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Self narration of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor

Self narration of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor

My first marriage was a very dark period in my life. Everyone’s saying Sanjay Raina divorced me, but that’s not true, I divorced him. It was a very painful relationship but I don’t want to go into that. It’s over; he’s moved on, I’ve moved on. I was 19 when I met him and very innocent. My dad was in the army and I had a very protected childhood. I was always sorry for the underdog. My family and friends used to teasingly call me Mother Teresa. I was helping flood victims in Ambala in grade six. When I was in Jesus and Mary Convent, I used to work with abandoned and physically challenged children at an ashram. There was a blind and spastic kid there who was particularly attached to me. No one wanted him because he wasn’t very nice looking, but I used to bathe and feed him. Curiously, many people spoke badly of Sanjay, saying he was strange. Maybe in the beginning that is what drew me more to him.

But the marriage was a big mistake. I was totally unprepared for the worst. ‘The media said, why should the Kochi team pick me? As a woman am I not good enough?’ Soon after we got engaged I told my father I wanted to break it off. I had realised Sanjay and I were very mismatched but my father wouldn’t listen. For Kashmiri Pandits, if you got engaged, you had to marry; we’d never had a broken marriage in the family. Mine fell apart within days. I had a really tough time getting a divorce in Delhi. It was a very lonely time. My parents didn’t want me to divorce even though they knew what was going on. Looking back, I understand them now, but I felt very abandoned then.

The truth is Sujit rescued me. He gave me the strength, as a friend, to quit a very painful marriage. But he was dating another woman; I was just a friend. I got my divorce in 1988 and went off to Dubai in 1989. I married Sujit in 1991; my son Shivy was born in November 1992. If I had left Sanjay over Sujit, why would I have waited that long to marry him?


My husband died in an accident in Karol Bagh in March 1997. Again, it was a very dark time. Sujit was a financial consultant and he had run into some financial trouble. I disagreed with many of his business decisions at the time and after his death I got several threatening calls from his creditors. But that was less important to me than the fact that after his death, Shivy suddenly stopped talking. It was very strange, he probably got scared. He was barely four. There was so much to do — papers and fresh visas to be sorted, debts to pay. So I left him with my sister-in-law and, later, my parents for a few months. I keep asking them, someone tell me what happened to him because when I went to pick up my son, he had stopped talking. I took him to Dubai but in those days there was no concept of speech therapy there. I began to look for the best affordable health care and that’s how I hit upon Canada. I moved there to help my son. I had been doing pretty well at work, but I didn’t have that much money to spare. I was supporting my parents, supporting my brother through engineering college, trying to pay off Sujit’s debts.

Yes, we were wealthy till the trouble began in Kashmir in 1989. We had orchards and a lot of land. But after ‘89, my family suffered like everyone else. Luckily, they were wealthy enough that they didn’t have to go live in a tent. But I did help them financially to find their feet again. They couldn’t afford to put their son through college — because of those donations and capitation fees. I did all that.

When I came to Dubai for the first time I worked in tourism. I had ideas about dhow cruises and dune dinners — much before Emirates Holidays even existed. Our accounts included Philippines airlines, Romanian airlines, Brazilian airlines — so I had lots of corporate clients. After I married Sujit, I got into events. Sujit and I did only one event together which went badly.

I started my own company called Expressions with four or five people. We began to do many model shows for product launches. Everyone does it now, but it was a complete trendsetter then. I did 13 shows with Hemant Trivedi, shows with Rhea Pillai, Vikram Phadnis, Aishwarya Rai. When the Gulf War started, we did big fund raisers for the ‘We love Kuwait’ campaign.

After a while I got a great offer from an ad agency called Bozell Prime. I handled many big campaigns for them — Wella, Hersheys, Chrysler cars. I did big multi-million dollar events for Modern Pharmaceuticals. That was the most beautiful time of my life. But after Sujit died, I gave up Bozell for Shivy. In Dubai before I went to Canada, I worked with Ravissant.


In Canada, I had to start from scratch. I’d literally gone there with a suitcase and my child. But you know, Shoma, I have never taken my resume and looked for a job.I have always felt I can carve a niche for myself on my own terms. I’ve always been an entrepreneur that way. So for a while, I did many odds and ends. Then some friends in New York — two doctors who are still among my closest family friends — suggested I get into the IT sector which had just begun to boom. Everyone was looking for computer engineers from India, so we tied up with companies like Compaq and head-hunted in India for them. I’m proud of bringing up my son by myself. I am a great believer in Shiva and the idea of karma.

