The numbing conformity

  • Seema Bedi, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Dec 26, 2014 14:12 IST

What is the best antidote for seasonal active disorder (which is just a fancy name for winter blues): a party, of course! Well it is December, the party month; and as a testimony, all of us have dozens of invites sitting on our side table for attending a wedding, Christmas, New Year and not to forget a Lohri bash.

Given the weather, we drag our feet to workplace, but for a party, we leave the cozy confines of our home willingly, dressed up cheerfully in our gladrags.

The parties are getting bigger and brighter each year, what with big money and innovative themes. The fairy lights cause a magical glow on foggy nights. No wonder most society parties are held at the open venues called farm houses, fashionably.

Bonfires dot the place to keep the guests warm. When I arrived at one of these opulent dreamlands, the jarring music played till the wee hours, ruining the serenity of the night. No one seemed to care about the 11pm deadline. The majority of guests started to arrive around the same time (way past my bedtime), the men in tuxedos and the women in chiffons and other fine fabric unsuitable for the weather; and all that glittered were diamonds.

Even the gatekeeper gave me a scornful look, as I arrived in time, well wrapped up in woollens as appropriate for the weather. I now know that in “society” parties, you are supposed to reach at least two hours past the prescribed time, in your little black or red or white dress.

The shawl or wrap should be a shahtoosh preferably because it makes a nice conversation topic how the now banned fabric was either inherited or acquired clandestinely. It has to sit folded on one shoulder; this I learnt when I was monikered “aunty”, as I had wrapped myself in pashmina to protect myself from the bitterly cold winds.

Our dainty ladies stood around a bonfire, drinking what I assumed innocently was cola. I wondered how these ladies who are bundled up in thick cardigans during the day acquire magical power so suddenly to beat the cold. Wiser now, I know why the waiters with all their experience avoided me while serving this beverage.

I decided to seek the comfort of food in this shivering party, only to learn that dinner generally is served past midnight! I was so cold and hungry that a lump rose in my throat for the “little match girl” from the saddest Christmas story that I’ve read. But like her, I didn’t have to die of hunger, as there were snacks and steaming hot cups of coffee to see me through till dinner.

The tables groaned under the weight of a lavish spread of the exotic menu. The food was piled on the plates, tiny pieces were pecked at daintily with forks over a discussion on hunger in the Third World countries, all this while huge portions of leftovers were dumped in the bin.

My friends envied me, for I had attended a do that was covered in the “lifestyle” pages of our local newspaper. I am wiser indeed after the event. New Year bash—no, thank you. I would rather spend my New Year’s Eve cuddled up and cozy in my bed, reading a book and sipping a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

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