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On Women’s Day and surviving a Ladies Lunch

Posted by on March 8, 2013
Ladies who lunch

Lunching Ladies

Today is Women’s Day. I feel honoured, on behalf of my sex, to have one day in a year kept aside to celebrate us along with other days such as World Epilepsy Day, World Hemorrhoids Day and World Tobacco Day. The tokenism of such a day is moving beyond words and it was with a hand trembling with emotion that I keyed in a text message to a socialite acquaintance, whose Women’s Day lunch I had no intention of attending.

Ladies lunches are and will remain one of the abiding mysteries of my life. As much as I admire women who partake in a room throbbing with their own sex, I find the idea of being in a room full of women most terrifying.

I love my girlfriends and catching up with them over a meal, but the prospect of being at a lunch with a gaggle of girls, gives me the kind of heebie jeebies that I usually reserve for dental appointments. In hindsight, it could be because I suffer from an acute inability to speak in both the situations. Although, I am not known to be a woman of few words, I never know what to say to anybody during such lunches. It is almost like my vocal cords go into rigor mortis as soon as I step into a room full of ladies.

As luck would have it, the lady hosting the lunch would not take no for an answer. “Please don’t tell me you are traveling or have come down with mumps this time. We all know these are your excuses,” my socialite pal told me over the phone. My bluff had been called and a mini depression with dark chocolate was my only refuge. Left with no choice, I reluctantly looked at the invite this morning.Women of substancedress to rule were some of the phrases that my dying brain cells retained from the invite. As if in defiance, I showed up at the venue in a cotton shirt and jeans sans any make-up, halfheartedly.

It was with much trepidation and a fake benign expression that I walked into the grandiose room overflowing with birkins women in their glad rags. Undoubtedly, they were all women of substance, in keeping with the theme of this soiree’, but I needed to be on substance to get past this ocean of feminine energy. There was Yin everywhere ones eye could see, the only Yang being the Maitre’D and his team of servers. In my view, this was an ecological imbalance and I wasn’t programmed to survive occasions that defied nature.

But then, it was precisely for afternoons such as these, that champagne had been invented by a good monk named Noah  Moses  Dom Perignon. Reaching for a glass of the bubbly eagerly, I put on my happy face as I waded through swarms of stunning ladies dressed in glorious textures of taffeta, gossamer and satins. Blinding diamonds of varying caratage lit up the rooms along with the halogens. I tried not to feel smug in my cottons that screamed ‘proletariat’ from a mile. Working class or not, given that a certain Italian lady was ruling a population of billions in cottons, my own clothes weren’t entirely inappropriate to the theme.

As far as I could see, the majority of women present seemed to be confabbing with each other. Then why was it that I, who could make a conversation with an empty armchair, was unable to get beyond the ‘How are yous’ in this scenario? Like everyone else, I knew the template. You ask the person how they are and before they have told you how they really were, you quickly move to how much weight they have lost, then you wait a bit for them to deny it while they blame their pregnancies and point at body parts that still need trimming. You take your cue from here and immediately change the subject to their kids and even as they are telling you that their child had a bad fall and was lying in bed for a whole month with a plaster, you smile and say “that’s great” and move on to repeat the template all over again with the next person.

I am not sure the template I have is the same as everybody else’s or it has been specially designed for people who want to converse with me. Maybe it is a well-known fact that I am the key reason behind vapid conversations at ladies lunches and a special software is in place under my name.

By the time my lunch was halfway through 8 women had told me that I had lost weight, 3 had asked me how my sons were doing (I have daughters), 4 had asked me why I looked so bored and 4 had asked me to catch up over coffee with them (they did not mean it, and no I don’t have self-esteem issues). My jaws, in the meanwhile, were cramping from too much smiling and even though I was tempted to gulp down a little more champagne for moral courage, the thought of returning home to my kids in a drunken state at 4pm made me reconsider my need for the bubbly elixir.

When I finally returned home, enervated and in need of coffee, I could trace fine lines that had appeared around my mouth as a consequence of all the air kissing. Sinking into my couch I promised myself that I shall, henceforth, fight for women’s rights work on my lunch going skills. There must be some classes somewhere in this city that coach women in this area. LEARN TO BE A PRO AT A LADIES LUNCH IN TWO WEEKS.

Or perhaps a book HOW TO STRIKE UP CONVERSATIONS AT A LADIES LUNCH WITHOUT APPEARING DAFT. I am grateful to my sisters from the blogosphere who will use this day to lend their voice to real issues that confront the women of my country while I type this sad saga of a champagne lunch. Just think of me as a blip. Think of me as someone, who is in her own small way, is trying to uplift womankind by uplifting herself first.

5 Responses to On Women’s Day and surviving a Ladies Lunch

  1. radhikavaz

    Girl you gotta stop hanging out with Ladies and settle in some women! Happy Womens Day. Keep writing!.

    • Shunali

      I could not agree more Radhika. Next time you’re in town, we are hanging.

  2. sneha Kapadia

    Hello Shonali,

    Loved this one. I have no news about any real issues to share with you about India which have not already been discussed from Arnab to .. well Arnab again. Your blog today reminded me of the early days when i moved from one neighbourhood to the other and landed in JAPPI land. Meaning Jewish American Princesses. They are something else and it took me a while to learn how to behave around them without going Mental. Now ofcourse, I am one of them and am worried i am raising a Indo Jappi princess. Keep on writing cause you never know who where and how it effects people.

  3. Shunali

    Your comment about Arnab is hilarious. Love him or hate him, one cannot deny that he had made a brand of himself, even though he seems like a caricature of himself most of the times. Have heard the term JAPPI for the first time. So what is the typical trait of a JAPPI? I suppose women are the same everywhere, as are men. I have the highest regard for women who can blend in with a crowd of women without losing their marbles.

  4. Penny Kontakos

    Whenever my mum wanted to take me to a tea with the Greek women in the community in Adelaide I would avoid it like the plague and I am glad you have the same mind as mine. My mum thrives in these places while I feel like a fish out of water asking myself why I would come to a place where women’s main concern is about themselves. Sure they would share different recipes, advice on handling the kids, elders giving advice to the younger ones on how to command their home and their husbands, but the essence of what is really important in life is missing. Greek men are smarter, they have the men’s cafe where they can drink coffee or wine with their meze (snacks) and play cards or backgammon, help find jobs or if in the village discuss what time is best to sow the seed or harvest and many times my dad would scold me for going there and talking about politics which is not a woman’s thing, as luckily we are permitted to go to these cafes accompanied by a man.

    Many times in functions I have been reprimanded for wearing casual clothes and no fine jewellery though they know I have them hidden in a wooden box, as it is part of our tradition to give jewellery to our daughters and yes even to our sons but not so many, just a gold cross normally from the Godparent and the ring and chain bracelet from the parents.

    Alas, I can imagine your frustration seeking a person in there to discuss about various real issues confronting women and maybe deep down they would have downtrodden anyone raising the topic about the gang rapes happening in India or any other serious issues that truly concern the women of today.

    Thank you for your colourful description of the ladies’ lunch which seems will never change no matter in what country or what year, ladies will remain ladies till the end of time bless ‘us’ for this is what most men want.

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