Sunday, June 15, 2008


rumba or samba
after having Zampa

One of my best friends Pradeep, got into the wine business. Now he is as old and sweet as wine. One day he came home and produced two bottles of Zampa. One red, one white....

Initial hiccups

I'm not much of a wine drinker, but he insisted we (Kamala, Vinod and me) the terrible trio of critics, gave him our frank opinion on his new wine which he was about to launch. He didn't know he was asking for trouble.

Vinod (4 beers down) :" I went to the restaurant called 'Happy' and asked for Zampa. They gave me choice of 'Appy' or old Champa. "
Me (8 beers down ): "I didn't like the red wine. "
Kamala (sober) :" I'm not feeling too well. Could I give you my opinion tomorrow? " .


Next morning I got up and realized, Zampa the red, didn't leave the lingering bad taste in your mouth, which other red wines do. I messaged Pradeep and told him so. He messaged back saying "thank you". Vinod was a bit drowsy and hung-over and not in the right frame of mind to give the right opinion. Kamala waited. She had her first sip the next day.

The wine grows on us

After our first encounter, we realized that Zampa (especially the white) was delicious. I thought it could become a benchmark drink against which others would be compared. Vinod also, realized that he was too old for old Champa and it was time for him to change over to Zampa, if ever he wanted to feel young. Kamala and her friend Suresh took one sip and were completely sold out. I wished Kamala felt the same for me.(late night we were having the wine and after the bottles were empty, we contemplated going over to Pradeep's house and asking for more).

Price v/s Value

Gabbar : "Aarey o Sambha. Kitna inaam rakhe hai sarkar ham par? ".
Sambha :" Pure chaar bottle Zampa! ".
Gabbar : "Suna tumne. Sarkar bhi hamari value samzta hai.Abhi tak haramzada pachaas hazar bolta tha".


Saturday, June 7, 2008


It had been a long time since I saw Aakarsh. He is my nephew and lives in USA. He came down to Mumbai with Asit (my brother) and Minoo (my bhabhi). Ayushee (my niece) couldn’t make it because of her entry into medicines. This little boy is lovely. No ways you cannot like him. He had two goals in mind when he landed. (1) To play chess with me and hopefully beat me before he left (2) learn to play cricket.

He came on a Friday, so being a working day I couldn’t go to the airport to receive him. Kamala (my wife) went to fetch him. Since my parents didn’t know they were coming, I called them over to give them a big surprise. They were quite thrilled. By the time I could get back from office, this boy had fallen a sleep. I waited for him to get up. Finally, I was about to close my eyes when there was a big load which fell on me and woke me up. I got up and saw this silly boy laughing at me and shouting “surprise”. I acted as if I had not seen him all this while. I said “oh my! When did you come?” He gave me a weird look and said “Don’t fool Rahulkaka. You already knew it. That’s why kamalakaki came to the airport”. I knew I had it. I was in for a big trouble for the next one and half months or so.

Next day was Saturday. After chatting with him for some time, I told him to sleep. He gave me a sheepish look and told me he was jet lagged and would sleep only if he felt exhausted. Liar. He had already made plans to stay awake the whole night and possibly the next morning till the milkman arrived. This boy is so restless that you can't rest if he is around. My biggest worry was to keep him occupied (which ultimately brought out the kid in me). It was a challenge.

Aakarsh is a boy, with whom everybody wants to talk. He comes out with amazing statements and logic. And for an eight year old, he is very sharp. Niyoshi (my daughter), finds him very cute. Kamala (as always) would go out of the way to help him and play with him. My parents can't keep mum when he is around. So here I was awake with him the whole night. Didn't know who was jet lagged. Next morning, promptly he told me he wanted to take a ride in a rickshaw. I said OK. I called for an auto and told the driver to take wherever he liked. Aakarsh was thrilled.(wherever?)That's unheard of in US. We reached Juhu beach and went for a stroll. He was visibly upset. I asked him what had happened? Was he upset because the beach was dirty? He
said no, he hadn't expected the beach to be clean anyways but he was disappointed because the rickshaw driver was too slow. I said I would drive while coming back. He took it seriously. Anyways, while coming back I caught another rickshaw driver and told him I would pay him 5 Rs. extra if he drove real fast.The driver smacked his lips in anticipation ( getting the extra money from us morons for the thing he would have done anyways).He drove really fast. Aku was overjoyed. I said, imagine only 5 Rs. for what Disney would have charged 50 Dollars.

We came home and Aku was hungry. Anu, our maid (but I would call her our family member) had made Paneer paratha for him. One bite of it and he fell in love with the food and Anu. Now Kamala and Minoo had serious competition. I started wondering if all the boys and the girls were so easy to please. But no, this guy was special. Whenever he expressed a desire to do or have something done and if he enjoyed it, he would give you a feeling as if you had done something really great. I guess life is all about feeling great.

Over the days we had lots of fun, Aakarsh and I. His reasoning and questioning are so forthright that it amazes you and makes you wonder why you hadn't thought of it earlier. He is also a very emotional boy but he keeps it private. On one occasion, he was sitting in the hall and the bell rang. Before he could open the door fully , Niyoshi by mistake open the door from outside and it banged on his head. Immediately tears started rolling down his face. Now I was watching all this but I still asked him what had happened? He immediately protected Niyoshi saying it was just a mistake and refused to tell the details thinking I would scold Niyoshi. But the tears could tell he was hurt. Niyoshi, of course , instinctively fell sorry for him and went on apologizing.

He also has a great sense of humour. Since he was coughing a lot, one day, Kamala gave him a hot pack to put it on his chest. He was lying down. But as soon as he got up, the hot pack skidded down his chest on to the floor. He burst out laughing saying "My boobs just fell! Pick them up will ya?". There was half a minute of stunned silence. Despite the ladies being around, I couldn't help myself and fell off laughing. Top it all, ladies joined both of us and were laughing even more vigorously. Now this is what I call an innocent sense of humour. One can easily be embarassed if one had a rigid mind.

Every evening I would come back from work and he would be ready with his ammunition (either a chess board or a cricket bat). He plays real good chess. He knew most of the moves. Fortunately, I used to play quite a bit of chess when I was in college. And now I had to bring all my memories back to beat this guy. We had our battle lines drawn every evening. Ageing bull against young matador. It wasn't easy though.

Saturdays and sundays we used to play cricket. He loved it so much that he used get up at 6, wait for the first ray of sun light which was his first ray of hope, wear his cricketing gears and order me to teach him to play cricket. Asit was so happy that he took our videos and posted it on his blog. Niyo and Anu also joined us from time to time. Niyo is a good hitter and Aku is a good catcher. We lost lots of cricket balls but he made sure they were replaced. This went on for most of the holidays. Like I said ealier, here is a kid who brings out the kid in you. Pepole who cannot find time for fun are obliged, sooner or later to find time for illness.

Aku, Niyo and Anu jelled very well. They had their share of fun and had lots of secrets to share. I'm sure at our expense. It was a great joy having him here in Mumbai. Like beauty, joy is one of the highest vibration on this planet. The time we spent together brought out the joy that was already inside me to life.