55-er Short story Thought and Reason

The Golden Jubilee (55-er)

She was bold and intelligent. He was rich and charming.

They met by accident. Got along like a house on fire. Got married in a hurry.

On their golden jubilee, the children popped champaign. ‘The secret of your marriage?’, they asked.

‘Tolerate’, said she.

‘Ignore’, muttered he.

Balloons burst. The party ended early.

Humour Incidents Short story

The bargain at Hongkong lane

I loved Hongkong Lane. The tiny seedy little lane in the city of Pune. Lined with rows and rows of match-box sized shops, selling trinkets of all sorts. Jewellery (artificial, of course), beaded necklaces/bracelets, tinkling wind-chimes, beautiful little bells, audio cassettes (yeah, those were the days of a walkman and audio cassette) and pirated version of the latest books and novels.

Every time I went back home on vacation, I would first pay homage at Hongkong Lane and buy bags of useless trinkets for all the family. And expect them to gloat over it like I did, and which they duly did 🙂

On one such shopping expedition, my best friend (let’s call her L) and I had resolved to stick to our budget and snatch a bargain at EVERY shop. We were the ‘Mylapore Maami’s’ as our other Chennai-ite friends called us, and were generally quite timid, so bargaining was really not our forte. But this time, we decided to break the paradigm.

L parked her Scooty by the side of the main road, along with a long line of other bikes. I am always amazed by the uncanny ability of people to identify their vehicles from a crowd. I could never do it! Not that I ever had a vehicle to call my own. Except of course my adorable red tricycle when I was three.

So, we geared up, our backpacks empty and ready to be filled with all the loot. Our first stop: Girlie jewellery. We chose some really cute alphabet beads and got them strung into bracelets for my sis and L’s friends. Just as I opened my mouth to ask ‘Bhaiya, give us a discount’, L nudged me and pointed to a board painted in red: ‘NO BARGAIN. CASH ONLY’. So we sighed and paid (hey, that rhymed!!) Rs.75.

Our next stop: The bookstore. Here’s where we could really strike gold. I picked up some John Grisham for my sister again (see, I really was a nice elder sis), and L chose ‘The Alchemist’ (my favourite of the bygone days) and some Richard Bach (I never could understand what that guy really has to say) for herself. You see, L was a really deep person, unlike frivolous me. And now was the time for the big deal. I opened with a pathetic ‘Why don’t you give us a bargain?’ The bookseller merely started at me for a flit second and kept billing the books. I shrugged and looked at L. Whether it was out of a surge of ‘bargain-o-mania’, or just a wave of sympathy, L took up the challenge of getting us a discount. ‘Bhaiya, we are just students…can’t you give us SOME discount?’ The ‘students’ bit seemed to strike a cord with the grumpy old man. He was really of ‘Dada’ age and not ‘Bhaiya’ but calling him that would have certainly thwarted all chances of a bargain. He gave her a somewhat empathetic look and very briefly, nodded. L and I looked at each other, unable to believe it. ‘I give 2 percent’, he broke the silence. ‘Huh?’ we stared back at him. ‘OK OK 5 percent’. ‘Kya Bhaiya? Only 5 percent? That is just not enough. We are only students. We are buying this out of our pocket money. You have to help us!’ , L said very convincingly (and it was the truth, of course). It was getting late. Lunch time, and the old man was getting impatient. We had already spent an hour there. ‘Give us 50 percent’, L boldly ventured. I was getting prepared to run, just in case the shop seller decided to throw us out. To my horror, the old man said ‘OK’ and billed us Rs.200 instead of Rs.400. He was either eager to shut down the shop for lunch, or was simply humouring our pathetic negotiation skills, or call it ‘begging prowess’.

We paid up and stuffed our bags with the books. Then was the turn of the handbags and silly posters that people would accept with a smile and then chuck it away in a bin. By the time we finished, we were really exhausted. ‘Well done, buddy!’ I patted L on the back. ‘Let’s celebrate, Pallo’, she said excitedly. We trudged back to the main road, and found a nice little restaurant with space to eat out under medium sized green-white umbrellas. We ordered my favourite missal-pav and her favourite cappuccino. We watched the other college students having a great time at their respective tables. There was a young family – parents and two children – a boy and a girl. We looked at each other. Our eyes mirrored the feeling of homesickness that one feels on a lonely Sunday. I patted the backpacks and we smiled, at the thought of getting to see the family in less than a week! Our food arrived and we devoured it in a few minutes of complete silence. Bargain shopping does make one hungry. Rs.30 out of our savings had gone now, but it was worth every bite. Having saved more than Rs.200! We even left a generous tip of Rs.5 for the sullen waiter.

