When A Kitty Party Turned Upside Down My Idea Of Ladies Lunches

What do women discuss at kitty parties? Pavithra thought she knew, but received a big surprise on going to one.

What do women discuss at kitty parties? Pavithra thought she knew, but received a big surprise on going to one.

As I get down from my chauffeur driven car and step out reluctantly, I just can’t stop wondering whether this idea of mine to attend a kitty party is a well thought out one! Generally an unflustered sort of person and mostly never unsure about anything, here I am on my way to a kitty party hosted by my friend Sanjana, totally beyond my comfort level.

“OMG, I am an advocate. How did I even think of attending a kitty party!” I muttered to myself as I straightened the casual outfit I had picked up for the occasion.

I raise my sunglasses above my forehead and slightly adjust my newly bought imported handbag on my left forearm. Well, I think, most of these so-called modern ladies carry their bags this way, is it not?

Let me clarify my position a bit more. I have nothing in particular against these kitty parties hosted by the Ladies’ clubs. Yet, to put it delicately, given an opportunity to attend that party, I would definitely not be caught dead in one of them.

For one thing, I am one of the partners in a leading law firm of our country, and hence hardly find time for socialising, and more so, for something as trivial as a kitty party. Secondly, even if I had some free time at my disposal, I would rather engage myself in some more constructive activity. It so happened that Sanjana, my close friend of two decades called me last Sunday and suggested that we meet over for lunch at a well-known restaurant today. I just did not imagine that it would be a kitty party gathering of some ladies well known to her (and perhaps known to me as well.) I am still unable to get over the fact that she talked me into it. This guileful, intimate friend of mine definitely has some wonderful convincing abilities!

As I enter the restaurant I am awestruck by the ambience there, and can’t help but look around in awe. The venue is a remarkable new Italian restaurant in the heart of Chennai that has received raving reviews in almost all the Chennai editions of leading Indian newspapers. As expected, the ambience is stylish and sophisticated. At one end is the fully stocked wine room; then there is the show kitchen with a high end cooking range; and on the whole, the style is very contemporary.

Being a Saturday afternoon, nearly all the tables are occupied but it is not that difficult to spot Sanjana’s group of 8 to 10 ladies, all chattering and laughing away in high spirits in unison! I walk towards the table and Sanjana flashes a smile on seeing me. She gives me a warm hug and starts introducing me to all her friends. I acknowledge their hellos with a smile and greet every one of them, confident, poised and graceful.

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Well, I am a successful career lady, and think, how difficult could it be to have a little chat with these women here for about an hour? After all, what could the topics of discussion be? Ummm, perhaps the conversation would revolve around recently released movies, domestic helpers, fashion shows, designer sarees, and charity events…

“So, Rankita, we loved the Dilma tea you got us from Sri Lanka during your visit to that beautiful country a couple of months ago.” The lady, who had spoken thus, just like the others present there, wears a huge solitaire diamond ring on her perfectly manicured finger and has shiny and bouncy short hair which she is seen tossing repeatedly over her graceful shoulders. I very well know that I do not fit into the category of ladies who often visit the beauty parlour to blow dry their hair, to do manicure, pedicure etc, what with client meetings and court dates keeping me on my toes always. This beauty parlour stuff is way beyond me! But it may be totally different for these ladies who would be spending probably spending hours together in spas and salons.

“Yeah, it tasted awesome,” acknowledges another lady, as she daintily sips her green tea, being careful not to smudge her lipstick. Rankita, who happens to be sitting diagonally opposite to me, acknowledges the comments with a smile. “Now that we are discussing tea, did you get to read about how the tea industry in India is struggling with the challenges of sustainability?” pitches in another lady from the right-hand side of the table. “The tea industry needs to formulate some cost cutting measures in production in order to curtail the price rise, which will potentially reduce consumption.” “Yeah, the industry needs to find ways to retain its workforce by offering competitive pay to its employees!” continues another lady.

I am pretty amazed. This shiny and bouncy haired lady definitely does not look like one who could hold forth so much about the Indian tea industry. “Well, I’m glad you liked Dilma tea,” remarks Rankita then. “Hey you know something, our family is planning a visit to Ooty next week and I will get you some fragrant and superbly flavoured Nilgiri tea. Anyhow, it is a short trip since my recently completed book is being launched this month end.” Oh, this lady seems to be a writer and she is actually a published author! I look at her with new respect. Remarkable, to say the least!

