Parties and a pond
My parents, like most of their friends in the Air Force, knew how to throw a party! These were extremely stylish affairs and they were excellent hosts. Prepping for a dinner party began with a hand written list of guests, and my mom would carefully craft a menu with her signature stamp of creative, adventurous and excellent cooking. Silverware and beautiful dinner sets would be laid out, all polished and gleaming, napkins folded uniformly between stacks of plates. My dad would set up his bar carefully, shining his crystal glasses vigorously, holding them up to the light to ensure there were no smudges. The lighting was adjusted, and if a festive occasion then fairy lights and candles would adorn the garden and courtyard, the trees ringed with a warm glow.
In their house in Bangalore there was a shallow rectangularpond within the house, which separated the drawing room from the bar and inner courtyard. Before a party they would fill this up with water, a glittering pool in the middle of the house. As expected, several of our guests either fell in or traipsed through by mistake! To try and prevent any accidents, my parents would have us fill it with rose petals and candles. A bag of petals would be bought earlier in the day and between my nani, Rishan and me, the petals would be carefully scattered. Closer to the guests arriving, floating candles would be lit and we would slide them in gently while my dad supervised, giving us instructions to push or pull them around so that they were evenly spread across the pond. Unfortunately, this still didn't really prevent guests from traipsing through but people just got used to it over time!
And then of course there was the music. My dad would have thought of what he wanted to play earlier in the day, and about a half hour before the guests arrived he would start the music. There was sometimes some cocktail music like Kenny G or Richard Clayderman, but the music I associate the most with our home do's was the Gipsy Kings. As soon as we heard the plucky start of "Djobi Djoba" we knew it was time to finish prepping and go change and slap some make up on in time to greet the soon to arrive guests. The house would later fill up with friends, laughter and chatter mixed with tinkling glasses and the warm aroma of dinner, background music never too loud but always audible, and my parents mingling with everyone. My dad would be at the bar, pouring drinks andtaking them around on a small tray to everyone. Over time they got in caterers and waiters sometimes as the work was a lot, but the initial prep stayed the same.
That's how I remember him ever so often, lit up in the soft glow of one of their parties, pouring out drinks and chatting in the midst of a group of guests, some of them with slightly wet and bedraggled trouser bottoms below the ankle
This song from the Gipsy Kings, called A Mi Manera, is their version of "My Way" and my dad really enjoyed listening to it (he liked most versions of this song).