As I said before, we had a happy and busy life in Pondicherry. Our outlook on life also started changing and this life was very different from our Delhi life, where we had our set group of friends and we were happy interacting with them.
Here, in the new life, we were always in touch with a cosmopolitan set of people from all walks of life – not only from different parts of India, but from different parts of other nations, too. Our life also became busy with luncheon gatherings, tea and dinner parties.
We had been in Trichy, Chingleput and Saidapet for a period of two years where Babuji underwent administrative training. Life in these places was also different from the Delhi life, but it was nothing like life in this new place.
Talking of dinner parties, I have to tell you about our first get-together. On the very day Babuji took charge of his post, we were invited to a sit-down dinner hosted by the Rotary Club.
‘SIT –DOWN’ dinner! I was aghast!!
I was full of fear and apprehension. It was the first of its kind we were invited to. Though I knew how to use cutlery in an off-hand manner, at a sit-down dinner one had to use the correct spoon, fork and knife for each course. And I was very ignorant of these things.
To add to my confusion, Babuji was seated at another table, while I was seated at the centre table, at the head of which sat the Chief Commissioner – the head of the state. Thank God I did not show my fear or nervousness on my face. As soon as we were seated, I started a conversation with the lady sitting next to me. When the food started coming, one after another (and it was a five-course dinner), I waited till the lady next to me picked up her spoon and fork. I followed her example and the day was saved for me – the ordeal over.
Later in life, more than three decades after, Gowri and Mohan, with Parvati, took me out to lunch at a famous restaurant. I was amazed at the way Parvati, a three-year-old kid, handled the food with her knife, fork and spoon so deftly. Thanks to the tea garden culture she was growing up in.