Last weekend was my sister’s birthday, or as she likes to call it “birthday weekend/week/month”. Considering that life only gives us a finite number of opportunities to do something special for our loved ones, and I had already missed eight of her birthdays, I decided to seize this opportunity and plan a surprise for her. Here begins the story of Byomkesh Bakshi and Jagga Jasoos…
…One fine day Byomkesh Bakshi is sitting at her desk and thinking of how one can please someone of the stature of Jagga Jasoos when it comes to organizing birthdays. Short of being able to have Jagga’s immediate family in town, Byomkesh decides to reach out to Jagga’s closest friends and her sister-in-law, whom we shall call Nargis. Jagga’s friends are all eager to conspire a Scottland Yard plan with Byomkesh to fool Jagga. All’s going well with the planning when one day, about two weeks after initial milestones have been met, Nargis calls Byomkesh while the later is out and about in her car. Not realizing that Jagga and Bymokesh sometimes share the same vehicle Nargis divulges that she will be too busy to participate in the surprise (OMG!!) and while Jagga’s suspicion takes birth, Byomkesh breaks out in an uncontrollable sweat because Jagga has pretty good ears.
Knowing that Jagga won’t rest until the case is solved Byomkesh quickly has to come up with something to say. And let me tell you, our Byomi is not really smart when it comes to making excuses. So something like this comes out of Byomi’s mouth: “Eh, umm, Nargis called to say that she won’t be able to join us for movie and dinner this Saturday because she is busy.” Now you should know that Jagga is an experienced detective of the highest caliber so Byomi’s stuttered story already doesn’t make any sense to Jagga.
After a couple of sleepless nights Byomkesh puts on the “Jagga cap” and asks herself the quintessential question: “What would Jagga do in a situation like this?” Imagine some mental gears making the sound of rusty metal, slowly gaining momentum as if someone just added a few drops of oil…and here you go! Byomi thinks of Jagga’s upcoming chess moves and schedules a dinner for Satruday night on her work calendar called “Jagga’s Birthday Dinner!!”. Knowing that Jagga would stalk Byomi’s calendar Byomi decides not to mark the event as private but adds the guests (Byomi’s friends) as private invitees. With a giant smirk on her face Byomkesh let’s this invite rest for the next two weeks, meanwhile continuing the planning of Jagga’s real surprise on Sunday. Sure enough, Jagga Jasoos snoops around Byomi’s calendar and sees the dinner event. Since Jagga can’t see who is invited she now starts looking up the usual suspects’ calendars. She finds invitations on Hiralal’s, Daamodar’s and Hemaprabha’s calendars. Jagga, oh the smart Jagga, knows what Byomi is up to.
Fast forward a bit and it’s Saturday morning of Jagga’s birthday weekend. Byomkesh is being her laziest self, trotting through the Farmer’s Market, baking cupcakes (nothing unusual at the Jagga-Byomi household, except that usually Jagga is the one baking –> suspicion reason two), coming home and chilling on the couch after lunch trying to kill time till dinner rolls around to “surprise” Jagga with the surprise that Byomi knows Jagga knows about but Jagga thinks Byomi doesn’t know that Jagga knows about (I know you know that I know you know I know…). With all this knowledge floating around between Jagga and Byomkesh both are lounging on the couch when Jagga decides to show Byomi who the boss it. Jagga tells Byomi they should drive down to Carmel to hang out at the beach for the rest of the day. At first Byomi tries to postpone the trip by making up some sort of excuse of not wanting to spend the rest of the day driving for hours. When Jagga’s insistence grows and Byomi’s guilt grows in equal proportions (yeah, our Byomi can be pushed into a guilt cave very quickly!) she just tells Jagga: “I am really sorry but I have to go to the office to finish filing my taxes. If I don’t the IRS will come running after me and then you’ll have to run Jagga & Byomkesh Sisters all by yourself.” Grudgingly and with at least five more reinforcements of guilt to be leaving Jagga alone on her birthday weekend, Jagga lets Byomi go. With a couple of deep breaths to have escaped the precarious situation Byomi goes to her office and spends the next two hours writing birthday cards and crafting cupcake decorations.
5pm: Byomi returns and Jagga is marinating in her blanket on the couch. If you know Jagga you know she doesn’t throw her towel easily! All of a sudden Jagga is leaning on her growling stomach as a scapegoat and tells Byomi they should go eat some chaat. At this point it is about two hours out from the planned dinner with friends that “I know you know that I know you know I know” so Byomi has to drag her feet and tell Jagga that she is not in a mood for chaat right now. Thinking this is the perfect opportunity to convince Jagga to leave the house for dinner in a bit Byomi says they should instead go to Jagga’s favorite restaurant a little later. Jagga being Jagga decides to throw a wrench into Byomi’s planning and says it doesn’t feel like a Hakka Noodles type of day. What in the world is a Hakka Noodles type of day, Jagga?? For the next one hour there is pin drop silence in the room and both Jagga and Byomi’s brains are bustling with what to do next, all while knowing the other knows!
