. Where he has to have someone with him if he moves out of his regular orbit by even a millimeter. Steps that continue past handrails that don’t. Ramps into buildings that pop out of nowhere. Roads with pavements that suddenly morph into roads without.
The group decided to meet up. Somebody was flying in from Goa, the U.S. , Delhi, Pune.
And Bangalore. From where Jai was put onto a plane by his father. With a pick up at this end arranged in duplicate. Along he came on the arm of the prettiest Kingfisher hostess. She was laughing and he looked happy. The insane conversation where you try and catch up with twenty years of each others lives immediately. And you do. Home. Where loose furniture has to be pushed against the walls. Where the bathroom layout has to be gone thru by touch. To the reunion where we ate batawadas and drank kadak canteen chai like it was Moet et Chandon of the 1864 vintage. Where we played the Eagles reunion concert. And yes for the record we never broke up. We just took a twenty year vacation [ Thank you Don Henley ].
Back home. Where the Moet and Chandon had you sleeping like a baby
[ OK Old Monk ].
The next morning Jai told me he’d heard the planes, the trains and the automobiles. The bell of the paowalla. The dudhwalla, the paper wallah, the watchman sloshing buckets of water on the cars and himself in equal measure. All the morning sounds that slip below the pale , for us. He opened our ears to the birdsong just beyond the window. To the sweetness in the voices of the kids. To the harshness with which we sometimes spoke. And the carelessness. Before white caning his way back home.

Dec 9, 2008

Eid Mubarak !

“Abraham!” God called.
“Yes,” he replied. “Here I am.”
“Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering. "
The next morning Abraham got up early and took two of his servants with him, along with his son, Isaac. Abraham told the servants. “The boy and I will travel a little farther. We will worship there, and then we will come right back.”
Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
the boy said, “ where is the sheep for the burnt offering?”
“God will provide a sheep for the burnt offering, my son,” Abraham answered, and they both walked on together. Past the crowds that are always there in a city. Finding themselves suddenly moving in a direction nobody else was going. While the station announcer kept instructing people to go back. Alone on the platform with only a young man ahead of them. A young man in a blue shirt and black pant. A bag on his back and a gun in his hand.
When Abraham recovered he opened his eyes. To a fallen Issac next to him. Silent.
The angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Yes,” Abraham replied. “Here I am!” The angel said. “Now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

Dec 8, 2008

Emails from the edge...by The BB and OMS [ unknowingly the guest writer ]

Hi Clara !
How are you? I'm so glad that the attacks were way away from where you
all are. I hope your friends and families are all safe...?
I have decided to come back to B'bay again and make sure to get my fill
of good home cooked food this time... Given the huge withdrawal pangs I had
after I got back here, I also plan to be a bit more organised for my
return on this occasion. So, with that pursuit in mind, would either of you
know where I might get hold of some good bottle masala? I don't know of an
East Indian shop anywhere, but do either of you?
I hope I bump into you again (both!) this time :-)
Love !

hi JoBoy,
Bttle masala now comes in Ziplock Bags. So it's not called bottle
masala. It's Zip lock masala or ZL for short. This makes it much
easier to pack and transport. Off course the aunties who try and pack
too much into one packet have it burst upon them. Something which was
never a problem earlier. But they live and they learn. ZL masala will
be available in plenty at the Bandra Gym Xmas bazaar. 19-20th Dec. If
you're not going to be here by then let me know and I'll get you some.
P.S. we are going to the gym for the dance. Shall I book tickets for you. If yes please email me a JPEG of your gym ID card so that you don’t have to pay guest fees.

How sweet...! Thank you Clara!
I actually don't know just yet whether I will be in B'bay on those dates, as
am planning on doing a short trip during the earlier part of my visit. So
may I *please* take you up on your offer to buy me some? How big are these
bags? I should think 2 of them would be adequate. (The other up-side is that
I will definitely get to meet you, because I'll have to collect them from
you :-)
We are on for the Gym dance. Am FEDEXing a copy of my Gym ID card to you.
Don't let my mum know I'm arriving by the way - its a surprise and I'd like
to keep it that way. Thank you :-)
P.S. Do you mind not calling me Jo Boy but just Joe. Sorry but the wife says it’s silly.

hi JO Boy,
Big problem, ZL masala has had to go underground.
you know the whole copyright issue. Champagne and the use of the name
Champagne for wines not grown in the South of France. And Basmati
rice. How the Indian govt is suing Pakistan for marketing some crappy
Pakistani rice as Basmati ? So now there is a case pending in the high court. That the original bottle masala cannot be sold as ZL. So till that is resolved the sale of ZL aka Bottle Masala is illegal.
If it is the same ingredients it has to have the same name. If they are going to change the name then they have to change the ingredients. But luckily Boon Aunty on the 16th rd. has a stock of
the original bottle masala that she is selling before the cops clamp down on her. She sells them wrapped in brown paper packets so that What you don't see is what you get. We drop the money into a basket lowered from the third floor and when the basket goes up the masala packets come down. So how many do you want ? There are 100 gm 250 gm and 500 gm.
BTW the gym show is cancelled because of the terrorist attacks. Damn Pakistanis. So we’re having a terrace show. It will go on for as long as the cops let us. BYOB. Details on FaceBook group. Little Flower 2 Terrace Show.

