Netherfield Ball – Murad Ali Baig’s Book Reception, India International Center
The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
She looked like a forest fairy with large kohl-rimmed eyes and jasmine flowers in her hair. One rainy evening The Delhi Walla went to the launch of Murad Ali Baig’s novel, Ocean of Cobras, at the Kamaladevi Complex in India International Center.
The elderly Mr Baig looked like a first-time bridegroom–very happy and busy. He seemed particularly delighted to see Penelope MacRae, the AFP woman in Delhi. That lady’s handbag was far more handsome then the sexiest man alive in the hall (he enters in the next paragraph). But there were many attractive women. One had put on a red-and-white cotton sari. Another was in a long kurta and white pajama that merrily billowed around her. Two elderly ladies chirpily hung around each other and kept on chattering mischievously—probably gossiping about their fellow guests. I’m told the sterner-looking of them was called Asha Cariappa. Author Rashmi Anand was spotted with the book’s publisher Anuj Bahri Malhotra and his beautiful daughter Aanchal. Designer Madhu Jain was overheard talking about her Old Delhi origins. Amit Dahiyabadshah of Delhi Poetree society wore black.
Gurcharan Das, the author of India Grows at Night: A Liberal Case for a Strong State, was the evening’s most forceful personality. He milled around with a copy of The Economist in his hands, holding it as possessively as a Jane Austenite would hold his Mansfield Park.
Rajeev Lochan, the powerful director of the National Gallery of Modern Arts, came sans his slim Japanese wife and had more than one helping of pakoris and mint chutney. A crowd built up around food historian Pushpesh Pant, author of the voluminous India: The Cookbook. One woman mournfully discussed with him the recent closure of Ghantewalla Sweets in Chandni Chowk. He dutifully uttered a few words of sympathy.
Also spotted: a retired civil engineer named Omkar Mattu. Standing alone with a cup of tea, he looked like the loneliest man in the world.
Party with a difference
1. (Murad Ali Baig with Penelope MacRae)
2. (The Economist with Gurcharan Das)
4. (Mr Baig with Madhu Jain)
5. (Amit Dahiyabadshah at the center)
6. (“I’m a simple cotton sari”)
7. (Asha Cariappa, right, with friend)
9. (From right: Anuj Bahri Malhotra, Rashmi Anand, Aanchal Malhotra)
11. (Omkar Mattu)