The Garba Letters

(garba is a form of dance originating from the state of Gujarat. Comes alive during Navratri)

Haalo garba ramva (come on let’s play garba)

Dear Council Jobsworth

Following on from your original note to Ms Aanal(below) I thought I would respond to your rather pointless note and reassure you that yesterday evening was just fine.

Well, who needs Harrow Leisure Centre, Brent Town Hall, Greenford Town Hall, Granby Hall or Demontford Halls…. we have Bromham Village Hall! We even had a doorman, come bouncer with a box of sticks.Sneha you’ve trained him well. But that didn’t stop a whole bunch of non Gujaratis sneaking in. That includes a 6’2” Simon😂 and even a Punjabi mother and daughter. The latter had bought her visiting mum from India to show her how we were keeping it real away from the motherland . Jai Hin 🇮🇳. Mr Modi would be proud 🤷🏽‍♀️.

The ladies came garba ready. Vivid colours,mirrored ghagra and cholis, classic sarees , countless bangles and bindis and let’s not forget the security of the safety pins .Shameless exposure of bellies and backs but still managing to look elegant if not a little sexy .I have to give the best dressed prize to Tejal I think 👏🏾… now don’t get upset the rest of you. We all looked great 😉. I wore my beautiful lengha from Baroda thanks to my resident doctor Vinita. I don’t think there was a colour that I wasn’t sporting. But Swarupa in her classy gold and black tells me “you’re missing black darling”. Manasi in her stunning fusion combo. And it was great seeing Rekha in a saree and not in her yoga gear although with all that sweating it may have been more suitable . Then the beautiful Nitasha arrived in black & orange ; even with her crazy schedule she knew she couldn’t miss this event. The children were super smart and the boys gave the girls a run for their money on this occasion. Yash wins the prize for the most handsome young man.

We can finally put into practice all that clapping Aanal taught us. Ek, be, teen, chaar , paanch- I’m making it up now. It really did work and her students did her proud including the children. Garba was great with wonderful music from the live band (how rude of me not to get the names, think Sanjeev was having great banter) who kept drifting into Hindi film songs. Parul and her gang were too cool for school – so good at every dance. I want to be that cool!! Great entertainment during what I will term “freestyle”. Then the main event – dandiya . Not easy getting people coordinating feet, hands, sticks and others 😂. The ever patient Aanal even managed to teach Simon how to play; had nightmares thinking he would hit a child 🤦🏽‍♀️. But don’t worry you Health & Safety freaks there were no reported injuries but just a few broken dandiyas. The only complaint I have is my poor poor dirty sore feet. Ofcourse I washed them before getting into bed.

I caught Ritu and Maya in the toilets – no not smoking but fixing the safety pins and outfit of course 😉. An Indian event wouldn’t be complete without an adjustment or two.A certain someone (an auntie and doctor and whose name begins with Dr K😉) wondered why they weren’t serving alcohol. Does it go well with Maataji’s songs ? We stuffed our faces with yummy food and yes I did eat a whole gulag jamun.😇. Who knew that £5 could buy such a big treat …you’re wondering now . There was bhatura and chana, samosa, spring roll , alloo tikki and one piece of mithai . Typical Gujarati food 🤣 all on one plate !!

Brings back memories of my first ever garba with old school friends Bindi and Kailas. Must have been Greenford ?? It was the place to be where the maasis looked for daughter-in-laws and son in laws . I had a lucky escape but then again I was only fourteen 😍.

Thankyou to the Hindu society and especially those were working behind the scenes. Even the location was perfect allowing Nitin (Swarupa’s husband- yes naming and shaming) and Simon to sneak off to the pub whilst we warmed up the dance floor.?

Thankyou Maya for the ever ready supply of water ! 😊

Lovely seeing lots of new friends.

Aaojo

Seema

🙏🏽💃

——————————————————-

Garba practice 5/10/18

Dear Ms Aanal

I understand from our sources that you held an illicit garba dance class yesterday here in Bedford. There was even some information about Navratri. You were trying to encourage some non-Gujaratis to join in. I suppose it’s worth a try!! 🤷‍♀️ Not only that you had ladies , children and one gentleman (I’ll call him Dr K to protect him and his wife Vishali bhen 😂). I applaud your efforts.

