Wodehouse - wish you were 'In-House'!
“Get me an autograph of Dhoni’s!” my sister ordered. “And one for me too!” chimed my daughter, as I nodded like the cat that had got the cream! Hadn’t I just been invited to the IPL party after the home team had won magnificently? ‘No problemo!” I said, brimming with confidence. That would make it three autographs in all; one for yours truly as well! And so I left, armed with a notebook, a pen, and oodles of confidence, all set to meet the Chennai Super Kings in my Sunday best. A misnomer, as I stood out like a sore thumb, in what seemed to be a spiralling out-of-control collection of PYTs in micro minis, healthy cleavages, and flurries of giggles! But more on that later!
Security guards seemed to be the norm, as I got to the counter at the venue, and a pretty lady asked me to wait, as I had got there much too early. A terrible habit that was a relic of having been part of the Indian Army! It was 9.30 pm, and I crawled into a safe corner, pretending to be part of the ornamental potted plants! 10.30 pm and guests had begun trickling in, the lucky ones able to waltz in with their huge smiles and huger connections.
I got back to the counter, only to have the pretty lady say, “Oh sorry, Ma’am, but you will have to wait till the guest list arrives!” Obviously the said list was supposed to arrive only after most of the guests had! Back to my safe corner, as avid photographers took up their positions, hoping to catch celebs in action, and even more so, PYTs in double action! Around fifty five guests having walked in, I went back to the pretty young lady. “Ma’am, you are on our guest list, but not on the IPL list! So you’ll have to wait till that problem is ironed out!”
My safe corner was waiting for me with a warm smile. After all, we were old friends now! More flash bulbs, more bling, more micro minis and white teeth, and when suddenly I remembered I did have a contact inside, a very important lady, who had supposedly invited me. My mobile phone bowed in deference as the dulcet but firm tone came across, “Sorry, but I really can’t help you. You will have to get in yourself!” The meaning was crystal clear. Please don’t bother me with unimportant details, including yourself!
I don’t really remember what happened next, but close to midnight, when I felt myself slowly turning into Cinderella’s pumpkin, a miracle took place. A very genial young gentleman, who was part of the IPL media, managed to get me in; the magic doors opened, a blast of music almost swept me off my feet, and I was in! Alibaba’s cave had ‘Open Sesame-d’, as I hobbled into a mass of bodies, all sizes, shapes, colours and proportions, almost like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, and finding herself immediately at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!
As my vision cleared, I looked around. Burly security guards stood between the milling crowd and the few cricketers who were present by the ramp. And suddenly models began sashaying across the ramp, teetering on their high heels, as watchers-on teetered at the length of their skirts. They were uniformly beautiful, apparelled and automated. Truly beautiful!
The designer came out to brief applause and vanished so quickly that as Wodehouse once said, he almost met himself coming out! By now my throat was parched and I looked around desperately for a Diet Pepsi! The bar beckoned, but the way towards it was unrecognizable as I bumped, goose stepped, nudged, shoved and stepped on a few toes, before I could get anywhere near it.
By now the music was at a crescendo and the bartender’s elbows working at double speed to catch up with the orders. My faint bleat did nothing to his eardrums as I clung on to the bar to avoid being trampled over. My height has never been a cause for worry, even if most mortals tower over me, but there comes a stage in every person’s life when they long to be seen and heard! So it was with me at that moment!
Around one in the night, after having been at the job for over an hour and a half, I emerged, frazzled but triumphant, holding a tall glass of Pepsi[unfortunately, not Diet, but then I figured that I had lost enough calories at the counter earlier]. The next half hour went smoothly enough. I found my hand shaken by a ex cricketer who said, “Hi, nice to see you again!” having mistaken me for one of my seven lookalikes somewhere in the world, a lanky model who told me she loved the cricketers, the modelling and the excitement of it all, and a foreign player who was trying to hide himself away, but who ultimately gave me an autograph which I desperately tried to decipher in order to figure out who he was.
What was more fun was meeting two top Chennai designers who were obviously having a great time checking out the models and soaking in the ambience. One girl looked vaguely familiar and when I asked her if she was one of the models, her accent almost rocked me off my feet. She happened to be a cheerleader! So much for the sense of familiarity! I had seen her cavorting on TV, and then it struck me like a jolt of lightning. All these folks looked so different when they were not sporting their uniforms. No wonder that I was having a tough time identifying the players from the crowd, and the models from the average underdressed girl!
The night ended when I made it end... for it could have gone on for ever, with all the celebs, and the mock celebs acting out the famous song ‘I Could Have Danced All Night!’ Having downed my solitary glass of Pepsi, and having missed dinner under the sprawl of humanity, I homeward plodded my weary way, footsore and heartsick... with absolutely nothing to show for my pains! No friends, no photos and worst of all, no autographs!
And at two in the night, as I drove home, I looked back at the evening gone by. Was there anything I had achieved? The answer stared me in the face, as clear as the Pole Star! I was not meant to be a creature of the night, a reveller of giddy social whirls, a tippler of the finest wine, an air- kisser, a vital statistician! And thank God for small mercies! After all, wasn’t it Warren Buffet himself who hit the nail when he confessed that his pastime after he got home was to make himself some popcorn and watch television? I was in exalted company, after all!