Friday, May 9, 2014

Busy April weekends!

Whew, what a month this has been - non-stop activity, barely a second to catch my breath! We got back from Japan - an amazing but hectic, tiring vacation - and dived straight into a whirlwind! April is always special, 2 special birthdays - my mom and Ajey! This year even more so - Ajey hit the big 4-0 - but hold on, I'm getting ahead of myself, more on that in a little bit!

A day after we got back to Suzhou was the Shanghai Marathi Mandal's Gudhi Padwa celebrations. I usually steer clear of all these Marathi Mandals - too much politics and backbiting for my taste - but this program was too good to pass up on! Dilip Prabhawalkar, one of the greats of Marathi film and theatre, in person!! A 2 hour program followed by lunch at the Puxi Marriott. Mr. Prabhawalkar presented 'Chimanrao te Gandhi' - 'From Chimanrao to Gandhi' - a synopsis of his career bookended by the 2 characters he is most identified with. Both iconic roles - Chimanrao, warming the hearts of so many Maharashtrian families, and Gandhi, catapulting Mr. Prabhawalkar to national fame! A delightful couple of hours, as he shared anecdotes, and even acted out a few scenes - no props, no costumes, no makeup - but changing his personality through body language and accents! Simply amazing! Mr. Prabhawalkar also spent a day in Suzhou, and we had the opportunity to sit down to dinner with him - such a down-to-earth person, it almost felt like we were entertaining someone's favorite uncle rather than a famous celebrity!!

The biggest event of the month - well, not really an event, more of a landmark - Ajey's 40th!! After all the buildup, the day itself was kind of low-key. Started off with midnight ice cream cake from Coldstone, always a favorite!! Landmark birthday or no, Saturday mornings are always earmarked for Manasi's swimming - followed by rugby training! Rugby, where did that come from??!! Well, the annual Dulwich community rugby tournament was next weekend, and Ajey and Manasi had been both convinced to play - hence the much needed training! Predictably, watching from the sidelines, I was tempted to join in too - come on, it looked like so much fun - and before I knew it, I was officially part of the team!

Of course, Ajey was on the phone a lot - birthday wishes from friends and family pouring in - most mysterious was a call from a local florist - flower delivery for the birthday boy!! We didn't get home till 1pm, all the time wondering about the flowers - lucky for us the delivery person agreed to wait - and there it was, a big, beautiful bunch of roses sent by Ajey's parents! What a sweet gesture!! I love how roses smell, and as I walked in with the bouquet, I took a deep breath and inhaled the unmistakable aroma of - wait for it - cigarette smoke!!! Only in China!!! Quite a simple explanation, though - the delivery guy must have sat in his van with the roses, smoking like a chimney, waiting for us to get back - infusing the roses with the smoke!!!!

We were to have a dinner with our Suzhou friends, and they showed up at 6pm to pick us up - bearing with them an unique gift! A big box filled with 40 different kinds of beers - an awesome 40th birthday gift!! Dinner was at Amigos - our favorite Mexican restaurant in Suzhou! Sizzling fajitas and margaritas - the perfect combination! An evening to remember - thanks the H family and AM (SM, we missed you!) for sharing our special day and making it even more special!! To round of the evening, we headed over to Mahjong night with another group of friends - seems like it's been ages since I've played, I really miss playing regularly!! Sunday - another dinner - this time a farewell for DH - he'll be missed here in Suzhou, but I'm so glad he's going back to his family in Peoria!! Absolutely packed weekend - nothing like what I should have planned, but great fun, nevertheless!! Happy Birthday once more, Ajey!!

Hard to believe, but the next weekend was even crazier! The fun started on Friday night with Quiz Night at Dulwich!! Our team this time was fairly mixed - 2 Americans, 1 Brit, 1 Japanese and 2 Indians - win-win all around!!! The questions are simply all over the place though - some fairly straightforward, some a little more tricky! My favorite of the evening - In which body of water can the Islets of Langerhans be found?? Hmm, Scandinavian sounding name, maybe somewhere in Norway, Denmark - has to be somewhere North - Arctic Sea, Bering Sea...??? What do you think, any guesses?? If you named any sea anywhere in the world - you would be absolutely wrong!!! Islets of Langerhans are part of the pancreas in the human body - high school biology, anyone!! It's one of those - you know that you knew it after you hear the answer!! Fun, fun, fun!! Needless to say, we did not win - we were nowhere close - but it's all in the playing, right?!! Too bad we didn't take any pictures!!

As forecast, Rugby Day dawned bright and sunny - not!! It was overcast, and grey and raining incessantly - I was hoping that they would announce a rain day and postpone the tournament - what I didn't know, rain apparently makes rugby even more fun, so no postponements! The morning was the kids tournaments, a total of 12 teams - few from Suzhou, some from Shanghai and even Nanjing. I was slowly beginning to understand that this was a serious tournament, and not just some friendly games - just what exactly have I signed up for?!! Manasi's team did really well - in fact, they remained unbeaten and went on to win the Gold!! A lion's share of the credit must go to the boys on her team who have been playing rugby regularly for the last couple of years - but still, a gold medal is a gold medal, and winning is sweet!! Go, Manasi!!

As the morning progressed - no sign of the rain letting up - the teams for the afternoon games started arriving. Real rugby teams - with real uniforms and real rugby players!! Seriously, just the sight of them was enough to turn my knees to jelly!! The first team that we played was from Shanghai - and they simply steam-rolled us! We had no idea what hit us - all our training (rolling eyes) flew out the window!! Not a pretty sight!! The only consolation we had was that this team went on to win the whole thing - so losing 8-0 was really not bad!! It got better though - no, no, we didn't win, that would have required a miracle - we just lost better! From 8-0, to 4-0, to 2-0 and then finally 2-1!! The grass was slippery from all the rain - the men all wore cleats, but us women with our sneakers kept sliding all over the place! Couple of nasty tumbles, but luckily no serious injuries!! To my surprise, I had a wonderful time - rain and all! Strange as it may sound, there's nothing like losing dismally to build team spirit and camaraderie!!

That's the weekends - but I should have had more than enough time to finish my Japan blogs, you would think! Well, I started a new project - any new project, I kind of go a little crazy in the beginning, spending every possible waking minute on it - and this one has been no exception! This blanket wasn't really planned, but I stumbled across this gorgeous design on a blog - and when a trip to Wuxi flea market was planned with my friends, why, it was almost like the universe wanted me to make my own rainbow blanket!! 100 rmb and 12 yarn colors later, I'm well on my way! Most of my other projects are in sober, muted colors - ok, ok, maybe even a bit boring - this explosion of color is a little hard to handle. Also, I've been obsessing about color combinations a bit too much - I'm sure a little randomness wouldn't hurt - but it's so hard to give up control!! Here's a picture of the progress so far...

And the other thing that has been consuming me? Yes, a new series of books - after all the hoopla surrounding the new season of Game of Thrones, I picked up the first book in the series from the library. Instant addiction. The series is called 'Song of Fire and Ice', and 'Game of Thrones' is actually the first book - I've gone through the first 4 in record time, and am almost done with the 5th - eagerly awaiting the release of the last two!! I'm utterly spell bound - it's been a long, long time since I've lost myself so completely in a book!! I'm almost sure I'll get around to posting my thoughts on the series sometime soon - so watch for it on 'Have blog, will write'!

So now that I'm almost done with 'Dance of Dragons' and my initial new project fervour has settled down into a more steady rhythm, I'm going to finish up my Japan blogs - quite a few stories left to be told! The month of May promises to be as exciting as April was, so lot more updates coming your way! Stay tuned!

No comments:

Post a Comment