Monday, September 14, 2009

(Under)Cover drive

So the email thread was titled 'Rani Mukherjee's new movie'.

However, neither was it about 'Dil bole hadippa' nor are we all that interested in Rani Mukherjee's career to have 299 emails on that subject. The email was actually to plan the details of Viv's birthday surprise. I had named the thread so in order to ensure that Viv would take absolutely no interest in it if he was standing behind me when I was on the computer, and happened to catch the subject line of the email.

This year, we had had some pretty good surprises for all gang members. It started early in the year with Pizzadude's F.R.I.E.N.D.S themed surprise party, followed by mine where they surprised me with a Bollywood themed party, complete with an item number 'Dard-e-disco' they had been rehearsing right under my nose! Sumanth's birthday was next, and we blindfolded him and took him to a go-karting place (he, like Viv, is mad about go-karting). Following that was Shub's birthday, where we stole her house keys, broke into her house (is it still called 'breaking in' if you use the keys, albeit stolen ones?) and cooked her an entire spread of International cuisine and then hid in the bathroom for her to come home and discover us. Looks like she got too distracted by the food and was unable to locate us, while four of us, crammed into a tiny bathroom, finally got too restless and pressed the flush lever. Needless to say, she discovered us immediately.

So finally, when the only birthday left this year was Viv's, we decided that old age was catching up with us and we were out of energy and ideas to continue the surprises next year. So Viv's birthday was to be the crescendo of all surprises this year.

So we decided to kidnap him.

We had the perfect personnel in place. Sumanth had the driver's license and all the required research on car rentals. Shub had found the perfect accommodation to hold him hostage. Pizzadude was the official route planner for the getaway. And my job was to get Viv's visa done, pack everything he would need during the trip and generally keep him from suspecting that something was happening right under his nose.

To create an effective birthday surprise, there has to be a fake one (though we have totally overdone this and I suspect it won't work with us anymore). So on his actual birthday, the usual suspects turned up early in the morning with a cake just before we were about to leave for work. We had also gotten him to solve some pictionary puzzles, the final clue of which led to a video we had done up for him.

And he thought that was that. Until three days after his birthday.

It started innocently enough. Viv and I took a morning walk to the beach on that fine Saturday morning. He was dressed in shorts, a T-shirt and floaters. He insisted on leaving his wallet behind, so I said I'll keep it in the safe, but what I actually did was quickly slip it into my bag along with a million other things he had no idea about. So we walked to Komalas where Shub, Sumanth and Pizzadude met us for breakfast. After breakfast, we started walking homeward, but stopped near a carpark. Suddenly we broke into the song, 'Aaja meri gaadi mein baith ja!' by Baba Sehgal, a song rather close to Viv's heart because it was shot where he used to live in Bombay as a kid.

Next, Sumanth opened the door of a sleek grey Mitsubishi and Viv's jaw dropped. We told him that Sumanth had borrowed it from a colleague and we could take it for a spin as Viv's special birthday surprise treat. Viv reminded us that he had cricket training at 10 am and we assured him that after the spin, we would drop him off at the cricket ground. So off we went, and it was only when we neared the Tuas checkpoint did Viv start fidgeting a bit. He pointed to where we could take a U-turn to go back. All of us ignored him, and Sumanth continued to drive straight ahead. When we actually got to the checkpoint counter, Viv's jaw dropped. "We missed the U-turn! We missed the U-turn! Where are we going??" He kept exclaiming. Sudden silence followed that. I actually have a 1-minute video of a speechless Viv with his left hand stretched out in shock.

We just kept grinning. It was then that he realised we were driving out of the country. Straight to Malaysia!

"But I don't have my passport!!" He said.

"That's what you think." said Sumanth, as I fished his passport from my overstuffed purse and passed it to the gaping Viv.

"But I have training at 10 am!"

"That has been taken care of." I said. "I have spoken to your captain and he is very supportive of you missing training today."

We were treated to a modern version of Dasavataaram, as the look of confused shock on Viv's face changed to displeasure and then anger and then back to confused shock and a mixture of other undescribable emotions.

"Don't get angry. We will bring you back for tomorrow's match!" I said feebly, now actually getting a little scared. Viv is not the kind of guy who generally gets angry, so when he does, it's quite scary.