It appears that a certain Vinita Manjure was there under false pretences- we know she can do this type of dance. We have video footage from Varoda where she was rather wild wearing backless blouses and dancing nine nights on the trot and even spoke to boys!! Why was she there ? 🤔 But we are glad she was – a teacher’s assistant is always useful when you have students such as myself , Swarupa, Manasi, Praveena and Aparna. I also think Sneha was there to have fun but was a great support and filled in gaps in our knowledge.Simantee was graceful as ever and having shown her skills at Bengali dance she is surely the next garba queen.

Mayaji was ladylike as always and for some reason does not want to do dandiya with the boys – just too rough apparently. Swarupa … dandiya is dandiya and garba is garba 😂and thee is no you know what🥂. 🙄

So onto the actual dancing … or was it a maths class 🤔 Ek taali (one clap), Be taali (two claps)… you get the drift. Grab the dandiyas now and feel the rhythmn – one , two, three, four. five. One two three four five. Again one two three four five. 😂😂😂 now we have the basics try any of the variations, clicks , no claps , turns , jumps, bends. And don’t forget the hips!! It’s all too much and apparently they were sweating and laughing and the kids were all happy. Perfect 👌🏽

Well .. we will see how your students perform on the 20th October. I hope you have warned them about the dress code … chote chote blouses and gher wale ghaghra. We will all be there to check on their progress at Bromham Village Hall.

I think I’m supposed to say Thankyou to you at this point on behalf of the community.

SeemBeema 💕

The Auntiji – a very brief introduction

The model auntiji takes time to perfect . Years of attending functions, parties and poojas to perfect the look, the barbed comments and the oh so insincere concern.

Let me introduce you to our favourite non-relation relation , my auntiji. We all have one or scarily might be in the market to be one 😂. She can’t help it – we’ve allowed her to be this way . We’ve furnished her with false praise and information that’s allowed her to flourish.

The auntiji’s standard questions range from the following categories and sub-categories. Note these are not the Advanced Level variety. Be warned and warn your children ( by popular demand I shall be holding seminars and post auntiji therapy sessions). Because you know you won’t walk away from them 🙄. You’ve been raised proper. So let’s begin …

1. Your weight.

You’re looking very well and healthy- code for you’ve gained weight . Is something wrong – code for you’ve lost weight.

2. Your marital status

How old are you now – code for isn’t it time you were married and btw look at your poor mother ageing with the pressure.

How is your husband – code for I know you’re not together.

3. Your post marriage status

How long has it been – code for isn’t it time you had children.

Anything you want to tell me whilst rubbing her hand on your tummy ( seriously 😐 did I say you could touch me )

4. Your post 1st child status Just repeat above in early days . Don’t they think some of us did want more kids but it may not have been possible.

5. Your post children’s post school life Don’t bother to answer it’s just a ploy to extol the virtues of their offspring.

Let me not bemoan all auntijis because as per the norm 99.99% are perfectly fine and just yummy especially in 2018.. right? But for some reason we love the drama queens. These are the loudest ones with the brightest saris and suits.They are the ones who are able to hold an audience. They are the ones that love their children unconditionally whatever they may have done or indeed not done. And the forgotten uncleji … think he’s got his headphones on an watching some news channel.

I’m going to break this mould and will make sure to ask the young people if they’re having fun and what their favourite tipple is and when they are going to introduce me to their girlfriend/boyfriend. Look look I didn’t mention what they are studying 😂.

I may not graduate from auntiji school but it’s ok to fail on this one.

See you soon beta … 😉

🙏🏽

Permission to speak 🎤

BABA (Bedfordshire Asian Business Association Awards) 2018

Of course I would be happy to help. Yes I can present. Yes I can compere the BABA Awards evening with Jagtar. The queen of joining in and of FOMO (fear of missing out). They couldn’t have asked anymore more appropriate 😂. Did we forget to tell you it’s at the Corn Exchange ! You mean the big place in town 😳. You mean the place I spent so many hours over so many years during the month of March … Bedfordshire Speech & Music Festivals. Walking from one competition to another. Nerves, excitement, drama, passion and sometimes success. I digress.

