The party secrets.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
More than one person in the party declared that the man in the black hat looked like Sir Elton John. But the pop icon spoke English in a pucca Indian accent.
He was actually Zac O’Yeah (seen above), the Swedish crime fiction writer who lives in Bangalore.
One uncomfortably cold evening, The Delhi Walla attended the launch of Mr O’Yeah’s new novel, Hari: A Hero for Hire, at the Swedish ambassador’s residence on Delhi’s Nyaya Marg.
Curiously, Mr O’Yeah’s beautiful Indian wife, the highbrow Anjum Hasan, who is a more literary sort of writer than him, was nowhere to be seen. Is the marriage on the rocks? But the party was full of important faces, though there were too many senior journalists.
The most handsome man of the evening was author and journalist Kai Friese. He trooped in with writer and columnist Mitali Saran--she had the vibes of a Damn You radical, thanks to her deadly salt-and-pepper hair. The duo has often been noticed entering the Delhi parties together and this night they dared to hug each other in full view. Someday soon the tongues will start wagging.
Novelist Upamanyu Chatterjee, who earns his living as a high-ranking government secretary in the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board, came with his French wife, Anne, who is said to work in the byzantine bureaucracy of the European Union. The power couple stayed together and spent an inordinately long time with theater artist Sunit Tandon, who looked dashing without his trademark beard. Mr Tandon is rumored to be a great connoisseur of Western classical music.
The woman who turned the most heads was magazine editor Veena Venugopal, whose last book was the bitchily-titled The Mother-in-Law: The Other Woman in Your Marriage. She was kind enough to pose a pout for my camera, along with the equally sporty Rajni George, a senior editor at Penguin Random House India. Ms George, who had landed in Delhi earlier in the day from a business trip to Sweden, bitterly complained about the disadvantages of Europe. She also expected to earn sympathies for being "stuck in the Heathrow." (This is what happens when you are spoiled by the luxurious India Gandhi International Airport.)
Pan Macmillan India’s elegant Diya Kar Hazra, who published Mr O’Yeah’s novel, valiantly struggled to overcome her longtime indignation against the despicable paparazzi. Her husband, journalist Indrajit Hazra, arrived separately.
But what was wrong with Gita Hariharan? The author of The Thousand Faces of Night was last seen at The Park where she was dressed in a stunning brown saree. But this time she was in a barely-exciting salwar kurta.
Also spotted: the suave novelist Manu Joseph, who explains India to the readers of The New York Times; Satish Padmanabhan, deputy editor of the bold Outlook magazine; and Patrick Bryson, the Australian author of The Sad Demise of Manpreet Singh, who is married to a documentary-maker from the Khasi Hills.
The biggest celebrity in the party was Surendra Mohan Pathak. Alas, India’s most famous crime fiction novelist writes in Hindi. Everybody in the party knew of him but nobody seemed to know how he looked like. He went unseen.
Not a Nordic noir
1. (Mitali Saran with Kai Friese)
2. (Rajni George, left, and Veena Venugopal)
3. (Upamanyu Chatterjee with wife, Anne)
4. (Diya Kar Hazra)
5. (Manu Joseph)
6. (Zac O’Yeah with Indrajit Hazra)
7. (Sunit Tandon)
8. (Gita Hariharan, extreme right))
9. (Is that Surendra Mohan Pathak?)