Sunday, September 09, 2007

The hat-trick

Last week, I did what I thought only suspicious wives stoop to doing -- I went through Viv's contact list on his mobile phone while he was watching TV.

Furious scrolling later, bingo! I found the numbers I wanted. I quickly copied them over to my phone. The next evening, before Viv came home, I made a few calls, and sent a few sms messages about operation hat-trick.

"Hi, this is Sayesha, Viv's wife. It's his birthday on sunday and I wanted to surprise him with a cricket-themed party in the evening. Would you be available and also, could you spread the word amongst his cricket buddies? I don't know any of them."

Now I don't really know his cricket buddies so I was careful enough to save their numbers as pseudonyms, in case they called or messaged back when I wasn't near the phone, and Viv happened to see it. So Chandru was saved as Chan - a harmless Chinese surname, and Pramod was saved as Pram. I had a decent response from them, and the planning was going well. Chan helped me a lot in putting the guest-list together.

Viv had cricket practice on saturday and a match on sunday, giving me ample time to shop, plan, cook and execute (the plan, not the people). Suddenly Chan called and told me that the sunday match was cancelled. I panicked. I needed a way to keep Viv out of the house on sunday afternoon so I could cook. Chan said he will try to get him out, but our house agent wanted to see us on sunday evening. Holy cow. Confusion confusion. Somehow the meeting with the agent was pushed to the afternoon. Viv also said he wanted to donate blood and I encouraged him that it would be a virtuous deed to do on his birthday. In all the madness, somehow I managed to prepare the timetable for the day. The problem was - he was still going to be around in the late afternoon when I planned to cook. So I told him I was gonna cook him a nice dinner on his birthday - just the two of us. His sister asked me how I was gonna get away with cooking dinner for an army right under his nose, but I said I'll manage somehow.

To execute the surprise to perfection, I needed to plan a 'normal birthday celebration' so he wouldn't sniff a thing. So I decided to have a normal cake-cutting ceremony at midnight, and get another cake for the cricket-themed party. I went from cake shop to cake shop asking them if I could order a customised cake that resembled a cricket field, and all I got was blank looks. "Cree-kate field ah? What's that?" was what I got most of the time. I even drew it for them and explained, "I want the top to be green with a grassy texture, and a rectangular brown strip in the centre with three candles at each end to represent the wickets."

They just didn't get it.

"You want green cake, ah? Buy pandan cake what!"

"I don't want a pandan cake! I want a cricket pitch cake!"

"Sorry cannot. You want green cake, I can make pandan cake for you. Cree-kate field cannot ah!"


So I decided - fine, if you can't do it, I will. :/

I set myself thinking. How could I make the top of the cake have a green grassy texture? If I used the green icing, it would have a flat, weird look. Mixing green colour with icing sugar would just make it clumpy. And that's when it struck me - I could mix green colour with sugar crystals, let the crystals dry and then grind them! That would give me dry edible green powder, which I could sprinkle on the cake using a tea-strainer, keeping a rectangular piece of paper in the centre to leave the pitch brown. Muahahaha! I was a genius. I told Shub my idea. She said I was a genius.

On Friday evening, I put together the menu in my head on the way back from office. I wanted to make matar paneer, but didn't have the courage to go to Mustafa on a Friday or Saturday by myself. So I decided to go to the Indian shop near my place that sometimes carries paneer. They didn't have it, so I decided to make rajma instead. I picked up a packet of rajma, and two packets of sev to make kheer. And that's when it happened. The packet of rajma slipped from my hands, and fell. Thousands of rajma beans exploded in all directions! For a minute, I just stared at it blankly, as if staring would take me back in time, and each rajma bean would slowly float up and go back to its initial position. The counter was manned by this person I refer to as 'large Indian lady who does not speak' (LILWDNS). The description is sufficient to justify why I stood there petrified. Then I noticed her helper guy looking at me. I looked back at him. He calmly took a broom and started sweeping. I wasn't even sure if they were going to charge me for the fallen rajma. They didn't, even though I was ready to plead guilty and accept the charges. So I paid for my stuff and went home, with a resolution to come back to the shop only when my hair had grown long so I wouldn't be recognised.

