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The secret to a good surprise party!

Kishore Singh | March 10, 2005

Planning secret parties is a lot of fun, so when a friend decided to let on that he would like to celebrate his wife's birthday with a bash that he did not want her to know about, there was a frisson of excitement.

And not just about the party.

"Is she that old?" asked a neighbour in some surprise. "She doesn't look it," interposed another friend. "She conceals it well," pointed out his wife.

"Excuse me," I said, "we must help her husband arrange the party instead of discussing her age."

"I know," said the neighbour again, "Let's have a theme party, perhaps something to do with turning old."

It was decided after some debate that my friend would bring his wife under some pretext to my aunt's flat, which is where most secret parties are held as a routine since it is furnished but hardly ever occupied.

Since our set of friends had taken on the onus of providing the space, so to say, the others decided to come through on the menu. But instead of sensibly catering for a barbecue (my suggestion), they wanted to pitch in with their friend's favourite dishes from their homes.

"Their own favourites, far more likely," whispered a friend who is particularly partial to Chicken Tikkas and felt cheated of her rightful share. In any case, with the 'other side' having proposed a hotch-potch menu (curries and bakes), it fell to us to put some semblance to it when our friend came over for a furtive consultation.

"We will place the bar in the balcony," said one friend. "And the buffet along that wall," cried another. "Roll back the carpet for a dance floor," cried a third, even as they sat back over cups of tea, while I wondered how I would put the flat back into shape after everyone had left.

But before the party was to begin, there were a zillion things to do. Ice had to be organised, soft drinks ordered, guest lists tallied.

Someone volunteered the plates and forks and glasses, others the music. Microwaves and ovens had to be organised, the beverages chilled, the snacks ordered.

The food having only partially been decided (by 'others'), it fell to us to make sure nothing ran short, to ensure there were enough vegetarian dishes, and that finally there was something to eat it with. Furious messages flew back and forth over the phone about who was to make the chicken and mutton, the rice, the dal and salad.

Meanwhile, our friend's wife almost ruined things by deciding that maybe she should have a party after all. Her husband insisted on taking her out for a romantic dinner for just the two of them.

Then she decided she would have at least a couple of her closest friends for high tea, at which point the secret party was almost called off by those who weren't on her list of guests. But, fortunately, that too was scotched by her husband.

Finally, all was ready for the party. "Right," said our neighbour, "who's hosting the party tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow," I said, "but the party's tonight."

"Oh, I know that," she said, "but that's so boring. It's so much more fun planning for a secret party and then," she added with relish, "tearing it apart the following day. Which is why tomorrow's party will be so much more fun than the party
we have organised tonight."

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