The evening sun was setting, and we needed to get back to our PG accommodation before Mrs. Marathe would start worrying about us. She really was a nice old lady, our landlady, and we were genuinely fond of her. We walked back towards the signal near which we had parked the bike. Strangely, it was empty. Completely. Not a soul in sight. ‘We must have come the wrong way!’, we guessed. We turned back and walked towards the other end of the road. There was nothing there either. Now we were beginning to panic. Where had we left the bike? I was useless at directions and at remembering anything of significance. But L was way better. ‘I am SURE I parked there!’ she pointed to the original spot where we had gone. So we walked back, to find nothing. Not a bike. Not a soul. We looked around, worried. Has somebody stolen it? Gosh! It had cost L’s dad (he had retired from work just that year) at least Rs.25000. Then an old pan-wala motioned to us. ‘What does he want now?!’, I muttered. L, the kind-hearted soul, walked towards him. ‘Saare le gaye!’ (took them all), he said. ‘Kya?’, she asked. ‘Police.. police.. No-parking!’, he repeated through a mouth-ful of red-paan. OK that was an exaggeration. A Paan-seller doesn’t necessarily have to munch paan all the time!

Ow shit! How did we ever park the bike in a No-Parking zone? L would have never done that. But yes, it was the 29th of April. Family budget strings would normally be very stretched during these last few days of the month. Understandably, the impoverished pot-bellied policemen had towed all the vehicles away. We asked around for directions to the police station. It was way too far to walk. Especially in the early evening. It would take us at least half an hour to walk. So we hailed a passing auto rickshaw. ‘Police-station’, I said. The dirty fellow stared at us, and spat ‘Fifty rupees’. ‘What? No no! Twenty-five only’, I said. ‘Chalo, Fourty’. ‘NO! Thirty’, said L almost fiercely. He nodded assent, and we clambered in, making sure our shopping bags were safe with us.

Ten minutes later we were at the police-station. A lanky boy, probably another college student, was walking out, sweating, and holding his motorbike. ‘I hope its here!’ I prayed. We entered the station. It was rather clean. Not that we had been to other stations before. But still, it was a surprise to see an airy white-washed room, instead of the dungeons inhabited by beaten-up prisoners we see in the movies.

‘Our bike has been taken’ I whispered. ‘WHAT?’ the pot-bellied man in uniform thundered. L cleared her throat and said more steadily ‘I parked my bike near Hong Kong lane, but its gone now. They told me it was towed away’. ‘Hmmm… what name?’ ‘Pall..’ I started. ‘SCOOTY.. DARK BLUE’, L said way too loud. I shut up immediately. ‘Search there’, Mr.Pot-belly pointed to a sort of backyard. We walked around nervously, hoping not so much to find the bike, as to return home with our virginity still intact. I know, I know, that’s too filmy. We’d been watching too many crappy Hindi movies lately. ‘There she is!!’ L and I spotted her bike almost simultaneously. Our heart leapt with joy. As L tried to move the Scooty, a thin policeman, probably a lowly-paid constable tapped his wooden stick on the bike, and said ‘Inspector Saab calling’. We walked back in. a flurry of questions and answers, like a succession of ping-pong balls took place.

‘Do you have a driving license?’

‘Yes Sir’.

‘Show me’

It’s at home. Shivaji Nagar.

‘Tamil Nadu number plate??’

‘Yes Sir, I brought my bike from Chennai for my studies’

‘Where is NOC?’

‘What?’, L was a little stumped.

‘N – O – C. Where is it?’

We stared at each other. We didn’t know what it meant. Honesty is the best policy, we decided, telepathically.

‘No License, No NOC. Go home! Cannot take back cycle’.

L was enraged that Mr.Pot-belly had called her Scooty a cycle rather than a bike. But this wasn’t the time or place for that.

‘Please Sir. We didn’t do anything wrong! Let us take the BIKE, and we’ll bring back the DL immediately. Promise!’, I pleaded.

Mr.Pot looked back at the files on his table and motioned us to bugger off. We walked out, our shoulders slumped.

