Meherbai was an excellent cook. She had married Meherwanji while still in college and had been cooking nutritionally-healthy meals for him, with the result that her hubby was, in his own words: “Fit as a fiddle and ready for love!” Being a good influence on her friends, most Mandli wives sacked their cooks and started cooking with love for their respective spouses, in the hope that they become strong like Meherwanji.
One Sunday, Meherbai cooked lunch for the Mandli and the dishes were to die for. There were Framroze-na-farcha, Pilamai-no-pulav, Darabsha-ni-daar, Keki-na-cutlets, Manchi-ni-atheli-marghi, Siloo-ni-salad, plus desserts like Jaloo-jevi-jigsaw jalebi, Lovejibhai-na-lagan-nu-custard and Roshan-jeva-gol-gol rasgullas.
Keki’s wife: Keks! Keks!! Today, I’ve brought a bigger tiffin box to take home the leftovers.
Keki: Not now. We have just arrived and I don’t want a fiasco like you did on Navroze at the NCPA Parsi naatak! You embarrassed me by eating up half the food in the foyer and packing up the other half in your fake Gucci handbag! No wonder the public gave us dirty looks.
Meherbai: Your greedy wife did the same at Zubin Mehta’s concert at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre.
Abbhan Aban: Yes, Yes! I was also there! It was the first time that a concert featured a Parsi conductor, conducting music composed by a fellow Parsi.
Meherwanji: No, No! The composer was Gustav Mahler!
Abbhan Aban: Havey jeva deo ni, Gustadji Mahva of Cusrow Baug changed his name to Gustav Mahler when he emigrated to Vienna many years ago. His aunt, Soonamai Sonata told me this little secret.
Coomi Kajwali: But Aban, you understand nothing of Western classical music. Zubin’s Concert must have been a complete waste of money for you.
Abbhan Aban: I’m trying to learn and now understand a little bit like ADAGIO means ADAGRO, ANADANTINO is the brother of VALENTINO, PIZZICATO means the after-effects of eating too much PIZZA, SCHUBERT’S ‘Unfinished Symphony No.8’ is so called because his wife got fed up of his playing and shut the piano on his fingers, thus injuring him, that Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 is called TITAN because he loved to wear Tata’s Titan wrist-watch, and Mozart’s ‘Marriage of Figaro’ took place in Albless Baug where Tanaz Godiwala catered a superb meal.
Coomi Kaajwali: Really? I didn’t know any of this. Aban, you are a real Western Classical Music ni Culture-Vulture! I’ll find you a nice musical husband like Homi-Harmonica, Tehmulji-Tabla, Minoo- Mandolin, Pestonji- Piano, Soli-Sexophone , Hirji-Harmonium or Temasp-Tamburo!
Meherwanji: STOP! Both of you! Coomimai, don’t believe a word of what Aban said. It’s all fekum-fek. The woman is totally ignorant of Western Classical Music!
Coomi Kajwali: Soo Boloj? Hoon toh kharoo Samjhi. Now I won’t bother to find a musical husband for her.
Banoo Batak: Musical or unmusical, don’t find any husband for her. She has below-zero intelligence.
Vaanki Doki na Vikaji: How dare you Banoobai? My Aban is the most intelligent woman on this planet.
Abbhan Aban: Vikaji, I don’t need a certificate from you nor have I given you the power of attorney to speak on my behalf – so just shut up!
Vikaji: If I shut up, will you marry me? I am willing to shut up for the rest of my life!
Lovejibhai Lamba: Like me! I dare not say a word to my Banoo Batak!
Rarto Rohan: Same here. My mother-in-law, Shireen, runs my marriage by remote-control and I dare not say a word. She decides where I stay and which school my child goes to and my father-in-law, Hen-pecked Hormusji is a mute spectator to all this. Hope I don’t end up like him!
Rohan’s wife, Hasti Hilla: But you also use my mother as a Nanny instead of a Granny!! So, it’s fair and square. Now laugh! Because in this marriage, you have lost your Bachelor’s degree and my mom has got her master’s degree.
Everyone in the Mandli laughed except Rarto Rohan. By now, the starters arrived with chilled beer and everyone (specially, Khadro Keks and his wife) enjoyed Kolmi-na-kababs, fish-fingers, lobster-quiche, mutton-fritters and chicken-lollipops. Everyone was so delighted and so full with starters that they hardly ate the mains!
Keki’s wife: Keks! Keks! Have you noticed? Everyone is so full with the starters that they are hardly touching the mains, which means more left-over food for us. Since I have brought only one tiffin, go ask Meherbai to lend you another one. We’ll take home food in two tiffins today!
Keks: Arrey, our neighbours will think I have become a Dabbawala now!
Meherbai: Don’t worry Keki dear, I’ll pack two tiffins of leftovers for you!!
Keks: Thank you for your kindly kindness. Jeevta Raho, Sukhi Raho, my dearest Meherbai, aney hamuney
leftovers aapta raho!!
The jalebis, custard and rasgullas arrived. Everyone picked a little bit of it.
Kek’s wife: Keks! Keks! Go ask Meherbai to lend you a third tiffin box for the desserts. I hate to see good food being wasted. It’s a sin to waste food!
Kek’s: Are you a full-time eating machine or what? You are already 120 kilos and the NCPA usher has to open both the doors to let you inside the auditorium. I am not going to ask for anything.
On this note, the Mandli parted with Kissi-Koti, Tata-Bye Byes and two tiffins in Kek’s hands!!