Get dressed, drive through insane traffic, arrive at party, have a great time (hopefully), drink a lot, go home, crash. And get ready for the next one. Partying gains a completely new meaning during the festive season. Diwali dos are like parties on steroids: overdressed, marigold-choked. But there are many different kinds of parties. So here’s a list of the various kinds you could get invited to this season and how to survive them...
The Card Party
The Holy Sweet Mother of all Diwali parties. Someone will eventually bring out a wad of cards along with a fatter wad of cash and make you bet your bottom rupee in the name of tradition. If it is an authentic card party and you’re a party pooper (as in, you’re that irritating person who doesn’t play cards), then image guru Dilip Cherian has a tip for you: “Reach exactly two hours later than the time on the invite. By then, dinner would have been served. Grab your plate, slink into a corner, stuff your face and get out. If someone does see you, you will be pulled to a table and forced to play.” But you don’t always have to leave, as entrepreneur VN Dalmia suggests, “I usually don’t play but I attend these parties to network and socialise. So I watch the game from the sides and hang out with others who aren’t playing. The trick is to hang out with more of your kind.”
The dress code? Pull out the blingiest outfit you have in your closet and top it with all the gold in your name. Men can try the same with chunky watches and chains. Narresh, one half of the designer duo Shivan-Narresh, says, “It’s all about showing how many Cartiers you can pair with your Louboutins and Birkins. There are card tables of different levels, starting from Rs 1,000 for a chaal to a couple of lakhs. Where you sit determines where you stand on the social ladder.”
Of course, the parties where a chaal begins at a lakh are only by invitation! Author Ira Trivedi happens to have attended some of these. “It’s dramatic to see people pull out their Rolexes, car keys or vacation tickets as bets on the table. Suitcases filled with cash are a given.” Trivedi recommends knowing the basic rules of the game. Traditionally teen patti (see box on the Breakfast of Champions page) should be played if you want to have any fun. “I never knew how to play cards, but started playing since last year and it’s not been so bad. Especially when there’s money involved. With my beginners’ luck, I won a cool Rs 15,000 last year.”
Survivor’s Tip: Carry loose cash – that is, an amount that you wouldn’t mind losing. Else, develop a thick skin or very deep pockets.
The great Chaat Party
Though it originated in the Capital, we’ve heard Mumbai is catching up fast. If you’re wondering what happens there, then it’s just a bunch of people chatting over chaat! Says designer Anand Bhushan, “These parties are usually hosted on the Sunday before Diwali with chaatwallas serving 15-20 types of chaat. Having a bar isn’t the norm, since it’s usually a family gathering, but vodka golgappas aren’t uncommon.”
Survivor's Tip: With kids around, wear clothes that can survive a chutney-slinging match.
The Bollywood Party
Since Diwali is ripe season for Bollywood stars to promote their endorsements, you might be invited to a party where a star makes a five-minute appearance. “It often looks like a movie set, with most people dressed like extras from Mughal-e-Azam. The star arrives close to midnight for five minutes, and everyone either takes a picture or gets one taken. Post which, every one chats about how much work the star got done to their faces and bodies,” says Dilip Cherian.
Survivor’s Tip: Pretend not to care about the star, until they arrive that is!
The Expat Party
Thrown mostly to ‘introduce’ foreign nationals to this glittery Indian holiday that is not Halloween, this party can often be quite hilarious. “Men in kurtas and women draped in saris look funny if they don’t carry themselves well. Also, be prepared to fend off absurd questions like ‘When does Diwali start in the morning?’” says Cherian.
Survivor’s tip: Watch the ‘Diwali’ episode of the TV show, The Office. Because it’s awesome!
The Pataka Party
Typically hosted by a club (The Rotary Club/Gymkhana), this is one of our favourite parties. You can sit at your table (without pressure to play cards) with friends, eat, drink and watch the fireworks. However, if the same scenario takes place in a farmhouse, then you are in for the usual air-kissing routine. Says industrialist VN Dalmia, “It’s like a wedding without being one. There’s an outdoor setting, the place is beautifully
decorated and everyone is in the race to be the Fat Cat.”
Survivor’s Tip: Be the Fat Cat.
From HT Brunch, October 28
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