Outside the station, we stood wondering how on earth we could get her Scooty back. Her parents would ground her, and me too. How would we ever repay Rs.25000!! it would be another year before we would even get employed somewhere!

‘Hallo! Hallo!’. Somebody was calling out to us, clapping aloud. We looked around. It was the thin constable. We stopped and waited for him to catch up.

‘Look sister, I can help you. You want Scooty?’

‘YES!’, we nodded in unison.

‘Hmmm.. I talk to Inspector Saab. But we oil engine first’.

‘Its oiled’, L answered.

‘Oh not that, Behenji (sister). Oil.. oil.. palm..’ he said, scratching his head. Seeing that we still didn’t get the drift, he said ‘Rs.400 only’, and sighed.

Our eyes popped out of our head. Did we hear right? ‘Is he crazy? He wants a bribe? Forget it!’ I whispered angrily to L. She didn’t reply. Then I realised her eyes were watering. Here was the chance to retrieve her most precious possession. And I was thinking of the money. I started walking back to the station with the constable. L followed, half relived and half grateful. She squeezed my hand. We walked into the station boldly this time, knowing fully well what the guys were after and that the ball was in our court now.

Mr.Pot was not to be seen. Gone for a wee, perhaps. ‘500’, the constable said. ‘You said 400’, I replied.

‘400? OK fine. 400’

‘We are only students, Bhaiya. We don’t have that much money. 400 is too much’, L piped up from behind, her voice steady and bold. I looked around in surprise. This was the bargaining expedition, after all. I was emboldened too. ‘Yes, you cant take advantage of students like us. We live on pocket money only. No salary!’ I added.

Mr.Pot suddenly emerged, miraculously. ‘300’ he said, with a callous attitude. So he had been listening all along.

‘Sir, we don’t have that much…’ I said, and emptied my wallet in front of him. L and I counted the money out. Rs.132 only. ‘Phew!’, Mr.Pot sniggered. L opened her wallet too, and emptied Rs.120’. The constable swiped the notes off the table, and left the coins in there. Too meagre even for him, we guessed. ‘Rs.250, Saab’, he said to Mr.Pot. Mr.Pot stared at us for a whole minute. Then they looked at each other. And finally, to our great relief, he said the word ‘OK’. We hurried to the backyard and grabbed the bike, walking/running away from the station as fast as we could.

We neared the main road, in dead silence, louder even, than the noise of the evening traffic on the road. As we stopped at the signal where we had originally parked the bike, we burst into laughter. We laughed and laughed, tears streaming down our cheeks.

‘What a bargain!’, we returned home with bags of bargain books and gifts, and empty wallets.

Thought and Reason

The strongest woman

I’ve been reading a lot of entries to the Mother’s Day contest being held by Indus Ladies. They range from pathetic short stories like mine, to interesting tributes, to the author’s mothers. Though I found some of the real-life experiences too gory for my liking, most of the entries that described either the lovable antics of the children or the touching sacrifices of the parents really pulled at the strings of my heart.

So, here’s a tribute to the strongest woman I know.

She was nearly 15 when she got married. From a remote village in Tamil Nadu, where she spoke nothing but Tamil, she moved to the fast-paced and very cosmopolitan city of Mumbai, thrust suddenly into English-speaking social circles. Then blessed with four children in a row, she had her hands full. When suddenly her husband retired, and almost immediately passed away. The children had not even completed their education.

Not fully educated, no bank balance, no friends, poor relatives. I would have crashed in that situation. But not this woman. She held her forte. And once the children had grown up and got married and had their children, this lady, was again called upon, to perform the motherly chores for her grandchildren.

She looked after 4 of us girls. In a  tiny two-bedroom apartment. On a limited budget. With no maid-servant. No fridge. No grinder. And no TV, for God’s sake! Should I even bother to mention that there were no Diapers in those times? Feeds, potty, bath, cooking, cleaning… she did all this, single-handedly. And she never once grumbled or complained. Never bore a grudge. Even her eyes did not betray her struggles. And today, she eagerly waits. To take care of her great-grand-child in the same way that she did all her children and grand-children.

This awesome woman, is my grandmother. Mrs.Shanpagavalli Raman. The most graceful, angelic woman I have ever known. I love you, Mummy. I wish I were a little like you.

