My dearest Komal, Anjli and Amar,
It has been a few months since my big milestone birthday, but I have been celebrating this big event at every opportunity. Happily you were involved in many of my celebrations. In this letter, I would like to share some of the photos of this jubilation. With so many photos, please be patient, because this letter will take some time to upload! Thanks.
Let me start with the most recent and that is the V.I.P treatment I experienced in Paris. Many thanks to you both, Anjli and Amar. You certainly ticked all the boxes for the ultimate birthday blast. The luxurious accommodation, the fine-dining including the musical interlude, the hassle-free taxi journeys and of course my favourite: two full days at Roland Garros. I had hoped to see my hero, Roger Federer but it was equally exhilarating to be involved in many other tennis matches, including the Andy Murray/Juan Martin Del Potro one. I was loud in my cheering(developed from all those years of supporting you three during your sporting encounters). I might have embarrassed you, but I think I encouraged my young Del Potro fan(sitting next to me) to up his vocal chords in cheering for his guy! Our detour of scouring the Paris side streets to look for a big Union Jack definitely paid off, as we were briefly featured in a BBC report! Roland Garros was most certainly the icing to my big birthday cake! Thanks.
The big bash at the Panorama Resort was a great way to include all our friends here in Zurich. The venue was superb and of course the lovely weather helped to show off the breathtaking(atemberaubend – I feel this German word conveys the meaning more precisely) views across Lake Zurich. This celebration was a joint venture between SubhodhUncle and myself, and we had over 70 guests. The staff at Panorama Resorts really did a wonderful job. The electric tango routine by Annatina and her partner mesmerised the crowd and many people(particularly the men) found Annatina‘s outfit intriguing. I had earlier made Amar compile a playlist of my favourite music in the hope of filling the dance floor. Alas to no avail. In the end it was SubhodhUncle’s Bollywood music that got everyone shimmying. Amar your speech on this occasion took MY breath away.
A weekend in the mountains at Niederbauen was just the perfect activity for me, though I am not sure it measured well with Dad. As a birthday present, we were given an overnight voucher for the Berggasthaus in Niederbauen. The adventurous walk in the mountains on that first afternoon will be in our memories forever. Even though it looked downcast, I was just itching to explore the area and persuaded dad to accompany me for a hike. As is my usual habit, I started exploring different paths, only to be caught in a deluge of rain, almost one hour away from our hotel. We found ourselves standing against a big rock trying to ward off the water with a flimsy little umbrella. Within minutes we were soaked to the skin and found ourselves literally standing in the middle of a fast-moving stream! There was an almost 15 minutes of deadly silence between the two of us. Of course all around us was the gigantic noise of the thunder and the heavy rain. Our initial decision was to wait for the rain to stop. At that moment it seemed like we were the only souls immersed in the clouds on this mountain top. Then Dad had this frightening image of being swept down the hill by the running water. So we started retracing our steps back to the hotel. Walking down a dry slope and walking up the same, now slippery path with buckets of water swirling around your feet are two vastly different experiences. We really thought, this was the End for us! By the time we tackled the uphill struggle the rain stopped. The clouds disappeared and the sun came out. What a difference. Now we realised we were not the only souls on this mountains, there were many cows experiencing the same deluge. The amazing thing with the cows was that they all bunched up together and firmly occupied the hiker’s level path. What do we do now! Either side of the path were sopping slopes of grass. There was a moment when one stranded calf started running down the hill. It seemed like it was hurling at me. I froze. This might have been the best move, for the calf bypassed me and ran further down to join its group. Phew. It took us a good 2 hours to dry ourselves back at the hotel and the hiking boots were unrecognisable with all the mud caked around them!
The 2 day trip with my friends to the quilt exhibition in France was highly inspiring. The exhibition is spread over three quaint villages of the Alsace region of France over a 4 day period. Besides the vast array of handiwork on show there were many shops selling everything imaginable for creating patchwork and quilts. The setting of the exhibition is outstanding and so are the exhibits themselves. This is a superb amalgamation of works from all corners of the world.
A joint celebration for Kiranmasi and myself was our trip to Vietnam last November. One reason for choosing Bali for the big birthday bash in March was the hope that Kiranmasi could join us easily from Cambodia. Her prospective journey from Phnom Penh to Bali turned out to be very convoluted. Hence we arranged our Vietnam trip. Kiranmasi and I have not spent such quality time together since my last trip to Mumbai in 1980/1. Our lives have taken many different turns during this period, but we continued our relationship from our days in Mumbai with great ease . The week that we spent together in the Danang region of Vietnam was captivating.
Our Valentine day celebrations have become quite a rage in our friend circle and this year was no exception. What I love about this arrangement is that all the men organise among themselves to shop, cook and present the extensive dinner to the ladies. In the past us girls have lounged around with champagne in our hands. Just so relaxing. This year we changed the format a little in that we performed a dance routine for our men-folk. The rehearsals turned out to be great fun. The giggling and the horsing-around that went on was scintillating. Not only was the Valentine dinner exquisite, but I also got to do some dancing performance! Now that is what I call a long running birthday celebration.
We have not yet done our Tanzania safari trip but as we started planning it last December, I deem this to also be my birthday celebration. With 21 of us participating and with some friends coming from Singapore, India and USA, we needed all these months to get all the preparations in order. I will let you know in my next letter, how the whole trip went! Can I take this opportunity to thank you both, Komal and Anjli, for making time to fly over and share the ‘Grandma -sitting’. Ba is always full of praise of how Amar is always very attentive to her needs, but as he will be working during our safari trip, it will be reassuring to know you two will be here to help Ba.
The other highlights for this year have been the Bryan Adams concert at the Hallenstadion, Christmas market in Colmar, watching the operas; Sleeping Beauty and Madam Butterfly in the movie theater and going to the Basel Fasnacht.
Finally no part of our life would be complete without my numerous planning. With the aging life comes the retirement plans too and that does not mean just the working part but also other aspects of retired life. Income, health, stable home, activities, etc., etc. So during this big birthday year and as a retirement plan, Dad and I have applied to become Swiss citizens! The whole process is long and daunting. Perhaps in another letter, I will go into the details of our application.
These past few months have been fun but hectic. I am getting so used to celebrating that I might not be able to stop any time soon! Besides all your good wishes and thrilling gifts, the best gift that you can give me is an invitation to a gourmet meal made with your own hands! To further this ambition of mine, I have included a recipe for making Aubergine Orro with this letter.Who is going to be the first to try? Even though you cannot eat it Komal, perhaps you can make it for your friends!
Enjoy all the photos in this letter. Please do click on individual photos to see the whole image(apologies for this advice, but my ‘mum’ instincts just kicked in)!
Anyway, as usual, with all my love, hugs and kisses,
P.S. Many of the photos in Vietnam are courtesy of MichaelUncle. He takes some amazing photos.