This morning we run errands for the evening and generally buzz around the house, tidying and setting things up. V arrives at mid-day, his week with his family complete. We all sit around chatting and eating stuffed parathas (mooli and aloo) for lunch, catching up with his news and the Tiwari samosas (or singhara's as the Kolkattans refer to them). Then the preparations for this evenings’ shindig begin in earnest. The table is set and flowers arranged. The ice arrives, alcohol is ensconsed and the glasses laid out. The cook arrives to begin kebab and kitchen duty. My mother collects the bulk of the food, an impressive array of snacks and 3 different cakes to sweeten the evening. Everyone has a bit of a rest and then gets ready to part-ey.
At about 6pm our first guests arrive - my college roommate and her daughter. She has to leave for a dinner engagement but we have an uninterrupted time to be able to chat and that is precious. Almost as soon as she leaves a trickle of guests begin to arrive. And then like a waterfall it never stops. 55 people traipse through our house this Saturday night, my parent’s friends, my friends, V’s friends, the Nik’s friends, uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. Everyone snacks heartily; chargrilled mushrooms, feta stuffed olives, spinach and corn tartlets, bocconcini (mozzarella), pita chips & hummous, arrancini (stuffed rice balls), 4 types of kebabs with pudina chutney and a host of things I can no longer recall are downed with drinks. The giant blueberry cheesecake and platter of chocolate mousse squares vanish without trace, leaving us a with missing persons forlorn-ness and only one big chunk of deep chocolate cake to put away.
The house positively glows with the warmth that only friendship, laughter and tealights can induce. We talk without pause, smile till our jaws ache, eat till there is no more room in our weary stomachs. It’s late by the time everyone has said their last goodbyes and the house is efficiently tidied by many hands. We stay awake as long as our weary eyes and minds allow, unpacking gifts, re-packing suitcases and talking till tomorrow comes.
Early on Sunday morning V and I do one final round of packing, making sure we haven't left things behind. After a quick family breakfast at our local Sagar we set-off for the airport. Long goodbyes later we are on our way through New Delhi’s airport, headed home to cold London. I sleep contentedly on the flight, dreaming of my time in India and pleased as punch that I will see our families again this summer.