Awards Short story

Nanny Maa (short story for Indus Ladies Mothers Day contest)


Thanks a million, for taking the trouble to vote for my short story (submitted for IndusLadies Mothers Day contest)! I have made it to the Top Five!

The second round of voting is underway, so I need your help again.

Please visit

and Vote for my entry: ‘Pal of Crocodile Tales’ as soon as you can!! Thanks a ton!



Reema watched the children play quietly in a corner of the room. They built castles from building blocks, and painted vibrant colours using their fingers. They giggled as they enjoyed their ‘Messy Play’. ‘I wish Monu were here’, she thought wistfully. Her three year old lived with her mother, while she worked as a nanny in London.

It had happened all too soon. The recession, Rakesh losing his bank job, the looming loan installments on their apartment. She didn’t have an option, but to resume work at the nursery she had been employed with earlier. She winced at the irony of not being able to afford the same nursery for Monu. ‘He will be looked after much better in India. Family, school, friends…’ Rakesh had assured her.

‘Reema, its potty time. Could you take the toddlers please?’, Meg called. Reema first took the girls into the toilets. Then came the boys. ‘It burns…’, cried Mick. ‘Don’t worry. We’ll ask Mummy to take you to the doctor’, she replied. It seemed to soothe the boy, and he hugged her. As she held him for just a second, she remembered the last time she had hugged Monu.

‘Mamma! Look! Granny sent me a present! And she’s got lots more. IN INDIA!!’, Monu cried excitedly. Reema looked at the train she had bought yesterday, and had signed: ‘Your loving Granny’. ‘I’m so happy, Mamma! Can we meet Granny ? Plllleeeeeeasssssseeeee… I want my presents’. She hugged him in a tight embrace. She felt choked. Her plan was working. Her heart was breaking.

A series of gifts of Thomas and Roary toys, colouring books and pencils followed that week. By Sunday, Monu was all set to meet his ‘loving grandmother’. In a home miles and miles away from home.

Rakesh didn’t lose much time. He booked tickets on the same Air-India flight on which his friends were travelling. ‘Look at them, Reema. They don’t even have an option! No jobs, three kids.  They start from scratch…’ Reema didn’t let him complete. She had heard this often enough in the last month. She slipped into their bedroom and sat by Monu’s side, stroking the mop of black hair and kissing his soft, tender forehead. ‘In two days, my little angel…you won’t be with me. Oh God! What have I done to deserve this?’. Hot tears streamed down her sunken face and dropped onto her track pants.

‘Aw…I’m sorry’, cried Mick. ”That’s Okay, dear’, she replied, wiping the drops of paint that had fallen onto her trousers. Her favourite Dorothy Perkins, bought from her first salary. She had cried miserably that afternoon, hiding inside the toilet.

‘Lunch!’.  The nannies cleaned the room, quickly transforming it into a dining area! Today was ‘Soup day’, which meant, a day of struggle! The toddlers pushed around the bland leek and carrots, while the infants unabashedly dribbled it out.

‘Let’s go for a nice walk after lunch, alright?’, the assistant manager came around, trying to cheer the children and staff alike. The former nodded excitedly, while the latter suppressed disapproval at the thought of having to dress and chaperon four children each!

The nannies strapped one end of the wrist-link onto three girls and a boy, and tied the other end to her own wrist.

They strolled leisurely around the sturdy bridge across the River Thames. Little Leah shrieked excitedly, ‘Boat! Boat’! The other children immediately looked in that direction. ‘Hey! Its Ducky!’ cried Mick. Before Reema realised, he started to run towards the steel barricade, so he could get a better look at his favourite black and green duck, that was bobbing away on the surface of the glistening river. ‘Slow down’, Reema cautioned. Mick quickened his steps towards the water. Reema tugged at his wrist-link. It was too late. The link snapped!

Thrilled at his new-found freedom, Mick ran as fast as he could on those little feet. ‘Noooo! Come back!’, cried Reema. She had to stop him. But she couldn’t just let go of the other three children. She quickly glanced around for help. The other nannies were chatting amiably, the children in tow. ‘Somebody help! Meg!! Meg!!’ she screamed.

Mick was now leaning precariously through the lower rung of the barricade. Another tilt, and he would fall into the river. There was no time to lose. Reema tied the wrist-links in hand to the rim of the dustbin on the path. ‘Stay here!’ she shouted to the baffled children. ‘God, please, please save him! Keep these children safe!’ she muttered, as she ran towards the barricade. The other nannies finally noticed, and quickened their pace. ‘That’s Mick…he’s falling through the barricade!’, cried one. ‘Oh Gawd! Hurry!’ screamed another at the children who trudged behind, blissfully unaware that this was their last outing from the nursery, for a long time to come.

