A candid confession: I detest Holi. Always have. Even as a child. Perhaps I didn't have the required joie de vivre to appreciate the festival of colour. But I did enjoy the jalebis and puran polis served on the occasion. Another confession: I have added a dollop of home made ghee to my daily diet. And I'm loving it! Our grand mothers swore by its health boosting qualities. It worked for them. Why should it not work for us equally?? I shall let you know a month from now , and tell you the absolute truth. If I blimp out, I'll stop. If not... the dollop stays.
I needed more than a dollop of pure ghee to deal with a very angry call this morning. The lady announced, " I am dissed. Very, very dissesed. I tried to reach you thrice yesterday... and couldn't." Well.... that can happen. I'm perfectly accessible under normal circumstances. But yesterday was not an ordinary working day. Did I tell you I taped an amazing interview with an amazing woman called Robin Roberts for ABC'S 'Good Morning America?" It is slated as a two hour special on Mumbai, and Robin had packed in so much during those few short hours she was in India - she had played cricket with 'Slumdog.." Tanmay, and sat in an autorickshaw at Sion - no, Salman Khan was not the driver. She was scheduled to meet Ratan Tata later the same evening. And here she was at my home, with a crew of eight very hard working people.The interview crackled and is likely to be telecast either today or tomorrow at 7 a.m. U.S. time. It will also be up on the ABC site soon, so we can all check it out. She was terrific. Those of you who caught her Barack Obama interview must know just how terrific she is. At the risk of sounding immodest, I have to say I was touched and flattered when she reached out , held both my hands and said with tears in her eyes, " I'll never, ever forget you... you are an extraordinary woman. Too honest for politics." We hugged and kissed. Cried and laughed. It was a perfect 'woman-to-woman' moment.
Well..... which is why I couldn't take Thritty Strafford's call. I was in the middle of an interview. After Robin left, some mysterious bug hit me, and I collapsed ! Like, really keeled over, and couldn't get out of bed even after four Crocin's. Which is also why I couldn't take Thritty's other calls. I was knocked out. I wasn't taking ANY calls. Nothing personal. But would the lady listen? She was livid as she talked about the SALAAM BALAAK Trust that she runs, and how difficult it has been for her to rustle up funds to feed all those street kids. And how insensitive I've been to the cause etc. She has a charity movie premiere coming up this week..... and my remark has seriously affected the sales of her tickets. I requested her to re- read my column. That remark was based on a published interview of the main actor from 'Salaam Bombay' who sounded very bitter .Even so, I can understand Strafford's rage. I asked her to calm down and wished her well. This was after she had gone apoplectic about 'rich ladies in their fancy drawing rooms, who are seen at parties featured on Page 3, who won't spend 2000 rupees on a premiere ticket...." She thundered on and on, wondering where she'd find the money from, now that I had written one line about 'Salaam Bombay' and those obviously upset cast members who had featured in it?' Oh dear. She needed to deep breathe. I was genuinely concerned about her health at this point. She challenged me to sell some of those premiere tickets and attend the premiere myself. Phew! Strafford has indeed worked exceedingly hard for the trust, which is looking for 40 lakhs right now, so that those street kids don't starve. Donations welcome. It's been 20 years of dedication. But Shaikh, the actor who was picked for the lead role, is 32- years- old now, in dire straits and stands by his story. Who does one believe? Strafford told me her mother said ," If Shobhaa De has an honest bone in her, she will set the record straight." I have just done that. I hope it makes Strafford (and her mother) feel better. And that Thritty continues the excellent work. As for me, I'm planning to crawl back into bed and not take calls. But then , I doubt Strafford will be calling again anytime soon. And fortunately for me, most other callers are more understanding.