Then I fished out his wallet and his driving license and passed them to him. (You can drive in Malaysia on an Indian license and the dude sure loves to drive.) I was running out of things that I could fish out of my purse that would change his mood. It took him about 10 minutes to fully recover from the shock, and finally come to terms with his early morning kidnapping. Once everything had sunk in and he had accepted the turn of events, he exclaimed, "Did you pack my clothes or am I supposed to stay in these clothes for two days??" That lightened the atmosphere considerably. Phew! All the madness of the last few days was finally worth it.

And what madness it had been!

Viv had recently come home after a major tournament and had told us that the next few weekends would be free of cricket. Based on that very unreliable information, we decided to go on that road trip we had always talked about, but never done anything about. The only difference was -- it was to be a surprise for Viv. So we booked the car and the hotel and planned everything else. We even got him to apply for the Malaysian visa, by telling him that we would plan a trip to Taman Negara sometime this year and everyone should have their visas ready so we could do anytime.

Then, a few days later, he dropped the bomb and told us that the weekend was actually not free. He had training on Saturday and a match on Sunday. SHEESH! Knowing how seriously he takes his cricket, we decided that it would be better if we didn't make him miss the training AND the match, but have him miss only the training. So I messaged his captain (I had his number stored from the the last birthday surprise I had planned for Viv) to let him know, because Viv was coordinating with everyone on the training timings and would look like a complete ass if he himself didn't turn up after coaxing "the boys" to do so. The captain didn't reply and I was freaking out wondering if I'd offended him by behaving like a bimbotic unsupportive wife. That night, I checked Viv's phone for the captain's number and found two numbers! I re-sent my message to the second number and within seconds, captain replied with his support. Phew.

On Friday night, I met Pizzadude and passed him our luggage. I had been very careful about packing Viv's stuff, because our Virgo-man is so particular about everything that it's stressful just to pick out socks for him. After ticking off all items on a long checklist, I was done. To avoid the possibility of him coming home early on Friday and bumping into me frantically packing (Main maike chali jaungi tum dekhte rahiyo?), I told him I was working late (so he would also work late) and quickly got home, finished packing and passed the bag to Pizzadude. Sumanth had reminded me to pack shoes for Viv for the karting as he was most likely to wear floaters for the "walk to the beach". The tough part was to pack his stuff without him noticing that they had gone missing. So about a week before, I started pushing his brown shoes further and further into the shoe rack, a few inches each day, until they were no longer visible, otherwise he would have come home on Friday night, noticed the shoes were missing and raised a racket. It worked, and by the time the shoes actually disappeared on Friday night, he didn't miss them.

Back to the road. I assured him that his luggage was in the boot. He made a few calls to his teammates, we cleared immigration and drove on. Though he asked a few times, we didn't really tell him where exactly in Malaysia we were going. He was probably under the impression that we were off to Kuala Lumpur.

We had a whole bunch of CDs for the trip, and we even played songs off a thumbdrive (cool car, huh?). Sumanth and Viv took alternate turns on the wheel, while the rest of us just chilled.

We were playing some Kishore Kumar oldie on the way back and guess what we saw on the road? A vintage Citroen!

Pizzadude remarked that he wished he had learnt some Malay words so I decided to tell him the joke that a senior of mine had told me when I was a freshie.

Q: How did the Indian guy respond when the Malay guy said to him, "Terima Kasih!" ("Thank you!")?

A: "Tera baap Haridwaar!"

Pizzadude laughed and laughed until he could laugh no more, and then every now and then he thought of it and laughed again.

I love Malaysia. It's laid back and relaxed and often gives you the India feeling. And just like India, some signboards can be really funny.

This made me laugh out loud. Though 'wakaf' means 'small hut', when said with the right emotion, it can sound dangerously like something else.

One more signboard that had me laughing out loud. MAA-Assist!

And we saw the sequel on the way back. Jai Mata di!

We had lunch near the Highway Hotel. Note the tagline 'Now everyone can stay!'

On the way, he saw the signboards saying 'Sepang F1 circuit' and Viv said, "Hey, maybe we should go there first!" What he didn't know was... that was exactly our plan! We didn't say much but drove on, and soon enough he realised where we were going. From then on, the man just couldn't stop grinning...

