t’s not often I get invited to fashion shows, so it’s a bit silly to get there late. ‘There’ is one of the 5-star piles and there are obviously several things happening because there’s a queue for the valet parking. Eventually, just as the show is getting over, a smart chap takes my keys and sets me free. I run in just as the entourage of one of the country’s top Mrs V.I.P’s is coming out. The security guard closest to me sees the situation, assesses the threat I pose to Madam and chooses not to go for the Glock under his armpit. "Please!" he says to me, firm but friendly. I stand aside because I am very responsive to polite commands from policemen. What he doesn’t say out loud is "Why are you running, loser? The gig’s over!" Sure enough, the models are gone. The chi-chi-hua-huas are milling. My designer pal is surrounded by people who I trust are swamping her with orders—which is doubly good, because I don’t want her to see when exactly I’m landing up. "Ha! Just in time for the booze as usual!" shouts my pal’s boyfriend. I don’t even bother to make excuses. "Booze,
? Where?" I ask, looking around. Immediately, a waiter appears and offers me a Vodkatini with kiwi fruit essence. I don’t like it, the boyfriend and another pal of ours, both also don’t like it, so I ask for a substitute. Immediately another colourful drink arrives, gold in a daiquiri glass. "Burnt Orange Martini, sir!" I sip, I glug, I like this burnt orange business. So do my friends. "One more, please!" we chorus.
The waiter brings us a different drink, something pomegranatey, which we don’t like. Demand for burnt orange is renewed, and these being no ordinary waiters but obviously advanced trainees aiming for the Assistant Food & Bev manager slot at the Fort Aguada, they keep up a steady conveyor belt of the Burnt O and little canapés. Now, I turn and notice there are people there who are much richer than the three of us, and people who are whiter too, but never, not once, do we feel ignored by the staff. In fact, I notice they are extremely solicitous. "Do they know you are Micky’s boyfriend?" I ask my friend. "I don’t think they even know who Micky is," he says. "I’m as baffled as you are." Our third friend, who’s looking the most stylishly
of us all offers an explanation: "It’s the entertainment value. Look at all the others! They are so boring!" We look around and realise he’s right. We’ve been laughing, checking out the price-tags, plus we’ve been very friendly with the waiters who, after all, are the only people talking to the three of us. Therefore, or partly therefore, a swimming pool of Burnt Orange Vodka cocktail and a stomach full of salmon and micro-quiches. Good on you waiters/advanced trainees/future Captains of the Chain! Congratulations! You know who you are!
This article originally appeared in Delhi City Limits, March 2007