Yesterday was a day of surprises. Yes, plural, not just one. Let me list them for you.

1. I received a phone call in the morning from a young friend who after the initial surprise was over asked me for directions to reach my home as he was coming after many years and the neighbourhood had changed a lot. I told him that I would rather not see him considering the Covid situation and he said that it would be okay as he just had to deliver some parcels to me. I guided him to my verandah from where I was unable to receive the parcels as they were simply too big. So, he had to come into the house after going through the security rigmarole of our society where visitors have to go through a sanitisation process.

2. The parcels turned out to be one gift, a very thoughtful one, from a mutual friend in Mumbai who my visitor had met last week. Along with the gift the visitor had also brought two Gujarathi dishes that were my favourite with a long lost story behind one of them. My Mumbai friend had heard my story about how I used to enjoy the dish during my stay in Ahmedabad over half a century ago. Since both my Mumbai friend and the visitor are Gujarathis, the latter was requested to prepare the dish as a surprise and deliver to me with a cryptic message reminding me about my Ahmedabad days.

The dish is called Handvo and I thoroughly enjoyed it for lunch.

3. Another friend, this time from Chennai telephoned me to inform me that he is sending me a gift parcel and he was calling to caution me to accept the parcel when the courier comes to deliver it. Quite what the gift is a mystery but, knowing my friend as I do, it is likely to be something that I will cherish and use regularly.

4. A TV serial that I had stopped watching after the imposition of the lockdown as only old episodes were being shown due to the producers not being able to produce episodes due to the lockdown, started showing new episodes from last evening and this 45 minutes every evening will now revert to my old pre-lockdown discipline. This is the only TV programme that I used to watch and I had missed it.

All in all a very pleasant day.


My fellow 2 on 1 Friday blogger Shackman has recently relocated to California and I was inspired to suggest this topic by that move. Please go over to Shackman’s blog to see how he tackles the topic.

My pre-marriage and the first year after that was life living out of a suitcase from the age of 16 for me. I had relocated a few times between Hyderabd and Chennai/Mumbai and also Ahmedabad before my marriage in November 1968. Relocating was simply a matter of packing my suitcase and moving to a hotel, hostel or paying guest accommodation and did not make for much effort or difficulty.

The first home we set up after marriage was in Delhi and since it was for a stay of just a few months, we had taken a barsati on rent and hired furniture and bare minimum utensils and a stove but both of us lived off suitcases.

The first proper home that we lived in was in Mumbai between 1970 and mid 1973 when we acquired furniture, cooking utensils, linen, etc and when we had to move to Kolkata, we were exposed for the first time to relocating with major packing, discarding etc but, the redeeming feature of the exercise was that we could hire professional packers and movers who did the dirty work, stored the stuff till we found accommodation at Kolkata and unpacked for us too.

From that first move, we relocated to Kerala, back to Mumbai on three occasions, Delhi and Bengaluru and finally to Pune in 1990 where we bought our home where I continue to live till date. During these relocations we moved and set up new homes on eight separate occasions till we put in our final roots.

I had to relocate on two separate occasions afterwards to Tirupur but since it was to furnished accommodation on both occasions I simply had to pack a suitcase. Whenever Urmeela came to stay with me there, she too simply had to come with a packed suitcase. So those two relocations were not really relocations in the true sense.

The only major disruption that we experienced during the relocations was in the schooling of our son Ranjan which, we once even had to solve by admitting him to a boarding school for three years. In retrospect, those three years were also the most disturbing for both of us despite frequent meetings with him at his school as well as his coming home for his vacations. Another experience that I would not wish on anyone.

I can therefore confidently assert that I am a seasoned and well-experienced relocator. I would not like to do that again though as I am now too well ensconced in my comfort zone in Pune where it will be three decades next year, since we relocated.


I am not a fan of Shah Rukh Khan but having seen the trailer of Raees, and reading good reviews of  it, I went to see it yesterday. I had another reason for wanting to see the film and that was that I had met the character portrayed in the film in Ahmedabad a couple of times in the mid 1980s. Not as my bootlegger but as an important personage attending a couple of weddings that I had gone to attend too.