Back to Saturday night with this 144 year, no not my co-host Jagtar but the beautiful Corn Exchange. Perfect for meetings, music and business. A few people. I’m used to. Selling cookware I’m used to. But this was something new and different for me. Out of that darned comfort zone.

Let’s make an effort I say. Do something with your hair Seema! Walk around town with these pins (looking like Hilda Ogden)and later you can just take them out and you can go curly or put your hair up and there will be volume 🤔🤦🏽‍♀️. Tried and tested lengha and the darned gold blouse , you know the one ! Only a man would design buttons at the back just so there’s always a job! Ready …emergency comfy sandals in bag, reserve earrings in bag , make-up in bag – never in my life have I touched up make-up during the evening. But just incase ..planning and prep… planning and prep. Even then I needed a doctor, Doctor Vinita , oh nothing serious – just to pin my chunni (scarf) properly.

And off we go. Room is filled with 300+ people. The gentlemen are looking dashing in black tie and ladies are showcasing evening dresses, saris, lenghas and punjabi suits. It’s a colourtastic sight.

We are joined by a millionaire, the Mayor, our MP, men in uniform including the police, fire chief and the Chief Sheriff. But really the most important guest is Noreen Khan, the hair! OK for those who don’t know (🙄) Noreen is an Asian Network DJ and I think I might love her😳. Yes I did ! I got a photo with her. And yes I did message her the following day – stalkerville 👀.

The evening is filled with success stories of men and women, young and old, small and large businesses, entrepreneurs and established businesses; all rocking their thing in this tough environment.👊🏾👏🏾. Diya Royal we will be booking that table at your restaurant. And Elm Lodge homes please keep a place reserved for me. 🙏🏽💕. Money is raised for charity through raffles and auctions. Thank goodness for all the support especially from the Garcha family. But fun was had by all and several whiskeys were downed ! Punjabis in the room innit👳🏽‍♂️

Sati and I watching our new best friend Tarun the multi millionaire closely . He lives by his mantra; some may say cheesy but I say if it works 🤔 I’m getting in with “we want your money” for Bandhan and DKMS. And the lovely Preeti who hates the new year in England ,”it has to be hot darling”.I want to be her !

And the gorgeous Bandhan clan. Looking superglam and schmoozing like professionals. Vrinda delivering the DKMS presentation in true style.

This Brit Asian continues to surprise our friend Swarupa with her knowledge of important and critical issues like bhangra tunes. Bali (Mr Poonam) and I were in our element with the old school bhangra thanks to my new DJ Mate, Mindi 🎧🎼🎤. A whole event without any technical issues 👏🏾.

The BABA boys did a great job👏🏾. A great event.

So come on… go out of your comfort zone occasionally. You may just surprise yourself and others.

See you soon.

