It is very difficult for an ordinary family man to have some time alone. With a smartphone as part of your life, you can’t be alone even in bathroom. Great minds got their path breaking ideas in solitude. Law of gravitation, Archimedes principle and Mahatma Gandhi got his idea of “salt Satyagraha” while he secluded himself alone for 21 days meditating in his hut. God’s grace that I don’t have such a heavy burden in my life. I am fine with what I am. But my life is in a web of modern civilization. From morning to evening I don’t do what I want to do. I am doing what I am supposed to do or what I am expected to do. I am part of this web and somewhere I am also a similar factor in lives of others around me. That night I had opportunity to enjoy solitude. There was an all ladies function in one of my relative’s family. A marriage ceremony in India can be sometimes a month long festival. So many celebration rituals. One of them is where all ladies of friends and family gather to sing, dance and enjoy. In modern India it is called ‘ladies Sangeet’. For heaven’s sake the word ‘ladies’ is english and ‘Sangeet’ is Sanskrit meaning music. May be ‘ladies Sangeet’ is now the same language like when Agatha Christi referred a well-groomed cultured English gentleman as “Pukka Sahib” (can be crudely translated as ‘A solid lord’). Anyways men are excluded out. Not allowed even if you are a “Pukka Sahib”. Can it be called as gender based discrimination? Let it be, I don’t care. If you ask me I am ready to remain away from any function if I am allowed few hours all alone to myself at home. That was such a night with ‘win-win’ situation for all. My wife was going to attend the ladies Sangeet and thank God kids were allowed. So they enjoy and I enjoy. And best of all, my wife was fine with it. But life is not all that simple. Destiny sometimes plays cruel pranks on you. As my wife was about to leave she received a phone call. “Hi Mom! I am just about to leave” she said directly without wasting a second. Oh! She is so excited about the function. But then I noticed something. She was listening to her mother. For a few moments too long and without replying. That is odd for a woman of modern India. Negative thoughts started appearing in my mind. What if the function is cancelled? What if they decided to skip the function for some good old issue? Disappointment started settling in my mind. She said “alright” and turned to me. I tried hard to read her expressions. She said “listen”. An expressionless address of ‘listen’ is frightening. I felt like a child about to receive surprise test from a strict teacher. “Poppins has cancelled his program for tonight”. She calls her dad ‘Poppins’, and old man hates it. “Mom asked to let him have dinner here as she prepared nothing for him. While returning back she will pick him up”. So I was supposed to baby sit Poppins. She was staring at me. What am I supposed to reply? Am I allowed to reply? “That’s great, I will also have company” oh definitely, I lied. I know the reason behind my duty as old man’s baby sitter. He is a naughty boy. Whenever he finds his house to himself, he will invite other mischievous old men to have an evening full of drinks and discussion. He knows how to enjoy life. Obviously, my mother in law hates that. Women hate to see their husbands happy. I was deep in my thoughts, meanwhile they arrived. My wife opened the door and greeted her parents “hello papa, hello mom”, she is not supposed to address him as Poppins. I too greeted them. My mother in law gave me a bag. What now, she brought a bag also with baby items. Now I do feel like a baby sitter. Poppins didn’t even bother to smile at me. Sometimes I can read thoughts. You slowly learn during your married life and professional experiences. Poppins was giving me looks which were clearly stating that I am responsible for spoiling his plans. Same here Poppins. All left for function, leaving the baby sitter and baby Poppins behind. There was an awkward silence between us. He started watching a heated debate on a news channel. I felt that it was my duty to break this silence. So I asked “would you like to eat or drink something”? That’s what baby sitters ask at first. He nodded his head as negative response. That’s how babies respond. Then I asked “shall we order something online for dinner”? He looked at me and said “there is nothing home cooked here? I could have done the same thing back there at my house”. What should I reply? Are baby sitters allowed to be strict with brats? He continued to speak, relieving me of duty to respond, “It was her plan to frustrate me”. I raised my eyebrows looking confused, although I knew he was referring to my mother in law. “Let us wait. She thinks she is smart, can you please pass me that baby sitter’s goody bag” he said sarcastically. I was shocked for a moment. Did I call it baby sitter’s bag out loud? “Don’t be confused, I want that bag she gave you while I was dropped here”, he said with a mocking smile. I picked it up. It was heavy I realized. He took it from me. There was spark in his eyes. He opened the bag and took out his medicines and some snacks. In one of the boxes there was a full bottle of Scotch whisky. What? My mother in law is dead against alcohol. She herself gave the bottle for him? Then I realized that