'Rashtrapati Bhavan may have hygiene standards that are a benchmark for the rest of the hoi polloi, but you had to feel sorry for the august assembly of guests who braved the temperature for a seat at the new Cabinet's swearing in,' says Kishore Singh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
I don't like being invited out in the summer, not for neighbourhood potlucks, casual get-togethers or dinner parties.
When heatwave conditions -- such as now -- prevail, the walls radiate heat.
You can spend an entire evening looking for the iciest spot to occupy, but you know it'll be pinched the moment you head for a refill to the bar.
In our home, the coolest spot is where the dog parks himself, and you dislodge him at your own risk.
Since airconditioning loads in homes are concentrated in the public areas, any walk through the house (to the library, for instance, or to use the washroom), implies a sauna-like tryst.
If talking about the heat isn't bad enough, experiencing it is worse.
But experience it you must, however briefly.
In the dash from your house to the car, and again when you find a parking spot that's a jog away from your host's home.
That's all the time it takes to burst into a sweat that no amount of deodorant can erase -- making all that social kissing and hugging a smelly affair.
With many female guests dressing up for Instagram, it's difficult to overlook their smudged mascaras, runny eyeliners and spottily lipsticked lips.
The more A-listers invited, the more you're likely to question the suitability of their proximity to you.
Do you really want the hors d'oeuvres you saw your hostess assembling just a moment after she'd wiped the honest sweat off her shapely brow?
If airconditioned salons are far from ideal, can you imagine what it's like in the kitchen?
Especially given the extra sautéing and grilling?
Can you conceive your food is untainted of perspiration?
What you don't see may not harm you, but if, like me, you have a hyperactive imagination, then, well, perhaps the solution lies in remaining hungry.
"I'm on a detox diet," I've explained to my hosts on several occasions -- but damn if the dinner doesn't look tempting.
Fortunately, I have a strong will power, and a stronger belief that alcohol kills germs, which comes in handy when you see the bartender handling the ice with his fingers.
It isn't just home parties that run such risks.
Poolside parties might sound refreshing and summery, but they're as gross.
Hotel banquets are never free of stale smells -- and not just on account of the food.
The larger the party, the more time your pre-plated food is likely to have been exposed to the sweltering heat.
Trendy restaurants have just one problem -- they have terribly tiny kitchens unsuitable for hand plating -- ugh!
Rashtrapati Bhavan may have hygiene standards that are a benchmark for the rest of the hoi polloi, but you had to feel sorry for the august assembly of guests who braved the temperature for a seat at the new Cabinet's swearing in.
As I write this, I am aware of a less honourable gathering that will collect at home this evening.
I can guarantee that neither guests nor hosts are looking forward to the occasion.
The kitchen is a mess.
Airconditioning engineers have been tasked with cranking up the cooling.
The denizens of the house have been snapping at each other.
The cook is in a mood.
I haven't been able to come up with an excuse to recuse myself from the melee.
But I promise to remain on a detox diet.