🙏🏽

Downward Dog in Tuscany 🧘🏽‍♀️ Come to Italy 🇮🇹she said…it’s a retreat she said….all that pasta and pizza I thought. It’s Italy I thought. I’m vegetarian I thought. What could go wrong I thought. Just forgot that four letter word YOGA. ..thanks Nitasha !!!🙄 Here you go my list …Yes just a list ….in no particular order of my memories. 🔹6 nights 🔹Many places – the intellect of Pisa, the brides of Pisa, the babies of Pisa, the virgin mojito of Pisa and lets not forget our friends the mosquitoes. The yoga may stop the tower leaning ? Let’s get Professor Brian Cox on it🤔 (those who know just know ). – the hot springs of Bogna Vignoni in unspoilt Tuscan hills. Forget you read that – we want to keep this gem to ourselves. Those sexy swim hats for the spa. Fab dinners with food that kept coming😉 – the handbags of Pienza … sorry the walled Renaissance town of Pienza where old talents of sketching were reawakened and pecorino cheese was tasted. – Tower of Tentennano …on top of the world (knee and thigh breaker). An adventure all the way there anyway. Coming back was more interesting , Italian farmland and google maps a bad combo and throw in 2 engineers that speak no English =lost numpties🤔. All hills and villas start looking the same in the hot sun. – Volterra … a city for prisoners and torture and hidden ruins .A city with yummy food. Who knew about this incredible place. Is it ok to do yoga in a monastery? We did🤔. 🔹Not enough hours of 🧘🏽‍♀️ . Some may argue that 5 hours/day is plenty 🤔. 🔹Too many cases of water bottles 🔹5 km walk (whoops it’s now a 16km walk….only the strong and sensible shoes survived ) 🔹4 red wines🍷🍷🍷🍷 🔹Numerous cappuccinos and double espressos 🔹?? Mosquito bites 🤢 🔹1 doctor 💉 🔹1 put out local yoga teacher 🔹1 random couple wanting to befriend us 🔹Several stolen figs 🔹Kilos of grapes picked 🍇 🔹2 Prickly pears 🔹Italian Methi 🔹Verbina 🔹A few sour apples 🍏 🔹3 hitch-hikers 🔹Many tight shoulders and knobbly knees 🔹Several litres of balsamic 🔹Several litres++ of olive oil 🔹Long lingering breakfasts in the sun 🔹Tonnes of Healthy minerals 🔹Hours of sunshine 🔹Minutes of rain But most of all a group of beautiful people who cared and shared and laughed together. We let each other be and not make judgements. And if we did it was only to observe and support. Come and meet the gang .. The Guruji 🎓👢 I’ve only done 7miles uphill, my yoga, some emails, talked to some friends and it’s only 5am… anyone want to go for a walk? This guruji is a hard task master but a rather stylish one in Yellow boots. Don’t mess with her or eat those dreaded chips or you’ll get the look! Did you get it? I did 🤫. Who knows where we I’ll find her in a few months time but hopefully still helping us to be the best we can be. Drop your pin on WhatsApp  Nitasha so we can find you ! Segolene – the assistant! Be grateful that you can get to your mats and after little sleep. Little does she know that we were all scared of her or was it because we wanted to hear her say nice/beautiful/gorgeous in her French accent. So young,wise and natural -especially when she laughed with gusto. A guru in the making. The high achiever but scatty one 🙄. 95% only-but in my world it’s at least a ‘shabaash’ (translation =well done). Her routine was I’ve lost my swim cap, I’ve left my sunglasses , I’ve left my pyjamas at the hotel, I lost my earring during my fall (but no tears!!)…Oh and by the way  I’ve broken the safe but it’s ok just passports in there. Don’t panic everyone I’m going to smile through it all and sketch our way out. That’s her … doing everything at a pace to squeeze the most out of life. 💕 The Queen of Deet 👑 Short but sweet and kind. Our entertainer for the week. Even the mosquitoes wanted a part of her or was it the wine. And then they told their friends the ants who chased her too. We know she came on the wrong holiday … thinking she’d bump into old Montelbano. No such luck…watch out Sicily!! Psssst…make sure you take me.😉 The next Yoga teacher ..🧘🏽‍♀️ Interpol are searching for a storm of ninja mosquitoes who attacked this British lady in a quiet courtyard in Pisa. It is unclear why they chose her  ….we have inside information  that it may have been her gentle kind blood. How rude of them.Brave lady kept her calm and showed us how classy an umbrella looks in the sun.Nitasha and Segolene may have created another asset for Bedford. The Glam One 🕶 What was she worried about! She had all the gear – Sweaty Betty now have a stock shortage! Always looking glam even during a bloody downward dog. With those fabulous support pads she worked through the pain. Not missing any eye candy even in a monastery- 20 Hail Mary(s) for you!! The engineer 📈💻 Do we have a process for this week?Have you timed the distance between the bedroom and the spa…what is the most efficient way?If not I will create one. We have to be prepared for everything everyone. Is the angle on this stretch correct ? The one at peace “all you need is stylish love”💕lady and her delightful husband. The patience of a saint as he became our professional and nominated photographer. A proud family man that was always jolly and ready with witty one liners.A great walking partner and hunter of sticks. Full of wonderful anecdotes that made non-yoga time more enjoyable. She was just too cool and we all wanted to be her. The living example of “in giving we receive”. The English 🌹 She’s saying she can’t do this but has her leg around her neck and is sketching at the same time 😳.Cool,calm and collected during yoga whilst outstretching us all. She can’t accept her talents but is actually terrible at decision making 🙄. Beautiful inside and out. A new friendship – she can’t hide from me now! Me well… I just love eating whilst shopping 👠👜 Packets of dried mangoes/nuts/any snack type you may wish for appear from my bags at regular intervals. A bikini for each day … it’s Italy. My job is done. My thighs need a holiday now. My shoulders are grateful. The parathas are calling. What no Indian good for a week. I’m surprised I’m still alive. 🤦🏽‍♀️ See you all soon. Namaste🙏🏽I

