I am sure you have seen them at big weddings and parties. They are the unwanted ‘guests’ — people who work tirelessly to make a wedding or party a success, drivers and sundry others belonging to the ‘other’ section of society.
Wearing their best dresses, they wait in the wings, ready to swing into action when the dinner is laid. They make a quick appearance, fill their plates with the goodies on offer and disappear, as quietly as they came, to some corner to enjoy the food.
Vikas, however, belongs to a different class. Even though he hails from a well-to-do family and can afford hot meals at good joints, his favourite pastime is to enjoy free meals at five-star hotels.
Over a period of time he has mastered and perfected the art of gate-crashing into high-society parties and marriages held in these hotels. He gets to know about these marriages and other social events through his ‘contacts’ in the hospitality industry.
He wears his best suit and his best smile and slips into parties and weddings. “I get to see the Page 3-types, celebrities and generally have a ball,” he boasts triumphantly.
For marriage functions, he carries an empty shagun ka lifafa for that authentic look. Once inside, he moves around confidently and comfortably, and even manages to make new friends. Nobody questions him. He helps himself to the drinks and food on offer, enjoys the music-and-dance routine and generally has a great time. Sometimes he takes a female friend along. What could be a better way of entertaining yourself and your girlfriend? After all, it costs him nothing.
At a wedding I attended recently, I followed a man sneaking away with a heap of food on his plate. Behind the shamiana, a frail old woman, probably his mother, waited for him. I could see she was hungry and finished the food in no time.
I remembered Vikas and could not help but compare the two situations. The modus operandi of the two men is the same but the needs are so different — for one it is a desperate need, and for the other, nothing but plain greed.