Shabby gates and a dust-filled construction site is
all that you will see if you drive past Singhi Palace, Gariahat,
It makes one wonder if this is really the place that will host the
wedding of Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri to her boyfriend of two years, Time journalist Alberto
Vourvoulias-Bush, two days hence.
The gates lead into an open-air, rectangular-shaped, stone-paved
enclosure. Even this area does not assuage one's doubts.
It's well past noon and three workers are asleep on wooden planks.
Wooden beams have been carelessly piled on one side. Numerous white,
carriage-topped food stalls are aligned haphazardly each other in
another desolate corner.
Abutting one side of the rectangle is a hall with stained-glass windows.
Within, an ornate ceiling rubs shoulders with fancy chandeliers andglass paneling. There are some velvet-cushioned, very wedding-ish
seating places resting against the walls.
At one end of the room is a raised dais with two noticeably plush
chairs; this, obviously, is where the bride and bridegroom will be
seated. Also piled precariously piled on the dais are a bunch of cane
"That's where the mandap for the wedding is." The voice belongs
to a toothless diwan who ostensibly guards the place. He gallantly
offers the not-so-grand tour of the wedding hall.
"The flowers will come tomorrow and the decorations will go up then," he
says reassuringly. "There's some lady called, (screws up his face in
concentration) Lahiri, Jhumpa Lahiri, getting married here on
A wide array of huge pots, pans and stoves have been ensconced in a shed
turned makeshift kitchen at the back of the hall. The only unusual sight
is a green house cheek-by-jowl to the shed. My self-appointed guide nods
in that direction. "That's where Singhi sahib stays. He's the
owner of this place and gives out the area for weddings."
Feeling reassured that THE wedding is taking place here and Singhi
Palace will get into its act, I bid my farewell. Although I know that I
am going to be back again for another visit. On January 15, 2001.
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda. Design: Lynette Menezes.
'Alberto has taken to Bengali food in a
'She's paranoid that the media will take
over the wedding'
The Man Jhumpa will Marry
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