Yesterday, I attended a very senior doctor’s 80th birthday party at ITC Grand Chola. I wouldn’t have recognized this doctor if I’d met him on the street (the invitation was for my Dad; I was the plus one) but I have a policy about parties. I always accept if I know the person reasonably well or if its held at some posh place that I want to visit. This case clearly satisfied the latter criterion, so that decided it.
If I had known just how glittering an affair this would turn out to be, I would have made more of a sartorial effort, but lesson learned: Always be over than underdressed and plan your outfit fully in advance, instead of being lazy and trying to wing it. When you think you look special, you automatically feel special as well. And that feeling is very conducive to having a good time.
But I digress. We got there around 7:15 PM, pressed the flesh and generally hobnobbed with my Dad’s friends and colleagues. Because these friends and colleagues are the kind who are used to being chief guests wherever they go, we also ended up sitting on the front row, along with them. Not a good position strategy-wise as this meant that when the dance programme and cake cutting and speechifying happened, we couldn’t make a discreet exit towards the food. Tre annoying. Especially when there were cocktails to be had.
We finally managed to reach the bar only at 9 PM. White wine always has a most beneficial effect on me, and as I insisted (being a cheapo) that we have at least two glasses, my spirits more than revived. But teeing off late meant that we sort of had to rush through the food, so as to allow Thanigachalam to get home at a somewhat reasonable hour. And what food there was! It brought to mind some of the worst excesses of the ancien regime (I exaggerate of course). A salad counter laden with at least six varieties of salad; soup in lovely little French urns; North Indian counter with nan, dhal, paneer, chicken and rice; Biryani counter with biryani and some gravy with round balls; South Indian counter with rice and sides (I am vague because I didn’t really eat from that counter); Dosa counter with five kinds of chutneys; and the dessert counter with ice cream, trifle, chocolate pudding and something else I am trying to get my wine-impaired memory to recall. The culinary bounty of the world within reach!
I am now filled with regret though. I should not have drunk that much wine on an almost-empty stomach, as I could not do justice to the food and worse cannot now remember in the appropriate level of detail how it all tasted. I just have a general feeling of being very well looked after and eating delicious food. Simple food can taste great when done well. But occasion food does take things to another level. And that does create a feeling of bonhomie and wellbeing, something celebratory.
Today, the day after the night before, I am also aware of how unfair and unjust this world is. There are people all around me, who don’t have food or even water. And just steps away are people who can wallow in such decadence. Why don’t our poor rise up and revolt, the way the sans culottes did? My sympathies would definitely be with them.