However, like what all foolish criminals do, the next day I returned to the scene of crime. That's how badly I wanted the paneer. And lo and behold - they had the paneer! What luck! I looked around furtively for the helper guy but he wasn't there. LILWDNS did not speak as usual. I paid for the paneer and came home.

Oh wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. This happened in the afternoon. In the morning, Viv and I played badminton just like we do on any saturday morning, after which he went for cricket practice. I told him I was going to order some photos to be printed, but I actually went to pick up the cakes - the decoy one from a cake shop, and the actual one from the supermarket (a simple cheesecake which I was gonna transform into Lords). I was so surprised that the supermarket did not have the tiny birthday candles that come free with cakes at cake shops! What kinda supermarket does not carry birthday candles? How was I supposed to make the wickets without the candles? So I decided to lie at the cake shop about Viv’s age just so I could get some extra candles. "39" I said, and the lady gave me three big candles and nine small ones.

Oh wait, before buying the cakes (gosh this is all going in reverse, like the movie Memento), I went to this pedicure place and got him an appointment for a men's pedicure, which was supposed to be my real birthday gift to him. The decoy birthday gift was a pair of shoes I bought him sometime last week. I'd said, "Dude, it's very difficult to shop for a guy. Since you're gonna buy shoes anyway, let me pay for them. Birthday gift, okay?" He agreed. He usually agrees to stuff I say, as long as it's logical. The tough task was to get him to agree to a pedicure. Though I would not let anyone touch my nails with a barge pole, personally, I believe that all guys need to get a professional pedicure done at least once in their lives, just to see the before and after of the removal of years and years of grime and dead skin. Do you know that pedicurists charge extra for guys? That's how thick-skinned you people are. Literally and otherwise.

So I booked the pedicure appointment for 7 pm, and a table at Margaritas for his decoy birthday celebration with his sis and me. I'd booked the table for 8.30 pm but I told him it was for 7.30, so I could get him to the pedicure place first. He was supposed to get back from cricket practice around 6. I told him that we would pick up the photos at 7 and then go for dinner at 7.30. The pedicure place was on the way to the photo place.

Of course, the dhakkan did all he could, albeit unintentionally, to ruin my plans. Around 6.15, just as I had wrapped up making his birthday kheer and concealing it in the fridge, I got a call from him. “I’m in bus number 16, and it goes past the photo place. I’ll pick up your photos and we can go straight for dinner.”

Gulp. Pick up my photos? What photos? There were no photos to be picked up!

“No, you can’t pick them up.”

“Why not?”

“Erm, I have the receipt.”

“Tell me the receipt number.”

“Oh they don’t do that. You have to show them the receipt.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah yeah. I have tried it in the past. They don’t.”

“Hmmm… okay, I’ll come home then.”

So he got home, took a quick bath and then off we set “to collect the photos”. I’d told his sister about the whole plan and asked her to meet us at the pedicure place. He was utterly surprised to see her “on the way to the photo shop” when she was supposed to directly “meet us for the 7.30 dinner”. Anyway, when we passed by the pedicure place, I went inside. He’d gone ahead, and then turned and came back, thinking I was making an enquiry.

It was only when he heard me say, “We have a 7 pm appointment for a men’s pedicure.” that it dawned on him what the heck was going on. Fortunately, he did not make a big fuss and agreed to be pedicured. The pedicurist scrubbed his feet for a full 45 minutes and may I just say that the results were phenomenal. I was kicking myself for not taking a ‘before’ and an ‘after’ picture. Guys, seriously, get it done. Once at least. I know you wanna, I just hope that you find a girl who will “force” you into it. ;)

Dinner was at Margaritas, a Mexican restaurant we’d been wanting to go to for ages. The food was fab and so were the blue margaritas. We came home and watched ‘O brother, where art thou?’ till it was about midnight or so, and I produced the decoy cake. The usual make-wish, blow-candle, sing-song later, I passed him a card and birthday moolah that his dad had given me to pass to him. “Too bad the celebration was a day before your birthday, but I planned everything on Saturday because you were supposed to be in a match on Sunday!” I told him. He bought it. He was really happy with his “surprise gift”, “cake” and “celebration” because he couldn’t stop grinning.