I'm assuming that one 500g packet and one 250g packet should be adequate. thank you so much!! Much appreciated...! Can I get you anything from here. Toblerone. I’m already getting. Let me know.
Have a good one.! See you on the 22nd

Dec 3, 2008

Bhajiwallah Blues by Guest writer Maria de Menezes aka Marlu.

At 9.00 am I get a call from another Bandra 40+ “auntie’. “Coming for a walk?” Off I go to the reformed Lion’s Club grounds, now known as the elite “Salsette Club” which has finally prodded the officious Bandra Gym officials to upgrade their facilities so as to continue reigning supreme. Bandra Auntie says to me “You’re the only NRI I know who wears dirty runners.” Now, those runners are my trump card for getting good deals on assorted purchases. First of all, they belong to my mother (no sensible NRI would wear their own good runners on Bombay roads in the monsoon). Secondly, the shoes you wear are the key to buying tomatoes at Rs 20 per kg as opposed to Rs 40 per kg. Which brings me to the all important accessory – the Goa bag! Walk into Bandra Bazaar with dirty shoes and a Goa bag and you may be able to get away unduped. Bhajiwallas have an uncanny eye for spotting the NRI and although the inflated prices are affordable for most of us, you DO NOT want to face the wrath of the aforementioned 80 yr old when you pay double the amount you should have. “Why didn’t you tell me you were going to buy all those things? These crooks know you’re from abroad and charge any damn thing.” On that note, my visiting NRI brother refrained from buying raw mangoes before checking with Mother what he should pay. “Five rupees”, Mother declared. So back he went, the vendor stated “Thirty rupees.” A tough decision to be made – Rs30 actually sounded more reasonable than Rs 5 and brother doesn’t want to end up in a fist fight, so he pays Rs 25 and both are happy. Two days later it comes up in conversation that jalli apples cost Rs 25. “What” bellows brother. “You pay Rs 25 for apples and expect me to pay Rs 5 for mangoes, that too, not in season!”
There are two possible conclusions to be drawn from this episode
Mother has not bought mangoes for fifteen years and has erred in her estimate of the price.
Mother is a bigger crook than the Bandra bhajiwallas

Go Fish in a Curry Dish !

Some kids have playstations. Their mother has a fisherwoman.
She comes down the road with a basket on her head. Stepping right out of a Mario cartoon. She’s not fat, She’s buxom. She’s not talkative, she’s friendly. She’s not a cheat, when she sells you what maybe stale fish, she’s shrewd. She’s not a stranger. She’s family. Because you see her more often than your mother-in-law. More often than your mother. The shouted “ Kolbi pahje kay bai.” preceeds her. Still looking for a new customer on a road where nobody’s moved in or out for fifty years other than for reasons of death, birth and marriage. A round cane basket on her head. A metal plate stopping drips from her basket falling onto more gold than Fort Knox has. Keeping the glorious colours of her saree glorious. She goes around to the backdoor of the cottages. Where the memsaab of the house is getting the meal for the afternoon ready. The weather, the new parish priest and the import of Rajasthani camels into the Australian outback get equal weightage. In the icebreaker discussion. Before the catch of the day is unveiled. It varies. Bombils, shark, kardi, prawns, jowla, [ The last three being the same thing just different sizes ] , Mackerel [ ok Bangada ] an so on and so forth. The memsaab has to check for freshness. The fish come up short every time. The ancestors of the fisherwoman { Rattu } are invoked. Invoked to come and testify how just that morning the fish were playing seven tiles in the waters off Chimbai. A sorting is done. From what was largely todays catch with just a little leftover from yesterdays poor sales. The price is negotiated. All the fish are returned because the price Rattu is asking for is why sometimes people are convicted of robbery. But the diesel to run the boats has almost doubled in price. The nets tear so easily now because off strange debris in the sea. The catch is so much less because of global warming. The fish are in a no mans land. Rattu pushing them out of her basket. The Memsaab trying to push them back in. Halfheartedly.
The rice on the stove boils over. The memsaab rushes to turn it off. Rattu pushes the basket out of arms reach. Keeping the still to be paid for bombils within. The Memsaab comes back to find the bombils being cleaned. Fait accompli. For both parties. Without any loss of face. The bombils leap into the frying pan without any assistance. They’re that fresh. Other than the two laggards from yesterdays downward pointing sales graph. Rattu tells Memsaab that Jo-Boy is going to enjoy his lunch when he comes home from school in the lunch break. Because of the bombils.
Memsaab agrees. The deal has been done so not fraternizing with the enemy now has no benefit.
The Memsaab helps Rattu get her basket back up on her head. She sends a Cadbury’s ├ęclair for Rattu’s daughter.
JoBoy gets home for lunch. Asks for thirds. And Memsaab in her night prayers thanks God for the strong healthy son he has bestowed on her, and for Rattu , and her fish that helps keep him that way.