Sundays, I like to spend at home, unwashed, unshaved, pottering about my three bonsai gardens on the kitchen windowsill, watching cricket from the comfortable position of a seat in front of the TV screen, glancing through the Sunday papers and not actually reading them (except for the Modesty Balise comics), generally lazying around.
I avoid dinner invitations on Sundays and outright reject lunch invitations. Still, sometimes, you have to go. And I have found Sunday luncheons a strange custom.
The male invitees, mainly corporate executives, are in their Sunday luncheon outfits: sporty T-shirts and after-shave lotions, running jumping shoes in bright colours. They have had an energetic morning, having played either golf or tennis, depending on their status. Their wives are more normally dressed; for some reason, Indian women dress the same reason, Indian women dress the same on week days and Sundays and, therefore, look attractive all seven days.
The guests arrive fairly on time, unlike at dinners, when, if the invitation is at 8 p.m., nobody arrives before 10 p.m. except foreigners not familiar with Indian customs.
The host and hostess try to look as informal and Sunday afternoonish as possible. Children accompanying their parents (this is permitted and expected at Sunday afternoon luncheons) are taken directly into the bedroom to play with the hostâ€™s children.
Everybody drinks beer, which is not only a sensible drink but the only decent alcoholic drink manufactured in India. (For some unknown reason, everybody is agreed that the sticky-sweet Indian rum is good, probably because very few Indians have had Jamaican rum). And the beer is served in proper tankards, which is another Sunday afternoon lunch custom.
The male guests exchange notes on their respective businesses, which is hardly an exchange, since they are all working in the same organisation and probably sitting in adjoining cabins through the week. But there are invariably one or two guests who have arrived only that morning from London or New York or, at least, Singaprore. This impresses me very much, since I have been abroad exactly three-and-a-half times in my life (the half being for Nepal).
I do not know what the women talk, since they talk in their own group.
Form the kitchen come the sounds and aroma of the lunch being made ready. The hostess keeps moving from kitchen to drawing room.
The food comes on the table quite fast and is always excellent. Which is also different from a dinner, where the food is served around midnight, by which time it is quite stale and your own senses are dulled with several rounds of whisky.
After lunch, where you cannot help overeating, you rush home and sleep off the evening. Which is another reason why I do not go for Sunday afternoon luncheons, be cause you waste the evening and before you know it is Monday morning and time to go back to work.