Guess who's coming to dinner

..Someone who deserves the best china ofcourse! Remember the last time you had guests at home and you laid out your dinnerware? Good. Now, I dont have any such memory. Not to say that we did not own fancy dinner pieces. Oh, my mother has all kinds ranging from steel to silver to glassware to unbreakable stuff.  When melmoware became the MF Hussain of tableware, my mom also became an ardent fan. She started amassing the wealth and now produly owns atleast 3 complete sets.  All of them are kept on the attic safe from prying eyes and for an occasion that befits them. From times immemorial, we have had get-togethers with friends and family at the drop of a reason. My mom always prided herself on being a considerate host. She knew the likes and dislikes of every guest and always ensured that there were enough choices to satisfy everyone's palate. Shiny steel plates, tumblers, cups and spoons used to adorn the dining table on such occasions. But the fancier ones never saw the light of day. The common refrain being "we'll use it when we have special guests". This was not to mean that the numerous people who have dined in our house are not worthy but that the occasion was not grand enough. Let me explain with an example. A son-in-law who visits his in-laws over the weekend is not a special guest but the very same person when visiting during the first Deepavali is treated like the king who just dropped by. So a special guest can be a person who has eaten umpteen number of times at one's house before that one special occasion which becomes him. The crowning jewel in our visit to North India 15 years ago was the silver Thali set my mom procured. The important bring-back  from their visit to Singapore was a beautiful 40 piece dinner set which my mom took pains to pack to the hilt that lent it unbreakable. There was one event where my mom actually brought out the silver set and laid it all out on the table while I gaped unbelievingly. But just before the dinner was announced, a change of heart happened and they were all replaced back to their shelves much to the consternation of the tableware and much to the joy of their steel cousins! When I got married my parents presented me with a beautiful table set assuming that I would be using them very often. As time can tell, we made the dining table itself redundant in my house! I like mismatched plates, cups, spoons etc and I dont pant for symmetry. This trait has never been advertised as it is now in the US. I brought along 4 dinner plates and all different. I never thought about how odd it looks while packing it and I dont feel any pangs of anxiety when I serve in them. The first guests at my place in the US hardly noticed the plates they were served in because they were concentrating on clearing it off burnt food. Subsequent guests did not notice because they were well engrossed in conversation and roaring laughter. And I plan to keep it that way. What's dinner if not food for thought?

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