Sunday, February 22, 2009

F.R.I.E.N.D.S forever

Irritated voice - “Offo! Yeh India kab jaayega??”

Okay, so who says this about one of their closest friends?

We do. Especially when we’re waiting for said friend to go to India so we can plan his surprise birthday party in peace.

Shub and I had been discussing a F.R.I.E.N.D.S-themed birthday party for Pizzadude for the longest time. If there’s anyone I knew who was a bigger F.R.I.E.N.D.S fan than me, it’s him. Of course, I was yet to meet Urv (yet to meet him still) back then. But we’d always referred to Pizzadude as Joey, mainly because of his love for food, especially pizzas. We even christened his flatmates Shub and Sumanth as Monica and Chandler, while Viv and I were Mike and Phoebe respectively.

Yeah, so plans had been on for months. We had created a shared google spreadsheet where we kept jotting down ideas as and when they struck us. Most of them originated, of course, from Shub and me. Viv and Sumanth were also in the threads, but beyond earning the title of ‘useless lazybums’, they did not do much. Till the last minute. Of course.

So finally Pizzadude went to India for a vacation, and we met up one evening at our place, sat at the dining table complete with notepad (No, I wasn’t sitting atop a tree) and pens, finalising the plans and division of work. The plan was to do a ‘fake birthday celebration’, i.e. have dinner with him on his birthday and leave early, and then break into his house before he got back and do the whole surprise hoo-haa aka ‘the real birthday party’. The programme included setting up his place like ‘Central Perk’, a flatmate quiz, and a F.R.I.E.N.D.S-themed treasure hunt. Urv was the absent party to all of this planning and I kept him constantly updated and constantly jealous.

I had prepared the questions for the flatmate quiz and sent them on to Shub and Sumanth to get the answers. Shub had scouted places to get a whole cheesecake and sorted through hazaar photos to put a video together. Both of us were furiously looking for an ugly gold bracelet. Those who are F.R.I.E.N.D.S fans will know why.

Sumanth and Viv, on the other hand, were extremely busy sitting on their asses. Even though they were in charge of the treasure hunt, Shub and I did not hear a chirp from them.

Closer to the date, email discussions were in full force. One of the threads was amongst the planners, while one was on with the plannee to decide on the time and venue for dinner, etc. The email thread between the planners was peppered with conversations such as these:

Sash - Lazybum guys, how's the treasure hunt going? :P

Sumanth - we have made quite a bit of progress on this.. we want it to be a surprise for everyone, so no details will be divulged until the event takes place… that way everyone will be genuinely surprised & not acting surprised :)

Shub - captain subtext : "OH SHIT WE TOTALLY FORGOT!! WE BETTER GET CRACKING RIGHTAWAY! You reply to the email and act casual while I start working on the clues!" :P

Sash - Totally with Shub here!!!!

Viv - I agree with my buddy... It's all about the surprise. In fact, if you see our faces on the day, you'd think even we didn't know what was coming up...!

Shub - I'm paranoid one of these emails will somehow end up being sent to Pizzadude as well! I keep double checking the list! :-/

Sash - Me tooooo!! I check and then count! :P

I had got one of my designer ex-colleagues to pass me the F.R.I.E.N.D.S font which I installed and used to prepare small labels with the letters in F.R.I.E.N.D.S. The plan was to pin it on our shirts, and sit in that order on the couch when he first entered the house and saw us. I had also done up the ‘Central Perk’ poster to be stuck on the wall, and finally, after much hunting in Bugis, found the ugliest gold bracelet on the planet.

I wrote ‘Best bud’ on it with a permanent marker.

I put it inside an old bulb holder and nicely wrapped it up... serve as the 'fake gift' from Viv and me.

Shub and Sumanth had also got their fake gift ready, an awesomely funny apron that said, "I'm even better in bed." They were also busy subtly convincing Pizzadude to pick a restaurant close to our homes for dinner. Viv was to pretend that he had a conference call to take from home, so needed to go back early after a quick dinner.

