The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Everybody who is somebody in Delhi is Sadia Dehlvi’s friend. That doesn’t mean that the author of Sufism: The Heart of Islam does not have important friends outside Delhi. One recent evening The Delhi Walla gatecrashed a party that Ms Dehlvi had hosted at her drawing room in Hazrat Nizamuddin East to celebrate her women friends from across the world. The fortunate few included a poet from Saudi Arabia (Nimah Nawwab), a Syrian human rights activist from Canada (Afra Jalabi) and a Sufi poet from Pakistan (Sumbal Iftikhar).
The domestic guests were some of the capital’s very important names. Delhi’s former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit arrived with her sister, the graceful Rama Dhawan. Both women sat quietly on the sofa and exercised great dignity that comes naturally to members of the Ancien Régime. Indeed, Delhi’s ex-ruler lost her self-command only briefly on spotting craft revivalist Laila Tyabji, who was dressed in a beautiful pink sari. (The lovely Ms Tyabji, a great collector of handloom saris, is said to have read the entire Proust.) Both women greeted each other with intense emotion as if they were meeting after a long separation.
Former Planning Commission member Syeda Hameed remained stern throughout the evening in keeping with the dignity of her former office.
Author Rakhshanda Jalil arrived very late with her daughter Aaliya Waziri. They were trying to sneak into Ms Dehlvi’s apartment discreetly but were caught red-handed by a tiresome paparazzo.
The feisty Urdu activist Kamna Prasad looked a stunner in her blue blouse and white pearl necklace. Urdu suddenly seemed to have a bright future.
Some of the important non-women spotted in Ms Dehlvi’s drawing room: Jawahar Sircar, the Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati; socialite Bhaichand Patel, known for his Sujan Singh Park parties; theater actor Oroon Das, who is usually seen with different women in different parties but here he was alone; newly-married singer Dhruv Sangari, who came without his wife.
Late arrivals included former Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah, who filled up the room with his security cavalcade.
A perfect host, Ms Dehlvi had also arranged a music concert. It was very informal; she herself was busy on her mobile phone.
We are all friends
1. (Sadia Dehlvi, right, Afra Jalabi)
2. (Laila Tyabji, right, Sheila Dikshit)
3. (Kamna Prasad)
4. (Syeda Hameed)
5. (from left: Sumbal Iftikhar, Sofia Haroon Khan, Afra Jalabi, Ahmad Haroon Khan)
6. (Nimah Nawwab)
7. (Sheila Dikshit)
8. (Rakhshanda Jalil, left, Aaliya Waziri)
9. (Laila Tyabji)
10. (Syeda Hameed, left, Rama Dhawan)
11. (Dhruv Sangari)
13. (Bhaichand Patel, Sadia Dehlvi)