Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our soup will never be the same again

[Sabina in happier days; California]

Fight till the last gasp
~ William Shakespeare
English Dramatist, Playwright and Poet

I’ve never seen someone carrying pearls as gracefully as Sabina Saikia Sehgal. I first met her a couple of years back at a party the Saikia’s hosted at their beautiful Defence colony villa. You couldn’t afford to ignore her in any setting. Sabina wore huge glasses and a huge pearl. I soon realized that beneath that overweening visage, there was a beautiful human being. She was exceedingly warm, cordial and she laughed out loud. I ate prawns that she had made and it was the best shrimp I’ve ever had.

I met her on many occasions that I went to see my editor at the Saikia‘s. Each time she would floor me with her generosity. Sabina was pretenseless and I really admired her for that. I think the geniality, grace and glow came only naturally. I was surprised to learn that she read my blogs: ‘I liked the blog post you wrote for your mom,’ she told me. I never hoped I’d some day have to write an obit for such a brilliant journalist.

I’ve seen a very few people so full of life. A globe-trotting writer, food critic and consulting editor of the Times of India were just one shade to her. She also was a wonderful mother to her two kids and a loving wife to Santanu, her journalist-turned-dot com entrepreneur hubby. Sabina’s friends would vouch for her amity. As a pro she had such a fierce reputation of being India’s best -- and ruthless -- food writer that restaurateurs would fear her weekly column. Yet, in private, she was so kind.

I shudder to think how cowardly it must have been to shoot her?
Did she laugh one last time? Her loud guffaws would often draw people to her. No wonder her funeral saw an ensemble of the crème de la crème of the capital. I had the Delhi chief minister standing to my left and fashion designer Rohit Bal to my right. Complete strangers sobbed as her pyre was lit. I’d tears in my eye.

It feels so sad to lose her. Newspapers are replete with tributes. I’m being told that she was one of the finest food connoisseurs in the country. I’m sure she will raid heaven's kitchen and savor its famed manna and nectar. And then rate it. Without fear.

Sabina will be dearly missed.

Sabina Saikia Sehgal
[Sabina was killed in the terrorist attack at Bombay’s Taj Mahal hotel]