The next morning, I was mentally preparing my timetable for the evening’s party. I was like a duck – appeared calm on the surface, but was furiously paddling underneath the water. When he went to return the DVDs, I made the jaljeera, boiled the potatoes and the chickpeas for the chaat, and boiled the baby potatoes for the dum aloo. All this in record time. When he came back, the kitchen and I looked totally innocent. I had bought tons of tomatoes to use as a ‘wall’ to hide the ‘evidence’. I actually balanced the tomatoes one on top of another on the fridge shelves, just so that if he accidentally opened the fridge, no part of the cakes or the kheer would peek out.

In the afternoon we went to meet the house agent. It took longer than I expected, and I was getting really annoyed because I was running late on my sabzi schedule. We got home around 5.30 pm. On weekends we clean the house, and so he took out the vacuum cleaner and started off, while I told him I was gonna start cooking our dinner-for-two. Although he kept fleeting in and out of the kitchen, I made sure he did not see any humongous quantities. I even put small decoy quantities of peas and the paneer on display to throw him off. Soon, the matar-paneer, the dum aloo, the rice, the raita and the chaat were done.

Just when he had settled down to watch the F1 race in his singlet and shorts, the doorbell rang. Ah, what a priceless expression when he saw people he’d never dreamt would turn up at his doorstep on his birthday. He had such a stunned look that they actually came in and asked me, “It is today, right?” Words can’t describe the awesomeness of that moment, really. And they’d bought materials and equipment for pina colada. Soon the whole bunch was there - a living room full of cricketers - and Viv was bobbing about like a happy little boy who’d just got a bicycle for his 6th birthday.

Then I brought forth the cake, and there was a gush of silence and a collective ‘WHOA!’ from his buddies when they saw the cricket pitch and the ‘flaming wickets’. Though I did get laughed at for placing one of the 'umpires' (the bigger candles on the sides) in an incorrect position. Sheesh. Who cared - the idea of the cricket-themed cake was such a hit, technicalities didn't matter. Besides, it is the little imperfections that make things beautiful. The food and drinks were a hit too. We had a great great great time.

After everyone left, he said, “Okay now tell me everything. I wanna hear everything. How did you do all this? HOW???”

And I told him. Told him everything, and as I told him, I realised how much I had enjoyed myself. So I decided to document it so that years later, if I ever start thinking of a birthday as “just another day”, I could come back here and disagree with myself.

So that was it. Operation hat-trick – the decoy surprise gift vs the real surprise gift, the decoy cake vs the real cake and the decoy celebration vs the real celebration - had been a success, a real success, and I was as delighted as Viv was. Well, almost as delighted.

Happy birthday, buddy!


satish said...

GOLD it is!

satish said...

Ha HA HA. Maine Post pad ke khatam bhi kar diya aur kisi ne abhi tak comment nahi maara hai. HA HA HA.

Happy Budday Viv!

itna kuch kar diya bhai, ab bhabhi..sorry viv miya ko aapke liye kya kya karna padega. ok i know its his budday so i sudnt say all this thing. toh lets pretend that i never said anything to begin with.

Aur kya?? aapne memento dekhi hai. aap toh srsly god ho yaar. aur woh 'as if i d go bak in time' wala mast tha.

you are also raising the bar for all potential wives.

You two have fun!

The Soul of Alec Smart said...

Oh, how beautiful it all sounds.. I loved reading every bit of this.. Sounds like it was so much fun for him and for you too.. Kudos to you, and wish him a very happy birthday, albeit belated :)

Ritu Raj said...

Happy Bday Viv :)

And for your birthday we had such a great post from bhai for the return gift.

Great planning bhai. Hope you get a better bday gift.

Thisisme said...

happy bday viv :)
dude...u got an awesome awesome person for a wife ..can only say..lucky u!

The amount of effort u put in is jaw has dropped n almost touching the floor....great yaar..srsly AMAZING n LOVELY!!!

qsg said...

Happy birthday Viv!

