Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Last week just flew by. I and two of my Indian friends had been very busy with preparations for the "Indian Chai morning". Living amidst expats, I had attended couple of coffee mornings, such as Omani coffee morning, Nigerian coffee morning etc. We get to taste the respective country's food and try wearing their national costume. Many of my expat friends wanted us to host an Indian coffee morning too. So three of us decided to organise one, but we changed the name to 'Indian Chai' as tea infused with spices is very famous in India.

When we were preparing the flyer, sending out mails, none of us had the slightest iota of the massive turn out in reality. Like other coffee mornings, we anticipated approximately twenty to thirty ladies. We were confident of handling that number since we were only three of us. All of us were bursting with ideas. Many brain storming sessions were held amidst us. We finalised an agenda for the day. Guests would be welcomed the traditional 'Indian way'. This would be followed by a talk about India. The itenary further had many exciting events such Bollywood dances, sampling the Indian cuisine etc to offer.

With only a week left, I realised that my inbox was getting crammed with responses. The number quickly touched fifty. We got a bit anxious. We were really unsure whether we three could manage cooking in such a large magnitude. Besides there were other aspects to be taken care of, such as organising, decorating, shopping, rehearsing for our song and dance etc. Song and dance rehearsals got intensified. During one of our meetings we increased the cooking quantities.

We had decided to share the cooking and prepare eleven items in total . The items we had zeroed in were, jaljeera nimbu pani (lime water served with dash of cumin), two starters, masala chai (spiced tea), dal( lentils), mixed vegetable, murg musulam (spicy chicken), pulao (saffron rice) and kesari (semolina sweet). We three had mixed feelings. Though excited with mails pouring in, the tension within was also increasing. Arrangements on such a large scale had never been attempted by any one of us.

The idea was to host at the same venue where other coffee mornings were held. But that particular venue could accommodate only fifty for safety purposes. We had touched the fifty mark. Increasing numbers concerned us. We wanted all invitees to come and have fun and did not want to disappoint any one. Luckily a good friend suggested another venue close by. So just couple of days before, we decided to change the venue. This demanded more paper work. New flyers had to be printed and pasted at prominent locations. The numbers swelled further. So we reworked again the cooking quantities.

Two days before, an Indian lady and an American friend volunteered to help us with decorations. Any sort of assistance was most welcome as we were short of helping hands. On the night before, we all gathered our Indian chunnis (drapes), some Indian hangings and decorated the venue. It was a big hall. My husband and daughter lend a helping hand . The other Indian lady also roped in her husband to assist in decorations.

That night neither of us slept properly. Tossing and turning, we passed the night. Waking up early, completing all the cooking, dressed in our traditional attire, sari we arrived at the venue an hour early. The food table with labels for each item had to be set. The sound system had to be rechecked, the flower decoration had to be done, the lamps had to be lit and we had to ensure everything was in order. We decided to set two food tables to avoid crowding.

The guests started walking in. We had set a register at the reception to know the exact numbers. Once the guests were seated, we started the programme singing an Indian prayer which was accompanied by lighting of the lamp. Three of us spoke in turns about Indian culture, music and dance and the cuisine. Next the guests were invited to savour Indian food and enjoy a bollywood dance. We later invited the guests to join the dance. Many came forward and enjoyed swaying to Bollywood music. The dance went on for quite some time. Later we encouraged the ladies to try draping the Indian sari. One lady volunteered and we demonstrated various ways of tying the sari.

The programme concluded with a group picture. Many were clicking pictures during the entire event. The event was a big success and the total turnout was seventy two. It was way beyond our expectations. All the sweat, the nervousness, the hard work paid off. Everything went perfectly. We had planned for a two hour programme and successfully completed in the stipulated time.

At the end of it, though completely exhausted, we were beaming. All three of us were profusely happy the way, the day unfolded and concluded. We had guests asking for another similar one morning to be conducted again.

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