Monday, November 30, 2009

Composed by Burpy Lahiri

Mom-in-law, dad-in-law, sis-in-law and I are enjoying a popular old Hindi classical song that's playing in the car.

Enter Viv, who decides to translate a line from the song into English.

His translation: "Which hundred bodies have suppressed their burps?"

Can you guess the song?

Highlight the part between the * symbols for the answer.

Answer: *Kis soutan ne roki dagariya (the song is Raina beeti jaaye)*

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Plan view

When Viv and I met bar-bewda Urv in May this year, we had never imagined that in a few months, he would move to the same city as my Dad was moving to after retirement. So when our India trip was planned, we decided to surprise everyone. Mom... Dad... and Urv too! I only took my sister into confidence since I had sprung the last one on her. You only get it once, that's my funda.

However, Mom's sixth sense started acting up. You know how Moms are born with that 'Mom instinct'? Actually they're not born with it, I guess they acquire it when we are born. Anyway, so Mom started hinting to Sis, "If she's coming, she should tell me, yes? Then I can prepare properly, yes?"

So my sister asked me to tell her because it wasn't looking like Mom was going to react the way we wanted her to anyway. She'd have probably opened the door and said, "Aa gaye tum log? Achha. Keep your shoes on that rack." Sheesh. So we told Dad and Mom that we were coming, and both of them reacted the same way, "Yeah, we were pretty sure you are coming." Double sheesh.

We decided to keep the Urv surprise on though. So I didn't mention anything on the blog about the India trip. In fact, I didn't even blog at all for fear of letting something slip. A week ago he had mailed asking when we were going to India next, and I mailed back saying that I had no concrete plans but he should drop by my place and meet my folks sometime.

The problem was convincing him to actually do it.

Me - Mom, acting karogi? Ek zabardast role hai.
Mom - Kyun nahin, main toh Meena Kumari hoon.
[Yeah, she likes to give me such nautanki answers when I ask her such nautanki questions.]

But when I gave her the script, she got cold feet.

Mom - Wait, who is Urv, again?
Me - He's a friend of mine.
Mom - School friend? University friend? Office friend?
Me - Internet friend, Mom. I met him through my blog.
Mom - Achha, he's your junior kya?
Me - Erm... Mom, there's no junior-senior with Internet friends.
Mom - Achha...
Me - So you'll do it? You'll call him?
Mom - WHAT?! NO!
Me - Mom, please! I have already written to him and told him that you want to invite him to lunch. You just need to call him and confirm, without letting him know that Viv and I are here. Just imagine his face when I open the door!!

She still wouldn't do it. "Baap re baap, no way!" She said.

Me - Meena Kumari would have never turned it down, you know. This is the role of a lifetime.
Mom - Nahin baba, I can't do it.

Viv - So now what? Who will call? Dad? Jeeju? Apa?
Me - Are you mad? If Mom can't pull it off, no one can.
Viv - Maybe I can call and pretend to be your Dad?
Me - Naah, won't work. He knows us. He'll see right through it. Let me try emailing him.

If we could convince Urv to come over, Viv had suggested that I open the door holding baby Aish and introduce myself with a "Hi, I'm Sayesha's sister. She has told me so much about you!" and watch the changing colours on the poor chap's face as he tried to figure out what the hell was happening.

So I emailed him, "Mom is asking ki mere ghar kab jaaoge. Why don't you go see them today or tomorrow?"

And I waited for his reply with crossed fingers. He replied saying he was in the middle of his exams and that he could drop by in the weekend instead. Yikes! We would be gone by the weekend!

Me - Sigh, okay fine, surprise ko maaro goli. Let's just call and tell him.

So I called him and as soon as he heard that we were all there, including baby Aish, he borrowed his friend's bike and came over. He didn't stay long as he had an exam the next morning (Urv, please pass ho jana!), but it was really really good to see him again.

Even though the 'surprise' hadn't quite gone pilan ke mutaabik.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Family drama

Snippets from the general madness in the house during my vacation:

Me - Where's my towel? Who took my towel??
Dad - Look for your towel later. Come, look at the pumpkins I have grown in the kitchen garden.

(Viv was using the racket-like thingie that has taken the whole of India by storm, to annihilate the mosquitoes.)
Mom - Lo! Aa gaya, machharon ka yamdoot!

Baby Aish - I want to touch the touch-me-not. Where's my shteek? (another B.A.D. word [Baby Aish Dictionary word]. Dad has asked her to touch the touch-me-not with a stick to avoid the thorns.)

