Monday, August 31, 2015

Serious Stuff and Some Gossips

DurbarDurbar by Tavleen Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Tavleen Singh, the writer of Durbar, emerges as a brave journalist with high contacts and privileged access to high profile drawing rooms and she generously used these capabilities to make the book an interesting chronicle of the time when Indira and Rajeev ruled the country and strengthened the root of dynastic politics. Many of the events described in the book had already taken place when I was born and many of them happened when I was too young to make any sense of them. So, there has always been a curiosity to get some first-hand account of incidents like emergency, operation blue star, sikh riots, assassination of Mr. Gandhi, Bofors scandal and of course gossips of those times. The book offers them all and even more. It is her memoir of political events and being a political journalist of vast experience, her portrayal of the characters of those times appears quite authentic and believable. She does not shy away from putting Mr. Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi in dock for the extremities of emergency, holding Rajiv Gandhi responsible for not being able to contain the riots post the assassination of his mother. Few gossips like - Sonia Gandhi was fond of fur coat and used to purchase them from Soviet Union but did not like the stitching and used to send them to fashion house Fendi to get it re-stitched- and many such juicy drawing room discussions provide comic relief in the book and give an insight into the human frailties of the high and mighty of Delhi Dynasty. But it does not mean that author spares herself. On the contrary, she is brutally honest about her own ignorance of the Indian society and how she was part of the same high-class social circles but her journalistic engagements enabled her to see the real India long hidden by the high-walled building of Lutyen’s Delhi. On the expense of sounding hyperbolic, let me tell it anyway, Tavleen Singh appears to be a character from the novel Midnight Children, her fate and presence always crossing the epoch making moments of her time. Incidentally, her own personal story is very interesting especially her relation with irresistible suave Mr. Salman Taseer ( our own charming Simi Garewal also dated him) and a very well-known author came to this world thanks to this brief affair- Atish Taseer who later based his bestselling memoir cum travelogue on this personal story.

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