Thursday, January 7, 2010

Of Birthday Parties and Weddings

There is an entirely useless entry on every invitation card that is ever sent out. That entry lists the time when that particular function is going to commence. I call it useless because no body (at least no body in Pakistan) pays the least bit attention to it and arrives at what ever time it pleases them to arrive, unless they happen to be me and my “we have vowed never to be late” family members. Result is, we usually end up at every party way before anyone else has even started dressing up for it at home. Either people need to stop printing time on invitation cards OR I seriously need to learn to ignore it.
I recently attended a birthday where half way through the party the waitress discreetly whispered into my ear to ask me when I wanted the cake brought out.
Only then did I realize that my early arrival (even earlier than the hosts) had led the hotel staff to believe I was the one throwing the party.
(Hmmmm…..That accounted for my baby getting VIP treatment in all the kids’ games and the magic show act.)
Ah well! no harm done. My daughter enjoyed herself (why wouldn’t she? She was treated as the guest of honor for a considerable amount of time) and the confusion cleared up well in time for the actual birthday girl to cut the birthday cake and take home all the lovely presents so I guess she ended up happy enough as well. As for me, I am just glad the whole thing was sorted out before they presented the bill. Amused as I was at the misunderstanding, being expected to foot the bill for someone else party was not something I would have found at all humorous.
Another incident that I would like to mention here happened at a wedding and no it is not regarding late arrivals which are something of a norm at weddings (People seem to have started believing in the notion that arriving on time at a wedding is one of the seven deadly sins and must be avoided at all costs).
As it happened that at this particular wedding we were busy being thoroughly bored as anyone would be at a wedding of casual acquaintances where you are unfamiliar with the majority of guests…. Correction…. where you are unfamiliar with every single guest with the exception of the host who has invited you.
So as we all sat around a big circular table, I suddenly saw the bored look on my son’s face change to one of horror as he stared at something behind my shoulder.
"Mama that woman behind you just spat on the carpet". He whispered
"What ? ? ? ..... No way" …
"He is right and she has done it twice before."
The confirmation came from my daughter who had an even better view and seemed to have been maintaining a count ever since she first witnessed the unhygienic display.
I angled my chair so I too could have a view of the spitting lady behind me.
And sure enough, the lady who had spat thrice before scored again.
She did it with such skilled expertise that had I not been actually waiting for it I would surely have missed it.
No customary clearing of the throat. No gather of the sputum in the mouth before expulsion. Just plain thooooo.
And it fell right there on the carpet beside her feet where it remained in the form a miniature foamy puddle for a few seconds before being absorbed into the fabric of the carpet
There were young urchins belonging to other wedding guests running and tripping all over the place. What if one fell on top of that
Urgh ….yuk

"PLEASE……DO NOT. DO. THAT…..AGAIN." I said glaring at her.

She was taken by surprise by my reprimand.
Then she glared back. As if I was the one spitting and she was the one reprimanding.
She was obviously quite infuriated by my inability to mind my own business
"What happened? Was she spitting?"
My mother interrupted us right in the middle of that blood curdling glaring match.
Apparently she too had seen the spitting lady in action but had dismissed it as a figment of her imagination. Surely No body behaved like that in public but alas some people do and my mom was not about to let it go with a minor tsk tsk and shake of the head.
What followed was a lengthy lecture whose key points focused on; abominable behavior and learning to control one's disgusting habits in public places.
That sermon certainly took care of the lady’s glower and replaced it with much deserved and long overdue embarrassment.
Ha…Her basilisk stare was no match for my mother.
I did not pity the women. If she did have an uncontrollably repulsive habit, the very least she could do was make it less filthy.
I was suddenly reminded of the gharara clad grand dames of yesteryears who would not venture out anywhere without a pandan in one hand and an ugaldan or spittoon in the other. Addicted as they were to spitting frequently, I am positive even they would not have made even a fraction of a mess this one had made. Too bad they are no longer in fashion, both the spittoons and the old ghrarah clad females. They could have given this woman some pointers on etiquettes.
The whole point is that this particular woman got caught doing something she should not have been doing. There are lots of people out there who do revolting things and keep on doing them because no body tells them to stop.
So the next time you see someone like that, don’t just turn away disgusted.
Let them know of your disgust.
Oh and in case your wondering what happened to the spitting lady. Well, last that I saw of her, she was making her way between the throngs of wedding guests to the other end of the shamiana (furthest from our table) where I am sure she continued to spit away to her heart’s desire.