Just as our IT business was booming, 9/11 happened. This hit us bad and we had to shut shop. There was four months of anxiety and no work. We were cleaned out financially. That’s when I got into Emotional Intelligence. It was the latest thing in Canada those days. I did a course and joined a company called Noble House International. We started something called Human Potential Reengineering. [sighs] We did lots of programmes for banks like Royal Bank of Canada and ABN Amro in Miami, Amsterdam and Geneva. It was fun but I was not earning enough.


Then in 2004, Best Homes offered to send me to Dubai to set up their operations there in real estate. If I think about it, real estate runs in my blood. More than buying and selling, I love developing properties. I love the blueprint stage, the planning and the zoning. So I came back to Dubai in August 2004 as general manager of Best Homes and worked on a big project with them.

Dubai had changed completely. My friends had all become rich and powerful; there was a completely different buzz. But Shivy was not very happy and I was just planning to go back to Canada and start again, when I was offered a job by Mohamad-bin-Ghalib of Tecom to work on an International Media Production Free Zone. This was one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever worked on. We had to plan publishing zones, convention centres, hotels, schools and hospitals over 44 million square feet of land. Then I was offered a position that the company usually only gives to locals — I had to sell land to Gulf nationals. Everyone thought I’d fail because I didn’t know Arabic. But as one of my bosses said about me, “She can sell sand to the Arabs and ice to the Eskimos!”

I think I’m pretty well to do. I drive a Range Rover. My son has a driver and a Ford. I live in a decent apartment because I don’t want to live in a villa and have the headache of a garden and stuff because there’s just the two of us. I have a cook and a domestic help. I own two 3-bedroom apartments in Jumeirah Palm. I also own a beachside apartment in Jumeirah Beach Residence, and I have two apartments in Executive Towers. I only live in this rented apartment because it’s close to Shivy’s school and his friends live around here. I also have my house in Canada and some land in Jammu. In my family, everyone calls me ‘Didi’ — even my father — because I am the person everyone turns to for help. I was always the ‘boy’ in the family. I never even had a doll as a child.

I don’t really want to talk about Shashi because everything I say will have some repercussion for him. He is a public figure, I am not. But I met him about two years ago through a friend called Sunny Varkey, and we got along immediately. We are certainly close now, but that closeness only developed less than five months ago. I am very proud to know him because, most of all, he is a good and honest man.

There were three people in politics that really created hope for millions of Indians across the world that even clean men can join politics — Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi and Shashi Tharoor. 


Iron lady opposes Sanskrit week vs dhoti-clad judge’ entry in Cricket Club TN banned as in Dubai Metro

Iron lady opposes Sanskrit week vs dhoti-clad judge’ entry in Cricket Club TN banned as in Dubai Metro


Taking strong exception to CBSE's Sanskrit Week celebrations in schools under its ambit next month, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa today said it would be appropriate to have organised a 'Classical Language Week' in each state based on its linguistic heritage.


Utkarsh Naithani@utkarshnaithani

@SriSriSpeaks: Babasaheb Ambedkar wanted to make Sanskrit our National language so that the common man is not kept in the dark.” One day...


"Vande Mataram", the National Song of India, eulogizes India as a Goddess and glorifies Indian patriotism in a beautiful manner. Originally designated as the Indian National Anthem, the song, rather its first paragraph, was later given the status of the Indian National Song. Penned originally in Sanskrit by Shri Bankimchandra Chattyopaddhay, the song was written in 1876 and quickly became an inspiration for the Indian freedom fighters following its appearance in the ace novelist's Bengali novel 'Anand Math' (published in 1882). 


300-year-old Sanskrit work by German released in Belgium

* “No wonder, that the Kural has been read, studied and highly praised in the land of its origin for centuries, but also found many admirers in the west, ever since it has become known.” - Professor M. Winternitz, Sanskrit Scholar, Germany



The iron lady of Poes Garden is up in arms about a dhoti-clad judge of the Madras High Court being denied entry into the premises of the Tamil Nadu Cricket Association Club, and has pointed out in the Assembly that the issue of wearing dhoti continues since the DMK regime.


Meanwhile, the first Bench of the Madras High Court has said that it cannot interfere with the bye laws of private clubs. The court said this when a public interest writ petition from advocate S Karthik of Chromepet praying for a direction to the Tamil Nadu Government to formulate regulations in the functioning of clubs in the state and take appropriate legal action against various clubs in the city.


Will Follow Govt Instruction: Srini


Tamil Nadu Cricket Association president and chairman of the International Cricket Council, N Srinivasan, has said that the association would accept whatever recommendation the government and the Chief Minister provided regarding the dress code at the TNCA Club.


Related article:

Cambridge honored Dr. Singh to close door on Sanskrit, Hindi

Media reported to day Aug 04: DubaiA 67-year-old Indian man stopped from entering the Dubai Metro, apparently for wearing dhoti.

Dhoti-clad man stopped in Dubai Metro: Why we forget to wear dhoti?




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