She changed her name from the rather uninspiring 'Phyllis' to the more exotique 'Anjali' when she decided to move from Mumbai to Paris more than forty years ago. Her aim? To become a model. She travelled there on a one way ticket, determined to make it - and make it she did. As a top mannequin in the House of Pierre Cardin, she swiftly became his muse, and for close to 15 years, he cut his couture collections on her lithe, 6' 1'' frame. Besides,as one of the first non-white models in Europe, she did face a great deal of prejudice, but eventually broke through the rigid colour barrier to become the toast of tout Paree. More than any of these achievements, I believe Phyllis ranked as one of India's best exports to France - proud of her origins and an excellent ambassador for the country.
We were friends. Good friends. Fun friends.
Anjali - 'Offering of the Gods' - she'd explain to a dumbstruck French press - died at her newly acquired chateau in the South of France this morning. Knowing her great taste and fastidious nature, I'm certain she had her funeral worked out to the minutest detail - from the flowers at the service to the dress she'd wear on her last journey. I hope she picked a vibrant pink suit from her collection of vintage couture. Pink was her colour - as vivid as Phyllis herself . And I hope she had her full make up on when the end came, and her hair impeccably coiffed , too. I am certain the angels sang as this very special 'Offering of the Gods' finally went home to God.
Phyllis, my darling. Au revoir, cherie....