Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 5, Issue 56, Tuesday February 24, 2009


ladies lunch

After attending a few of the fancy lunches I came to certain conclusions. The first thought was that to throw a successful lunch you have to be highly motivated and organized. Then you have to arrange to have at least 30-40 women from diverse sections of the society and a killer menu. If I had to throw one, I would have:
a) At least 2 entrees
b) 7-8 main courses
c) Different kinds of juices, punch and sodas
d) Exotic flower arrangements
e) 3-4 mind-blowing desserts
f) A photographer
and lastly
g) a take home goodie bag. Something small, but meaningful. For example maybe a mug or a small photo frame to put the photograph from the lunch.

Dearest Diary,
The first time I heard the phrase, "let's do lunch", it sounded so much like what a Hollywood wife would say. To me it sounded more like, "do you want to go spelunking with me?" As I was going through my Jackie Collins phase then, this particular phrase at least was familiar, but I guess to you 'Spelunking' is still unfamiliar. Right diary?

I was in my early twenties when this Pakistani lady, whose husband was senior officer to my husband, rather autocratically commanded me into this situation.

I, in all sincerity agreed to 'do' lunch at my house. As we were parting ways, she instructed me to not do anything out of the ordinary for our lunch. Maximum two items should be on the table. Judging by her figure, I guessed she meant it. I mean this ethereal, frail, delicate skin and bone look could mean only one thing: she doesn't eat, maybe pecks at her food, but definitely no serious eating.

So this naive new housewife, with a brand new baby, with no help around and no culinary skills, decided to do exactly as the lady asked. I made a few tuna kababs and a small bowl of pasta with chicken, smothered in a store bought white sauce and felt very proud of myself. Diary, please don't judge me. During those (literally) growing up years, between Minnat and I (my partner in many a crime), whipping up an omelette with canned prawns was a luxury. Hell! I didn't even know canned prawns existed till Minnat got it out from her larder.

Anyway, going back to my lunch...judging by her awkward response to my meagre offerings, I guessed I had created a major ripple in her so calm society pond. Then after a couple of weeks, she calls me back to 'do' lunch at her house. Feeling like a tapioca farmer's wife as I stepped into her parlour with her Filipino housekeeper leading the way, I knew my worst fears were about to be materialized.

Sure enough there were these thin, willowy, pale ladies with their chiffons and pearls who gave me half-a-look and promptly turned back to their oh-so-intense conversation. I felt like a typical wallflower in my debutante ball. So, by the time I had half finished my glass of bitter grape fruit juice (another first), we were ready to 'do' lunch. And lunch it was.

A cortege of good-looking food filled the table from one end to another. And in midst of such lavish display, I could only see one thing flashing in front of my eyes... my offerings to her on the day she 'did' lunch at my house. The only thing, which was missing now, was the banner I wish I had in my hand, which would have read, "together a veritable fist of defiance, we stand immune to any onslaught."

So to cut a long story short, when she served five types of dessert, I then suddenly realized that I hadn't even offered her an ice-cream bar, let alone, dessert.

I let myself out quietly that afternoon.

But as I was going home by bus through the winding roads of mid-levels, I knew, I also 'did' lunch, but my lunches were more fun, more happier. My lunches with Nitu, Minnat, my sister Munmun, and our children were simple joys as French fries from Mcdonalds after a Toys R Us jaunt. Pushing one-dollar coins into their steel ponies for a jerky ride, wiping their chocolate smeared faces with the same wet-wipe. Such fun were those lunches, that even today those are the bonds that shackle us so tightly. I never thought of those fun times as 'doing' lunches. We were just having sheer unbridled fun where eating was just part of the parcel.

Then after my sojourn from the foreign world, I come back home. I see many changes. I join the work force and realize that 'doing lunch' was the new 'in' thing which women were doing. It was nice. It was a time to catch up between friends, mother and daughters, sister to sister, father and son, aunts and niece, colleague to colleague. All equations worked. And of course... the ultimate, the fancy ladies lunches.

One can be instantly aware of the current fashion trends. Whether Mrs. Haleem's saris are the thing to be seen in or Sabyasachi, only by attending a big lunch one can tell. Your current health status (thin or fat) along with the effectiveness of the whitening serum will be under discussion. And whether Jarwa House or Diamond World has the best danglers will be laid out like a fine blue print.

And not too for away will be another groups of ladies discussing Obama and his earth shattering changes with his new foreign policies and the recession. So am I wrong in saying what I said about lunches being a treasure trove of information, advice and discussion?

And on that note I am going to finish off diary, promising to all my socially active friends that I also will perpetrate to a ladies lunch very soon... if only all you ladies promise not to ask me that dreaded question.... "have you put on some more weight?'

So ladies, have a good day.. ahem, maybe a good lunch the Sam Q way.


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