But I had WhatsApped the invite and tagged you too on the Insta post, how could you have missed my show,” squealed a young fashion designer, about the launch of her store, which I had the misfortune of not having endorsed. I didn’t have the heart to tell her eager face that I did not consider an invite worthy of my attention if it had not been followed by something more personal, such as a phone call, even if nobody expects dropping an invitation in person, unless it is one’s wedding card or something similar. It is just plain etiquette, I stop myself from saying, to follow up an impersonal message with words spoken in person just to make the guest wanted at the event.With dime-a-dozen social events, starting from mundan ceremonies of babies to pre-bridalbaby showers to sangeets at pubs and lounges, to new product launches happening 24x7 in every metro, handled by dime a dozen “event management companies” (never mind if it’s a two-member housewives team operating from home) invitations on social media messaging and WhatsApp are passé. That they come with a mandatory RSVP but no personal quotient have become more the norm, than the exception making the social grace of a well-extended invitation by the host a farcical exercise.
Recently, a few of us found the fine print on an invite to a French wine-tasting session at a upscale palace hotel. It specified ‘personal and non-transferable’, and further had ‘single’ mentioned against the entry box. “Is it keeping in mind the typical Hyderabadi trend of tagging along friends and family even if they are not on the invite list,” one of them surmised. Once we reached the pearly gates of the hotel, we were asked our names and a friend from the media and yours truly were relieved to find our names on the invite list meticulously shared by the hotel with its security. There was a feeling of inclusion, of feeling like a guest who was welcome inside and allowed access to the grand heritage property with a grander view.
Invites to the grand gala bashes also come with some hype around them as some of the Page 3 columns, besides covering kitty parties, also come with announcements of such impending parties. Not too long ago, a socialite friend of mine invited me for a party and when I asked her what the occasion was, pat came the reply, “Don’t you read the papers?” Ummm, I read the newspapers to figure if India is still the world’s largest democracy or if an earthquake of 7.5 Richter scale has hit Mexico, surely not to read the calendar of social butterflies. But no, I instead flashed my brightest smile and admitted my ignorance. “It is my birthday gala dinner, darling! You have got to come,” she demanded. But the best was a couple of days ago when I got a WhatsApp message thanking me for a party which I attended, even after I had RSVP-ed that I would not be able to make it. Now you know what I am talking about!
(The writer is a journalist, blogger, food critic and a self-professed culture vulture)