I find it extremely ironic and funny when people call me to cut ribbon to inaugurate some event or give a speech or hoist a flag or simply accept a first invitation to a wedding or such. I am neither a celebrity, nor a sponsor or some inspiring personality like our good friend Vijay Siva the Carnatic musician (who sweetly taught me this life changing English Pallavi “Complaining mind is always unhappy/Ooooooo/What you lose when you complaint/ You lose your good health and brain”). Yet my social calendar is steadily getting filled thanks to readers who are operating in the true spirit of loony life by inviting me to be a chief guest. What the hell, I don’t even photograph well.
“You mean to say people are actually buying you a ticket to travel to their place, just to hear you speak?” my aunt asked disbelievingly.
“III A/c in train. Not cattle class like Shashi Tharoor,” I replied.
“Remember? Once in your nervousness you sang the national anthem instead of the prayer at the beginning of a program and lot of people who entered the hall just then thought the program had ended and left immediately leaving the hall half empty,” she smirked.
“Yeah….I know. But I include that incident in my speech and it is very well received. In fact it is so funny that people think I made it up,” I said evenly.
“What about that time when your father’s typewriting institute was inaugurated and just when the ribbon was about to be cut, you loudly begged the chief guest to just untie it from the door so that you may stitch that satin ribbon onto your dress. So now…..do you cut the ribbon or sneak it to your house to stitch it to some blouse?” she asked icily.
“Instead of satin ribbons, I demand ribbon pakodas and “cut” them with my teeth to inaugurate. That is the latest trend I am setting. Since the organizers are putting their mouth where the money is, I commence the event with my mouth and they all clap,” I snapped.
“Excellent. You should have been born in England,” said the mean lady and left.
But come to think of it, all this is very ridiculous even to me. I was once called to distribute prizes at a nearby school. When I entered the auditorium with the Principal, all the children stood up in greeting. I wondered what a tyrant the Principal must be and how despicable that her students had to get up whenever she came into their presence.
“Tupit lady,” I thought and I swear she must have read my thoughts for she immediately said, “the students are getting up for your sake only.” I nervously smiled heh-heh-heh and bade them sit down. I completely forgot that chief guests were accorded such respect.
But in all this the biggest joke is on me, because whenever some speaker commenced his talk with “respected blah-blah, honorable yada-yada, esteemed so-and-so and my dear friends” I used to giggle from the back seat at the hollow formalities. And yet I find myself saying things like “It is my privilege to be here etc.” I think next time I am just going to say, “Hi good people. I am going to talk now. Feel free to lift your hand when I get boring.”
And then there is that constant worry on “what to wear?” I always went with kurta over jeans and a stole to protect my virtue (heh) and it worked rather well for me until a cousin maliciously pointed out that a chief guest should look like she possesses atleast one set of good dress and should not look like she ran through a series of clothes lines on her terrace and emerged wearing whatever got caught onto her body during the run.