Saturday, 3 February 2007

Bollywood Birthday

Dear Hubby, so terrified is he that when he leaves his beloved Royal Navy- which God help him isn’t a hundred years away - he won’t be able to pay a crucifying mortgage, put two kids through college and pay for the other two’s lifestyle stipulations that, on top of his busy job, he has taken on the onerous task of an M.Sc. degree. I do my best to sound interested and supportive but sorry, it really is very boring. Now when I did my degree in English Lit, my essays discussed sexual repression, intrigue, gothic erotica and other fabulously diverting subjects but, when I ask Hubby what he’s studying - and bless him he’s so ready to impart the information - within a sentence not only have I lost interest, I’ve lost the will to live, but then how the hell can strategic positioning sound sexy?
So last weekend, having put my beloved son on his bus to Snowdonia, Hubby came home, got his books out and, with furrowed brow, ploughed through the first chapter. Having been without him all week, this is not what I needed to see, especially given there were several little girls due to arrive in a few hours for a Bollywood bash. The five year old, who had been up since 6.45 was already dolled up in her Salwar Kameez, gold bangles jangling up her arm, jewelled flip flops adorning her feet. Her little sister, never one to be outdone, had on a toddler sized sari and was equally impatient for the festivities to commence.
“Could you give me a hand?”, I asked pointedly, as I balanced precariously above Hubby’s head trying to stick balloons around the ceiling.
“Hmmm?”, he answered, evidently elsewhere.
“We are having a birthday party here today. Up until now I have not troubled your pretty little head with the minutiae of its arrangements but suffice it to say that there is still quite a bit to be done”.
“Not the Bollywood thing surely?”
“Yup, there is not a Wotsit in sight. So whilst I go and rinse the basmati rice, could you please sort these balloons out, wrap up the pass the parcel, lay the table and sort out the soundtrack?” Sighing and with great dramatic gestures, Hubby shut his tome of a text book with an almighty thwack, flipped the lid shut on his lap top and removed his briefcase from the path of any stray onion bahjees.
The afternoon was spent in a frenzy of activity. Decorations were hung, incense sticks lit, rice cooked, curry made, onion bahjees, samosas and poppadums removed from their wrappers. Naan bread was heated up and raita swiftly mixed. Mango chuntey, Bombay mix and Papaya juice were set out, along with the plates, cutlery and cups. Last of all I had to put together the party bags – which this year, were a real winner. Mags had taken me the previous week to a fantastic Indian shop in Totnes where we found wonderful little shoulder bags big enough for a wooden elephant, a bangle, a ring and a jewelled tea light holder. Hubby was apoplectic.
“How much money have you spent on this party Alice? We’re not the bloody Beckham’s”. Mags walked in at that point.
“Oh don’t be such a kill-joy”, she said soothingly to Hubby, kissing him on his bindi. “The place looks and smells great. Good job Alice. Anything I can do?”
I pondered what was left to do. The children were ready; the eleven year old looked fabulous, tall and slim in her green and silk sari, jewellery up her arm, knock-out earrings dangling from her lobes, her dark brown glossy hair almost skimming her bottom.
“Wow look at you”, I exclaimed as she walked into the dining room, “You really do look as though you’ve walked off a movie set”. She was thrilled and without prompting organised the music for the pass the parcel game. Even Hubby in his white linen Nehru shirt looked very handsome. I only had myself and Dad left to dress. My hair, which I hadn’t had time to wash was scraped up into a slide, I threw a green kaftan on and ran back downstairs. Dad, who was sitting on the sofa being attended to by Mags, looked bewildered. She was tying a turban around his head and my daughter had my red Chanel lipstick in her hand and was applying a long male bindi.
“I think we may have our religions mixed up a little. Seikh’s wear turbans and Hindu’s a bindi. Besides, given the length of that bindi Grand-dad looks more like an old, Seikh Harry Potter!” and handing him one of the two year old’s wet wipes, he hastily dabbed at his forehead. Immediately the door bell rang and within ten minutes all the little guests had arrived. They looked incredibly lovely – all their mums had made a sterling effort regarding their costumes and while they played the first game, I re-heated the curry and brought it to the table.
“Grub’s up”, called Hubby and squealing, as only 5 year olds can, they ran to the table and eyed up their dinner suspiciously.
“Do you have any chips?” asked one, whilst another started to cry, “I don’t like that”.
Luckily, a friend and neighbour who is a dab hand with a deep fat fryer had been instructed to produce a ton of chips and chicken teddies and just as the little girl’s sobs were becoming intensified, the chicken and chips arrived.
I daren’t look in Hubby’s direction for, had I seen an expression of “I told you so”, written on his face, I’d have smashed it.
Later, after the mothers collected their little darlings, overjoyed with their prizes, henna tattoos and bags – the god-mother’s and their husbands stayed. Having washed up and cleared away, they felt entitled to a little liquid compensation. The following morning, I found Hubby looking every inch the student - nursing Alka Seltzer in one hand, an academic book in the other.

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