Before moving to New Delhi, I had never heard of the Melbourne Cup. But soon after arriving, I quickly learned that the Melbourne Cup is a pretty big deal, that the Australian Embassy in New Delhi throws a big party for it, and that I didn't want to miss it.
The Melbourne Cup itself is an annual horse race, a bit like the Kentucky Derby. In addition to the race itself, the day has other traditions and becomes an excuse to party...Aussie style. First is the attire. It's an understatement to say that people get dressed up. Bold, bright colors and big, fancy hats are encouraged...for both men and women. In fact, the actual race features a fashion show amongst attendees at the racecourse and thus it's customary for other Melbourne Cup celebrations to follow suit. Here in Delhi, I especially enjoyed the best-dressed men's competition, which showcased some atrociously loud, floral suits. Equally fun was the competition for best fascinator, those half-hat headpieces I always associate with British royalty.
After the fashion show was the raffle drawing. I was at the buffet table as the first number was drawn and the emcee warned that winners had only 20 seconds to claim their prize. I finished filling my plate, got back to my seat, and pulled out my raffle tickets. Just as he counted down "3 - 2 - 1 - times up!" I spied the winning ticket in my stack. Darn, I had missed out on DIAMOND EARRINGS because I was topping off my dessert with whipped cream!
|In my garden party best|
But the real centerpiece of any Aussie gathering is drinking. The key race of the Melbourne Cup kicked off at 3:00 pm in Melbourne. Because of the team difference, that made it 9:30 am in New Delhi. So the event here was a brunch with lots of wine and champagne that turned into a drunken dance party by 12:00 noon! Now that I fully understand all the pomp and circumstance of the Melbourne Cup, I have a full year to plan my fascinator and make next year's party even better!
|Flanked by some of my finely attired embassy colleagues|