Mom - Whose tea is this??? It's stone cold!

Dad - And the neighbours stole the big pumpkin. I should have harvested earlier. I was waiting for it to become fully ripe and they stole it.
Me - Did you confront them?
Dad - I don't know which one of them did it. And that's why I can't come visit you in Singapore. You see? They'll just steal everything in my kitchen garden!
Me - You just need another excuse not to come see me!


Mom - Who took my slippers into the pumpkin patch? Huh? They're all muddy now!
Me (sheepish) - Umm... I don't know!

Jeeju - And then you click on this icon here called 'Dataone'. And then...
Dad - Wait wait, let me write that down. Once you go back, I will forget everything.

Me - Wow, this dress is nice!
Sis - You want it?? Take it!!
Me - No no, I don't want it. I just think it's nice.
Sis - Are you sure?? If you like it, you can have it! Seriously!
Me - No Apa, I don't want to have it... it's nice, that's all.

Me - Viv! Mosquitoes in Apa's room!

Jeeju - And then you click this icon here that says 'Internet Explorer'...
Viv - Or you can click the one that says 'Mozilla Firefox'.
Dad (to me) - So which one should I click?
Me - Will you people please stop confusing my poor Dad?

Baby Aish (to Viv) - Moucha, I want to play "Fly like an aeroplane".
Sis - Come, brush your teeth first!
Baby Aish - I don't want to brush my teeth. I want to play "Fly like an aeroplane".

Me - And where's my baby pictures' album??
Dad - This one!
Me - Why doesn't it have a sticker with my name like Apa's?
Dad - Errr...
Me - Special offer for first-born? Second-born gets no bhaav?

Mom - Seriously, whose tea is this??

Me (pointing to the showcase in the living room) - What on earth is this??
Mom - Don't ask me. Ask your Dad.
Dad - Arre! It's the statue of Liberty next to a statue of the Merlion. It's symbolic. It represents my daughters' locations.
Me - Hey bhagwaaaaan.....

Baby Aish - Mauchi, I want to play bubbles.
I start blowing bubbles while she jumps around bursting them.
Baby Aish - BEEEEG bubble! I want a BEEEEG bubble!
I blow a big bubble and two smaller ones.
Baby Aish (pointing to the small bubbles) - No I don't want the sad bubbles. I want the happy bubbles.
Me - Erm... Mausi is tired. Now you try, baby.
Baby Aish (disappointed at her sad bubbles) - When I become BEEEG, I will also make happy bubbles.

Me - Viv, please stop destroying the bubbles with the racket and focus on the mosquitoes.

Me - And where is my favourite childhood book?
Dad - Which one is that?
Me (horrified) - You don't know which is my favourite childhood book?
Dad - Errr...
Me - I'm sure you know Apa's favourite childhood book?
Dad - Errr... no. Which one is yours?
Me - The Lost Girl and the Scallywags. I can't find it. Did you trash it????
Dad - I haven't trashed anything from the time I built this house!!
Mom (looking at all the half-opened cartons) - Sigh. Tell me about it.

Me - Viv, please take a bath...
Viv - Wait wait, Sehwag is on 47...

Mom - Will you people please close and lock your suitcases when you're not in the room? The kaam wali is new...

Dad - Somebody get the phone!

Aish - I want to watch Dora.
Sis - Dora doesn't come on Indian TV, Aish.
Aish - But I want to watch Dora!
Me - Come let's watch Bollywood trailers, Aish.
Aish - But I want to watch Dora!

Mom - I love these coffee mugs you got.
Me - Then why aren't you using them???
Mom - What if they break?!
Me - Ya allaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!!!!!!!!

Me (examining baby Aish's tiny fingers) - Aishu, your fingers are soooo tiny and soooo cute. Mausi is going to eat them up! Should I eat them up? (making chomping sounds near her fingers)
Baby Aish - No no, put some sugar on them first. Then eat them.

Dad - Who has locked my mobile??
Me - I have. You should always lock it.
Dad - But why??
Me - Well, it will start dialing random numbers.
Dad - What?! How??
Me - If someone sits on it or something...
Dad - Why would anyone sit on my phone?????????
Me - Well, it could dial even if no one sits on it...
Dad - I have been using this phone for years now! It has never happened before. Why will it happen now??
Me - Errr...
Dad - How do I unlock it? I pressed 'Unlock' but nothing happened!
Me - You have to press the asterisk after pressing 'Unlock'.
Dad - Press the WHAT? You unlock my phone now. And don't lock it again.
Me - Sigh...