“My husband and I are going to Jaipur next month,” says another lady in a lovely peach coloured saree. “Nikhil was suggesting that we go to some foreign country this year but really, why bother yaar? Several options are available in our own country. In fact, I read in Business Times yesterday that the Indian tourism industry is looking up these days and in fact has grown by 7% from 5% last year. Its contribution towards the general economy is 3%.”

Why is it that I am not aware of all this?

“Hey Sanju, I’ve been wanting to ask you! Do you know of any furnishing store around here which you can recommend? After thinking for a long time, we have planned to renovate our apartment this year. I am getting quotes from various stores now,” said another lady in a black flowered skirt and blouse. I’m just about to remind Sanjana, that this is probably the third time in four years that her friend, who is also known to me, is renovating her apartment, but soon I hear another voice speak before me. Okay, for want of anything better to do, most of these ladies often redo their apartments! “Well, I hear that X from Sri Lanka (referring to a well-known furniture brand) is in the process of setting up store in our city but as of now it appears that nothing will start till end of next year,” says the lady. “Oh, is it? I thought it would happen much sooner than that!” I say as I am unable to conceal my disappointment. I was looking forward to shopping at the store she mentions. Their furniture is of really good quality and I like it. “Umm, apparently they have still not identified a suitable location for starting their store. Did you not read about this in the newspaper?” chuckles the lady, looking at her expensive watch. She continues, “I am having hunger pangs yaar and waiting to pounce on the food. I wonder when food will arrive, Sanju.

“Do I not regularly read the newspaper?” I turn crimson with embarrassment. Of course, I do make it a point to glance through the paper every morning. But, my job is such that I hardly find the time to read each and every news item. This does not mean that I do not read the newspapers. Well, this lady made me feel a dud regarding world affairs. Why is it that they are not discussing about domestic helpers, fashion shows, charity events, and sarees from various parts of India…? I get the feeling that I have been let down!

Steaming hot lunch arrives and everyone hurriedly goes about savouring the delicious lunch, while my mind is fixated elsewhere and not on the lunch that is being served. It is nearly 2 pm now and we are in the last course of lunch – yes delicious ice-cream, gulab jamun, and some other sweets! Usually I help myself liberally when it comes to desserts. But today I am hardly able to taste the desserts and am totally put out.

The prattle of voices at our table has now become louder and faster and I am unable to keep pace with it. “The Singapore Prime Minister has invited Narendra Modi to his country and…” “Realtors are struggling with the current situation with the property prices taking a deep plunge again…” blah blah blah. My head starts to spin and I feel that I am dreaming now. I have never have been tongue-tied to this extent at any point of time and I suddenly realize that I have not participated much in the ongoing conversation.

Thankfully, there comes the waiter with the bill and all the ladies start prodding into their handbags. Some of them take out their credit cards and others pull out notes. The sound of rustling notes is a welcome break and I let out a sigh of relief.

“Well, Pavitra, I hope it wasn’t all that bad,” Sanjana smiles at me as the valet comes to collect the parking coupon from me. A medley of expensive cars has already started forming a line in the driveway. “Hey Sanju, don’t you worry,” I assure her as we hug each other, “To say the least, it was an eye opener.” She laughs spontaneously and hugs me once again. “Let’s catch up soon over a cup of coffee,” she suggests, “…just the two of us this time. Ok?” “No way,” I quip, “It’s my turn the next time! You are coming to a lawyer’s conference with me this month end. Understood?” We laugh together and just then my car arrives.

“Hey Pavi, you have arrived just in time for coffee. Care to have some?” My husband Pramod smiles at me as I enter the apartment and I look at him with happiness radiating all over my face. I am pleasantly surprised to see him back home early since he has been putting in long hours of work for the past few weeks.

“So, how was the kitty party, huh? I can’t believe that you attended it.” He laughs as he hands over a mug of freshly brewed coffee and I sniff its aroma longingly. “Well, what do I say, I guess it was definitely interesting,” I remark, sipping the delicious coffee. “What? Come again! Did I hear it right? Interesting? What’s so interesting about a kitty party,” saying so, he raises his eyebrows. “All you would have discussed would have been about movies, designer wear, imported handbags, cosmetics, maids, fashion shows …with a group of frivolous women”.

He glances at me expectantly but I’m quick enough to deny his statement and shake my head. “Frivolous? No, they were not. I don’t think so. For your information we did not discuss any of the topics mentioned by you. And, listen Pramod, I don’t think I will be able to accompany you to your Company lunch on the last Saturday of next month. I have decided to attend the next kitty party that day!”

Pramod looks at me totally stunned by my reply!

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