...especially when we got here.

At Sepang, we took a tour of the National Automobile Museum.

Early history of F1

The only thing at the museum that interested me was this... that too because of the colour and nothing else!

One of the posters at the museum that caught my attention. How can safety ever be astonishing???

We spotted an iguana near our car!

After this, we took a tour of the Sepang F1 circuit.

Cars testing on the circuit

The F1 circuit

After taking crazy shots of ourselves on the winners' podium, and the circuit itself, we finally landed at the go-karting place.

The go-kart circuit

The guys couldn't wait! The track was actually built of the same material that actual F1 circuits are made of. They had 4-stroke engines and 2-stroke engines, and obviously the guys chose the very powerful, albeit expensive, 2-stroke ones.

The karts were so fast that every time I wanted to get a close-up shot of them driving, this is what I would get. :|

So finally I resorted to taking videos of the crazy karters.

After the 10-minute spin, they got out of their cards, and as Shub and I had predicted, after a brief 'Aankhon hi aankhon mein ishara ho gaya', were off for a second round. We knew that look. It means, 'One more, bro?'. They often give each other that look after finishing a jug of beer so we were quite used to it. Bro-mance was blooming. So they had another 10 minutes of what Viv calls the best go-kart experience of his life.

Spectators are present at their own risk?!

Soon, we were off again, this time actually to Kuala Lumpur. Can you spot the Petronas Towers?

We stayed at the Rainforest Bed and Breakfast place, which Shub had found and booked online. Good place, great location, awesome price.

We had dinner (part I) at this very nice organic food cafe, which I believe Pizzadude will soon blog about, and dinner (part II) comprised maggi mee goreng (YUMMY!) and roti canai. After that, we went to a drinks place and hung out, cracking nonsensical jokes as usual and playing dumb charades.

The next morning, we packed up and left at 7 am so we could get Viv to his 2-pm match. Impeccable planning got us to the ground exactly on time. Unfortunately, we lost the match (the opposition reached the target in the very last over), but Viv got two stumpings and one run-out so it wasn't too bad for me.

Over the whole weekend, the grin on his face was still intact about his multi-level birthday surprise.

"This is my best birthday ever." He told us. Then he paused and said, "So far."

I gave him 'that look' and said, "Dude, don't you 'so-far' me, okay? This is it. We're all done. Exhausted. Out of ideas. Next year onwards, all of us will have only regular birthdays. Cut the cake, open the gifts, take us to dinner. Finito."

Yup, voluntary retirement it is. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. It's like F.R.I.E.N.D.S. If only they had known when to stop, the last few seasons wouldn't have gone crappy. We have done good these few years. It's time we pat ourselves on the back and retire from the scene. Look back and smile at the good times.

Maybe when all of us actually retire, we could set up a company called 'Surprise me!' and people will pay us to plan surprises (and some shocks like this and this) for their loved ones.


PizzaDude said...

Happy Birthday Viv! :D :D :D

Still can't stop randomly laughing at Terima Kasih - Tera Baap Haridwar!

prathi said...

Happy Birthday Viv!

Tejal said...

already wished pehle but still, haappy birthday Viv!!
*cant stop drooling, its been what, three years now?*

Tejal said...

and by the way,
//Next year onwards, all of us will have only regular birthdays.-
LOL. yea right!
(though, i hope NOT :) )

Meira said...

Superb! Simply superb!

Taurus Girl said...

Great post...
Do let know when "Surprise Me!" starts business.. :)

~ Lopa said...

Awesome post Sayesha....

How do you guys come up with such surprise ideas...! Simplly superb !
Lucky to have such friends !

shub said...

arre video kaise dekhoon?

venkatesan said...

It was a wonderful way of celebrating Viv's birthday!! Happy to note that he finally enjoyed his trip!! Keep up the good work!!!

Anonymous said...

oh please don't stop! it was enuf when they took FRIENDS off air.

reena said...

I would want to hire you guys for some of my friends surprise party, now why wait for retirement.


reena said...

Well credit to Sayesha for such a lovely post.

Neha said...

Why are u guys retiring? I am sure the next birthday is die in some time. Till then you reservoir will be refilled...retiring due to lack of idea is not reason good enough!

