I was reading this news article, about the Queen Elizabeth’s dinner in reciprocation of George Bush’s presidential dinner. The dinner was served in Manning’s residence (Mannings is the British ambassador in US)

“Under Manning’s roof, guests dined on wild Scottish smoked salmon (appetizer), roast rib of veal (main course) and a summer pudding (dessert). Four wines were served, and the queen asked everyone to drink to the president and first lady Laura Bush, to the future of Britain and the United States and to the countries’ “enduring friendship.”

I don’t know how hard it is to make roast rib of veal( Assuming it is really difficult, and takes hours of pain-staking effort – I have trouble stomaching the fact that there were totally 3 dishes. I suppose you can cut your roast rib of veal into 4 equal pieces and sample with 4 different types of wine, giving you the delusion of variety.

My Indian upbringing jarred when I saw this new item, and also realised just how much importance we place on food. I think all our social gatherings hover around food. Our wedding banters have the supreme ability of stumping the most gluttonous eater. The precise statistics are unavailable, but I presume 50% of the wedding banter involves asking one another whether they ate food. At my brother-in-law’s wedding, it was surprisingly easy to make conversation with folks I saw for the first time in my life. All I had to do was smile and ask whether they had food or would like some coffee.

At a royal dinner, there must be a hundred topics to steer clear of for political reasons. The weather is too boring. What do you ask people after the “How are you”, if food is out.

Manning had served as ambassador in India, and I am imagining the chefs of the the President (CP) and the ambassadorial chefs (CA) met at a bar.

CP to CA: Phew! This queen’s dinner tired me out.
CA: Really? what did you make?
CP: Pakoras, Salad, Soup, bajjis for appetizers.
Pilaf, Naan, Aloo paratha, Chicken Tikka Masala, Shahi lamb curry, Malai matter panner, Malai kofta, Hyderabadi biriyani, Raita and Pickles for the main course
Ras malai, gulab jamuns, Kheer for desser
CA: Yeah! Last night, I was really tired too. I had to make wild Scottish smoked salmon (appetizer), roast rib of veal (main course) and a summer pudding (dessert).
CP: HEY! That’s not fair.
CA: Sure is – took me the same time, and people enjoyed it too. See my news item – and where’s yours to compare?!

How late is too late and how early is too early?

Every so often, I try to answer this philosophical question. You are in a conference and you stare at the brilliant radiance eminating from the shiny baldness of the speaker. The eminent guy is throwing jargon around like hailstones. You can start firing off your questions rightaway.

Self: What does the 3rd word in your previous sentence mean?
Shiny head: Blank stare….AND’?
Self: No…the word before ‘AND’

The moment this happens, you give shiny head the upper hand, because he can say, you have to be patient. He will explain everything eventually. AND you have instantly alienated everybody else in the room, who either wants to enjoy the monotone and relax, or find it an unnecessary interruption.

You wait for a while assuming that the jargon will eventually dribble down to a few more often used terms before you ask for clarifications. Take this as an exercise in your next technical seminar. You pen down all the fancy words that you want clarification on, and put a statistical indicator near the words. Soon, you know the shiny head’s favourites. You are still seeking clarification remember.

Shiny head’s list: Cognac, TR!FS, GORR

So, all you need to do is wait for the next breather to seek clarification. Now, you look around the room, and everybody nods looking as though they are grasping everything.

Cognac’s blah…blah will be used while TR!FS schedules an intermediate transmission routing via GORR.

blah….blah…..blah Cognac meanwhile responds to GORR…blah blah.

The following approaches are available to you at this juncture:

1) Look equally knowledgeable, and nod your head convincingly without falling asleep.
2) Look around for the person who nods the most and ask them to explain. If the concerned person was following strategy (1), it would make them look like a prized fool and provide for some entertainment.
3) Play a word-game while pretending to take notes and run into the arms of the search engine called Google at the nearest opportunity!

I wonder how people managed before Google!

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