7pm: Jagga must’ve felt some pity and agrees to go for dinner with Byomi. Phew! Once at the restaurant and after all our guests started trickling in per IST (Indian Standard Time) Jagga discloses that bewkoof Byomi forgot to hide her calendar invite and Jagga knew about the surprise party! Byomi is baffled on the outside and brimming with joy on the inside…because little does Jagga know!
The food it plenty, the fun is prosperous. As the evening winds down Jagga thanks Byomkesh for the party but provides feedback for future planning: “Great party, Byomi! But next time it’d be nice if you can invite some of my friends too. Just sayin’.” Oho! Byomi does a facepalm and feels so sorry for completely forgetting about Jagga’s friends. How sad!
Fully confident in her “think-a-step-ahead-of-Jagga” capabilities Byomi sleeps like a baby that night!
Sunday morning. Byomi needs to spring in action. So Byomi sends Jagga to take a shower after a “Man, Sundays are so boring! It’s supposed to rain but let’s go to San Francisco (Jagga & Byomi’s Scotland Yard) to just hang out.” The mention of Scotland Yard always gets Jagga excited. While Jagga is in the shower Byomi commits a cardinal mistake!! She puts a whole cooker full of potatoes to boil to make Aloo Kati Rolls for a packed lunch to devour in Scotland Yard. This is just part of the potluck picnic plan in SF but Byomi forgot that Jagga’s sharp intellect will pick up on every minute detail. When Jagga sees the potatoes she is shocked and doesn’t hide it either: “Oye, fatty Byomi! How many Kati Rolls will you eat??” One can push to eat three instead of two kati rolls, or even four if you decide to make that your afternoon snack too but how was poor Byomi going to convince Jagga that she needed at least eight of them?! So Byomi gives up arguing how gigantic her appetite is today and packs two-thirds of the boiled potatoes in a box to shove them into the fridge. Frantically Byomkesh starts messaging Jagga’s friends saying that there won’t be enough kati rolls and Jagga may have gotten a hint of something going on. The helpful crew of friends reassure Byomi there’ll be plenty of food and Byomi should get her heart rate down. A few suspicious looks later Jagga and Byomi leave the house to drive to Scottland Yard but not before Jagga snoops around in the picnic bag and finds not one or two spoons and forks but a whole pack of them! Darn this Byomi!! She needs to be sent to detective school. Luckily Byomkesh has had many years under her belt to convince Jagga of her clumsiness and apparent “lack of ability” that Jagga can’t even fathom Byomi has another full-fledged surprise in store.
Enter Scotland Yard: Jagga and Byomkesh reach the scene of crime – Washington Square Park. It’s cold and windy but thankfully not raining as the useless Bay Area weather forecast had predicted. Jagga’s friends message Byomi that they are running late and poor Byomi breaks out in another cold sweat. Using the wind as an excuse Byomi takes Jagga to the a gorgeous church in North Beach to attend the Easter Sunday mass, or as Jagga likes to call it “the resurrection of Jesus and the birth of Jagga – two of the most important celebrities in the history of mankind.”
A half an hour into the mass their hearts and bodies are warm but there is still no sign of Jagga’s friends nearing Scotland Yard. So Byomi and Jagga embark on a walk through North Beach. Thanks to Byomi’s prayers the clouds have shed by now and the Sun God is rewarding them for their peity. Twenty minutes into the walk Byomkesh feels her phone vibrating, indicating that Jagga’s friends are approaching! It’s hard to clandestinely keep checking ones phone while walking around with Jagga but somehow Byomi pulls it off. A handful of cryptic message exchanges later Byomi circles back to the park with Jagga and lo and behold there is friend number one – let’s call her Vaijayanti – pretending to be strolling in the park because it’s a nice day, you know. Just as Jagga is putting one and one together friend number two – Akhileshwari – and three – Shashvati – tap Jagga on her shoulder. Jagga’s joy knows no end and Byomkesh can see the “How was Byomi able to pull this off??” question in Jagga’s eyes.
Half an hour later three more of Jagga’s friends – Anarkali, Sulakshana and Trilochana – join in, with Trilochana almost tripping over her picnic bag and onto Jagga. By now Jagga is totally speechless and almost considering giving her sidekick, Byomi, some credit for detective smarts.
And then they spent a gorgeous day in Scotland Yard…