City Sighting – Ved Mehta, Meharchand Market

The American memoirist was seen with wife.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]]

One evening Ved Mehta, the Lahore-born American memoirist and former staff writer of the venerable New Yorker magazine, was seen in south Delhi’s quiet Meharchand market, at the bookstore, CMYK. Opened in September, 2009, the store specializes in coffee table volumes. A little irony here since Mr Mehta could not be expected to enjoy their visual extravaganza. He is blind.

But who had the mood for books when there was wine, cheese, and a famous New Yorker?

A protégé of the late William Shawn, The New Yorker’s legendary editor, Mr Mehta had come to sign copies of Mamaji and Daddyji, just two of his 25 books. He was with wife, Linn. 22 years his junior, she was in a royal-blue saree. Both husband and wife were friendly, without any pretensions.

They did polite talk with quite a few upper crust Delhiwallas who had come to see them. There was an interior designer, a photographer, a magazine publisher, an hotelier, and at least two authors. In the midst of conversations, Mr Mehta would bring his wine glass behind his back, but without spilling the wine.

He is as handy with words. Once Mr Shawn had said, “He [Ved Mehta] writes about serious matters without solemnity, about scholarly matters without pedantry, about abstruse matters without obscurity.” This India-born writer had established a literary reputation in the West when our later superstars like Salman Rushdie and Vikram Seth were still to begin their first novels. Arundhati Roy was born the year he got his job at The New Yorker.

Back home in New York, Mr Mehta is known to walk in streets and take buses without a cane or dog. But at CMYK, the author depended on wife Linn – his arm on her shoulder – to navigate his way from one group to another.

After about an hour, the couple left.

Mrs and Mr Mehta

Light talk

Getting a little heady

A fine balance

Sneaking by the shelves

Done for the evening