Good story, direction, cinematography, unobtrusive music and great editing makes for an enjoyable experience.  I enjoyed the movie and recommend it to all my readers who like to see Bollywood films.

Having said that, let me talk about the actors. Leaving aside the three main actors, every one without exception produces professional performances even in the smallest and shortest of roles. Speaks volumes for direction.

SRK disappoints. He tries to do what Amitabh Bacchan did as the angry young man in the 1980s and fails miserably. He is reputed to be a suave actor in romantic scenes but in this film, he fails miserably with wooden performances in such scenes. I suspect that had he just tried to be himself, he would have come across better in the role.

On the other hand, Nawazuddin Siddiqui though under utilised, steals every scene that he appears in with effortless ease. There is one particular scene where his senior police officer ticks him off and he responds with a cool “Jai Hind” that is simply breathtaking.

The leading lady, a Pakistani actress Mahira Khan produces a professional performance without being overawed by the presence of the star hero. I however wonder why an Indian actress could not have been found for the role.

Favourite Book Or Film.

This week’s LBC topic comes from Maria who as I write this is and when it will get published will still be in her beloved Ireland winding up her visit.  She should get back to bring in the new year at her home in Lucknow and I hope that 2016 will see her back to blogging for the LBC.

Rather than write on book or film let me write about both.  And, as a bonus mention two films, one in Hindi and one in English.

BG Book
My favourite book, one that I keep going back to again and again for reference as well as to refresh my memory is the Bhagwat Geetha.  Does that surprise any of my readers?

My all time favourite film that I can see again and again is Guide.  I first saw it in Ahmedabad in 1965.  There was little else to do in that town those days and the theater oddly enough called the Relief Cinema was the only air conditioned one in town.   I saw the film seven times while it still ran there, I think for more than a hundred days if my memory serves me right.

I saw it again a number of times on reruns at morning or matinee shows as well as on the Television.

It is more difficult to choose an English film but I would plunk for The Magnificent Seven.  I have simply lost count of the number of times that I have seen it and would still see it if it was shown on TV or even at special screenings.  I used to own a VCTape of it and will now investigate if I can get a DVD to keep for posterity.

And to conclude this post on this glorious day of the 25th of December 2015, I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas.  Mine started being one since yesterday afternoon with the arrival of my sister, her son and his family.  I hasten to add this last paragraph before I run away to be with them for the rest of the day.

Travel Series II.

Lin, here is the second of the five that you had suggested. The locale is the same Ahmedabad mentioned yesterday but the adventure is a rather peculiar one that can only happen in India and that too only in Gujarat. Although this story goes back to the eighties of the last century, the prohibition remains in force there.

ban in guj

“I had assured my readers yesterday, that I would share another story from Ahmedabad with them and here it is.

Ahmedabad is the commercial capital of Gujarat, the only state in India with total prohibition of alcohol consumption. There are cumbersome procedures to get a permit from the Excise department to consume alcohol for medicinal purposes, but that is another story.

For visitors from other states without prohibition, there is a facility in most hotels to procure temporary permits to purchase alcohol within the hotel’s premises.

On one of my trips to Ahmedabad, I had obtained such a permit and also purchased a pint of whiskey. Unfortunately for me, during my stay during that trip, I did not have the time or occasion to consume the whiskey and the unopened bottle remained in my overnighter.

On my departure from Ahmedabad airport, I had the overnighter as a carry on baggage and was asked to open it for inspection by the Airport Security Detail of the Gujarat Police stationed there. When the bottle of whiskey was found the policeman took me aside and took me to the senior officer in another room. I explained that I had a valid permit, showed it to him and said that I could not consume the whiskey and was taking it back with me to Bombay. The Inspector accepted that I was not doing anything illegal but said that I could not take the bottle with me. I said that I could not very well drink it there and still make the flight. After much hemming and hawing and looking up the rule book he pleaded his helplessness, but suggested that I check in the overnighter with the whiskey inside to solve the problem of the rules. Checked in luggage were not subject to x-ray inspection those days. I had to go back outside the security area, re-check in, explain to the airline staff the problem and check in the luggage and finally made it to the flight.

