Mumbai, Jan. 27: Don’t cry for me, Mumbai, she almost said.
Rather, it was Valerie Trierweiler who seemed ready to cry for India’s malnourished children after a trip to a hospital’s paediatric ward.
The outgoing French first lady had arrived in Mumbai on Sunday — hours after President Francois Hollande announced the end of their relationship — accompanied by presidential bodyguards, a privilege that would end after she returns home on Tuesday.
But she will go back having seemingly found a new cause.
“I will continue to fight against (child malnutrition). This trip has been in the works for months. I would not have missed (it) for anything,” she told a news conference called to announce the launch of an anti-hunger charity in India.
Trierweiler avoided any mention of her changed status till a reporter asked her about her future life. For a moment, her composure seemed breached. But one quick flip of her ginger locks, and she was back.
“I don’t know (the future). I have time; there are some years to come in my life. I will see bit by bit. For now I am not foreseeing anything. In any case, don’t worry about me,” she said.
Earlier, Trierweiler and her actress friend Charlotte Valandrey attended a buffet lunch thrown by socialite Chhaya Momaya, where they met some of Mumbai’s most influential ladies.
“She was overwhelmed by the warmth and feeling of sisterhood at the cosy get-together,” said a member of her entourage.
“Valerie won everybody’s heart with her warmth and simplicity. She stood in a queue, plate in hand, with everyone else,” said Momaya, whose husband does business with one of Valerie’s friends.
The guests included actress Kareena Kapoor, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray’s wife Rashmi, top lawyer Zia Mody, assisted reproduction specialist Dr Firuza Parikh, the Essar Group’s Gayatri Ruia, Rajiv Shukla’s wife and Ravishankar Prasad’s sister Anuradha Prasad.
“When Valerie walked in, she was a bit conscious. So I made a small speech saying that everybody in the room saluted her, for, despite the upheaval she had gone through in the past few weeks, she had still honoured a commitment to come to India to support an anti-hunger campaign,” Momaya said.
A member of Trierweiler’s entourage repeatedly recounted Momaya’s welcoming lines. But it wasn’t the only time the French guest was left overwhelmed.
At the lunch and at the news conference at the Taj Mahal Palace and Hotel, as she repeatedly recalled her meeting with the malnourished children in Sion Hospital, Trierweiler wore the shell-shocked expression that charitable westerners often display during India trips.
Yet, as Trierweiler told The Telegraph, this was her third visit to India. “I came to India first as a journalist, then with President Hollande as first lady. This is my third,” she said.
Trierweiler, invited to the city by the Fight Hunger Foundation (supported by the Action Contre La Faim charity of France), told her hosts she enjoyed the trip.
“She even found a great hairdresser,” said the entourage member, referring to Parwane, the Taj hairdresser who counts Nita Ambani and many first ladies among her clients.
Trierweiler will be back soon — a Fight Hunger Foundation source said — and may make that trip to Calcutta she so wants to. Provided no one gets into her hair with personal questions.