The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A few of them looked adequately solemn to be practitioners of long-form journalism (see photo 8 below).
One evening The Delhi Walla attended journalist Madhu Jain’s get-together at India Habitat Center. It was the anniversary of The Indian Quarterly (IQ), her highbrow magazine.
While Ms Jain made admirable efforts to look joyous, publisher Chiki Sarkar of Juggernaut Books discreetly eyed for writers who could help make #JuggernautApp trend again on Twitter for at least two or three hours. This ambition explained the supporting cast of Ms Sarkar’s colleagues, the enigmatic R. Sivapriya (admired for producing page-turning English translations of long, respectful Urdu novels) and the charming Parth Mehrotra (no relation to poet Arvind Krishna Mehrotra).
Now, please come closer, there is a gossip about Ms Sarkar’s private life. On second thoughts, I shall keep it a secret for now. Due to the sensitivities surrounding the new British Prime Minister, I’m also refraining from commenting on Ms Sarkar’s shoes.
Other notables in the gathering included photographer Raghu Rai, feminist Urvashi Butalia, St Stephen’s alumnus Sunil Sethi, author Janice Pariat and poet Sudeep Sen, who is a Bengali and therefore lives in South Delhi’s Bengali-dominated CR Park. Art restorer Rupika Chawla flaunted an artless handbag. Ms Jain herself is a renowned sophisticate. She holidays in Venice and was recently conferred Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Merite by the French ambassador.
The evening’s other distinguished giants were writers Kai Friese and Avtar Singh. They reached out to each other in the blissful spirit of that typical dramatic reunion that always occurs in the last scene of Shakespeare’s comedies. Both these confident men, however, share a common tragedy. The shabbily dressed Mr Friese was the founding-editor of Delhi City Limits, a city magazine that closed down a few years ago due to lack of circulation. The crisply dressed Mr Singh was the founding-editor of Time Out Delhi, a city magazine that closed down a few years ago due to lack of circulation. (Ask The Delhi Walla how lonely it is to outlive all the circulation-less city chroniclers).
The easy and unaffected Mr Singh was accompanied by his beautiful American wife, Christine Matovich. The couple is soon moving to Beijing. Mr Singh, who was IQ‘s managing editor, is passing on the baton to Nayantara Patel. This lovely woman remained in close company with Mr Friese (see photo 5 below).
Also spotted: Ritu Menon and Ravi Singh. Being highly principled publishers, they refused to be lively and unreserved, and did not condescend to talk to anybody but to each other.
On the other hand, journalist Hartosh Singh Bal, a man of silent indignation, presented an incredible spectacle. He actually smiled and even laughed… at least twice during the course of the evening.
The only person who looked mournful as if witnessing the passage of lost time was Ms Jain’s husband, the dignified Krishna Prasad. A retired professor of physics, he is rumored to be a closeted Proustian.
Serious writers here
1. (Chiki Sarkar)
2. (Janice Pariat, left, and Manasi Subramaniam of HarperCollins India)
3. (Madhu Jain)
4. (R. Sivapriya and Parth Mehrotra)
5. (Kai Friese and Nayantara Patel
6. (Raghu Rai)
7. (Avtar Singh, left, and Hartosh Singh Bal)
8. (Rukminee Guha Thakurta and Ishan Tankha)
9. (Ritu Menon and Ravi Singh)
10. (Urvashi Butalia)
11. (Rupika Chawla)
12. (Sunil Sethi)