Monday, August 15, 2011

An Aftar to Remember


...want to outshine the neighbor’s Iftar party? Follow my own peril!!!

Wake up Lazy-bones!  Yes, you… the housewife who’s eaten too many parathas at Sehri and having sent the doting husband to office and chubby-cheeked Angles to school, are now sprawled in bed because you have nothing better to do! Are you bent upon making up for the time you had to spend supervising that oh-so-stubborn cook of yours to make just the right olive oil parathas for your health-conscious family? Must’ve been exhausting, but get out of bed now and start your day! I have some great tips for you to adorn your home for the next Iftar dinner you’re planning. Hey, c’mon now…don’t you want to outshine the oh-so-friendly neighbor who always manages to get more compliments than you? Ah, I see, that got your attention! Okay, lady, let’s get to work…

Let’s see now…you know, your living room could really do without this burgundy carpet. Royal as your guests may be, they do not need a red-carpet welcome! Take it out and wipe your marble floor squeaky-clean with the imported shawl that hangs in the closet forever waiting to be used. Of course I am serious! Then spray that new tangy ittar Khala gave you last Eid. Yes, yes, I know your friend Khushboo deserves it more since she gave you the tacky scarf you wouldn’t be caught dead in, but focus on the task at hand, will you? We can plan Khushboo’s retribution later! The ittar  will do wonders for the floor, not to mention the heavenly aura it can create that we all like to think of during Ramazan. It’s an Iftar-dinner you’re hosting, gal… create the right mood!

Okay, now remove that ‘throw’ you’ve placed so strategically on the back of your faux leather sofa. Take out your shiny golden dupatta and replace it with that. Of course, I’m serious! Don’t you want the guests to start thinking of gota and Eid in advance, and plan a gift for you? You need to drop subtle hints here and there, you know! Besides, your husband might be grateful to finally see the last of the throw he begged you not to buy. He might even put up with your bad cooking when the cook takes off on Eid. How about killing two birds with one stone this Eid? Er, of course I am aware you are the one who trained the cook in the first place! Why, there’s no one that cooks like you anywhere on the planet! Your husband is just ungrateful, like all husbands! Maybe he doesn’t deserve you anyway…but we’ll talk about that later. Let’s focus on the task at hand?!

Okay, that looks much better…although…I really wish you’d listen to your daughter once in a while. Teenagers these days have such a great aesthetic sense and are so creative too. Remember when she asked for the embalmed dove? You should’ve let her have it. It would’ve helped create the right mood. Anyways, find one now and hang it from the fan. Make sure you give it enough string to reach eye-level. It should keep dangling in front of everyone who enters. After a while turn on the fan exclaiming how hot the weather is. That’ll create an even more authentic effect, especially if it hits someone on the head and he or she has a brief ‘near-death’ experience. Voila…heaven on earth!   

      Now let’s see what we can do with the curtains. They’re not bad, but try and find green satin with big date-palms on it. When you serve the dates at Aftari, stand in front of the curtains to enhance the effect. And do ask little Gugloo beforehand to point out how he’d love to climb a date palm one day and pick dates himself. You can laughingly point at the curtains and say, “Oh, dear, but the dates are so high!”  A giggle or two to go with the comment wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Also, put at least ten prayer mats on the centre table to show how much you respect and care for those who pray even in these materialistic times. I know, not many would pick them up as they slouch on the sofas after having gobbled down the delicious food once the roza breaks, but then again, you’d have made your point!

Remove all those flower arrangements from your crystal vases and fill them with prayer-beads – as many different sizes and colors as you can find. People will appreciate your dedication to prayer, and what a religious statement you would have made. Full marks! 

Now, for the dining room, use the same date-palm print for a dining sheet. Don’t forget to stitch a nice wide lace to the hem, with dried-dates hanging at one-inch intervals. No, I don’t think orange lace would do. Try, Fuchsia. And learn to pronounce ‘Fuchsia’ so that you can impress everybody with your knowledge of colors other than those of the rainbow. Mm-hmm? Remember the time you kept mixing ‘teal’ with ‘tea’?!  

No, no…don’t remove the dining chairs. You don’t seriously think all your guests can sit on the carpet?! I know how we love to go back a few centuries in Ramazan-mode, but the amount of cola drinks people consume these days in place of milk, at least half of the guests would be contemplating joint-replacement surgery anyway. We don’t want to cause anyone any discomfort, do we? Not in Ramazan, anyway. And if they are hanging on to each other’s shoulders for support on the way out, you might have to arrange rides for them and they might even forget to compliment you on your excellent culinary or hostess skills. Push all the chairs against the wall, and Let them sit if they want.

Do you have Aab-e-Zamzam at home? Never mind, no one has it handy, but has that prevented anyone from serving it, if you know what I mean?! Just do the same. No, that’s not called ‘lying’! You don’t have to announce that you’re serving Aab-e-zamzam, just point to the jug and casually remark that you had it especially brought over for the faithful Rozadars, and no one will ask you what it is or where was it ‘brought over ‘from!

Okay, you know how important food presentation is? Dazzle everyone with our creative ideas. Put all your expensive crockery away. You’ve used those plates so many times…think ‘out-of-the-box’ options. No, no…not EAT out of the box! Gosh! Fine, just use your own dishes…but get some wide leaves from your garden and use them as mats for the dishes when you serve the mouthwatering delights the cook prepares. Er, sure…Elephant-Ear will do. No, one will die of allergy! We don't have these issues in out blessed land...what, we could even eat leaves and nothing would happen!That's just the delicate Western disposition! Using leaves is symbolic because leaves grow on plants which are planted in the ground – to which we all shall return! See? You can subtly put the fear of God in people’s hearts! If they return to the drawing room and pick up the prayer-mat, you’d have succeeded in conveying the important message. God bless you for that, my dear.  

Okay, dear…now get to work. I’m feeling a little light-headed with my roza and all…I think I’ll take a nap while you get your act together. Then pick up the phone and invite all your friends and neighbors – don’t forget me! – and be the most popular Ramazan hostess ever. Good luck and Ramazan Mubarak!!!