| FEMME FATALE: Fatima Bhutto at her book launch in London
Beautiful Fatima and her London launch
You are beautiful, journalist-turned-novelist Henry Porter compliments Fatima Bhutto by way of opening his on-stage interview with her in London.
Fatima, who will be 28 next month, also laughs easily and has a sense of humour which accentuate the Bhutto glamour.
After her tour of India, Fatima has come to the UK to publicise Songs of Blood and Sword.
It strikes me you are much older for your age and that is because you have lived a very varied life, adds Porter.
Fatima appears prepared for all likely questions, principal among them being, Was your aunt, Benazir, responsible for the murder of your father, Murtaza?
The answer, according to Fatima, is yes, Benazir did authorise her brothers assassination on a dark night in Karachi on September 20, 1996, and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, was also complicit in the killing.
Compared with India, what is different about Britain is that the audiences here contain a significant proportion of Pakistanis who desire an audience with the Bhutto princess. They want to know her policy on this, that and the other. How will she go about getting justice for her fathers murder?
This is what I am doing for justice, she replies, pointing to her book.
Fatima makes it clear she is a struggling journalist who will keep the money from the book sales and that she has no intention of going into politics.
I tried to be very open and honest in the book and so that should automatically disqualify me from any politics, she quips.
The book cover emphasises that Fatima is Granddaughter to Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, executed 1979; Niece to Shahnawaz Bhutto, murdered 1985; Daughter of Mir Murtaza Bhutto, assassinated 1996; Niece to Benazir Bhutto, assassinated 2007.
I have no intention of being the fifth member on that list at all, she declares.
When a Bangladeshi introduces himself as coming from the enemy camp, Fatimas little joke produces laughter and applause: When you said you were from the enemy camp I thought you were going to say you are an aide of Asif Zardari.
| His, hers: Lord Meghnad and Lady Kishwar DesaiIn
Kishwar 1, Meghnad 2
Kishwar Desai laughs when I ask about the dedication in her debut novel, Witness the Night, to her husband: For Meghnad, for dreaming up a wonderful life together.
Hes dedicated two books to me, so I have to catch up, she says.
That should be easy considering Witness the Night, which she began as a short story, was completed in a month. In the sequel, Simran, one of the novels main characters, will come to London.
Simran is a no-nonsense social worker who takes up the case of Durga, a 14-year-old girl accused of killing 13 members of her family.
What made Kishwar write the novel was a case in West Bengal in which a young girl was charged with poisoning her entire family. Its been haunting me for some time.
Before she married the economist Lord Meghnad Desai in 2004 and became Lady Desai, Kishwar Ahluwalia came across many cases of abused women when she was the anchor and producer of Women at Work on Doordarshan.
We are like sponges, she observes.
When friends read Kishwars novel, set against the backdrop of female infanticide in India its our most shameful secret they were taken aback to detect the rage behind her words.
They think of me as a sweet person not an angry bone in my body, she remarks.
Kishwars father, a man of liberal inclinations, was a police officer who served in Punjab, Haryana and Kashmir. Kishwar is proud that Mallika, 27, her daughter from her first marriage, is an independent spirited woman studying at Harvard Business School.
Following the launch of her novel in India Shabana Azmi did the honours in Bombay Kishwar is promoting the book in Britain where she has appeared on Womens Hour, a BBC Radio 4 programme which highlights cases of oppression of women in India.
As Kishwar points out, India can handle its dark side being held up to international scrutiny: India is today a confident country.
Once upon a time, foreigners everywhere learning English looked to English English as the standard form of the language (that is, until American soaps conquered the world). But the advent of IPL and viewing figures in the UK have rocketed from 4,90,000 on day one to 7,00,000 on Good Friday is creating a new form of Indian English.
This is not a reference to Hinglish but the use of a question to emphasise a self-evident truth.
For example, as Sachin gathers another boundary by effortlessly piercing the field, a voice will chirrup: How good is that?
So infectious has the practice become that even Australian and other foreigners are adopting this style of speaking.
As we see the ball soaring into the stands, the answer will again be in the question: How high is that?
The Raj will have inflicted an innings defeat once we hear commentators in England making similar observations: How fast is that?; How clever is that?; How quick is that?; How brilliant is that?
Is IPL coming back?
Now that is a genuine question.
Obviously were delighted with its success on ITV4, I am assured by a spokeswoman for the network. We cant comment on future rights deals, Im afraid.
Mandira Bedi, incidentally, is rebasing in London for the climax of IPL3 after a break in India.
How good is that?
|In memoriam: Poland bids goodbye
to the crash victims
Poland by candle light
Poland is a very special country whose politics has long been softened by candle light. Last week people all over Poland, which is also a deeply Catholic country, lit candles as the bodies of their president Lech Kaczynski and his wife Maria were brought back from near the forests of Katyn in western Russia.
This is where their plane had crashed with 96 on board. It was also near here that the cream of Polish society was buried in mass graves after summary executions by Stalins secret police 70 years ago.
I first became aware of Katyn during the 1980s when Poland, then a reluctant member of the Soviet bloc, was in the grip of the Solidarity uprising led by Lech Walesa. On one visit I felt I had been ushered into a secret world when my translator took me on All Saints Day in early November to the municipal cemetery on the edges of Warsaw. To see the night lit up by a million candles and the leaves of the trees quivering in the rising heat was a magical sight.
Then I noticed a brave but risky anti-Soviet act by a solitary Polish soldier. He strode up to a makeshift wooden cross inscribed with the word Katyn knelt down for a few seconds and then vanished quickly into the night.
|The big debate: (Left to right) Nick Clegg, David Cameron, Gordon Brown
After the first live debate in the UK between Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, Labour, Tory and Liberal Democratic leaders respectively, Indian television executives, too, will probably ponder a similar exercise.
Sonia versus Mayawati? Mamohan vs Advani? And, for the most searching analysis of the election issues, Mamata vs Buddha?
How good is that?