Meherbai’s Mandli Celebrate Valentine’s Day!

As most readers may know by now, Meherbai was a romantic person and maybe this is why the romance never flew out of the window even after 50 years of marriage. In fact, Meherwanji worshipped the ground she walked on, saying “Meherbai Na Jyan Jyan Sabakta Pagla Parey, Tyan Tyan Ujarda Thai” (She lights up the path with her lucky feet). Their days were filled with fun, frolic, joy, laughter, kisses and cuddles. She even taught her friends that there is no religion higher than ‘love’ – the principle of all existence. But to enjoy the good things of life, one has to first fulfill one’s duties as enjoined by life.

For Valentine’s Day, she arranged a romantic couples-dinner at our good old Parsi Gymkhana and took along a huge heart-shaped Black Forest cake for Mohnu Samarva. “Mohnu Samarva? Say it in English!” said Meherwanji. “What Mohnu Samarva? Say “Repairing the mouth”. Also tell your friends to “Eat Shamelessly!” “Shamelessly??” asked Meherbai. “Yes dear”, said Meherwanji. “It means Sharmaya Vagar Jamjoji!” “Meherwan, my darling, promise me you will not speak in English at the dinner party,” pleaded Meherbai.

And so the dinner took-off with ‘Chhato-Pani’ and Parsi Pegs for the hubbies and soft-drinks for the girls (all over seventy) with cries of Salamati, Tandarosti, etc. and a Chinese food order of Chilli grilled prawns, Butterfly-prawns, Honey chicken, Crazy-crabs, Hong Kong lobsters, Fish Fingers and Platinum promfrets. Order over? Whaaat? You must be joking! Or else you don’t know the Mandli-rules, which go – ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we DIET!’ Of course, tomorrow never comes! These were only starters, silly! The waiters were told, “Humare Khaney Ka Order Baad Mein Lena”!!

Meherbai gave a short ‘gyan’ on who St. Valentine was and why 14th February was a celebration of love. “Today, we sing only love-songs. Also, whatever you want to say, sing and say!”

“Can I sing Papeta-ma-Sing or Bavaji-no-Bucho?” asked Elvis, whose real name was Erik. “He means ‘Puppet on a String’ and ‘Besame Moucho’” corrected his wife. “No! No! Romantic Bollywood songs only!” everyone yelled.

Just then, the very romantic couple of Dolla and Dolly entered. Dolla explained that they were late because “Dolly nu chhapru rangvanu hatoo.” “House-roof?” asked Aspi Allrounder. “Arey nahin re! Her own roof! She had gone next-door to Beroze, the beautician to dye her hair with mehendi.” “Oh! That chhapru-rangvanu!” said Zarine. “But as per today’s rules, you must sing and say it!” Poor Dolla had no option but to sing and inform the Mandli members, thus:

“Mahendi Laga Ke Rakhna
Dolly Ko Young Banana
Leney Tujhey Oh Dolly,
Ayega Dolla Sajna.”

“Cheating! Cheating! Not romantic enough!” Now Sillamai wanted to sing:

“My Name Is Silla,
Silla Ki Jawani
I’m Too Sexy For You
Mein Sam Ke Hath Na Aani,
No, No, No, No Silla!!”

To which, her hubby who hated his interfering mother-in-law, promptly sang the Priyanka Chopra item number from the film, Ramleela:

“Sam Chahey Silla Ko,
Silla Chahey Sam,
In Dono Ke Beech Mein
Sasuji Ka Kya Kaam?”

By now, the starters had vanished, so chicken curry rice and biryanis were ordered. “What? No limbu or kachumber with curry-rice??” asked an exasperated Piroj Pehelwan! He promptly sang to the waiter, the Aishwarya Rai dance number:

“Limbu-La, Limbu-La, Limbu-La!
Limbu-La, Limbu-La, Limbu-La!
Arrey, Motta, Motta Sojja, Sojja
Limbuda Le Ke Aa!”

Everyone clapped but one couple, Bomi and Banoo were serious. They’d had an argument that morning, so Bomi tried to patch-up with his wife by singing the famous ‘Sangam’ song:

“Mere Man Ki Ganga,
Aur Tere Man Ki Jamuna Ka,
Bol Banoo Bol,
Sangam Hoga Ke Nahin

To which, Banoo promptly replied, “Nahin! Kabhi Nahin!

Meherbai got up, joined Banoo and Bomi’s hands in a clasp and advised them that in married life, there’s ‘Kabhi Khushi, Kabhi Gum’, so forget the bad things, kiss each other and “Hasi boli ney saathey raho!

The Biryanis had not yet arrived so Keku Khadro sang the famous Rajesh Khanna number:

“Meri Chicken ki Biryani Kab Aayegi Tu?”

“Cheating! Cheating! Only romantic songs!” Everyone shouted. Just then, the Biryani arrived but completely cold. Though ready, the waiters had forgotten to serve it. So Keku sang the famous Bipasha Basu song (beedi jalaile) item number:

“Choola Jalai Ke
Yeh Re-Heat Karo
Taddan Thandi Biryani Chey
Kem khavai, Kem Khavai”

I’ll sing a romantic song for my Sekta-Ni-Sing Chadan said her husband and he sang the Dabang number:

“Tere Mast Mast Doh Nain
Mere Dil Ka Le Gayi Chain
Tere Mast Mast Doh Nain
I love my Chadan Chama-Chain”

Again Keku started off (after four pegs) with a Rishi-Neetu number.

“Humney Tumko Dekha
Tumney Humko Dekha – Kaisey?
Hum Tum Sanam,
Saato Janam
Margi Khayenge Aise!!”

The Bill arrived and Meherbai asked Meherwanji to check the Bill to which he sang,

“Hum Bill De Chukey Sanam
It was very Garam,
Teri Kasam!!”

Everyone ate the huge heart-shaped cake with dollops of Vanilla ice cream and oodles of chocolate sauce. Thereafter, Manimai sang the old Bharat Bhushan and Madhubala number:

“Zindagi Bhar Nahin Bhulegi Ye Valentine Ki Raat.”

Everyone got up to sing and dance on the lawns of Parsi Gymkhana:

“Salamey Ishk, Ishk, Ishk!! Salamey Ishk!!”

And thats how Meherbai’s Mandli’s Valentine Day ended with songs and laughter. As Sorabji Shakespeare from Ballard Estate put it, “Hasta Tena Gher Vasta, Cry And You Cry Alone!

So in spite of life’s problems, pinpricks, set-backs and tragedies, Meherbai and her group always made a conscious effort to be happy and make others happy – especially on Valentine’s Day! Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai!!

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