ONE of the presidents of our appellate-side Bar Association was a particularly likeable individual. We can call him Advocate Aavadla.

It so happened that during his tenure as the president, his daughter’s wedding was to take place. Since he was friendly with everyone he wanted to be a very inclusive host and invite everyone from his Bar association for the event.

It soon became evident that hosting this event in Mumbai was going to be a prohibitively expensive proposition.

Learned friends in the appellate-side Bar are very understanding and helpful, especially when the subject is arranging events that involve food and beverages of a tempting kind. It was, therefore, not at all surprising that helpful colleagues shared a brilliant idea with Advocate Aavadla.

They suggested that the wedding and main reception should be held in a small town at least 300 km away from Mumbai on a court-working day. For this event, the 1,000-odd regular attendee members of the various Bar rooms could be invited with great insistence and enthusiasm.

For the weekend immediately following this event, the suggestion was that a very exclusive reception for select VIPs, senior members, and retired and tired milords etc., could be organised at some private gymkhana in Mumbai with a banquet capacity of around 200 attendees.

Advocate Aavadla lapped up this practical advice without demur and went about organising things as advised by his helpful colleagues and well-wishers in the association.

Accordingly, a prominent and spacious venue designed to cater to a thousand invitees was fixed for the wedding and reception at Kolhapur (a city about 370 km from Mumbai on the Mumbai–Bengaluru highway) on a court-working day.

A small banquet hall in a private gymkhana in a posh Mumbai suburb was also booked for the Sunday get-together to be held following the wedding day.

The cards for the bigger event were printed in large numbers and distributed to everyone who had been a voter in the election which the host had won to become the president of the lawyers’ association.

On the other hand, the invitations for the Sunday get-together were not printed but were given in the form of personalised messages over phone calls made by Advocate Aavadla and his wife. They informed the select guests that this was a special programme only for those who would find a mid-week trip to Kolhapur cumbersome.

As Advocate Aavadla was very popular, everyone who received the card wanted to attend the event, even though it was going to be held a fair distance away. Kolhapur was renowned for its meat dishes and hospitality. Missing court for a couple of days and going there was a tempting prospect for many.

After all, marriages did not happen daily like court matters, nor could adjournments be sought in them.

As the date of the wedding approached, buses and cars were booked and plans were made for overnight stays in budget hotels and en masse leave-notes were prepared.

Seeing all this frenetic activity, one senior lawyer who occasionally made a guest appearance in the Bar room to remind himself and others of his continued existence, inquired what all the talk of planning was about?

We can call this elder statesman Advocate Thakela.

When informed that most members of the association were planning to file leave-notes for two days and head for the big bash which had been organised by their president, Advocate Aavadla at Kolhapur, the semi-senile senior vaguely recalled the personal phone call he had received a few days ago from Advocate Aavadla.

Ugich tithey kashaala jaata?” (Why do you unnecessarily want to go there?) he inquired aloud.

Advocate Thakela: “Would it not be far better to attend the exclusive Sunday event in Mumbai itself immediately after the wedding?”

The surprised members exclaimed: “Really?We didn’t know this! Are you sure Mr Thakela?”

Advocate Thakela: “Arrey, Advocate Aavadla personally called me and insisted that I grace the occasion and bless the couple.” The old foggy then leaned back on his favourite reclining chair in the Bar room and dozed off.

What followed this momentous announcement were last-minute cancellations and adjustments among the association members. About half of them forthwith dropped the idea of going all the way to Kolhapur and decided to attend the banquet at the Mumbai gymkhana.

The other half, however, stuck to their plan as no local gymkhana or Bar could provide meat and booze like in Kolhapur. Some even vouched from experience that a ‘Maratha peg’ was far headier than even a ‘Patiala peg’!

I am sure you can well imagine what would be the result of such unilateral adjustments without the knowledge and consent of the blissfully unsuspecting host. But still, let me elaborate.

In Kolhapur, where the caterer had prepared food for a thousand guests, hardly half the number turned up! Advocate Aavadla could not quite fathom this sudden plummeting of his fabled popularity.

He wondered how so many of his good friends who had promised to come to Kolhapur just a few days earlier were nowhere to be seen now. Was there some dirty ‘Bar politics’ at play, he wondered.

At the end of the wedding day, only the multitudes of beggars outside the local temples in Kolhapur were happy. They all got treated to an unexpected feast! Advocate Aavadla had no choice but to distribute the excess food to the needy rather than witness it going to waste. At least the sated blessings of the needy would be genuine.

In Mumbai, at the private club on the following Sunday, there was a far greater logistics problem as around 800 guests descended on the small banquet hall instead of the invited 200! No one had anticipated such a tsunami of gatecrashers.

The caterer said that to cater to “crisis-situations” they are equipped to extend and expand the supply of food and beverages at short notice to feed 300 instead of 200, but could not cope with anything more than that. This was, of course, perfectly understandable.

What was not understandable was the sincerity of focus on food which the gatecrashers exhibited upon landing uninvited at the venue. As the gatecrashers had arrived on the dot at 7 p.m., they made a beeline for the ‘non-veg’ section as soon as it was set up and attacked it as if they had not eaten since morning.

As a result, when the real VIP guests who were invited through effusive phone calls by Advocate Aavadla and his wife for this get-together arrived, there was hardly anything left for them to eat!

I found one retired milord stirring a huge vessel with the label ‘Chicken Curry’ in desperate search for some stray leftover piece of chicken! Needless to report, it was an unsuccessful quest, soon abandoned.

Friends were dispatched by Advocate Aavadla to various restaurants to buy whatever was readily available and bring it to the banquet hall as the empty plates of milords had started attracting curses rather than blessings from the guests.

Though they themselves were most miserly in court when it came to granting reliefs, milords were visibly upset to find not even an interim relief landing on their empty plates!

Even the best efforts of caterers and friends could not cope with the continuous influx of uninvited gatecrashers. Though it was no fault of Advocate Aavadla, the buck had to inevitably stop with him as it was at his daughter’s reception that this fiasco had played out.

There was, however, only one element of poetic justice in all this. Semi-senile Advocate Thakela, whose gaffe had been the root cause in diverting the flow of a river of hungry mouths in spate from Kolhapur to Mumbai was one of the last to arrive for the reception with his legit invite.

By that time, however, even the last bits of salads had been polished off. He hobbled across to the deserted counter looking for some relief. The only consumable he could locate was a small Bisleri bottle… and even that was not full!