That evening, when the shutters went down at the nursery, everyone was in a state of shock. They were still unable to digest what had happened. Mick’s parents had been informed immediately. Reema had been temporarily asked to take a few days off. There were to be no further outings until ‘the incident’ had been ‘thoroughly investigated and necessary measures put in place’. The children continued with their daily activities of rhymes, colouring and increased sessions of Messy Play. Occasionally, someone asked for Reema. But they soon forgot.

A month passed. And another. Six months now.

‘Rakesh, I’m sorry!’, Reema whispered into the phone.


‘I really am. I shouldn’t have left’

‘Don’t worry. How are you?’


‘How’s our apartment?’

‘Looking great, with the new Italian flooring’

‘Wonderful !!!’

‘Monu’s enjoying his new school. I think he hated the Government school, where Mummy sent him earlier. He loves this one though. Huge playgrounds, friends..everything, really!’

‘Fantastic! This is all because of you, Reema’.


‘If you hadn’t saved that boy, none of this would have happened. What was his name? Mike? Mick?’


‘You risked your life to save his! And his parents rewarded you. With enough to last us a lifetime!’, Rakesh said softly.

‘Don’t be silly, Rakesh. Mike..  Mick..  Monu..  all the same’.

Reema’s voice faltered slightly, as she reminisced that fateful day. She remembered running towards Mick, yelling ‘Monu…Monu…!’ all the time. Mick had turned and smiled. She hadn’t realised the strangeness of it all then. She had just grabbed him by his jacket, and yanked him back onto safe ground, and showered kisses (against the rules!), crying uncontrollably.

The teardrops fell on Monu’s cheeks, as he shifted in his sleep. Reema quickly patted his back and whispered ‘Go back to sleep, my Angel!’.

Tomorrow was Mother’s Day. She was going to buy presents. Two sets of Thomas Tank Engine. One would have to sent by courier to London.


* Featured blog in Expressions


Guys n Girls,

I have submitted this story for the Indus Ladies Mother’s Day contest (click link). Please vote for me if you like the story. If not, do let me know (so I know what to do when you participate… hee hee…just joking!!!).


Food and recipe Humour Incidents

An apology (another 55-er..sorry!)

I am sorry I hurt you.


The kids were driving me crazy as I cooked dinner! Venting my anger on you was the easiest option. I felt awful as I lashed out and you cried silently. But I was helpless.


I needed you, Humble Potato, to make the spinach edible!


My apologies…!

Food and recipe Humour


Today being Tamil New Year’s day, I decided to share the secret to making yummy Semiya Payasam in just 5 easy steps. Infact its just 4 steps, as the 5th is only the serving suggestion.

Here we go…


Step 1: Place two pans on the hob. Pour milk into one. Add a spoon of ghee into the other. Turn on the hobs. See, its easy!

Step 2: While the milk gets warm in Pan-1, and the ghee melts in Pan-2, add a cup of vermicelli into Pan-2. Keep stirring the milk. Keep stirring the vermicelli. Yeah, I know you have just two hands, but you sure can use both?! Okay, stir them one at a time. Fine?

When you notice the vermicelli is turning brown, turn off the hob. Oh, its the milk hob you’ve turned off. No, not that one, silly. Hob-2. Never mind, turn it off now, and turn the milk hob back on again. Aw, the vermicelli has got a little burnt. Scrape it off the pan anyway and slide it into a plate or a bowl. Yeah yeah, pick up all the strands that have fallen onto the tabletop but leave those that have fallen onto the ground.

Step 3: The milk is getting nice and hot. He about ‘multi-tasking’. Add more ghee into Pan-2, and wait for it to melt. Is something on fire? Oh, you forgot to wipe the droplets of ghee from under Pan-2. ok, wipe it off with a dry tissue paper now, and set it back on Hob-2.

Hey!! What’s happening at Hob-1? Help! Help! The milk is boiling over. Turn off the milk hob. Shit… look at Hob-2. Its that damn ghee fuming, literally. Turn that off too, please. Aw no! The milk is all over the hob now, burning and bubbling furiously, and forming a vicious dark crust all around the hob. Darn! Get that damn pan off the hob. Yank off the ghee pan too, dumbo!! Do you want to burn the house down????

