Our first stop en route to the book launch was Chandigarh. We reached Chandigarh at 8 p.m. and were welcomed by rain. Ah bliss! One major observation I have to make here is that people in Punjab haven’t disrespected nature at all. I mean India is majorly agricultural right? You go to Haryana, U.P., Rajasthan and you see rampant greed which has turned these states into dust bowls. Punjab is green, even in the month of May. The air is cleaner and pleasant. I mean you get out of the station and breathe in a lungful of fresh and oxy-rich air, instead of dust. So refreshing! It brought smiles to our faces, and so did the old world courtesy of the cab driver who was taking us to Patiala.
And then Kunal Marathe did something that floored us. He rang us up and asked courteously, “What’ll you have for dinner? The kitchen will be closed by the time you reach the hotel.”
He must have had zillions of things to do, what with the book launch the next day, with Maharani Preneet Kaur as chief guest and all that.
But he thought of us, and asked us what we’d want to eat! Kunal, you are a very considerate and gracious host. Thanks!
We reached Patiala, were welcomed by Kunal and the food. I loved the hotel, it was so old world and charming, but more of that in a bit. We simply hugged Kunal and tore into the food like starving wastrels. Swear we did! And Kunal sat with us. He kept telling us, ever so politely, that he had to get up at 6 a.m. and be at the venue by 7, but poor chap, when the Lalits turn on charm, one succumbs.
We finally went to sleep at 3 a.m.
Kunal had his revenge in the morning when he rang me up at 7 and told me that I was responsible for getting the boys and me to the venue before ten. And he kept ringing me up every ten minutes or so! Good gosh! Talk about pressure, that too when one has to drape a sari and put on make up!
In my normal day I wear jeans and tatty tees, or kurti and tights. I put on sunscreen, and that is all. I don’t do girly very well, not even a lipstick. Naturally I got stressed. And it did not help matters that after every phone call I rushed to the room the boys were sharing. They were in a vacation mood, so hurrying them up was quite a job.
I am sure he was chuckling at the effect he was having on me. Finally, dressed and breakfasted, we reached the venue …. which was awesome!
Yes those planes are real! My plane mad son could not get enough of them.
And this was the entrance to the club hall.
And we got there in time, before the chief guest arrived. Yes, sir, we did get to the book launch in time.
And found that I had got my leg pulled oh so thoroughly, by no one but the one and only Kunal Marathe.
This was taken in winters at the Delhi Book Fair, at the authors corner, where I was reading from another book of mine. Please take close look at my attire, dressed for comfort, warmth and ease of body movement.
But Kunal told us that there was a dress code. We were supposed to wear sarees etc. And I fell for it, hook line and Sinker. I even went to the extent of getting a saree made for the occasion! Heh
Very few ladies were wearing saris, most of them were in salwar kameez.
Well played, Kunal, extremely well played.
But I have to admit, I looked nice.
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