this coy old fox slipped in the bottle at right time and managed to get it delivered by his wife. Bravo old man. May be I should take some lessons of smartness from him. He looked at me and said “try not to pass on this information to ladies, you don’t realize with what you are messing with”. Is it a threat? I wanted to laugh on his face and reply you better realize what will happen to you if ladies came to know about this. But I responded with a smile as if it was a joke. Everyone in the family knows that I am a teetotaller. Well, not really, I do have a drink once in a while when chances of getting caught are nil. But then, why people should know that? If I report this mischief, people will believe me. May be I should and win some brownie points for being a good boy. Meanwhile he picked up his smart phone and started typing something. I said, “I think we should order, it takes time for home delivery. What would you like to have”? He gave out a loud sigh of irritation and replied “let us wait for some time”. Well, one can be less rude. I wanted to shout out loud to him that this feeling of irritation is mutual. I was expecting a good calm evening overflowing with solitude. You happen to be a leak in that, who drained out all the fun, that a closet case of ‘introvert’ like me was going to have tonight. Yes I am a secret introvert. In modern world it is easier being gay, I guess. There should be international laws protecting rights of us introverts. May be introverts are too introvert to start a revolution for themselves. I did not want a scene. I said cordially “I think you should finish your drinks fast, before ladies are back”. He again gave me a look of irritation and said “they are not coming back tonight, program is planned to run whole night. Soon you will be receiving a call from your wife telling you the same thing”. I was surprised I said, “How do you know that”? He gave a smug smile “you should better be in contact with friends and family. Everyone knows about it. All boys of family decided to have a party of our own at my place. But some sissy momma’s boy leaked the information to ladies side.” Big deal, who cares, but for not appearing rude I asked “what is wrong in that”. Poppins got irritated again “How long have you been married? Have you ever met a woman who lets her husband enjoy without her supervision”? Rhetorical questions. “Major issue was that I planned the party at my house. The information slowly reached Pammy”. Pammy (Mrs. Pramila) is mother of the girl getting married. “That woman suspected that her own family boys will come to my party leaving all the duties of arrangement for ladies sangeet”. Fair enough I thought and asked “was your party already planned”? His look told me that he wanted to say- my daughter married a stupid idiot. But on the contrary Poppins replied “Son, on ladies sangeet night all men of our clan are left to themselves. We always have a party of our own”. Wait! Almost every 6 months there is a marriage in our extended family. No one ever invited me to a party. I felt neglected and left out. I asked “Nobody ever told me about such a party” he was ready to kick me “Nobody says a word about it. We all know and take necessary steps required”. I asked like a confused student “Then how do you know where to go”? Now he started smirking again “That we do at a secret meeting. People have their fixed duties about who will arrange what. Like snacks, food and liquor. No need to tell them that. People slowly start gathering at the venue and fun begins. Party ends by the time ladies are free. We leave within a safe margin of time. Nobody knows nothing and life moves on”. I was surprised. He continued “you know, recently when the last marriage was at Kumar’s, their men also joined our party like always. But those idiots never went back home straight. Instead they went out to a bar and continued to drink. They were hung over for 2 days and could not attend to necessary duties in further arrangements. Ladies were very annoyed. Some traitor leaked that a party was there at ladies sangeet night. Worst of all was that those spineless Kumar boys never told that they continued to drink even after the main gathering was over”. I was listening with amazement and blurted out “How do you fit in all this”? Old man exploded “Bloody hell! That party was at my place. Your mother in law and wife were so embarrassed by this. Kumar ladies never made a public scene about it, but I was black listed. Why I am at fault? It was duty of Kumar ladies to keep their men in check. This Pammy always acts smart. I came to know from trusted sources that she was making a fuss about boy’s party at ‘ladies sangeet’ night, for a month now and had been indirectly humiliating our ladies. Many rooms are also booked in the hotel where they are having ladies sangeet. So that kids and exhausted ladies can sleep there and nobody leaves. Then she digs out the information about our party venue and tries to sabotage our plans. She deliberately planned all this so that men get totally left out for whole night unattended. She is close to Kumar ladies. She planned a revenge”. I was still more amazed. What a plan to hurt male egos of whole clan in one night. Meanwhile Poppins continued his narration “She told my wife at right time and she forced me here. I