Southall, sarees and samosas

#southall#sarees#samosas#memories

Had a meeting with Debenhams in the big smoke so I thought I would relive the journey I used to do in my 20s. The short walk along Southall Broadway, right turn onto South Road , past Suman Marriage Bureau , damn forgot to check if it was still there (I have a daughter you know 😍), past Glassy Junction (Punjabi Pub. Never went in there . Wasn’t the done thing for good girls 😉. Too late now as it’s a Indian vegetarian restaurant 🙏🏽, ofcourse it is!!), past the gurdwara, up the bridge to the train station). As a vegetarian I did not register the Shahi Naan Kebab but it would be rude to ignore this Southall icon. News alert – hoarding up advertising Southall Village apartments under bridge. 🤷‍♀️ How times have changed … the young and trendy were quick to get out and now Crossrail may be getting the young back in!

Didn’t recognise one person 😢. At times it used to be the place to be – the platform at Southall Station. It may still be for another generation .Packed like sardines on the 8 something to Paddington I thanked god for the M25. By Ealing Broadway I knew that the girl beside me wasn’t happy with her father in law , the ladies on the other side were feeling sorry for their friend’s 5am start … how does she do it , and how they really needed their coffee. And another girl was babbling away in Tamil I think on her headset. Frankly all of you I don’t care and if you’re going to talk personal shit so close to me at least involve me 🙄. I have opinions too!! I sit down at Ealing and am mesmerised by a pretty girl who has been doing her makeup 💄 since Southall. I am slightly jealous of her youth and confidence. Wonder how long it takes her to take all that off? Must stop staring 😳.

I won’t even bore you with the onward journey and meeting . Anyway it was a beautiful sunny day and my shades were out and I was all ready with black tights and a coat🤦🏽‍♀️. Soon I will dress right for the British weather. Back to Southall and my walk home.

So the most exciting thing is that Frontier (have super exclusive showrooms in India) is coming to Southall. We need another shop selling beautiful clothes. Yes we do!!No really Frontier will be so shiny and sparkly and expensive. We will enjoy looking at the window displays. It will be a magnet for those brides to be. But me I’m going to try an emulate the auntiji who was rocking grey shoes, red socks and a pink saree and with such abundance.

I have never counted the mithai shops, restaurants, jewellers and boutiques. I’m sure they are growing in numbers 🤔. Each doorway signposting money transfer opportunities.The pavement pushing more food at you ; the corn, the chat, the hot hot jalebis and the freshly fried healthy low calorie samosas and pakoras (but only when I eat them). I bemoan the mangoes that are long gone and the stall holders look for new ideas as Diwali approaches. Every idea 💡 has a home here. It’s cruel , just cruel to have all this food alongside windows with sarees and chote chote (short showcasing midriffs) blouses . The two things are not compatible. Let’s campaign for longer blouses 👍🏽.

I can’t make out and I’m too polite 😉 to stop and listen to the many languages buzzing around – it makes your head spin but in a nice way.

Southall rocks 👊🏾 … no seriously it does. If it’s not cars blasting the music (correlation of young driver and flash wheels) , it’s the shops trying to outdo each other with the latest Bhangra tracks.

And to further back this notion I notice an Afghan bakery as I leave the mandir (Hindu temple). Yes yours truly popped in on the start of Navratri.

Now where else would you get all this free entertainment in a short walk.

🙏🏽

Hello and Namaste

Follow my adventure .Promise you won’t be bored. I’m a British Asian who lives life to the max and loves sharing the ups and downs. Mixed with a bit of Indian spice all manner of things come to life. Come and meet my friends and family!