The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It was a scandal and it was very distressing. Only a few people were there to celebrate the iconic Tavleen Singh, the bestselling author and journalist with 228K followers on Twitter.
One evening, The Delhi Walla was at the amphitheater at India Habitat Center to attend the launch of Ms Singh’s new book, India’s Broken Tryst. The venue was half-empty. The embarrassed organisers took a long time to call Ms Singh on stage, after waiting for people who never came. News anchor Barkha Dutt was nowhere to be seen though Ms Singh had dutifully attended her book launch a few months ago (and she had even tweeted about it). Indian Express’s editor-in-chief, Raj Kamal Jha, did not come though his newspaper publishes Ms Singh’s Sunday column (correction: hours later I'm told that he was indeed sighted in the gathering). Ms Singh's son, author Aatish Taseer--a Proustian aesthete who likes to remind people that he is a Sanskrit scholar--was not seen either.
The specter of empty seats was beyond belief. After all, Ms Singh is a celebrity face on TV news. Her last book, Durbar, was the talk of the town and it was even read and liked by the man who is now the Prime Minister. (A very gracious human being, he condescended to give an appointment to Ms Singh so that she could avail the opportunity to present him her new classic.) Ms Singh knows a lot of other Very Important People in the capital, including a couple of Maharajas and Maharanis from Rajasthan. She is also an ex-friend of Congress leader Sonia Gandhi, and has told that many times in her books and columns.
Still, a handful of beautiful people tried their best to rescue the evening from ending up as a nuclear wasteland. Ms Singh’s partner, industrialist Ajit Gulabchand, looked suave in a suit, and, like a true gentleman, his two-buttoned jacket had only one button fastened. Ms Singh, however, looked a little over the top in her glittering pink sari. Perhaps there was a wedding to be attended later in the evening. Former politician Jaya Jaitley looked truly stylish in a white sari that looked so fragile as if it had been hand-woven in a dream. Journalist Madhu Trehan looked lovely in her long black hair. Journalist Swapan Dasgupta looked like Prince Charming in a white kurta pyjama.
Also seen: publishing house editor Nandini Mehta, who looked hot, as always; magazine editor Madhu Jain, who was recently conferred with Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Merite by the French ambassador; novelist Manu Joseph, who seems to have become a book launch junkie.
The only gossip overheard: one guest remarked to another that somewhere in her book Ms Singh talked of wanting to slap famous columnist Aakar Patel’s wife, Tushita. Thank God that couple lives in Bangalore.
An evening to forget
3. (Madhu Trehan)
4. (Swapan Dasgupta)
5. (Ajit Gulabchand, right)
6. (Madhu Jain, left, with Marty Chen)
7. (Jaya Jaitley)
8. (Author Sanjaya Baru, left)