Netherfield Ball – Barkha Dutt the Prime Time Killer & Siddhartha Mukherjee the Telugu Film Heartthrob, India Habitat Center
The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
News anchor Barkha Dutt looked like a Prime Time killer in her flowing silky-white pajamas. Publisher Meru Gokhale, wearing white from head to toe, seemed as fragile as late night moonshine. Filmmaker Aradhana Seth, too, was in white. While Delhi’s great recluse, author Mala Dayal, refused to be photographed (see photo 4 below). And two women with fabulous grey hair were spotted (see photos 10 and 11).
It was an infinitely marvelous gathering. One evening The Delhi Walla attended the book launch of Siddhartha Mukherjee’s book The Gene: An Intimate History at The Stein Auditorium in India Habitat Center. Married to a New York artist, the Delhi-born author conducted himself with all the grace that a man of his high altitude could command while surrounded by his Developing World cousins. He wore a tight-fitting electric-blue suit and looked like a charming prince straight out of the dream world of Telugu movies.
The evening’s only scandal was that a large portion of attendees seemed supremely interested in the book. I saw a woman actually reading it; she said she was a medical student. It was very unnerving.
The other famous people who were sighted include author Patrick French who should have been actually at home finishing his biography on novelist Doris Lessing. They say he is married to the moon-like Miss Gokhale. If that is true, then why did they arrive separately? And why was Mr French in a pink shirt? (Or was it orange?)
The most unexpected presence was that of Indira Gulati, one of the last surviving residents of the tony Khan Market, which used to have residential flats above the ground-floor shops. She arrived with daughter, Sonia.
Also spotted: public intellectual Gurcharan Das, the Ayn Rand of Jor Bagh. He was stranded outside in an increasingly restless crowd of other public intellectuals who were denied entry because the venue was packed to capacity. It was tragic to see author and photographer Dayanita Singh in that unfortunate multitude. But she wasn’t looking angry. Instead, she was calm and even cheerily cried to somebody in the crowd, “So, you are also going to Goa next week?!”
Socialite Bhaichand Patel, who hosts great parties at his Sujan Singh Park apartment, was looking greatly relieved on not being permitted to enter the auditorium. He was seen happily waving his arm.
It is rumored that a short time later all these important people were magically sighted on the front row.
Another noteworthy sighting: an exceedingly handsome beard (see photo 8)
Now lend me your ears for something that must remain between us: a renowned journalist, who has been honorably mentioned various times in this blogsite’s Netherfield Ball series, approached me unexpectedly and graciously requested if his name could be avoided in accounts of such nature. His name, henceforth, will not be mentioned and, indeed, I declare I will ask for my smelling salts if you attempt to see him in the last picture.
Everything was exceedingly handsome
1. (Siddhartha Mukherjee with Leila Seth)
2. (Barkha Dutt)
3. (Meru Gokhale)
4. (Mala Dayal)
5. (Gurcharan Das among other unlucky notables unable to enter)
7. (Sheela Reddy with Aradhana Seth)
8. (Kuncheria Che)
9. (Dayanita Singh)
10. (Hema Ramanathan)
12. (Patrick French)
14. (Bhaichand Patel)
15. (Siddhartha Mukherjee)
16. (Indira Gulati with Sonia Gulati)
17. (Nisha Singh)