They came to town, you know, bringing along their respective mothers. 'Radsmashi' came too, to make up one mad, merry gang.
The preparations were chaotic despite all the planning and lists I had made. I had decided to sew the girls my 'geefs' to them and you'd think I would be done in time given that I knew they were coming from, oh, months ahead? But no, till the last possible moment I was sewing like a maniac, working on baby shoes and writing out postcards. And only then did I start on the cooking and baking.
The brownie I baked for the kids (with Godiva dark chocolate, yum) came out well, while the rum chocolate cakes for the menfolk seemed to do fine. For the girls I decided to take the easy way out (I thought) and went for a large quiche and a small chocolate tart. The idea was to pre-bake the shells and then fill in the quiche on the morning the girls arrived. Imagine my horror when I saw the sweet shell 'dissolve' in the oven leaving me with a bubbling mass of butter... Luckily, something was eventually saved from it all and I must say that damn tart tasted delicious after it was filled with the ganache. The quiche was an easier baby and came out looking gorgeous, bless its buttery bottom.
Dipali's car arrived soon after and the famous Arun and I zipped smartly off to the airport from whence emerged a Rads. Since I had muddled up the arrival timings despite her sms it was a good thing I reached early! Chattering all the way home we had bhuna khichudi for lunch -- where she roundly scolded us for 'terrorising' the boy -- and she incidentally made the boy's day by bringing him a whole set of firefighting vehicles, from helicopter to police car.
We went shopping at Dakshinapan after Rahul's nap. He skipped along with Radsmashi who received a first-hand introduction to commerce as practiced by Bengali government employees ("It's not about the money!") Vicky and I then took Rads to have her first Cal phuchka. It wasn't by our neighbourhood genius but his lower-grade substitute was adequate and our only real grouse was that we had to leave space in our tummies for the big dinner at Dipali's afterwards.
Evie came by to pick us up, all togged up in sarees, and then we were at Dipali's, hugging travel-weary Ro and Kiran, teasing Ayaan and Krish, coaxing Tarana out of her mother's arms. I seem to have earned Ro's eternal indignation by dropping everything and rushing over to greet Tarana first while Ro who was holding her waited to even be acknowledged. Hee. In my defence, dude, have you seen your daughter? It was a mad medley, that evening, with Dipali rushing around trying to get dinner on the table for the hungry kids, the kids in question running around trying to play while dodging the adults, the aforesaid adults running around handing out and receiving gifts, helping lay the table, running after the kids. Did I say it was mad? It was lovely.
Rads and Rahul and I stayed over at Dipali's that night, so I had the memorable experience of putting the boys to bed together. Krish, like the utter sweetheart he is, fell asleep holding my finger in no time flat. Ayaan, like the little dynamo he is, wriggled around in bed until he too fell sleep suddenly, like he were switched off or something. And Rahul, like little owl he is, kept popping his head up to have one last laugh with Ayaandada (Krish was already asleep) until my last snarl had its desired effect. It was painful sitting quietly in the dark room while I could hear the girls chatter outside but I was more than compensated by the three little boys snuggling up to me as they slept at last. When they are all forty and swaggering about the place I shall remember this night.
Despite staying up to nearly 3 am around Dipali's dining table we were up with the lark and even got milady to work making us ginger tea. Ayaan was up and he got Krish out of bed in short order. Rahul had moved into the next room with Ro, Tarana and me in the middle of the night (he woke up and thought I who had put him to bed had turned into Kiranmashi who was actually with the boys then) -- he woke Tarana up by snuggling up to her. Such an adorable sight. The rest of the morning passed in the flurry of breakfast and getting the kids ready and bathing ourselves.
11 am saw us at New Market, where Kiran and Vicky were roundly scolded by a shopkeeper. Rads hunted around for elusive shadow work cloth and junk jewellery, I tried not to buy up New Market (an internal struggle I face every time I go there) while Ro impatiently waited for us to get done so we could go to Good Companions. GC has special memories for me and I find for Ro too because we both wore clothes from there as children. Ro shopped to her heart's content while I kept Tarana occuppied and tried to stop Rahul from throwing Ayaan out into the street for commandeering Rahul's helicopter (never mind that Rahul had done the same to Ayaan's aeroplanes a few hours earlier!) Ayaan though made his way right back into Rahul's good books at lunch by giving Rahul first a little plate and then keeping that plate filled with goodies from Ayaan's own plate.
Come to think of it, the kids impressed me on so many fronts. Krish was a little gentleman through and through, undemanding, uncomplaining, helpful and polite. Ayaan knew so much about places and the people living in them. It was he who explained to Krish and Rahul that Rahul was speaking in Bengali and that people in Calcutta spoke in Bengali and that Nagpur was the heart of India and Mauritius was an island and oh, so many things. I cannot believe he is only an year older than my little illiterate who refused to speak any language other than Bengali. And Tarana, with her "Nay!" (No!) and her "Gee!" (Give!) and her "Buddy" (name for people) and her "Mama, mama" ate her food with such gusto, played with Aunty Rads and flirted with Vicky and the SRE and just charmed the birds off the trees. Rahul wasn't too bad either, come to think of it. :)
After lunch at Kewpie's I packed my boys off home and went saree shopping with Rads, Evie and Evie's two daughters. With her usual partiality Evie bought her older daughter the prettiest tangail but refused to buy me the dhakai jamdani I fell in love with. Just because Evielet #1 is her own daughter... You would think a mere 3.5k price difference wouldn't matter, right? We all had coffee after this and then I went home to get ready for dinner at M4's while Evie and the Evielets went to drop Rads at Dipali's.
The spread M4 had put out was simply unbelievable. It's the kind of grub I haven't seen since the last time my pishis cooked together. Flakey bhetki paturis, tender malai tiger prawns, mutton curry, pomegranate salad. There were options for the vegetarians but I never made it beyond the salad. I had sung for my supper earlier, forgoing the adult chatter upstairs by feeding the boy with the other kids downstairs. Rahul was in a foul mood and wouldn't eat so I tried to distract him with the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar (EO and YO had the table mats from Rahuls's party). All the other kids joined in and I suddenly found I was designated storyteller, having to tell them one after another. I have to admit it was fun though.
All too soon the evening ended and I sent the boys home once more. The late night chatter was more relaxed and we kept telling each other that we really should go to bed but we ended up sitting around till past 3 yet again. And then there was another mad scurry in the morning and whoosh, suddenly the Bombay lot had left and there were just Rads and I being fed consolation alu and dhaniya parathas by Dipali. Vicky and Rahul arrived soon after and things got a bit more cheerful. Eventually we all went back to our place where Rads the namkeen addict lunched off paneer parathas, packed some kancha golla and patishapta for her family and then we were back on the road to Dum Dum. The weekend was over.
The funny thing is, I miss the kids the most. The mums (except for Rads who is travelling) are available online and over the phone. The kids, though... well, I just miss them.