My daughter’s task at our cards party was cut out for her – to line up all the shoes and report to her mother on who came in Jimmy Choos, who in Christian Louboutins – but faulted because, instead of keeping tabs, she chose to join the players. “Oh, Mom,” she protested, when her mother chastised her, “Your friends all wear either fakes, or shoes that are two seasons old, so what’s the big deal?”
The big deal apparently was not what our friends lost on the gaming table, which was small amounts by all reckoning, but what they wore – or didn’t – to our annual taash bash. It was widely reported that Padmini was to appear in an emerald ring but came puffy-eyed instead, having, so went the grapevine, lost it at teen-patti the previous evening at a game where the stakes were as high as they were unforgiving — all settlements to happen at evening’s end rather be carried forward to the following morning, according to the house rules of that party.
Madan came wearing his Rolex Seamaster, but also made sure his wife sported a twin version, all because my wife had told him she was buying one for herself. He wore a short-sleeved shirt, the better to show it off, and his wife abjured her diamond bangles so you would not fail to notice the timepiece on her wrist. “Showoffs,” said my wife, “I’m going to strike them off my next Diwali card party guest list.”
It being the festive season, the Chanel and Gucci dresses were not aired – though there was at least one Hermes scarf on display – while the auntyjis tried to pass off their Lajpat Nagar rip-offs of Tarun Tahiliani and J J Valaya as the real thing. Or maybe they were originals, and Sarla, who has a view on everything, was mistaken when she said, behind their backs, naturally, that she knew the tailor who was copying the designers “at a fraction of the cost”. “Speaking for myself, I’ve never repeated a dress,” she boasted, which was hardly true, as there were many present at the party who could vouch that the crimson sari she was wearing, far from being a Suneet Varma original, as she claimed, was also one she’d worn to Nimki’s sister’s wedding two seasons earlier.
Another friend texted the following morning about a friend’s Birkin being worth Rs 5 lakh. “Cheapskate,” said my wife, who is an expert on Birkins ever since Hina Rabbani showed hers off on an India visit – though her own ambition hasn’t grown beyond owning a Louis Vuitton – “it proves the point that buying an entry-level bag only means you’re buying the brand but not the bag”, which sociological rigour I put beyond my own meagre grasp. Since I couldn’t tell whether it was a good thing or a bad one to own a cheaper Birkin, I kept my counsel, though knowing my wife, and from experience, I suspect it was a put-down.
Later, after everyone had gone, my wife said: “Your friend Padma got us an Archies’ ceramic figurine in a Lladro box, the Sharmas gave us a fake Mont Blanc wallet, and the silver Ganesh the Guptas got is so tarnished, it must have been lying in their gift chest for a few years.” “Your friend Sarla at least doesn’t keep anything for long,” I commiserated to my wife, “she has kindly gifted back the bottle of wine we’d got from Gopa and had taken to her home last week.”