Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dinner on Sunday night

The wedding was held on a hot August evening at the Bombay Turf Club. The podium overflowed with exotic orchids flown in from around the world. Nearly five thousand invitations were handed out. The guest list included actors, actresses and film-makers, politicians, bankers, industrialists, senior officers from the army and the navy, foreign dignitaries, businessmen and their wives, poets and writers and an assortment of priests and holy men. ( P78)

This wedding reception is a not imaginary nor is it singular. All Indians save to have that one big block buster of a wedding reception and the Bombay Turf Club or Royal Western India Turf Club is one of the larger and posher wedding reception venues in Mumbai. Particularly on a winter evening, a reception here is almost magical especially if there are twinkling fairly lights and a live band playing in the back ground.

But there are several other locations for such lavish celebrations : hotels, clubs, wedding halls and even open playing fields . One very popular venue in Mumbai is one of the gymkhanas on Marine Drive, a scenic road along the coast line . These large open spaces which are normally used for cricket are let out during the wedding season for receptions. Within hours, these barren fields are transformed into fairy tale settings - with fountains, ice sculptures, tented pavillions, grecian pillars, exotic flowers, carpeted walkways and lights creating rock temples, tropical islands, Disneyland magic, simple elegance or gaudy kitsch- each setting unique and beautiful. Standing at the entrance would be a reception committee welcoming the hundreds of guests streaming in.

I have often wondered how gate crashers are identified at such functions because the guests are never asked for an invitation card . Discussing this with some friends, one of them told me that during his college days, he and a group of friends were frequent gate crashers especially on the last Sunday of the month......

At the end of the road are two student hostels which give their cooks the night off on Sunday leaving the residents to fend for themselves. So, my friend ( who was a boarder at one of the hostels during our college days) told me, the whole week they tried hard to get a dinner invitation to a friend's home for Sunday night, failing which they had no option but to try out the tiny restaurants in the neighbourhood. But on those Sunday nights when their desire for gourmet food was particularly strong and when their pockets were particularly empty ( the last Sunday before pay day) , they couldn't help but get into their suits and walk down to one of the wedding receptions at Marine Drive!

Hands folded in greeting and bending forward ever so slightly, they would flash their best smiles and be warmly welcomed by both sides (each assuming that they were invited by the other party!).Then, they would casually stroll in and swiftly make their way to the buffet tables , grab a quick bite and make a hasty exit before anyone caught on that they were uninvited and unwanted guests!

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