When I shared this story with some of my more savvy friends, they said that I should have offered to split the bottle half and half with the Inspector, and I would have been allowed to carry it on board!”

Incidentally, much to the disgust of most of my family’s men and almost all friends, I quit and have not taken any alcoholic beverages since late May 1999.  So, no more similar adventures!

Travel Series I.

Lin, here goes the first post on my adventures during my travelling days. This was posted five years ago in June 2010.

Last week, I had shared with my readers a story from my Delhi days which came back to revive a friendship after almost three decades. Today, I shall continue with another one from the mid-eighties, which too came back in a most unexpected way.

Some few weeks ago, I came to know about the passing away of Kader from Ahmedabad, for who I had a great deal of respect and affection. He was a customer of the company with which I was working in the eighties and one of the most honest and trustworthy men in a highly competitive field. Kader was highly respected by his customers in turn and in his passing away, one more interesting personality from my active business days had gone to make his peace.

I had known his family too and knowing that his son Jalal was already in the business, I sent a message of condolence to the young man with some references to his late father’s excellent character and reputation. Jalal in turn rang me up to convey his and his family’s gratitude for the most unexpected communication from me.

On the day that I had the meeting with my airport friend from Delhi, when I returned from the supermarket, I received another telephone call from Jalal to just hand over the phone to his family doctor who wanted to share with me his memories of the time that I had an accident in Ahmedabad, The family doctor had to be summoned to attend to me in my hotel, late in the evening. The family doctor was reminiscing about various people that he had met through Kader and he remembered me for that memorable night which was an experience that he had never had earlier nor since then. This is the story about that accident and a retired GP’s memories of that incident.

As Sales Manager, I was visiting customers at Ahmedabad and had checked into a hotel for the night. After checking in, the bellboy before leaving the room after depositing the luggage and turning on the Airconditioner etc, asked me if there was anything else that I required. I said no and sent him on his way with the usual tip.

I took a shower, changed into my off duty dress of lungi and kurtha and started to read a book when there was a knock at the door and the same page boy once again asked me if I wanted any other service. I told him that I would order for food from the room service and did not need anything, thanked him and shut the door.

After a few moments he once again knocked to ask the same question but with a sign language of “do you want to drink something?” Ahmedabad is in the state of Gujarath, the only state in India with prohibition of alcohol consumption in force with a thriving bootlegging trade. I had made my own arrangements and now having understood the keenness of the lad to be of service to me, I declined and sent him off.

After a few moments, the same lad appeared again with a sly grin and was just beginning to ask if I wanted some other service, when I lost my temper and decided to give him a good kick and send him on his way. I did, and the next thing that I remember is being flat out on my knees with a throbbing and bleeding forehead. I had forgotten that I was wearing a lungi, which is a cylindrical garment from waist down to the ankles, and had tripped over while executing the kick, but by some instinct turned around before falling down and hit my forehead on the sharp corner of the door’s latch.

The young man panicked and ran away and I got up to try and stem the bleeding with toilet paper and water but had little success. I rang up Kader and told him that I had cut myself and needed a doctor to come and put in a couple of stitches. He promptly rushed with his family doctor and it was done within the next half an hour. I still carry that scar on my forehead.

The doctor when told about how I came to cut myself like that, laughed his heart out and said that he was glad that he and Kader wore pajamas at home and not lungis. After all these years, he remembered that incident and was reminiscing with Jalal about that evening when Jalal decided to share the story from the doctor himself.

Since then a flood of memories of my visits to that beautiful town, has been visiting me. Ahmedabad is special for me for another reason in that I went to Business School there for two years in the sixties. I have many interesting recollections of those two years too. I may write about some of them later, but my next post will be on a really funny experience that I had there with the security detail at the airport on another occasion.