Buffet dinner with ex-colleagues…

buf·fet1 n. A meal at which guests serve themselves from various dishes displayed on a table or sideboard

Well, that`s what buffets are supposed to be. Unless, it is a meeting of old colleagues who want to catch up on the lives of their common friends. Throw into the pool a new couple, a break-up, a marriage, a childbirth and one love letter…and the innocent buffet dinner turns on its head.

This is precisely what happened at the get-together organized by Veena and her husband Vishwanathan at a prominent Punjabi Dhaba, here in Chennai. Rekha and I had received the invite as early as Friday morning – perhaps to give us enough time to buy a costly gift. Luckily, we had applied for a personal loan on Tuesday…and by Saturday we had encashed the cheque. I must tell you that a personal loan is the best way out if you have to buy a gift for a couple with evolved tastes.

Before I forget, let me alert you that names of the people at the party have been changed due to the sensitivities involved. I am calling myself Mrs. X and Rekha Mr X.

We were to be at the venue by 6.30 p.m. but at 6.00 p.m. Rekha gave me a party tip. Apparently, the later you get to the party…the more important you are. She cited Shahrukh Khan, who lands up four hours late for shooting schedules, as an example. I could have messed with the King of Bollywood, but not with the Queen of my house…so accepted the tip with manly grace. For a party which started at 6.30 p.m., we left home at 6.45 p.m.. But as luck would have it…my 8-year old Yamaha got drunk (don`t most of us get drunk on weekends) and we had to push the bike for a kilometer (that`s how far the petrol bunk was). As soon as we spotted the petrol bunk and let out a sigh of relief…we heard my bike front-tyre let out a wisp of stale air…think it was a nail. After filling petrol, we spent time at the puncture shop. By the time we reached the place…it was 9 p.m. and the two of the biggest gossipers had already left. So much for feeling important…

Once there, I was introduced to (remember names have been changed)…Pavithra, Sulochana, Simran, Aparna, Archana, Harshada, Ankita, Sumathy and a few other not so important gentlemen.

The men had formed a cartel of their own and were discussing Jennifer Lopez`s next movie, Khushboo`s bikini and Jay Leno`s humor while the ladies were discussing issues capable of staging a second renaissance in Rome. Being a ladies man, I sat between eight ladies – married and unmarried – and boy did I have fun or what?

Here are some of the questions and answers that came up during the gossip round –

Q: So, what is up with Anjali? Wasn`t she going around with Pramod?
A: Don`t you dare take up that bitch`s name. She dumped the poor boy and now is going around with Vivek.

Q: Did Aditya get promoted?
A: He had the nerve to take me on during one of the project specifications meeting…and I promptly went up to his reporting manager and told her that he was not a team player. Now, he repents messing up with me.

Q: So is Anamika married?
A: Wonder what happened…she is still single. Anamika didn`t tell us but Shyamala tells us that the bridegroom had an affair going on and ran away at the last minute. She deserves it for making us work so hard on the Caterpillar project.

Q: And Arun? How is he doing?
A: He is two-timing inside the office itself. Wonder when one of the two girls is going to find out.

Q: How was the annual party of the team last week?
A: Ohhh that…don`t even ask. But since you have asked, I have to tell you how Prakash, Rajah and Saravanan got drunk and misbehaved with me. I gave them a piece of my mind…and now they don`t see me face to face.

I am glad, nobody asked, “So how is Rajan doing?” for I know Mr X (that`s Rekha) would have immediately jumped at the opportunity and said: “Don`t even bother…he is such a flirt that the other day he forgot that we were married and started flirting with me!”

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