Mom (from kitchen) - Does he want more?
Me - More, Viv?
Viv - Nope.
Me (projecting voice towards kitchen) - No, he doesn't.
Mom - Are you sure?
Me - Yes.
Mom (comes out) - Some more, beta?
Viv - Yeah sure!
Mom (glaring at me) - See?
Me (glaring at Viv) - What the...?!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Settled down or settled for?

The Bhai sends a BEEEEEEG (word courtesy the Baby Aish Dictionary) apology to the bar and bewdas for suddenly going underground. I am now in India and would like to conveniently place the blame for the lack of posts on a certain individual who goes by the online (and offline) name Urv (more details on that will be in another post).


So my sis, Jeeju and baby Aish had to make a sudden trip to India a few weeks ago. My Dad immediately called Viv and me up and asked us to rush down too. "This will be a great occasion!" He said. You see, Jeeju and Viv had never met each other. Jeeju had not been able to make it to our wedding; in fact, this trip was his first to India in a decade. Dad had just retired a few months ago and having his entire family at the same place at the same time was indeed a very special occasion. So Viv and I rushed down for a quick holiday, first with my folks and then his, and also to visit other relatives in the area. 10 days, 5 cities. Only we know how we are doing it.

After years of living in the houses provided by his bank, Dad has finally moved to his own home. I had seen the place only once or twice but never properly. Now was the time to really explore everything that Dad had collected and stored over the years. Ancient cartons were opened and our childhood memorabilia were put on display. Some of them were rather touching, and some were just plain hilarious. I found my opinion diary from when I was in Std. V (1990) and the first one to write in that had been Mom. Viv was reading it and he suddenly burst out laughing. Then he went and showed that page to Jeeju who also burst out laughing. All of us crowded around curiously to see what the two of them were laughing at.

In the section 'My aim in life is:', Mom had written, "To get two brilliant sons-in-law."

Jeeju looked at Viv, grinned mischievously and then said to Mom, "Well, what can you do now?"

Friday, November 13, 2009

As heard on radio...

"Love is friendship set to music."

Not bad. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The pursuit of happiness

I don't even know how or where she learnt it, but baby Aish seems to have quite a good concept of 'happiness' and 'sadness'. When prompted to do some monkey-giri just for the amusement of her mausi at the other end of the line, she often responds positively when told, "If you sing, Mausi will become happy."

When I was in the US, I knocked my knee against something and was rubbing it when she came and said, "Mausi, don't be sad." even though I wasn't looking sad. (I just wasn't grinning at her as usual.)

Also, when I was packing to come back to Singapore, she was getting very upset, and kept saying, "Don't go, don't go back to Singapore!" It was only when my sister told her "If Mausi doesn't go back to Singapore, Mausa will become sad." that she calmed down and allowed me to come back.

Now that she's in India, she seems to be spreading the "happy thoughts" there too. In a rather odd way though. It seems that when Mom makes rotis, Aish observes her very closely. She looks at the ones that puff up real nice and says, "That's a happy roti!" and the ones that do not puff up are "sad rotis".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The right pick

She looked around at the crowd around her. "Unbelievable..." She shook her head and muttered to herself. But she needed the crowd for the work she was about to do. She scanned each face carefully, looking for the right one. She kept looking, ignoring the advice of the voices in her head that said, "You don't have to actively look for them, that will draw too much attention and the whole thing could backfire. If you scare them away, you will never be able to achieve anything. Just relax, okay? They will come to you on their own, trust us. You're getting a bit psychotic and obsessive about this, you know. It doesn't have to be such a dramatic battle in your head first. You're not the only person who does this. There are many people out there who do this on a daily level. If it has to happen, it will. If not, you just go about your usual business and come back."

She didn't agree. "I have to find them myself." She thought. There had been times she had failed and felt miserable. When she felt that the target was within arm's reach and yet, she couldn't do anything because of the sea of people between the target and her. She scanned the crowd once more, looking for the right one. It had to be someone old and frail, preferably a retiree. Any younger and/or stronger and yes, the whole thing could backfire. Preferably someone holding a large heavy bag, she thought. She looked at the people around her and shook her head in disapproval. None of them were suitable.

