There should be two stories under this title — the first Ladies’ Meet that I attended, and the first Ladies’ Meet I hosted.
As luck would have it, both these historical
accidents incidents happened at the same Ladies’ Meet.
It was my first month as a newly wed in my husband’s unit, which was hosting this mega reunion of all unit officers (serving and retired).
Can you believe it! All these years and I have not been able to attend any garden parties that I was invited to. Photo by Saanya Bajaj Rawat, a fellow army wife and an Instagram star!
Women of my unit decided to have a coffee morning and since I was the latest bakra — was given emcee duties. I’ve was an active orator in school and college, so was thankful of the department I was to handle for that “Spring” or “Holi” or “Colours” or “Floral” theme meet (I can’t seem to remember what the theme was).
Having never attended anything that remotely resembled a Ladies’ Meet, I was kind of taken aback by the extensive preparations that went into it. Right from the games, the menu and the gifts, it all seemed a little surreal and waste of time.
Rehearsals took it’s toll on everyone.
I lost my ‘Tambola virginity’.
By the end, I lost my appetite for that elaborate menu.
I also learnt how to say Thank you and Good Evening for at least 7 times before the guest actually left. Before that, guests spent a good 10 minutes gushing about what a great performance we’ve all put up, and how the food was smashing (even that lady whose expression changed the moment she took a bite of that samosa … to be fair, it did not have enough salt).
And I prayed (more than what I’d prayed during Maths exams) that some divine shakti would stop me from attending the next one.
Maybe my silent prayer was heard by the same upar-wala who had earlier handled (manhandled) my maths request.
Within a month, it was time for me to attend another one. Thankfully, I was a spectator this time.
I made the rookie mistake of not carrying my wallet, because it was a man’s wallet and did not go well with my saree (or any saree). So, at the entrance, I felt a little embarrassed when the lady at the reception desk said, “Rs50 please,” and I had no money with me.
A senior officer’s wife, who was standing right behind me, generously offered to pay my share. She later told me that she had an inkling that I would not know about this “entrance fee”, as was the case with most of the newly weds.
The chief guest of the event arrived (usually wife of the senior most officer) and was “shown” FOUR welcome drinks! She picked one. I wanted to stop the waiter cause a blue drink had caught my fancy. It was gonna go waste as it is na, why not put it to good use. I thank my invisible fairy godmother who prevented me from putting my thoughts into action.
As soon as the MC started off with her animated enactment of the script, a semi-loud chuckle was heard from the far corner. I was sitting there. What the hell, I made that noise.
One of my unit ladies glared at me to stop! I instantly put on my poker face and resorted to man-hi-man hasna. Years later, I remembered that woman while listening to an absolutely brilliant emcee performance by an Army wife at the IMA passing out parade (POP). Talent ki kami nai hai, it’s just not every unit gets an equal distribution of it.
I am not a great fan of Tambola. Never was, never will be. But that day, it was the best game in the world. I won Rs 75 in it and proudly told my husband,”Aaj teri biwi Rs25 rupaye jeet ke aayi hai! Chal tujhe treat deti hoon.” I dreamt of Tambola being recognised as an Olympic sport that year and me on the podium.
Status quo was restored the very next day.
I’m waiting for your stories… pen it down (one word, one line, one para, one big story… your choice) in the comment section below.