CSM STAFF WRITER
The world is opening up slowly with the Covid-19 pandemic appearing to wither off. (Touchwood, I do not want to jinx this).
With these relaxations, one of the first public events to open their gates for the public again was the International Women’s Day celebrations. The city listings were brimming with offers, welcoming the guests to step outside for the taste of normalcy.
One such memorable event was the ‘Bubbly Brunch’, organised by the ITC Hotels, Bengaluru in association with GH Mumm at the Raj Pavilion – an elegant glass-covered restaurant themed after the Victorian Era.
On March 8, I dressed up in my best after months, for this brunch, that the organisers told me was to ‘celebrate women’. When I reached the venue, my indoors-acquainted sight was slightly surprised with the ambience – a bright area with a regal setting designed like the gorgeous British Greenhouses (picture the glasshouse in Lalbagh with exquisite interior designs, white curtains, and comfortable seating). Definitely gave me all the British Royalty feels, which I might have caught up after binge-watching The Crown series on Netflix.
Coming back to the brunch, after the initial hiccups of meeting new people, the mocktails, food, and some amazing women around me comforted me into the groove of the event.
Oh! the joy of meeting people again! the melody of the champagne glasses clanking, the laughter of ‘virtual’ friends meeting for the first time after long association over Zoom, the jokes on how many of them dressed out of their pyjamas after two years and the aroma of a luxury menu, curated specially for the women.
Though we were in a public event at a luxury chain of hotels, I must say it was the comfort food feels that helped us enjoy a little extra serving than what we would usually have. The starters – chicken, fish and mushroom cheese balls were delicious, and the cheese plate with crackers simply worked with everyone at the table.
Life stories, funny anecdotes and silly secrets that were shared among the newfound friends were periodically interspersed with the Kewda aroma of the biriyani, whenever someone lifted the buffet pan lids. It filled the place with a Mughal-ish ambience. All thanks to the team led by the Executive chef, Srinivas Venkatesan.
How can I speak about the food and not mention the desserts that were just too pretty to eat? But once you had dug in, there was no stopping. From cute red edible purses to a dessert shaped like a heart (with strawberry and basil). Then there were also the Butterfly Cake gateaux with peanut butter and raspberry and caramel flavoured mini-cake bites – that were emptied from the shelf in a jiffy.
The venue for the women’s day celebration was also unique. We were celebrating the gradual liberation of women from the clutches of patriarchy, at a venue that had all the elements of our country’s erstwhile colonisers. It hit me at that point, that there is no way forward without acknowledging and making peace with our past.
After the British left India, we did not go on a rampage destroying any remnants of the Raj. On the contrary, we have preserved it, assimilated it into our own culture and celebrated it at every step. Just like the women at the celebrations. They had their own share of trauma from the patriarchal system we live in. But that had not made any of the bitter, if anything, they were much wiser, kinder, and empathetic. We all have started afresh, and it felt blissful.
On that day, a venue named ‘Raj’ with the vibes of the British Royalty made each of us feel like a queen in our own accord.
As we all bonded over the food and dessert, we all realised how far we have come. The conversations opened doors to chapters of our lives that are not easy to dissect – and apart from the usual shoes, make-up, and everything ‘stereotypical’ (because who decides that only women can speak about these things?), we also spoke about things that mattered. Like mental health and what were the things that hurt us during the pandemic.
We all entered the venue hoping for an afternoon of ‘networking’, food, and a long-awaited public gathering. But we left with much more – joy in our hearts, optimism in thoughts and some friends for life.