The Ball room of the posh hotel was brimming with people, mostly members of the Madras Book club and some invitees of the publishers known for bringing out books by the dozen and holding their launches which are normally accompanied by cocktails which act as a greater attraction than the books, not withstanding the celebrity status of the writers. But the turnout at Shobaa De’s book launch apart from the members constituted some young celebrities as well and the photographer rushed to click them. The event was preceded by Tea and the launch was scheduled at 7 0’ clock but there was no sign of the author until much later.Kamini Mahadevan of Penguin tried to act as a filler by quizzing the audience about the author’s age, the number of books she had written, her columns and the reasons for readers liking or not liking them. After a point she could not hold their attention and the quiz went flat and some senior members left, perhaps they thought they had better things to do. Not that others didn’t have and did not become restless, but they preferred to sit back and complain in whispers about the scant regard the author had for keeping to her schedule. Meanwhile Kamini who appeared to keep track of the author’s progress to reach the venue reiterated the delay was due to the traffic jam which Shobaa De wouldn’t have anticipated. Finally as it was nearing eight, Kamini excitedly ran up to the mike announcing, ‘here is the good news, Shobaa De has just arrived and will be with us in two minutes’ and the celebrity author breezed in with folded hands repeating all the way to the stage ‘I apologize for the delay, it was not due to any traffic jam but entirely my fault of bad timing’ and the sincerity with which she said won the appreciation of the gathering. (It reminded me of an earlier occasion where Shoba Dee arrived late which was attributed to the flight’s delay but never a word of apology was expressed by her).
Then the conversation between Vidya Singh, a celebrity in her own right and Shobaa De started in right earnest which brought out the essence of ‘Sethji’, though a work of fiction is close to real situation prevailing in today’s country.
n.meera raghavendra rao