The Gwalior fort , sprawling fortress in Madhya Pradesh is song in brown and blue.



The beach, a few candles and a birthday party

[A life is a weave of a million stories. Here is one of the threads in my life, one that was weaved (written) a really long time ago. I thought it needed to see the light of day].

I am quite unclear as to how Jlo got his name. It surely wasn’t because of the J.Lo. Oh
no! If rumors are to be believed, he once acted in a play in which he played the role
of a jailer. He played it so well that everyone started calling him ‘jailer’, ‘jailer’ and soon
it was morphed to Jlo and it stuck.

Four years of college with Jlo was definitely an interesting period in my life. He
just cracked me up. Not just me everyone around. He once followed an ant around
studying how it moved. And if Kiki is to be believed he followed the ant for about 8
hours. Kiki claims that he would have continued to do so if he had not been hungry.
Nothing comes in between Jlo and food.

During our final year we decided to throw JLo a surprise birthday party. The date
was chosen it was to be on the Independence day, a public holiday. The venue was
chosen as the Besant nagar beach. Not exactly an ideal birthday party location but
no one seemed to protest.

The menu for the party was of course a cake and well that was it. It would have been
perfect had the menu not been changed. But being the gracious host that I always
am,I decided to make sandwiches. It is going to be quite difficult to categorize the
nature of the sandwich. For ingredients it had just about everything, tomatoes, egg,
garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, mint leaves, ketchup and for a little color I added a tinge
of turmeric. I packed the sandwiches and the cake in a beach bag and set out for
the beach, a  ten minute walk from my apartment. On the way I realized that I had
forgotten to get birthday candles, so I called Kiki and asked him to get them on his
way. Kiki was most obliging.

Crispin and Punoose had the job of getting Jlo there without any suspicion. All Kiki
had to do was show up and of course get the birthday candles. And what does Kiki do? He
turns up with a box of full of matches! Not a small one, not a medium sized one. A box
with 500 matches to be precise and how many birthday candles, Zero, Nill , Zilch!
His explanation “ I couldn’t find a shop with candles”. And as if that wasn’t enough “
Anyway we need matches to light candles. So I thought we could use the matches as
candles too”.

From then started my troubles. The next person to turn up was
Keerthi. He took a look at the sandwiches and complained, “ Why did you make so
few? Right now there are only 2 for each.”

Well there was nothing to do about it now. The three of us decorated the cake with
the make shift ‘candles’. We were about done when Crispin and Punnose walk up to
us. Behind them Jlo followed with a suspicious look. As soon jlo reached the spot
we broke out in song “Happy birthday to you… “. JLo stood looked at us and asked “
Kiki I didn’y know it was your birthday”.

So much for  the element of surprise!

It took us a while to convince Jlo that it was his surprise birthday party. Finally he agreed
to cut the cake. It took forever to light the candles, oh sorry the matches. At
the end of the effort the cake had a smoked up look (and taste too).

Just when Jlo was blowing out his already put out candles a strong gust of wind blew the beach sand

over the cake. Adapt we did. From birthday cake it became a Mud pie! We

just scraped away the sandy top layer and hungrily dug in to the rich chocolate cake.

When it was time to pass the sandwiches around, I realized I was a horrible cook.
The sandwiches were terrible.

We tried to feed the sandwiches to a dog and when that failed we just threw them away.
That was the last birthday we spent with Jlo in Madras.

In the years to come  we were all in different
corners of the world. But when ever I call him on his birthday we speak about the
beach, the candles, the sandwiches and a wonderful birthday party.