Netherfield Ball – Late Khushwant Singh’s Book Reception, The Park
The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The former Prime Minister’s wife was spotted here, along with her women security guards in grey safari suits. The gracious Gursharan Kaur held her black handbag in the style of Queen Elizabeth.
Even so, the sighting of the ex-First Lady was not the evening’s high point. The principal curiosity was the joint appearance of late author Khushwant Singh’s direct descendants.
One evening The Delhi Walla attended the launch of Mr Singh’s book Delhi through the Seasons at The Park on Parliament Street.
Belying their reputation as extremely reserved individuals, Mr Singh’s daughter, author Mala Dayal, and granddaughter, Naina, who teaches ancient Indian history at Delhi University’s St Stephen’s College, were seen warmly greeting every guest. His son, Rahul, was equally gregarious—in his case, he was simply being faithful to his reputation.
Mala Dayal looked particularly charming in a green kurta. At times, she looked lost in the crowd. It was moving to watch her.
The place was choc-a-block with people otherwise seen only in newspapers and magazines. Environmentalist Pradip Krishen, author of Jungle Trees of Central India, arrived with architect Golak Khandual. The regal-looking but actually very shy Nandini Mehta, the capital’s legendary editor, walked in with husband Dalip; she wore pearl earrings. After making a quick survey of the attendees, the elegant Mehtas settled beside the elegant Haidars. Salman Haidar is India’s former foreign secretary who also served as ambassador to the United Kingdom; his wife, Kusum, is an eminent actor lately seen as Rani of Cooch Naheen in the embarrassing film Midnight’s Children.
One woman in a sari seated herself next to Soli Sorabjee as if they were old intimates. But then she asked him for his visiting card. It turned out she had no idea that he was the former Attorney-General of India.
Somewhere else, Amena Jayal, that wonderful writer of children’s books, who was dressed in black, stood alone, looking exactly like Indira Gandhi.
Also spotted: historian Romila Thapar, who showed remarkable unwillingness to engage with fellow-guests except for a chosen few (author Githa Hariharan acted very possessively about her); HarperCollins India’s publisher Karthika VK, who arrived long after the former Prime Minister’s wife—she gave the classic Delhi excuse of being stuck in the traffic; and Suddhasattwa Basu, who drew illustrations for the aforementioned book.
The affable Pami Singh and Mina Vahie, the duo behind the Attic in Connaught Place, arrived together. Mr Singh wore a brilliantly colourful turban. They both spread happiness around them.
The only disconcerting part of the evening was the overcrowding at the chaat counter. Beautiful people should only pretend to nibble, but here they actually ate. And they ate again and again. Fortunately, this is not New York. Else, these pretty faces would have been immediately banished from all good society.
The Singh durbar
1. (Mala Dayal)
2. (Pradip Krishen)
3. (Nandini Mehta)
4. (Rahul Singh)
5. (Mina Vahie and Pami Singh)
6. (Amena Jayal)
7. (Golak Khandual)
8. (Naina Dayal)
9. (Romila Thapar, left, Githa Hariharan)
10. (Salman Haidar)
11. (Soli Sorabjee)
12. (Karthika VK)
13. (Gursharan Kaur)
14. (Kusum Haidar)