City Moment – An Evening in the Life of Authors Padma Lakshmi and Sheela Reddy, Bahrisons Booksellers, Khan Market
The memorable instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The evening is opening up like a play and is best divided into six acts.
Bahrisons Booksellers, Khan market, is looking a little different today. A table and chair are placed right beside the cashier’s desk. There is an excited turn in the bookstore’s very air. A glamorous woman enters. One of the bookstore staffers whispers, “It’s her.” No way! She cannot be Padma Lakshmi. This woman is too fat to be a New York cookbook writer. Immediately afterwards a white man steps inside. He nervously looks around as if searching for somebody.
6.32 pm. Padma Lakshmi enters. She is followed, presumably, by a member of her publicity team, who is taking her mobile phone photographs “for Instagram”. Ms Lakshmi settles down on the appointed seat. It is time for book signing. (Just the day before a very, very famous author announced his new novel but The Delhi Walla shall remain silent on his name.)
Devoted Padma Lakshmi readers are filling up the bookstore. Each gets a turn to get his or her copy signed by the celebrity author. Some faces are bathed in a glow of cathartic joy. Suddenly, a young woman in boot-like things troops inside and declares herself to be the ambassador of an important fashion magazine, or something on those lines. Ms Lakshmi looks on impassively. Sitting beside her, the woman in boots confidently waves her cellphone towards the crowd of Lakshmi worshipers, loudly asking to no one in particular, “Will anyone be kind enough to take my photo with her?”
Nobody is kind, so nobody responds.
Rocket Singh, Khan Market’s famous salesman famous for getting himself photographed with every famous person who enters the famous bazaar, gets his photo taken with Ms Lakshmi, too.
Ms Lakshmi is heard talking of her daughter whom she has left with her mother’s mother in Chennai. At one point she utters sweet-nothings about the golgappas of Bengali Sweets in Central Delhi’s Gole Market. The next morning, Ms Lakshmi adds with a sigh, she must fly to Bangalore for book signing. (Such are the hassles of being a famous writer.)
Outside the bookstore, a lone woman is lovingly gazing on at the many hardbound copies of Mr and Mrs Jinnah: The Marriage That Shook India, the latest talk-of-the-town that has taken up an entire row of the Bahrison’s display window. This woman is Sheela Reddy, the book’s author. No fawning admirer around her. Even so, Ms Reddy is looking as content as Ms Lakshmi. It is a lovely moment.
1. (Padma Lakshmi)
3. (with Rocket Singh)
17. (Sheela Reddy)