Ladies’ Meet is the Military equivalent of a kitty party. There! That is the only way in which I can explain what a Ladies’ Meet (or Ladies’ Club) is in the simplest possible way. Those who have had the privilege of hosting it will agree with me when I say it becomes a matter of life and death — it becomes a stage where a Unit’s or Battalion’s event management skills, efficiency and ladies’ creativity are tested under extreme conditions.
Ladies’ Meets are mostly held in peace stations, where officers live with their families. It is an unsaid rule that every lady must attend this “fun-filled evening” if she is in station. She can be excused if her husband is on leave/not in station, if she is terminally ill (sarcasm intended), if she is an expecting mother, or if she is a working woman (being a teacher doesn’t count).
In a particular brigade, Ladies’ Meets are a monthly affair and are hosted by Unit’s ladies in rotation. A typical Ladies Meet consists of group games, paper games, songs, fashion shows, demos of recipes, innovative craft ideas, Tambola (Housie) and some delicious snacks to munch on later. The senior-most lady in the station is usually the chief guest.
It so happens that wives of officers in Capt Sa’ab’s (my husband) battalion, along with yours truly, hosted a Ladies’ Meet this month. We had a healthy team of 12-14 ladies and so the work load was evenly distributed. In stark contrast, in some Unit’s I have seen 3-4 ladies doing all the work (since there are no other ladies) and feeling extremely stressed.
Every Ladies’ Meet is usually a theme party, a vey formal party to say the least inspite of it being tagged as an informal fun event. Our theme was “Retro Bollywood” and it was indeed fun hosting it since we used to gather every alternate evening to brainstorm about what we were going to present. Every group will have some typical characters — the ones who are over-enthusiastic, the ones who are full of creative ideas, ones who are full of impractical ideas, ones who rejects all these ideas, ones who are army daughters and would begin each sentence with, “during my mom’s time…”, and then the quiet ones who just watch the show from far but always help out in each task. Oh did I leave out the kind who are absolutely not interested but are there just because the first lady summoned everyone? 😉
Apart from the usual ghise pite themes like Monsoon, Valentines, Summer Cool, Bridal, Mangoes, and Festive themes (Holi, Diwali), I came to know of some pretty interesting themes, like Roadies, Hats n Heels, Kitchen theme etc.
During my interaction with many Army wives, I have realised that there are certain contributing factors to what makes hosting a ladies meet a less stressful job.
It is fun when:
1. Your first lady, the CO’s wife, is a chilled out person who knows that the sole purpose of having a Ladies’ Meet is so that those attending it have a good time.
2. You are working on a pre-decided budget. This limits the ideas and the pain it takes to execute them. With limited money, decorations will be bare minimum and emphasis will be only on food and prizes.
3. Your team is a very co-operative lot, and everyone is voluntarily willing (bold italics and underlined for maximum effect) to contribute in the best possible way.
4. When the outcome of Ladies’ Meet is not directly proportional to your husband’s ACR.
5. When there is enough food left for the hosts even after the guests have had their fill, and you feel a sense of accomplishment once the party is over.
The fun is ruined and all hell breaks loose when:
1. You always have to keep the ego of the chief guest as the focal point.
2. You are given direct orders, “do this”, “say that”, “sing along”, instead of listening to your ideas.
3. Everyone works in a robotic fashion and refuses to think out of the box. For example, it would be nice if the “saree only” dress code is relaxed and ladies are allowed to sex-it-up a bit. (No offence, though saree is a sexy outfit, we do have some fancy dresses rotting in our almirah).
4. When nobody asks you whether your are comfortable with the work assigned to you and simply take you for granted. There have been women who have absolutely no say on what is being done and whether it is looking good or lame.
5. There is a certain charm which only a spontaneous show pulls off. Meeting everyday to practice for it ten thousand times makes no sense. More than practice, women are worried about kids they left at home, what to make for dinner and whether their work clothes for the next day are ironed. So keep practice short and sweet.