Initially, Shub and I also wanted to do a parody to the song ‘Smelly cat’ (I’m Phoebe, but she’s the guitarist in the group). We came up with a few drafts, but because this is a family bar (okay that sounds like a soap!), I will only post the uncensored stanza here.

Pizza dude Pizza dude
Why are you obsessed with food?
Pizza dude Pizza dude
It’s not your fault!

So the night before the party, Shub was to pick up the cheesecake and drop it off at our place so Pizzadude didn’t stumble onto it when he opened the fridge. She was also to pick up our gift for him (all gifts were to be presented to him together at the end of the treasure hunt), a bottle of Jim Beam to spike his coke, the Central Perk poster and the F.R.I.E.N.D.S labels. However, she got a shock to see that the cheesecake place had closed down. No other place could do a whole cheesecake at one day’s notice.

Frantic phonecalls and sms messages later, Viv managed to buy one near his office. We decided that instead of Shub coming over, Viv would go over with the stuff the next morning after Pizzadude had left for work.

So on the evening of his birthday, we were all at the Thai restaurant Lemongrass after work. V, Pizzadude’s ex-flatmate, and also Shub’s colleague (he was the guy who had helped us plant the inappropriate card in Shub’s office for her surprise party) was there with his mom. And he had brought along this guy (henceforth referred to as the ‘rebound flatmate Eddie’) who is replacing Pizzadude in his old place. I was pretty certain V had got him along to show off to Pizzadude, “So what if you left us? Hmmmph! We found someone new. Look look!”

Anyway, before Pizzadude got to the restaurant, I had explained to V his lines.

“So when he opens the door, we’ll all be on the couch and yell, 'HOW YOU DOIN’?' Okay?”

“Okay, done!” said V, very enthusiastically.

Barely a minute later, he asks, “Hey, what are we supposed to say when he opens the door?”

*thunk thunk thunk head on wall*

“HOW YOU DOIN’?” I repeated.


Anyway, while Pizzadude cut his ‘fake birthday cake’ (a lovely blackforest cake that V had got), we indulged in some undertable activities to get the house keys from Shub.

Viv and I left at about 8.50 “as Viv’s conference call with the US office was at 9 pm.” We gave him the fake gift and I said, "You can't open it now, okay? Go home and open it!" and Viv even did a most sincere 'good boy' rendition of "Bye, Aunty!" to V's mom, even though he was going to see her again in half an hour.

So Viv and I quickly got a cab and rushed to their house. We hid our shoes and set up the camera, etc. Initially, we were supposed to pin the F.R.I.E.N.D.S labels on our shirts, but we figured Shub and Sumanth may not have the time to do that as they were coming together with Pizzadude. So we replaced the coloured sheets of paper that Viv and Sumanth had placed as clues at different locations in the house with the F.R.I.E.N.D.S labels. So now, the clues would have to be given out in the order F-R-I-E-N-D-S.

The Central Perk poster

Soon, V, his mom and B had also reached. We switched off the lights and took our positions. V whispered, “Hey, so what are we supposed to say when he walks in?” I resisted the desire to strangle him.

Apparently, Pizzadude had gone to buy a phonecard so Shub and Sumanth actually reached before him.

Soon, we were all in position and the house was dark.

Enter the birthday boy...

Pizzadude walked in, and we yelled “HOW YOU DOIN’?” just as he switched on the light.

He was surprised all right. The chap couldn’t stop grinning. Then he saw the Central Perk poster on the wall and burst out laughing. When we told him it was only the beginning, he was very excited.

So we started with the flatmate quiz. Shub had prepared a very special drink for him (let’s just say only 10% of it was Coke), in a very special F.R.I.E.N.D.S-style giant coffee cup, and he had to take a huge gulp with each question he was asked.

I must say he did pretty well in the quiz, even though we asked him some toughies like “What is Sumanth’s mom’s name?”

Next up was the treasure hunt. Somehow, the two guys had managed to put the clues together. Pizzadude was to find the clues one by one, and carry out the task given with each.

Q: What did Joey and Chandler decide never to switch off?

A: Sure enough, the first clue was under the TV.

