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Delhiwale: Impressions from a foreign diplomat’s drawing room

A sneak peek into an exclusive party thrown by a foreign diplomat at his residence.

delhi Updated: Mar 01, 2018 12:29 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Dilliwale,Delhi party
Guests at a party at a foreign diplomat’s residence. (Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

Here’s something we’ve always wanted to know: What happens at the glamourous parties thrown by foreign diplomats in their exclusive residences?

To find out, we reckoned the best option was to manoeuvre an invite to one such soiree. On the happy night, the ambassador — representing an important West Asian country — was hosting a dinner in honour of a visiting delegation of select writers and poets from his country. At the heavily guarded gate, the staff checked that our name appeared on the privileged list of invitees before allowing us to walk the long lit-up driveway to the bungalow.

It all looked too quiet for a bash. The lobby was empty, as if the family had gone to bed. We then noticed the door to the living room, left ajar, giving us a glimpse of foreign faces along with a smattering of Indians. Inside, the ambassador’s gracious wife was welcoming every attendee. Some of these people were the embassy’s senior staffers and seemed to be there just because it was a part of their day job (their expressions betrayed them!). A new cultural attaché and a lone waiter were fluttering around the crowd — one distributing visiting cards, the other glasses of wine. Among the guests was a young ambassador from a tiny European country. He and his wife mostly kept to themselves. The aforementioned writers and poets too huddled together for most of the evening, though one woman eventually seceded from the group to admire the paintings on the wall.

You’ll be surprised to know that most of these high-society folks behave as tritely as people like us, pretending to be listening to conversations while engrossed in their mobile phones.

We also noted that the chatter was the same as anywhere else in town (“You should have kebabs in Old Delhi!”; “Yes, we last met 15 years ago”) and yet, some of these folks looked extremely animated, as if they had never heard such amazing things before.

When the ambassador was formally introducing the writers, an Indian guest loudly asked his partner to take his photo as he posed (it was for his Facebook, we learned later). Everyone behaved as if nothing had happened — fine breeding, you see.

Finally, to everyone’s relief, dinner (all vegetarian) was announced. This is when we spotted the ambassador’s daughter coming down the giant staircase in her red pajamas. She noiselessly slipped into the empty dining hall and a maid hastily filled her plate with a bit of every dish. The girl then disappeared, back to her private quarters — perhaps enjoying the opportune absence of grown-up supervision to eat in front of a Netflix movie. The incident happened in a fraction of a second but it stayed with us for a long time, through this otherwise carefully conceived evening.

First Published: Mar 01, 2018 10:05 IST