Is This Your Diwali Card Party?

The house is lit up floor to ceiling with lights and diyas, but lehengas and kurtas shine brighter than the walls.

‘Hello-s’ and ‘kaise ho-s’ multiply, and so do baskets of dry fruits and painted diyas.

Whiskey and tikkas are in full swing, but there’s only one thing making rounds faster than masala peanuts. Cards.

Diwali’s here and your inbox is flooded with taash party invites. Who knows? Maybe this is finally your year. But, hey, no pressure.

Mind the rangoli at the doorstep, walk through the gates, and a whiff of festivities will invite you in. A room of loud laughs and soft whispers of gossip, shiny dupattas and tinkling ice cubes. But you know what you’re here for.

Make your way, slow and steady, hugging all those you meet on the way, to the room where all luck is being placed in cards. The air is sombre.

Everyone has packed except two, both refusing to budge. It’s time for the reveal. Mrs. Chatterjee flips open her cards, one by one, with the flair only a person carrying a sure win can own. Third card down, and a loud shriek bolts from the group! Mrs. Chatterjee pulls the poker chips towards herself, smugly piling them on top of each other.

Next round! Bansal’s deal. Watch the complicated shuffling he’s probably been practising for the last one week. “A variation this time, guys. We’ll do a best of four.”

“Huh? What’s that?”, you hear a nimble whisper from the corner. It’s Mrs. Rao’s first time trying her hand at cards. But it only goes to show the reality of beginner’s luck. “How do you play that?”, she asks from behind the tallest tower of poker chips at this table, neatly stacked by colour.

Mr. Bhatia can’t help but roll his eyes at this. He’s here for the one reason only. Unnecessary chatter, daft questions, or any other distraction from the game can survive only 37 seconds before his grunt echoes. That being said, there’s no diluting the chatter or questions. “Deal quickly, Bansal”, he whispers through his teeth, drumming his fingers on his poker chips.

Mr. Mehta’s the first to play this time. Don’t bother counting the rings on his fingers. Most lost count within the first 3 months of him finding his new astrologer. Watch as he rubs his cards, murmurs a soft prayer, carefully picks them up, and stares at them for three seconds. “Pack!”, he throws his cards down in haste. “Useless! What shuffling did you do, Bansal?”

Charu Mukherji is next. And this is not her first rodeo. She picks up her cards and gives them a peek. Slowly places them down. Sips her drink. “Yes”, two chips slide to the centre of the table, “I’m in. Seen.”

Shipra Malhotra, her sapphires larger than her eyes, sips nervously from her drink, and pushes a large stack of chips toward the center with a dismissive flick of her hand and says, “I play blind, double it, win big or lose big, baby.”

You need a small break from the game for a bit. Or just another drink. Maybe stop at the kids’ room on the way? See what they’re up to? No! Bad idea. You’ll walk into a room with a mysteriously sticky floor, crushed potato chips and drops of green chutney forming abstract art on the tiles. The television is on, with no one watching. A group of sugar induced children are crouched over one tablet, playing a game of Candy Crush.

Instead, here’s what you can to do. Get yourself that drink, and seat yourself around the table of food. Watch as the trays of hot tikkas, perfectly crunchy masala papad, and bhajiyas make their entries. Be the first to pick the best pieces. After all, isn’t that what you really came for?