That is all I can think of ... and drink.... thanda, thanda paani. Gallons of it. Delhi had cooled down somewhat thanks to a thunder shower, and the people I met were strictly apolitical. Which was quite a relief. Dilliwallas can be seriously annoying with their sab jaanta hai attitude and gyaan giving. Instead, I met the sort of people who are relaxed enough not to let the garam hawa (literal and metaphorical) get to them. This was the first time I was staying at hotels in Gurgaon ( which is definitely NOT Delhi - it is as Delhi as Khopoli or Navi Mumbai is Bombay). With monster malls and futuristic high rises, it is frequently called the poor man's Singapore. The Radisson, where I spent my first night is very proud of its brand 'The Great Kebab Factory'. Since I am not a kebab fan I concentrated on a chilled Pinot Grigio and giggled mindlessly, unable to watch the others at the table wolf down platters of galouti and tangdi kebabs with a variety of wickedly layered parathas. Since I was there on an exhaustive shoot ( 8 changes, new photographer, unknown make- up and hair people), I wisely decided to concentrate on getting the job done as swiftly and painlessly as possible. Just then a shoe was hurled --- yes, again! It missed Chids by a mile. But cost Tytler his nomination. And Delhi woke up briefly to tch tch... before switching to the latest gossip - political and social. Every Dilliwalla is obsessed with BOLLYWOOD . Since John Abraham was expected, excitement levels were exceedingly high. Shoe or no shoe. Chidambaram's joota moment did not stand a chance next to The Butt's arrival.
As always, I caught up with Manoj Kesharwani, an outstanding photographer who could put the best international paparazzi to shame. Manoj has the magic touch, and is one of the hardest working photo journos in the biz. He rarely gets home before 3 am and calls it a night after a frugal dinner of chai and bread .His powers of persuasion are legendary, and he is on best buddy terms with all the top stars who always but always let him know when they are in the Capital - from Aishwarya to Akshay - Manoj is their main man. With good reason. His eye for a photo- op is uncanny. Like a hunter stalking his prey, Manoj waits. And waits. And then he pounces. His pictures always tell a story, and he is perhaps the only guy who gets away with outrageous instructions to his subjects. He once told Michael Douglas to prop up a pillar by yelling out, "Arrey Michaelbhai -- pillar, pillar. You hold. You hold." Too startled by this person jumping out of the shadows armed with a camera, Michael did as he was told! Well... Manoj has made me do a few crazy things over the years, too. But the results have always been fun. Manoj deserves wider recognition and acknowledgement. His retrospective may see half of Delhi leaving town - thanks to those delicious stories his photographs tell!!
On another note, I have been asked by a representative of Rolex, to nominate an individual between the age of 19 to 29 years, who is engaged in a worthwhile project that helps communities to improve the ir lives. It is for a programme that comes with a $100,000 aid package to take the project forward in a more meaningful way. If any of you guys would like to put on your thinking caps and suggest names ( with details about the project ), please do keep me in the loop. Here's the chance to transform lives. We can make it happen. Let's do it.