And wondering what you wished for - I mean what else can you wish for? A best friend for life for a spouse! :)


Anusha said...

Damn, I wish I could've stayed for the cricket-themed party! The cake looks awesome - kudos to you for not giving up when the cake people threatened to sell you pandan stuff! :D

You totally rule at this stuff, yo. You should have a separate label for your surprise "operations". It's a talent, really. You rock! :D

And oh, happy budday, Vivvy! Love ya loads! :D

juhi said...

what a wonderful & thoughtful person you are sayesha! you really show your love for those you love! wish i will be able to do the same! thanks for sharing.

shub said...

Woman, you ARE a genius! Phew! Hats off! :)
Cake looks cool!
And henceforth you're appointed as my surprise-party-planner! :P

Angelsera said...

OMG! that was great!!
Happy Belated Birthday to Viv..

As I was reading the post, I was picturing each situation in my head, yours and Viv's expressions

it must ve been so much fun :)

Dreamcatcher said...

You are fabulous. Really. Lucky, lucky Viv.
And belated happy birthday to him :)

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Kya idea lagaya bhai! Sahi mein tussi great ho! Viv-sahab ko humari taraf se bhi janamdin mubarak ho!

Sreejith said...

Happy b'day Viv. Sayesha is your gift :)

Unknown said...

Happy Birthday to Viv! Sash, amazing:) Do you ever run out of ideas????? I know who I can come to in times of need now!

soleil said...

Sayesha, I honestly think you should work part-time as some events planner of sorts. Awesome! The cake looks gorgeous and I love seeing the looks on people's faces when they've been surprised. I'm sure Viv's face was priceless :)

parikrama said...

Aaaawwwww so sweet. Operation Hat-Trick sounded like an edge-of-the-seat thriller movie. Wonder how you gonna top this on his next birthday !! Tooo much :)

Bivas said...

Lovely...surprise semed awesome.
Many Happy Returns to Viv :-)

kashika said...

*still awestruck*
sayesha, you are a genius yaar, at planning surprises and otherwise.
thnx for sharing this with us so tht none of us henceforth underestimate bdays and our ability to surprise people(though i doubt we possess as much as u do).

a very happy belated b'day to Viv.

qqq said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
X said...

OMG! I had a gr8 time reading too!!
Should have been one helluva party.
Congrats, for the fine planning and the great execution!! :)

venkatesan said...

The effort taken by you to surprise Viv is stupendous. we are glad that Viv has such a wonderful spouse. You are the greatest gift to him.

Unknown said...

Well, I have nothing but one line to say, "Lucky guy that Viv!"

Unknown said...

you indeed are a genius. *takes a bow*

Sakshi said...

Happy Budday, Viv!
We demand a guest post - your side of the story to speak!
What say, sishtah log?

nycbewda said...

Viv ko mere taraf se Happy B'day wishes

Deepali said...

So sweet :).How you manage re?
A very Happy B'day to viv :)

mathew said...

Simply awesome..priceless bday..

and oh btw so Viv turned 8 right..;-P(intelligent male brain thinking after carefully counting the 8 candle..burp)

greetings to Viv..

neways you are given the award for organising the most intelligent and brilliant theme party which a guy fanatise in his dreams..hehehe..

Ganesha said...

Very Nicely written. even i was delighted reading. i felt like you celebrating my birthday.

Convey my wishes to Viv:)


Gurinder Raju said...

lovely post ..

Crazy Dhakkan said...

Awesome man! Happy Birthday to Viv! :D

Swathi Sambhani aka Chimera said...

'Besides, it is the little imperfections that make things beautiful. '
i loved ur idea and the way u recounted it.

Tejal said...

heeyyyyyyyyy belated happy birthday Viv!!!
wowie bhaiiiiiiiii!!! that was soooo cooollll... the whole decoy n real thing was must've been a tough job not lettin Viv kno wat u (the already-famous suprise-planner)were upto.. but inspite of everythin, u did wow wow :D
btw, my bday is comin up next month.. cud i tell my fens to contact u? :P :D

bubbles said...

very sweet

Unknown said...

