Interview: Sunanda Pushkar at Her Mehendi Lunch in 2010
Masala.com had got exclusive pictures with Shashi Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar in Dubai
Dressed in a shaded lavender-purple sari, getting ready for her mehendi lunch, Sunanda Pushkar is anxious. No wedding jitters here (as she tells us with a laugh, "Shashi and I were married some days ago"). Sunanda's worried that she's kept her guests waiting for the lunch happening in her friend Raj Sahni's penthouse. "I hate to keep people waiting for me," she says.
Her husband, politician and author Shashi Tharoor is already at the lunch, so people keep coming up during the interview, asking her to come down soon as well. At one point, Anupam Kher, who's an old friend of Sunanda's, walks in, and they chat in Kashmiri (Sunanda is from Kashmir). A little later, her dad, who's not keeping very well, comes in. As they get talking, Sunanda chokes up a little. "I'm just emotional. We're all missing my mom (who passed away a few months ago)," she confesses.
But this is a happy occasion for the family. And Sunanda is a very happy bride as she chats with her designer Anjali Chandiramani about her trousseau and muses about being lucky to have so many good friends in Dubai. She's also a bride who's been so busy that she's barely had time to drink water. But she made the time to chat with Masala.com, and here's what the new Mrs. Shashi Tharoor had to say.
When did you first meet Shashi and what did you think of him then?
I first met him at a forum in Delhi. And I thought exactly what everyone thinks when they meet him – He's so d#%@ intelligent! I was very impressed.
What's he like as a person?
He's very kind, gentle, laidback, and very romantic. For our engagement, he read out a poem he'd written himself. And I thought that was just so romantic. One doesn't generally think of South Indians as being romantic, that's more what Kashmiris are known for!
How did he propose to you?
I wish I could share that. But he'll kill me if I did! He wouldn't be happy with me taking a lot with the media either. He feels I've been hurt too much by them.
What did you feel when the IPL controversy happened?
Nothing about my life was reported right. The media were so wrong, there was absolutely no research done. Even newspapers here in Dubai got my age wrong. They said I was 48, when I'm actually 45. And I found the attitude very wrong. They seemed to be saying - If you have a brain, you can't be good-looking . That's my ambition – to change that perception. You can be a good-looking woman and smart and make money. Not that I'm saying I'm very good-looking, but I think I look alright.
What's it like being a politician's wife?
Political life is tough. You have to understand so many people, and be kind and gentle to them. But it's work that brings a lot of satisfaction.
What's your relationship with your husband's family like? We hear you're learning Malayalam.
I'm learning Malayalam, I know a few words and phrases so far and I'm sure I'll pick up more as there's a lot of work to be done for the constituency in Kerala. I share a great relationship with my mother-in-law, though we're just known each other a few months. She told me, "Shashi finally has someone to organise his life!" And she knows I'm a devotee of Shiva, so she got me a Shiva pendant as a gift.
Do you wear a lot of jewellery? What's your personal style? Do you wear saris often, like you wore for your wedding in India and are wearing now?
Now that I'm a politician's wife, I will be wearing saris in public. But I would never give up my jeans. I'm actually totally not into clothes, much as I look like I am. It takes me five minutes to do my face and two minutes to wear a sari. In fact, I have sorted all of Shashi's wedding reception outfits but still haven't decided on what exactly I'll be wearing.