Sayesha said...

//Still can't stop randomly laughing at Terima Kasih - Tera Baap Haridwar!

Me neither! Though I wanted to kill the guy who told me the joke, but since last weekend, I have been finding it hilarious! :D

He says thank you! :)

//its been what, three years now?*

Hahahaha! Uska ek chhota bhai hota toh baat pakki! :P

//LOL. yea right!

Seriously yaar. Hum log bahut thak gaye hain original ideas soch-sochkar. Budhapa I guess! :P

Thanks! :)

#Taurus Girl,
Hehehe... sure! Posters of the ads will be stuck all over the bar! ;)

//How do you guys come up with such surprise ideas...!

Hehehe... it's the right mix of insane people with insane ideas. Nothing is impossible then. :P

//arre video kaise dekhoon?

1. Use mouse.
2. Click on video.
3. Watch.



//it was enuf when they took FRIENDS off air.

But then remember how crappy the last few seasons got? They should have stopped at season 6. Which is what we are doing. :D

Hehehehe... sure sure... send us your requirements, we will send you a quote! ;)
PS: Thanks from Viv. :)

Naah, I think it's a good time for us to pause and just look back at the good times. :)

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

WOW!!! Whattay birthday!

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

Ah..! I just read the last part of the post! No! no retirement!! neveeeeeeer! :((((((

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

I somehow see the "evil" Bhai saying "regular birthdays from next year" so that she can surprise even better the next time :D

The Neverknown said...

i second pizzadude - the kasih-haridwar part split some sides here.
but the pushing-shoes-away-from-sight-for-a-week part takes the cake
Happy Birthday Viv

Sid said...

What an awesome birthday surprise! Viv is one lucky dude and belated Happy Birthday to him.
Go-karting on an actual F1 track, man what a treat. Great job Sayesha.

shweta said...

Surprises r da best ya...!! nd go-karting is like wow..!! It mite hve been so much fun ya!!


Jass said...

Happy B'day viV! :)
And yeah you should open "surprise me!" jaldi , there is not a single company of that type abhi! Sahi idea hai bhai! :D

Aur haan video nahi khul raha! It says "This video is private... blah blah!"

Sayesha said...


//I somehow see the "evil" Bhai saying "regular birthdays from next year" so that she can surprise even better the next time :D

Nahinnnnn! I hope Viv doesn't think the same! I really have retired and there's no going back! :)

#The Neverknown,
Thanks. :D

Thanks! :)

Yeah, it was awesome! :D

Hehehe... khulega khulega... in 30 years' time!

//Aur haan video nahi khul raha! It says "This video is private... blah blah!"

Achha ab try kar? I just changed some settings.

Jass said...

Nope! Opening not, This video is still private...

Sayesha said...

Whoops, I think I had changed settings of the second, but not the first. Have done for both now. Ek baar aur try kar le? Sorry for the trouble yaar! :(

Baatein unkahi si said...

OMG: Terima Kasih - Tera Baap Haridwar!
was so hilarious !! In fact the entire post was so funny I just had to read the entire thing in one go !!Nice surprise and really innovative idea.

Stupidosaur said...

Watched the two videos above, heard the one audio above that and other 'videos by Sayesha' beyond that. Go Kart Cam dikhana tha na sabko! :)

Somehow Baby Aish's voice gives deja vu. Or do many babies sound alike? Happy year to Babu Moshaaai once again.

Jass said...

Video is now chal-ing! :)

Sayesha said...

#Dil se,
Thanks. :)

Hahaha! Yeah, maybe all babies sound alike. :)

Awesome! Thanks for the help with the testing! :)

Thousif Raza said...

hey sayeha, i took this post home and read so late reply, your b'day parties are really awesome always, i am so very jealous that you are not in india, or else i would have forced you too give a b'day party too, awesome as always loved it

take care and keep writing.....

VIDYA said...

And that "astonishing safety" thing killed me!ROFL!
I'm totally on board with the "surprise me " idea!I'd love a birthday from you guys!!!:)

Sudeep said...

sahi.. mast surprise tha :)

Sayesha said...

Thank you! :)

Thanks! :D

Thank you! :D