Pizzadude's task: Talk to two nodding dolls in the living room as if they were the duck and the chick.

Q: Where would you hide ‘The shining’?

A: The freezer
Notice the green book under the tub of ice-cream? Months ahead of the birthday, Shub had picked up a copy of the Velveteen Rabbit!

Pizzadude's task: ‘Smell the fart’ acting

Q: If you were to eat yesterday’s pizza, where would you put it first?

A: Microwave oven

Pizzadude's task: Show us how Joey reacted when he first found out about Monica and Chandler.

Q: What did Joey raid when Chandler wouldn’t return his underwear?

A: Chandler’s Sumanth's wardrobe

Pizzadude's task: Wear all of Chandler’s clothes (underwear on, please!) and do the lunges.

Q: What would you associate with Joey's five second rule?

A: The N was under the carpet.

Pizzadude's task: Say ‘How you doin’? in five languages, including one as Dr. Rajkumar wooing someone called "Paaaaarvathy", and Rajnikanth (we forced him to enact that using swimming goggles. It was UBER-HILARIOUS!). Of course, videos were taken, but unfortunately, cannot be posted.

Q: Where did Monica meet Joey’s dad?

A: The bathroom

Pizzadude's task: Wear the ugly gold bracelet and show Joey’s reaction when he wore it.

Q: What is the first thing you associate with Phoebe?

Pizzadude's task: Guitar (and the orange bag next to it had all the gifts)

Finally, all the clues were together.

The treasure hunt ended with him getting all his real gifts. Shub and Sumanth had got him an iPod-shuffle (he was thrilled as it was his first iPod), while Viv and I got him a DIY Spanish learning course (he’d been talking about learning Spanish for the longest time).

The Spanish course also had MP3 audio lessons, so I was thrilled that he would be able to use both gifts at once!

Next, we brought out the Oreo cheesecake.

The birthday boy makes a wish.

We attacked the cheesecake directly with forks and spoons instead of cutting it into slices. (No, we did not eat it off the floor. ‘Monica’ would have killed us.)

Rebound flatmate Eddie kept saying, “This is so cool! Why are my birthdays so boring???” Yeahahahaha! :D

Next, we played the video, which was so hilarious we watched it twice! It started off with Pizzadude showing off his muscles in a photo and the background song went, “Hai muscular! Hai popular! Spectacular, yeh hai bachelor!” and then went on to show him looking very distraught when the song went, “But Pappu can’t dance sala!”

The second half of the video had the song “I’ll be there for you” and featured some random photos with all of us. Fantastic job, Shub and Sumanth! Rocking video!

Soon, everyone else left and it was just us, the planners and the planee, sitting back, exhausted, digging into the cheesecake and generally smiling a lot. The planners were smiling because the plan had been successful, and the planee was smiling because...

...let's just say the empty cup speaketh for itself. Yup, I have friends in 'high' places.

And then Viv said something that caused a moment of SSS (Serious Senti Silence) in the room.

“Imagine… if not for blogs, all of us would have never met.”



Anonymous said...

great work!! you guys make the best birthday surprises. should compile some sort of birthday party recipe book someday. :D i love that pappu can't dance song, man!

PizzaDude said...

:D :D :D

Urv said...

Yes, u sure had me jealous here! N the tasks the dude was made to do were ossum.. Me too wants to do em :-)

Not seen the pics yet.. Will come back to comment :-)

Anonymous said...

Sounds so much fun and you all met through blogs? Wow.

Keep smiling, all of you! :-)

Buls said...

Sounds amazing

Urv said...

Viv ne sahi bola.. If not for blogs..

In fact, on that thought..

If not for Larry Page n Sergey Brin..
If not for Vint Cerf..
If not for Charles Babbage..
If not for Adam n Eve..

I believe the above mentioned should be enough to land me with a yearly Thwack subscription.. Woh bhi weekend editions.. :p

A G said...

All i could do is smile after reading this post.

