After an entire year (2016) of tea-parties, lunches, coffee-mornings in various clubs of Mumbai, from Colaba’s US Club to Bandra’s Otter’s Club, Meherbai and her group of ladies were exhausted. “Let’s be serious now. I mean really serious “ she said as they gathered in the last week of this year at the Wodehouse Gymkhana to discuss something profound, something productive, something life-changing… their New Year Resolutions for 2017!
As they met, everyone was all ears for Meherbai to open her mouth – nah! not for eating, but for saying something wise. It’s another matter that living in a Parsi Colony, Meherbai had become a bit of loud-mouth. In fact, Meherwanji, her bitter-half always said, “Khodaiji made my Meherbai’s mouth, keeping a triple-decker sandwich in mind!” He loved her to bits – all 100 kilos of her, and showed his love through food by taking her to every club, restaurant, lagan and navjote in town!
Coming back, there was pin-drop-silence at the Wodehouse Otla and Meherbai uttered her first golden words, “Waiter! Come here! Take the order.” Turning to her golden girls, she asked them to practice frugality and share the dishes as they had wasted too much money on food in 2016. She then turned to the waiter and asked, “Aisa koi dishes hai jaisme bees lok kha sakega?”
“Yes memsab! Dal-khichdi hai – dus ladies dus-dus dana chaval kha sakega aur baki ka ladies do-do chamchi dal kha sakega. On hearing this, Khadri Kety fainted. The other 19 ladies promptly took out their shoes and sandals to revive her, but Meherbai’s BFF (Best Friend Forever), shushed them away and instead whispered in Katy’s ear “Bhonu ayoon!” Katy got up with a start like those heroines in old Hindi films saying, “Main kahaan hoon?”
The waiter answered, “Ma’am aap Wodehouse mein hai aur aapney teen mahiney ka bill nahin bhara hai!”
“Choop Mua!” retorted Katy. She had fallen from grace in her group!
“Katy nu Taj gabri pariyu!” jealous Jalamai said.
“Anything to drink?” asked the waiter
“Bees glass matka-cola lao.” ordered Meherbai.
“Woh to nahin hai.”
“Matke mein kya hota hein?”
“Jao, bees glass pani lao!”
“Bisleri ya ordinary?”
“You silly man! Can’t you see we are all ordinary people and not VIPs (Very Idiotic People)? Get ordinary water!”
“Now ladies, listen to me carefully. This is very important, so lend me your ears,” (quoting from Sorabji’s Shakespere).
Abbhan Aban said, “Nai re! If I lend you my ears, my earrings will never come back! Last Papeti I sent you ravo and the crystal-dish never came back!” Meherbai shouted, “Don’t digress Aban ! As
I was saying, dearly beloved, we have gathered here today…”
“Arrey, Arrey! These are words from a Catholic funeral,” said Piloo Pumkin. “Gujarati ma bhasi maro ni! Gotpit-sotpit gher ma Meherwanji sathey karvani!” Meherbai was offended and refused to speak further. Meherbai’s chamchi (stainless steel spoon) Chaadan and other ladies admonished Piloo Pumkin and pleaded with Meherbai to continue her talk.
“OK since Chaadan and all others are doing kaala-vaala, I’ll speak! We have come here today in the last week of the year to make our New Year Resolutions for 2017. Who is first?”
Everyone clapped, with Ravishing Rutty saying, “I’ll take more care of my skin in 2017 and never go to bed at night without removing my make-up.”
Artificial Aaimai said, “I’ll remove my wig, hearing-aid, dentures and falsies every night before sleeping.”
Jalamai: “I’ll do charity during the mango season in 2017 and since charity begins at home, I’ll eat the ‘aaphus’ and give the ‘gotlas’ as charity to my beloved hubby, Sammy-six-pack, because he has stuffed himself so much in 2016, that instead of six-pack, he has an economy pack round his waist. His cycle spare tyre has become a truck tyre!”
A big round of thumping the table and “Wah! Wah! Jalamai, what a lovely wife you are!” said Aban. I’ll also do the same, so my hubby who looks like Amjad Khan will now look like Salman Khan! Freny the flirt told Jalamai, “Arrey, your Sammy is already DABANG! It’s my fantasy to dance with him at the New Year’s ball and sing Tere Mast Mast Do Biceps in his ears!”
“Shut up, Freny!” retorted Jalamai. “Sammy is mine. He is out of bounds for chibavli chaklis like you!”
“Resolutions! Get back to resolutions,” shouted Meherebai the MC (Master of Ceremonies).
“I’ll be thoughtful, gentle, loving, obedient wife to my Hormasji – a real pati-vrata who walks one step behind him and says aji, jaloo aur aloo ke pitaji, suntey ho?” That was Katy who saw too many brain-damaging Hindi films and crazy TV serials.
Najoo-Malai-Nu-Khaju, spilled the beans and told Katy, “Havey rehva dey. Your hubby, henpecked Homi is a true patni-vrata. He always walks two steps behind you and I can bet my last (and useless) thousand Rupee note that he fasts all day on Karva-Chauth!”
Coomi Clinton butted in, “My resolution is to become more aware of world-politics by reading news-papers instead of Stardust and Film-fare. Also I shall watch news-channels like BBC and Al Jazeera on TV instead of the sick serials where a woman becomes a snake (Ichchadhari Nagin) and a man becomes a Monster (Brahmarakshas)!”
“Here! Here! Coomi, well said!” remarked Meherbai who continued, “Food for the brain is so important! If a wife talks intelligently, her husband gets so much intellectual-stimulation in life, where as if the wife is an ignoramus-moron, her hubby’s brain will be retarded!”
“So true,” said Katy-Khadhri. “My Keki and I are totally compatible intellectually. We are made for each other. All day long we talk of food. Whole morning we discuss what lunch we’ll have and whole afternoon we discuss what we’ll eat for dinner. Before going to bed we have a high level discussion on next day’s breakfast!”
At last, Meherbai’s turn came to speak and sum up the resolutions as put forth by her Mandli. What she said was profound and put sense into the ladies. “Instead of always thinking about our own selves, what we will eat, where we will go and what we will wear, in the coming new year, let’s spare some thought for the unfortunate people who lack even the basic necessities, who cannot afford even one meal per day and can’t give their children even basic education. People spend Rs. 2,000/- to Rs. 3,000/- on Club and Hotel Buffets during the X’Mas and the New Year season, but millions go to sleep hungry whereas a colossal amount of food is wasted, especially at our lagans navjotes and hotels. Let’s save money and donate it to a worthwhile cause as a thanksgiving for the good life we enjoyed throughout the year. Laughter and jokes are fun and are a huge part of our lives but when we see so much economic disparity around us, we all must agree to lead our lives in a more responsible and sensible manner. “
With these few words, the meeting adjourned with each member pledged to do something for society in 2017. They parted with Ta-Ta, Goodbye and Kissi-Koti saying farewell to each other as well as to 2016. “See you next year!” said Meherbai.