am not so easy to be played with. I smuggled my bottle in her baby sitter’s goody bag. I have shared the change of venue information on our online group”. I was shocked “What? Where? You mean here? In my house”? He said calmly, “Yes, where else? I am the party master this time too. Soon people will be joining us”. I was about to faint. My wife will kill me. What will I say to her? May be this conniving old fox is trying to kill two birds with one shot, have a party and trigger my divorce. He saw my condition and said “Don’t worry, all will be fine. I will not let anyone find out. Pammy’s puppies will be kept on tight leash. We have given that duty to Kumar’s as punishment. They will finish all arrangements and then only leave ladies Sangeet. Relax and enjoy. I won’t let anyone get in to trouble. Moreover it is too late anyways”. Doorbell rang. I opened the door. 8-9 or even more men started entering my house. All had something for party with them like bottles, food, and snacks. There were excited greetings and laughter of over grown children in my otherwise sombre dwelling. Before they could settle down my phone rang. Suddenly all went silent. Someone shouted “who kept his phone switched on when it was strictly told not to. Only Pammy’s puppies are allowed that”? Pammy’s puppies were yet to arrive. Someone already partially drunk, slurred “don’t worry it is phone of Poppins’s puppy in law” all laughed. My father in law’s face stiffened. He hated being called Poppins. He kept his otherwise smirking and sulking mouth shut, realizing the gravity of situation. He came to me as fast as he could. Snatched my phone, looked at it and shouted it is a video call from my daughter. Immediately all got up and started hiding where ever they could with their goods. He told me strictly “don’t pick up till I give green signal”. I obeyed. He went and sat back on sofa and started pretending to watch television. He waved his hand as sign to go ahead. I picked up the call. My wife was online with kids. She waved at me and asked “All fine? We all miss you here”. Why I am being missed at only ladies party, I thought. Perhaps encouraged by affection, I replied “I miss you all. I wish I was there”. She replied “Why do you want to join ladies sangeet”? Good question. With all the confusion and excitement going on, I was unable to understand whether it was a serious or humorous taunt. I was short of reply. She continued “Papa is fine”? I said “Yes, he is watching a debate on news channel. You can talk to him”. She said “no need, don’t disturb him. Please order something healthy. OK”. I nodded in agreement. We said bye to each other and I disconnected. All came out relieved. I was searching for the one who called me ‘puppy in law of Poppins’. But Poppins shouted, “Don’t start the party. There will be another attack. Wait for some time”. All were surprised but obeyed the captain’s orders. Meanwhile people kept arriving except for Pammy’s puppies. All were kept on hold. Poppins also had his phone switched on, after all he was the leader. His phone rang with tune indicating that a new message is received. He read it and said with serious face “Pammy’s puppies informed that they are absconding from the ladies sangeet for fairly long time now. Pammy must have discovered by now. There can be an attack any time now”. I was still confused, what attack? But thought wiser not to ask. My phone rang. It was my wife calling me again, so this was the second attack. I was well trained for the drill by now. I waited till ‘all clear’ sign was there and then received the call. She said “sorry sweet heart I disturb you again and again. But mom wants to talk to you”, old fox was right. “Hi sonny”! She said with a big smile on lips and oozing anger in her eyes. “Actually I wanted to show the decoration of your house to Pammy. She wants to take idea about what she should gift newlywed couple. Can you please show her around IMMEDIATELY, you know she is so busy tonight with all arrangement”? That’s a smart move. ‘Ladies! Foxy Poppins is always one step ahead of you’, I thought in my mind. I started showing her around in full circle. I said “anything you want to see close”? I could hear clearly at least 4-5 gasps of shock. “No, no some other time, something urgent came up, please excuse me” this time I heard a lot many sigh of relief from so many hidden corners of my home. My mother in law and wife were satisfied that no one was around. It was proven that Pammy’s puppies went stray on themselves and Poppins had nothing to do with it. Pammy aunty was humiliated. Good byes were exchanged finally for the night after my wife told me that they were not coming home till next morning. I disconnected the call and doorbell rang. It was Kumar boys with Pammy’s puppies. Actually, Pammy aunty lost the game by only couple of minutes. All were relieved. Now everybody looked towards captain Poppins with anticipation. He raised a bottle as a signal that party may begin now. The party started. Even I had a couple of glasses that night. Oh yes, without being discovered. It was not that bad a night after all. Perhaps there were still lot many loopholes in the plan. We were not ready to worry about that till tomorrow morning. I was relaxed, all were relaxed. After all, captain Poppins was there to take care.