If Delhi betted on the Commonwealth Book Awards in the same manner as London betted on the Booker, the jackpot this year wouldnt have been about the author who picked up either the Best Book or the Best First Book award. It would have been about whether Salman Rushdie, Indias most famous exile, would show up for the gala evening held last Friday.
The presence of Delhis finest khaki-clad defenders, fresh from their involvement in the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal, was a dead giveaway at the Oberoi Hotel. And yet, rumours persisted - justified by the fact that Rushdie sightings were commanding as much space as Elvis sightings in middle America. When it became clear that the worlds most famous author-in-hiding was actually on the premises, it set the tone for a feeding frenzy as camera crews used tripods to batter a way through to midnights messiah.