The Indian Diaries of Lady Edwina Vijay-Chatterjee


Mumbai and Alibagh, 3, 4 June 2006;
1.30 a.m. 3rd June 2006: I step into the white marble corridor of Mumbai's venerable Taj Mahal hotel palace wing and am almost crushed underfoot by a phalanx of stampeding Malabar Hills’ disco babes wielding this season’s Christian Dior handbags. All I see is a flurry of be-jeaned pilates lean legs, Cavalli -frilled bib fronts, hot curled mahogany tresses and fuck-me shoes and then they are gone. WHOOSH!!!

Seconds later, as I struggle to collect myself on the corridor floor between the reception and the gents, their  rear guard –  tall “Hooray Harun” escorts, nursing Marlboro Lights and hauty attitudes – gallops past, kicking my compact into the half closed door of the Harbour Lounge.

15 minutes later I reach my gorgeous sky blue suite (courtesy of Taj Air for whom I am the official spokesperson) and immediately flick on NDTV, the world's most outrageous news channel. I can’t believe my eyes: there is Rahul Mahajan’s photo, blurred like the movie poster for “Nightmare on Elm Street,” with surround sound background music from “Clear and Present Danger” (A Philip Noyce Film). Poor Rahul, who had performed so admirably at his fathers extremely high profile cremation just 4 weeks ago – his father, head of the nation's opposition, had been shot dead by his own brother – was now in Apollo Hospital Bombay battling for his life from a drug overdose, the corpse of his late father’s private secretary dead, from the same drug-overdose, beside him.  
I willed myself to sleep.

The next morning the nation’s papers were full of it. “White Mystery” was the CNN-style  title on the NDTV coverage (the theme music had now changed to a cocktail of Twin Peaks (for the cops brandishing suspicious-looking bags of white powder bits) to Mission Impossible for the scenes in front of the Apollo Hospital, which is pink and white broad candy-striped, like a South Beach, Miami casino.
All the nation’s staid, sari-clad, newsreaders are bleating “snorted through a 500 rupee note,” like seasoned molls.
By midday, the praported dealer, Sahil Zahroo, is captured, live, on T.V., at the “All Seasons” film studios in Srinagar (Kashmir): the nations media go wild; he is a major hottie, the Punjab’s answer to Adrian Brodie, and looks G.U.I.L.T.Y as hell. The nation is glued to their T.V. screens, watching his perfectly-formed but quivering top lip as his uncle/lawyer/mentor/acting coach whatever gives polished, arrest-side interview in a tweed coat and corduroy trousers (Bibis in Tamil Nadu are secreting enzymes).
By the evening news friends from his college in Mumbai describe him as a “gracious and kind chap,” “excellent at dirt dancing,” “fast bowler.” TRUE LIES screams the evening papers (Sahil Zahroo's story doesn't gel with the Maharjan family servants’ account, unfortunately). 
By 10 p.m., the  NDTV screen is  spilt three ways: poor Sahil Zahroo being bundled into a paddy wagon on one side, the tragic figure of Rahul Maharjan at his father’s recent cremation in the middle, and the very dashing New Delhi police superintendent, Sumit Agarwal, an officer with matinee-idol hair and moustache giving good news conference on the right.
“A cocaine and champagne mix is called a duet in Delhi party circles,” one socialite interviewee tells us. “Were it lethal...half of Delhi's high society would be dead,” she deadpans at the camera.

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