29th July, 2009 - 5.45 a.m
We are all ready and out sharp as planned. We had Mr Sunil Kumar waiting for us with an Innova. We reached the ITC Maurya by 6.00 am. Kamal Mahal, the hall where the exhibition was to be held was already bustling with activity.
This beautiful arrangement by Mrs Indu Punj welcomed us at the hall where the inaugural function was to be held.
(Materials : Weeping Willow Branches painted Green, Eucalyptus Leaves, Anthuriums and Pumpkin)
All kinds of Driftwood, Plants, Flowers, Vases were strewn all over and people were busy working on their arrangements which were in various stages of completion. We were greeted heartily by Mrs Veena Dass and Mrs Kanta Bukhari. Once we got to our alloted places, we unpacked all the boxes of flowers and other materials. I must express millions of Thanks on behalf of our entire team to Amethyst for the wonderful job they did in packing the flowers and plant material SO WELL! They remained very fresh and intact!
Meenu already had problems with her leg and it was hurting her so badly. But the spirit and enthusiasm with which she worked that day, without showing any sign of pain was something to see and to be highly appreciated. Her energy and the loving heart to help each one of the group was amazing! Meiki Sensei (Meenu), no word can sufficiently describe our feelings!
Both the Senseis and Dally got to work. Shobha and I were helping them out with their work - unpacking, cutting, taking photographs etc etc. As usual, Malathi Ma'am worked on her arrangement with focus and great care.
Meenu completed her arrangement "South" with ease and brought it to perfection. Dally was so concentrated on her arrangement she refused to look at anything else around until she was done. She finally got hers right!
There was a bright smile on Malathi Sensei's face when she said that all arrangements have come out nicely!! We then went back to the hotel to have a bite of sandwich and some coffee and then to change for the event. By 10.30 we were back at the venue and seated. The Ambassador of Japan arrived followed by Mrs Ansari. The business session followed as I have described in Part-1. Then the outstation guests were introduced to the Chief Guest.
Then the dignitaries proceed to view the exhibition. Mrs Ansari appreciated the Chennai Team's work. Viewing Malathi Sensei's arrangement, she tapped the masala box and remarked that it was a good idea! "A Boxful of Flowers from Chennai for Veena Dass" she exclaimed on seeing the arrangement!! And so, that became the title of Sensei's work!
(Chennai Team with Mrs Ansari)
At that point, two distinguished guests from Chennai made their Grand Entrance! Vaishali couldnt come with us the same day. So Prerana decided to stay back for company and arrive on the exhibition day. We thought they would miss the inauguration, but they were perfect in their timing that they didnt miss the action! Prerana was all full of praise for Mrs Kantha Bukhari who gave them a warm welcome and arranged for their luggage to be taken care of! It was again a lovely gesture from Mrs Bukhari!
Once the dignitaries left, tea was served. The exhibition went open to the public by 12.30pm. There were beautiful Ikebana works - ranging from small to large ones - created painstakingly and with great care! There was a separate section for "Celebration of Festivals". A wide range of festivals celebrated thorughout the year were depicted through Ikebana - From Diwali to Dusserah to Republic Day to Id-Ul-Fitr and Christmas! The crowd was good and it went on till 4.00pm by which time we had to dismantle and clear up! As always it happens, we did so with a heavy heart, wishing that it went on.. and on!!
We got back to our rooms rested a while. Then the group split. Some people went shopping. Ma'am Stayed back. I went to visit my ex-colleague who now resides in Delhi - and so on. We got back together by 8.30pm and had dinner at the IIC. Then we all gathered in Malathi Sensei's room and went on discussing about the exhibition, the arrangements and the hospitality that we received... About midnight, I was feeling terribly sleepy and the discussion that was supposed to go on till 2.00 am was cut short. It felt great that we dint have to wake up early the next morning!! The program for the next day would be the Coffe Morning at Mrs Veena Dass's residence and Evening Tea at Mrs Kusum Ansal's residence.... More about it in Part-5 !