All about da bling

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It’s a new chapter at the annual yummy mummy congregation of sakhis

Dressed up like Bollywood stars, and minus the hubby and kids, the yummy mummies came out in droves to spend a day with the sakhis (girlfriends), catching up over khana and indulging in a bit of naach-gaana.
Like every year, they gushed over each other’s (designer) outfits, played some tambola, bought some trinkets at Meena Bazaar, had someone else cook and serve lunch, and danced the afternoon away in gay abandon at their annual do.
Some 600-odd women congregated as usual at the Croatian Club in Punchbowl for a Sakhi Celebration on what was marked as Friendship Day in many countries.
The event was slightly different though, this time round. After 16 solid years, stalwarts Nandini Thadani, Sushma Ahluwalia and Preeti Thadani were not at the helm of affairs, but a different team, led by Ekta Nankani.
A project manager in data analytics in her day job, Ekta brought some excellent organisational skills to her new role.
“I was ably assisted by Vidhisha Khetwani, Malti Kumar, Esha Sharma, Natasha Khushalani and Shallu Kundra, beside a large team of volunteers, Ekta told Indian Link. She added, “We took guidance from Nandini Aunty and we are thankful for her input.”
The young team used social media to get the message out and sell the tickets, opting to use Facebook. It took off unbelievably well, with about 500 tickets sold in the first month. The stalls for Meena Bazaar were all taken up within 20 days.
The Umrao Jaan theme was well received too, with guests paying homage to Nizaami imperial couture from the Mughal era. Jhoomars and side tikkas (head pieces) were brought out, and one bunch of sakhis even wore the cap (which caused some consternation when the 2006 film starring Aishwarya Rai was released because apparently it wasn’t authentic 19th century Lucknow courtesan apparel).
Expectedly, the salwar kameez dominated in the fashion stakes given the nature of the theme, with warmer colours such as reds and pinks, even though there was a decent smattering of blues and greens.
Rita Malik, a 65-year-old guest and a first-timer at the Sakhi event, came dressed in full Umrao Jaan finery, and even performed a dance to the famous In aankhon ke masti number. “I’ve been an Umrao Jaan fan for years,” she told Indian Link. “When I heard this was the theme, I simply had to come and dance!”
Other cultural items presented included traditional Punjabi dances, but as an innovation this time there were burlesque and rhythmic gymnastics-inspired dances from outside the community.
“To reach out to our much younger guests this time, other novelties included champagne on arrival, a photo booth for red carpet-type photo opps, and dhol for dancing,” Ekta noted.
Raffle tickets for luxury items kept the crowds happy, and a Breast Screen free gift reminded all that certain checks were needed at regular intervals for health and happiness.
For the sakhis though, many of them first-timers, it was the socialising and the chitchatting, the dancing and the photographs and selfies, that were top priority of the day. They were out to have a good time, and they made sure they bloody well did.

When comparisons are inevitable
And yet, as expected, the changing of the guard did cause some feathers to be ruffled.
Sakhi Sangam regulars, some having attended for 15-odd years, reported that the changes rankled with them. The sore points were that the classy decorations and table settings were missing; for the vegetarians, not having the food labelled was problematic, and the male entertainers should not have joined the guests at the tables after their acts.
But perhaps most importantly, the event has become a victim of its own success with numbers way too large, with up to 12 people crammed on each table. This caused the crowds to be unruly so they didn’t pay attention to the events on stage (especially to the lady from Saheli/Pink Sari, who really had an important message to deliver). All this, for a substantial hike in fee, was far from acceptable to some.
For the largely youngish crowd, though, did these really seem to be an issue? Apparently not. What mattered more to them was that it was an occasion to leave the young family behind for a day, get dressed up the nines, shop for some girly stuff, and dance til the feet were sore. The hike in price did not matter, given most of them were professionals. For them, it was all about da bling.
Both sides – the old guard and the newcomers – could learn valuable lessons from each other. The old guard must recognise that Gen Next is waiting in the wings to take over, and they will do things differently.
Filled with youthful energy, plenty of confidence, larger disposable incomes and having had an easier time settling in to the new country, they want to enjoy the lifestyle opportunities offered here. At the same time, the newbies must give credit to the systems that the preceding generation have put in place, working hard to reach every milestone and build their organisations organically. They could learn from the seniors’ mistakes, rather than making them all over again (such as, for the Sakhis, not to exceed 500 guests at the current venue, or find a larger one, a lesson already learnt by experience years ago).
Such lessons are true not only for the Sakhis, but for every community organisation, as the old guard hands the reins over.
Meanwhile, Sakhi celebrations will continue: community women will clamour for anyone willing to organise them, to ‘bling’ it on!
 For more photos, check out our Facebook album HERE

Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni Anand Luthra
Rajni is the Editor of Indian Link.

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