And finally, after a long long time, she found the perfect target, standing just a few feet away. Very old. Completely white hair. Very thin and frail. He was holding a large white plastic bag, and looked like he was struggling with the weight. "That's the one. Finally." She smiled to herself. And the best part was --- even though he was not looking at her, he was walking right towards her.

She got up, tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention, and said as the bus rocked again, "Uncle, you can have my seat."

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Ajab Ranbir Ki Ghazab Kahani

Even though it was released 15 years ago, Andaz Apna Apna stands tall and proud on my list of the funniest Bollywood movies. As I followed Rajkumar Santoshi's subsequent movies over the last decade or so, I wondered a la the joker, "Raju, why so serious?" Like many AAA fans, I secretly wished for a sequel of AAA and I wished he'd made it when the two Khans were still err... normal. Now, of course it's too late. Both Aamir and Salman have gone kinda bonkers, and not in a good way.

So when I entered the theatre to watch Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani last night, I kept my expectations low. After all, the comedy these days is of a different kind, and the comedy of those days would not work today. My favourite reviewer Raja Sen had warned that one would enjoy the movie only if he/she watched it with 80s-tinted glasses. And boy, was I glad I did.

Maybe Santoshi was waiting. Waiting for little Ranbir to grow up so he could make this movie. Because in this age, only he could have done the kind of justice that the character of Prem needed. It was only Ranbir that could take us back to the days of AAA and make us laugh out loud at things that we would otherwise roll our eyes at. Be it him flying through the air and making laddoos in his mithaiwala cape, or saying "Chalo hum log plate dhote hain" to his mother or saying "Tere thigh muscles loose ho gaye hain!" when Katrina spots him holding Sallu's leg and pleading, or casually asking his mother if she'd seen his 'top' (and even casually slipping it on!) or telling Jesus how the angry Shankar Bhagwaan's third eye will make him go 'phussssssss' or just the way he calls out 'Salluuuu' when Katrina eggs him to call out to 'his close friend Salman Khan'.

The movie is not all slapstick though. There are some very clever lines and scenes that just make you wish they'd pause the movie so you could finish laughing before you got ready for the next scene.

In spite of the predictable storyline, it's the AAA feel that makes it a delightful fun fest. The movie works because of the scenes and not because of the story. Even though some of them are so over the top you can't see the top anymore.

Even Salman Khan, who is barely tolerable these days, evoked hysterical laughter when he said, "Jaise meri girlfriend ko apni bata raha hai?" Maybe all the three brothers should stick to guest appearances. Remember the delightful Sohail and Arbaaz in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na?

Katrina Kaif does what she does best - sit pretty and spout a few lines every now and then in her accented hindi. It is easy to tolerate her because of two things -- first of all, she is so damn pretty it's almost distracting, and secondly, Ranbir is so damn good in the movie that at times it seems like no one else matters. That is one talented kid and he's gonna go places. Good job, Rishi and Neetu!

Viv and I had just watched 'Wake up Sid' some time ago and absolutely loved it too. It feels good to finally like an actor who is so good you can safely watch every movie with him in it. In fact, when the movie ended, Viv turned to me and said, "Do you think we should watch Saawariya?"

Yup, we're fans. Fans who can't wait for 'Rocket Singh - Salesman of the Year' to release.

PS: Just when I thought Katrina Kaif had the worst Hindi diction on the planet, Upen Patel opened his mouth.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Remember me?

"Hi, what's up?" Said my sister when I called. She's in India now, along with bro-in-law and baby Aish.

"Yeah hi, etc." I said. "Does she still remember me???"


"Does Aish still remember me???"

"Of course she does!" said my sister.

"Are you sure? Are you very sure?"

"Sigh. Again?!"

Yep, my sister thinks I'm being paranoid.

"She just met you like two weeks ago. Why would she forget you? Why do you keep asking that??"

"Because she's only three. Because she's only going to see me once a year (if I'm lucky). Because she's constantly surrounded by new people and new things. Of course she'll forget me." I lamented.

"Trust me, she won't. She talks about you every day."

"Really? What did she say today?"

"Well, I was using your face powder that you'd left behind, and she yelled at me."

"Hahaha! She yelled at you?! What did she say??"

"She said, 'Mama, put that back! It's not yours. It's Mausi's!!'."

I beamed.

Not just at how Aish was learning to throw back the words thrown at her, but at the fact that she remembered me.

And that she stood up for me and my face powder.