Published in Times Of India, 26th Jan,2010

Whenever my wife and I have to attend a party, there is enough chaos before we leave home for the kids to roll up their eyes and for the maid to pull out her hair. Gifts have to be wrapped and clothes have to be ironed and worn, with seconds to go before the designated time of our departure. When we finally get into the car we’re normally quite late and there has been many an argument along the way which has resulted in that much more tension.

 An even more cantankerous situation results, however, when we have a ‘do’ at our home and when we have to put up our best performance as please-all hosts. The scene at our humble abode, just minutes before the guests are to arrive, resembles that of an ‘Sabzi-Mandi’, with all kinds of items ‘decorating’ the venue.

 One of us is usually busy with the laptop (me), another is shouting at all and sundry while running around the house (my wife), the kids are on tenterhooks and the TV is blaring. The maid and the borrowed ‘help’ look as if they’ve had enough and are never going to be part of any party again. Indeed, the pressure is really on!

 

Opinion is divided about the precise moment when I usually coax myself to leave the computer and join the frenetic ‘cleaning up’ operations on such occasions. Whatever be the truth of the matter, the fact is that there is a frenzied period of activity just before the guests arrive that is akin to the last over of a T-20 thriller.

 

Our best efforts to host the perfect party have the tendency to go awry, however, due to a variety of disruptive influences. Sometimes unwanted visitors arrive minutes before the party is scheduled, for sundry reasons like the newspaper bill. On other occasions, long telephone calls hold up preparations.

 

The result is that often the kitchen cabinet forgets to lay out all the items that they have toiled to prepare and the best dish keeps hiding in the oven, only to be discovered when the guests have gone!

 

Another gaffe is to under-estimate the quantity of food required. Some guests evidently find our food so delicious that they polish off bowl after bowl of the stuff. The result is that a few diners are left staring at empty pots on the table!

 

Even such errors are pardonable, but not what happened last time. A certain gentleman and his wife whom we know distantly turned up for dinner one evening and we kept scratching our heads because they were not on our list! An examination of my cell phone later revealed that I had smsd him the invitation instead of the intended person with the same name!