Netherfield Ball – French Ambassador’s Cocktail Reception, Nyaya Marg
The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
What they all are always interested in is the course of the Balkan war. Yet, these diplomats do need little diversions now and then to indulge in non-confrontational dialogues with members of the peacetime society.
One evening French ambassador, François Richier, hosted a cocktail reception at his residence on Nyaya Marg. The pretext was the launch of Ghosts of Calcutta, a novel by Sébastien Ortiz, the Consul General of France in Kolkata, West Bengal. The guests were picked from the highest levels of Delhi’s social circle.
Rajkumari Anita Singh of the royal house of Kapurthala looked resplendent in her golden sari and elaborately coiffed hair. Her family’s kingdom is history but Ms Singh continues to command power through her position as vice-chairperson of the Punjabi Academy in Delhi.
The slender and erect Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, however, presented a portrait of utter asceticism. Befitting her status as the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi, she was wrapped in a crumpled khadi sari; while her grey hair were scattered about her in sacrificial carelessness. Apparently, she speaks fluent Italian.
The evening’s diva was Madhu Jain, the editor of the sophisticated The Indian Quarterly magazine. Attired in silk crepe, Ms Jain was seen engaged in a seemingly-deep conversation with Momin Latif, a poet who writes in English as well as French. Ms Jain had arrived with her husband, the erudite Krishna Prasad. A retired professor of physics, he is said to be an admirer of French novelist Marcel Proust.
Another notable person was novelist Namita Gokhale, a founder-director of the prestigious Jaipur Literature Festival. (Every published writer in this city makes it a point to be nice to her.) Dressed in a casual salwar suit, Ms Gokhale’s orange dupatta struggled to keep pace with her.
Also seen: John Elliott, author of Implosion: India’s Tryst with Reality, and Kanwal Sibal, India’s former foreign secretary, who came with his foreign wife.
And, hush, this nugget is only between you and me: one of the guests was overheard saying rather a little too loudly, “I was having mild chest pains so I got myself checked by Naresh.”
He was obviously referring to Naresh Trehan, said to be Delhi’s most expensive cardio-thoracic surgeon.
Party with a difference
1. (Anita Singh)
2. (from left: François Richier, Mrs Kanwal Sibal, John Elliott)
3. (Momin Latif, Madhu Jain)
4. (Krishna Prasad Jain)
5. (Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, right)
7. (Namita Gokhale)