Anonymous said...

oh this was so sweet!!!very fantastic plan for a die-hard FRIENDS lover...

chanakya said...

you guys met through blogging nice :P

havent read your blog for some time.
Busy with a game ..
It has to be the most awesome game out there.
42K people playing one game :)

Prats said...

Your Birthday parties are always awesome!!!

Byt the way Ugly gold bracelet was awesome... But in ur version Joey gets it :-)

Sanchit said...

* sighs *

Mayuri said... must have been AWSOME fun!! man! I soo wanna have a birthday like this...*sigh* what an amazing cant stop feelin happy for pizzadude..(seems like it was my bday!!).... :) :)

the One said...

Yes, even the fake gifts rocked. One hopes he got to keep them.

Taurus Girl said...

Sounds like great fun.. and an awesome surprise!!...
Wish cud see pizzadude do the tasks.. :)

Jass said...

Wayyy too cool! :)

Happy B'day pizzadude!

Sirius Black said...

awesome , reminds me of old friends golden days :D

VIDYA said...

aLL you bindaas people met bcoz of your blogs?Sounds wonderful n very filmi ,if i may add.:)


Belated happy bday pizzadude!

mythalez said...

whoaa ... quite a birthday bash!!

concur with starbreez, u shud definitely write a party-recipe book ;)

@urv, dont forget Evan Williams, and his company who started blogger initially!

[ having said all there was .. now goes into the dream world where his bday parties are also as amazing ] :P

sne_ksh said...

This is so cool! Why are my birthdays so boring???

Art said...

wow.. this is great.. i am glued to youtube past 3-4 days.. and am watching friends episodes back to back to back to back :)

Awesome bday... And the last line was really super senti

Deepa said...

Another great post!! U rock \m/

meetu said...

You guys are like the awesomest combination of
- super-urge to make your friends' birthdays the awesomest
- creativity to think of something unique and relevant each time
- motivation to actually plan it and see it through

cheers, people!!

IncorrigibleV said...

This was totallllly WOW...
I know you've never heard from me here but I've read a lot of u, just never commented.
This time it was F.R.I.E.N.D.S callin so i cudnt resist!!!
P.S. - Blogrollin u!

Ashish Shakya said...

Wow...that is a whole lotta preparation.

As Chandler would say, could it *BE* more fun?

Good going!

Sayesha said...

Thanks! :D

Happy belated birthday! :D

Tujhko bola tha yahan aaja holiday lekar! :D

Thanks! :)

Thank you! :)

Wait till I meet you in real life! I will bring a kabadi-wala and his thela along! :D

#A G,

#wishes galore,
Thanks! :)

Yeah! :)

Thank you! :)

Tujhe bhi bola tha yahan aane ko Urv ke saath! Jaldi aao tum dono! :D

Hehehehe! Thanks! :)

#One in the Billion,
Yeah he got to keep all of 'em! :D

#Taurus Girl,
You can ask him to send you the videos! ;)


#Sirius Black,

Yeah, it IS quite filmi! :P


Hehehehe! :P

Thank you! :)

Thank you! :)

Yeahahaha... we do keep one another motivated! :D

Thanks! :)

Thanks! :D

parikrama said...

One of these days you should surprise a buddy of yours by not organizing a surprise party ! What with surprise parties becoming more of a norm with your gang. Think about it, making someone wait & wait & wait some more for a (non-existent) surprise to unfold ;-)

Btw, I lean more towards Sienfeld than F.r.i.e.n.d.s. I so totally relate to George :(

Palazzo said...

Congratulations for your blog!!!
I', from Brasil

What's In A Name!? said...


What's in a name? said...

ok, now u dont know me, but just hppnd to read ur blog, since ur blog was in one of my friend's "blog i read" list and have to tell this, this party definately was great...I always thot there is no better FRIENDS fan than me, but u guys proved me wrong.

Great Post. Great Party!!!

Magical Homes said...

I am so stealing this theme for my next party.....what a lovely idea.

No clue how I stumbled upon your blog, but am glad I did:)

Monali said...

Thats a really sweet way 2 celebrate a frndz bday.n coz am a friends fan i luvd it even more.lucky pizzadude

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