For a change, Shashi Tharoor's launch of his latest navel, Riot at the Taj Mahal Hotel, was sans the customary reading by the author, which, of course, left many disappointed. But one should thank the publishers for having learnt from previous expriences (the last time a book reading was held at this same hotel, it proved a disaster as people were more concerned about their drinks and catching up with friends) and saved both the author as well as the audience embarrassment.
Tharoor, recently separated from his wife after being married for nearly two decades, thanked his college friend, civil servant-turned-social worker Harsh Mander for his help in inspiring him. Riot is partially based on an actual communal riot in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh, where Mander was the District Magistrate. For Mander it was a proud moment "I saw the manuscript from the beginning and knew that it would be a good book," said the shy and reticent Mander. Another writer-in-the-making, journalist Anita Pratap, who came along with her Norwegian diplomat hubby, put to rest talk about her forthcoming book being an autobiography. "I don't think I am old enough to write one now. My book is about my various journalistic experiences. Its not about my personal affairs," clarified the intrepid journo, as she caught up with long-time friend, Sanjoy Hazarika.
For once, the Indo-Anglian writer fraternity (whatever there is of it in the city) turned up to raise a toast to the author of successful novels like Show Business and The Great Indian Novel. Tharoor of course, was mobbed by the crowd, most of whom included a long queue of women, to autograph their copies of the book.
Among those spotted included Sudhir Kakkar, Khushwant Singh, Mark Tully, artist Jatin Das, author Namita Gokhale, author of Difficult Daughters Manju Kapur, ICCKs Himachal Som, Radhilm Jha, Indian Express editor Shekhar Gupta and Single In The City author Sunny Singh.