Ok, so we now re-do Step 3 with a calm and dignified approach.

Step 3-a: Pour milk into another pan and let it simmer. Keep close watch. No, don’t answer the phone now. Just hold on for a minute, please. Yes, now that the milk has boiled, turn it on a low simmer. Add half a cup of sugar (FORGET the crystals that spill onto the sides of the hob…we can clean that later). Add the vermicelli and let it simmer. No need to look at this hob for some time now.

Step 3-b: Empty the burnt ghee from the other pan, wash it and dry it (unless you have another spare pan available), and put it on the hob again. Add a spoon of ghee, and watch till it melts. I mean, don’t just watch …its beginning to let out fumes again! Do something!! Add the handful of rainsins and cashews. Mmmm…the raisins bloat into little balls…how beautiful. I always love this part. But the cashews…ouch…they’ve got a little burnt. Sigh! You’re tired.. I know..I know. Fine then, we’ll just have to do with black cashews.

Step 4: Wait patiently, until the vermicelli has cooked in the milk. No, please don’t increase the heat setting on the hob. Let it take its time. When the vermicelli almost doubles in volume, and smells good, you know its done!

Step 5: Add a pinch of cardamom powder or whole cardamom if you like, add flaked almonds (if you like). But don’t forget the burnt cashews and raisins (unfortunately, they are not bloated any more, but they do taste good!). And yes, offer some to God, and serve the rest to your friends and family.

See, its that easy. Phew…


Goofy stuff – TAG

Hey Everybody,

I had a shaky tooth last night. And suddenly remembered something that happened decades ago. We were all at our cousin’s place, enjoying a summer holiday, when a tooth of mine fell off. The cousin – a little older than I was – told me a dark secret. That if I were to bury the tooth in her garden, a tooth plant would grow there. And guess what? I did plant my tooth there. Unfortunately, they had to dig up the garden the next year in order to extend their house. Or else…

So here’s a tag for you – pliss to share some of the goofy stuff you did in your childhood.

Merry weekending!!

Thought and Reason

On life and all…

Sometimes we crib endlessly

About not having

all the things we could possibly have!

Until one day,

what we do have is threatened.

And then we realise

That in all its incompleteness,

life really was beautiful!

Thought and Reason

Birthdays – Then and Now




  • A partly-burnt hardened sponge-cake baked at home by cuddly mom (P.S: They really must change the name of that cake!)
  • A pack of measly sized brightly-coloured candles, many small balloons and colourful crepe strips to hang on the walls
  • Menu: Cake, potato chips, samosas (mmmmm…) and tomato sauce (yeah, Maggi was premium!). AND: Rasna Orange,Sweet lime and/or Kala Khatta. Some goli-soda if possible for the men.
  • An old tape recorder with your dad donning the DJ’s cap
  • A bunch of relatives, friends, neighbours and gate-crashers from just down the street
  • Excitement on receiving silly plastic toys as gifts
  • (The upper middle class used to give mini-crayons as return gifts)
  • End state: A whale of time!!!!




  • The very basic: THEME for the party (e.g, Thomas / Dora / Fifi)
  • Invites (with provision for RSVP), Festoons, Balloons and decorations all in line with the party theme
  • A guest list (with repeated calls and confirmation and re-confirmation)
  • Centrally-located child-friendly venue
    • Nice-to-have: Space for car-park
    • Essential: Buggy-park!
  • A huge creamy cake, also in the shape of the theme! Cost: Min. INR 750. Max: GBP 85
  • Menu: Starters for kids, Starters for adults, Drinks (sipper/straw/etc) for kids, Drinks for adults (non-alchoholic, sugar-free, low-calorie), the birthday cake of course, Snacks to go with the cake (surprising, how chips still remains a favourite, though its now with Heinz Ketchup – not sauce, please!), the Main course, Dessert, Special garbage bags to recycle paper plates/cups
  • Extras: Provision for nappy-change, handy boxes of big tissues for mopping up any split stuff off the carpet
  • Expensive-looking return gifts in line with theme (also classified into ‘Close friends’, ‘Acquaintances and ‘NOT friends’ category)
  • End state: Tired birthday boy/girl, Distressed parents, worried guests wondering how they will make the tiring drive back home