Heart whelming post! You rock Sash, totalli. I sooooooooo admire these skills in you :D

Belated happy budday to Viv. Tell him my party is pending ;)

Adorable Pancreas said...

You;re such a great wife! Does he know how lucky he is?

sparx said...

I usually don't believe much in bdays, but hey you just convinced me that its a speacial day :-)

happy bday to ur hubby !

sd said...

Best wishes to Viv.

sd said...

Best wishes to Viv.

Art said...

Wow that was a nice surprise party...

Sayesha said...

Arre tu sahab ban gaya! :D Achha jo log Memento dekhte hain, woh god ho jaate hain? :P

#The Soul of Alec Smart,
Thanks! :)

#Ritu Raj,

//Hope you get a better bday gift.

Hehe! Pressure on the poor guy! :D

Thanks!! :P

Muah! Thanks! :)

Yeah, it's such a pity you could not stay! :(

The separate label idea is a good one!! :D

Thanks! :)

Muahahaha! :D

Hehe... yeah it was great fun planning all of it - I was on the edge of my nerves all the time! :P

Thanks! :)

Hehe.. thanks! :P

Wow! Quote of the day! I'll keep telling him that! Hehe! Thanks! :)

Thanks! :P

Muahahaha! Thanks! :D

There shall be no topping at next birthday - I already told him that this has exhausted me for the next two years! :P

Thanks! :)

Hehehehehe! Thanks! :P


Thanks! :)

Thank you! :)

Muahaha! *graciously accepts the bow*

Ahahahaha! I knew someone would say this - had to be you! :P
ps: The sistahs are sleeping!

Thanks! Apna Viv khud padh rela hai sab kuchh, and grinning like anything! :)

Hehehe... needs great amount of patience and multi-tasking, acting skills and a bit of lying too! :P

Thanks! :)

//intelligent male brain thinking after carefully counting the 8 candle..burp

Wah intelligent brain! *thwack with my famous hypothetical rolled up newspaper*

Thanks! :)

Thanks! :)

#Crazy Dhakkan,

Thanks! :)

Hehehe! Yeah it was fun! :)

//cud i tell my fens to contact u? :P :D

Long distance surprise party? Hehehehe! Though I've done that too. Get your ass here lady! Then we'll see. :D

Thanks! :)

Hehehe! Thanks! :D
We'll party when we go back to Mumbai! :)

#Adorable Pancreas,
//You;re such a great wife! Does he know how lucky he is?

Well, I keep reminding him! ;)

Thanks! :)

Thanks! :)

Thanks (for 2008?)! :P

Thanks! :)

Sandip Chaudhuri said...

seriously awesome stuff.
I think i have read the post four five times in the last two days. Its like a good story every time you read it again you discover more.

Unknown said...

Wow Sash, well done!! I bet Viv got a real surprise with that! The cricket themed cake and party was a fab idea. Happy Birthday to him!

ps: just got back from India (bangalore). It was an awesome lil vacation. Was in India after 11 years....! Surprises me too :-).

Sowmya said...

Belated Happy Birthday, Viv!!

And Sash, that was so thoughtful!! Am feeling all fuzzy now :D


Struggler said...

thats some surprise party!!!!

happy b'day to ur buddy!!

Sudeep said...

belated happy b'day to Viv..

this one made to one of my fav posts here.. :)
n i liked the part jahan beans ka packet gira tere haath se.. cake looks gud.. smart hai tu :)

hope every guy gets a wife like u :).. okk at least every blogger guy pls :)

The Inquisitive Akka said...

That was a great thing you did Sayesha!He is one lucky guy!

Anil said...

Oh Sayesha, I haven't commented here in ages, but I can't tell you how much I still enjoy reading your stories. It's all in my google reader and every time I read them it brings a smile to my face :-) Just letting you know that I'm always gonna lurk around whether I comment or not.

Iday said...

Is there a recipe to find wives like u??? I'd seriously like to know!

Glad u had a great celebration.

And yeah, belated bday wished to Viv.

Sriram said...

Now that was a Very interesting read!

Kanan said...

Sash, that was awesome! :) bahot maza aaya padhke.. you're the first and only person I have known who gives such great surprises. hats off!