A Midsummer Night's dream in Winter
The minute I saw the double thick card and cream envelope inviting me to dinner and cocktails to celebrate a wedding towards the end of February, I knew I was in for an experience of a lifetime. The wedding was solemnised earlier on Thursday followed by an intimate dinner for family and friends especially the contingent of overseas guests of the bridal couple on Friday. According to a friend of the bride, overseas guests expect Indian weddings to run into days even if they are not Punjabi.
We arrived at the function half an hour later than planned because despite my spending over an hour ripping a blouse to its last seam, there was a good four inch gap between the two fronts which meant a last minute change of clothes for me. However, since the invite specified formal or traditional, it wasn’t too difficult to make a choice.
The Reception Line
Parking our car in the already crowded parking space, we walked into the function where we were welcomed by the father-of-the-bride looking every inch the proud Papa at the beginning of the reception line. Half way through the line, the sister-of-the-bride in a salmon pink sari dotted with crystals, her hair swept up in a Grecian do, looking like a woodland nymph with her gentle smile and flawless skin, continued the conversation as we went to the top of the reception line. was the bride her long hair falling perfectly, looking willowy and elegant in a peach georgette number with twinkly crystals complementing the rain of diamonds in her ears. She was escorted by the two mothers, looking pleased and graceful in their muted pastel saris while the groom was somewhere in the crowd. Having thus met our hosts for the evening, we entered the Tote for an evening of entertainment and enjoyment.
There was the bride her long hair perfectly framing her radiant face, looking willowy and elegant in a peach, flowy sari with twinkly crystals complementing the rain of diamonds in her ears. She was flanked by the two mothers, looking pleased and graceful in their muted pastel saris while the groom was somewhere in the crowd. Having thus met our hosts for the evening, we entered the Tote for an evening of entertainment and enjoyment.
The muted lighting in gold and pink, the arresting floral arrangements in shades of red, pink, fuschia and magenta- fat roses, calla lilies, spidery chrysanthemums , gladioli, carnations and alstroemeria, the delicate vines suspended from the white rafters on the ceiling with lanterns of flickering light suspended on the ends, transformed the icy coldness of Tote into a Midsummer night’s dream. Outside, the look was replicated with floral garlands raining down the gnarled branches of the ancient trees converting the drab outside into a lush, veritable woodland.
And in this gentle, magical setting with the background of violin and flute of the chamber music, the guests clinked their glasses. The bobbing heads with dripping diamonds in couture saris or heirloom weaves and bald pates and greying hair in natty suits or bandh gala made polite chatter with long lost friends.
The waiters served crisp golden prawn, delicately flavoured chicken and paneer tikka, water chestnuts and spiced potato with bowls of olives, crisps and nuts left on high tables for those who liked to munch.
Dinner was served on the other side of the Tote and once you piled your plate you could make yourself comfortable at the tables with flowers for company if you wished. But by the time we made our way, the tables were packed to capacity and we stood outside, around the multi-cuisine buffet, in the fashion of the day. On one side was there was a selection of fresh sushi being rolled specially for your while on the other side hung the Peking Duck waiting their turn to be rolled. For those who preferred their Asian less exotic, there was Thai to keep you in your comfort zone. And those with milder palates were treated to something never seen before in a dinner buffet – lobster Thermidor ! And pasta in a creamy sauce that made you want to go again and again for a wee bit more.
But there were other cuisines to tempt and tease: Nawabi biryanis and Indian grills sizzling on hot coals and tawas. And for those who wanted regular fare, daal roti too was there. All cooked in the delectable style of Rahul Akerkar whose menu showcased the distinct tastes one can achieve with meats and cuts and spice.
So with four different counters offering a variety of cuisine, each with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options there was something for all to choose and confuse. But we stuffed ourselves and kept some room for the delectable desserts to round off this delightful meal.
And what a spread that was : baby bites of chocolate cake in whisky starting off the dessert line up, little squares of mud cake, strawberry mousse cakes, fresh cream and fresh strawberries too, light and fluffy Ras malai, a rustic gajar halwa, crisp jalebi fried hot in front you, to drown in thick rabdi before you went for the rich and fruity wedding cake.
With this explosion of tastes that was having its own party in our mouths, we bade farewell to this happy crowd that was getting ready to sway to the band and another round of merrymaking. While leaving we were each handed a piece of wedding cake to remind us of this simply delightful February night.
A splendid wedding to sign off the wedding season!