Monday, 31 July 2017

Tale of a Dinner Set

I always thought that this is a very desi trait to be emotionally attached to things, especially those bought during weddings until I saw this episode of Friends where Monica was all paranoid about using China that she bought during her wedding. It is a universal issue and many people will be able to relate to it. We all have fancy dinner sets tucked away in cabinets awaiting special guests. I, too, have a dinner set which I was crazy enough to bring from Pakistan to Malaysia and now to Australia. But, for me, it is not a randomly selected dinner set that I could let go. It is emotionally valuable and has a story - long and special enough to make a blog post!

Meet my Dinner Set!

It is complete dinner set for 12 people, 96-pieces, made in Japan (made in and not made as), very fancy and elegant and is approximately half a century old and yet looks so new that I was almost asked to pay duty on it during one of the moves.

My maternal grandfather bought this dinner set on one of his visits to Peshawar, Pakistan in 1970. I wish I knew how much he paid for it but I only know that it was expensive at that time. He bought this and some other stuff for his daughters who were to be married soon. This dinner set was selected by my mother, the second eldest daughter in the house. She got married 3 years later to an Army Officer who was mostly posted in non-family stations. My mum spent initial years of her married life away from my dad, either at my grandparent's or at the accommodation provided to military spouses. They met on weekends or holidays. During this time, the dinner set was only used once on my brother's 1st birthday and then was packed again for a long time. By the time my parents got a house, my mum had already bought other things and never had the need to open this packed set. It travelled with my parents from city to city in the years that followed.

When we finally moved to Karachi, it was opened, a cabinet was bought for it and it was used properly for the very first time. This was the year 2002 and special guests who were served in this beautiful dinner set were my brother's in-laws (to-be at that time). The same brother who had this on his first birthday! For the next 4 years, we did use it occasionally making sure that it is set on the table, washed and put back 'safely' by my mum or me and these tasks were to be NEVER given to the maid or helper.

When I was getting married in 2006, I asked my mum to let me have this as a wedding present. I still remember the joy in her eyes because she knew she will not be able to buy me something as good as this one and also that I was well trained to look after this baby.

I used it as much as I could in Karachi before moving to Malaysia. But, I did not have a very active social life. I came to Malaysia with only two suitcases so bringing this dinner set was impossible. A year later, my brother moved to Singapore and he got all his things shipped in a container and that's how it reached me in Malaysia. It was easy for him to send via cargo once in Singapore.

When I went to collect it at the cargo collection point, it took me quite an effort to convince the officers that it is an old, used dinner set because once they opened the box to check, it sat there sparkling and shining like brand new.

I have yet to find something as beautiful and classic. The teacups are so stylish with floral print inside and golden line on the rim of the cup. The golden lines haven't faded from any part or any piece. Every time I think of letting it go, my heart sinks! I use it as often as I can but not daily. The desi inside me forces me to cherish it like a treasure.

In many ways, it keeps me connected to my favourite person on the maternal side of my family - my grandfather, who passed away when I was very young. I have very few memories of him dominated by his warm disposition and a kind smile. Sometimes, I wish I knew him better but this set tells of his excellent taste and classy choice. Whenever I use it, I think not only of my mum (reminding me to carefully wash it myself, haha) but I also say a little prayer for my grandpa - the first person who fell in love with it!

Do you also have China tucked away in cabinets? Take it out and use it ... life is short :)


  1. Omg!!! Firstly beautiful shots! Got to know so much about your emotional connect with such timeless pieces. Back home even we have a cabinet full of such extraordinary pieces which my mum has been collecting past 25yrs and we still haven't had the privilege to use them.😜

  2. I can totally imagine! My mum had to let go of her collection but there is something from her collection in children's house. This is a best one and I got lucky as I am the only daughter.

  3. this is a beautiful story and beautiful place setting! I also believe in holding onto things with lots of sentimental value!

  4. That China is AMAZING!!!!!!! I love the pink floral patterns with the gold accents!

  5. These are beautiful shots! I love that pattern.

  6. My goodness, this dinner set is absolutely beautiful. The story behind it is even more beautiful!

  7. Wonderful read! glad to see in pictures the dinner set which was such a hot topic in our dinner conversation; ) everything revolved around it!
    One day will send a picture of my mother's dinner set which says 'Made in Czechoslovakia'

  8. Both are beautiful.. your post and this dinner set.