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Netherfield Ball – Intizar Hussain’s Late-coming, Oxford Bookstore

The party secrets.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

One cold evening The Delhi Walla attended a talk by Pakistani author Intizar Hussain at the Oxford Bookstore in Connaught Place.

Mr Hussain lived up to his name, which means ‘wait’ in Urdu. He arrived almost an hour late. The host was obliged to serve two rounds of ginger-flavoured chai for the waiting crowd. It did not help that there were only two famous people to ogle at – author Rakhshanda Jalil and graphic novelist Sarnath Banerjee who was accessorized with a a red man bag. (A woman’s handbag lying unattended on a chair showed a glimpse of Upamanyu Chatterjee’s new novel.)

The most powerful person spotted was Karthika V.K. She is not a public figure but she is the publisher of HarperCollins India, which makes her famous among the famous. Mr Bannerjee hijacked her for the evening.

Finally, Mr Hussain arrived. He should have been booed for being late but he turned out to be so elderly and frail, so soft-spoken and gentle-mannered, and he looked so well-lived in his white hair, cap, tie, jacket and a walking stick. To not to greet him would have been an act of terrorism.

Almost immediately Mr Hussain sat down to chat about Chekhov and Scheherazade. Everyone was attentive except Ms Karthika who was furiously typing on her phone. Nobody minded. After all, she was Mr Hussain’s publisher too.

Party with a difference

1. (Karthika V.K.)

2. (Rakhshanda Jalil)

3. (Ginger-flavoured read)

4. (Sarnath Banerjee)

5. (A typical Delhi intellectual)

6. (Her reading secret)

7. (Intizar Husain)

8. (Since 1923)

9. (91-year-old mind)