The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Love, at first sight and even now

London, July 27 (PTI): Describing Salman Rushdie as a “fabulous conversationalist” and a “great friend”, model Padma Lakshmi says she fell in love with the controversial Indian-born novelist at first sight.

“It was love at first sight,” the Chennai-born US-based model and cookery writer — who plays the lead role in Boom, a film financed by the Hindujas — said in an interview published in the Evening Standard last evening.

“I am pinning much hope on its success,” Lakshmi said about Boom.

Recalling her first meeting with Rushdie four years ago at a star-studded New York party to launch the now defunct Talk magazine, Lakshmi said: “I was just fascinated. What he means for Indian literature — for an American it would be like meeting Hemingway or Faulkner.”

Denying reports of their separation, she told the Evening Standard she and Booker Prize-winner Rushdie share a Manhattan flat and are still happy together. “I have a job of my own and it requires that I travel. I have a place in Los Angeles and he’s got a place in London, so we’re rarely in the same place at the same time. It doesn’t work out always... Any couple will tell you that it’s hard.”

Asserting that she has no doubts about her compatibility with Rushdie, Lakshmi refuted the flurry of rumours that he had dumped her because she was insufficiently intellectual. “He’s a funny man, he’s very kind, he is a great writer, a fabulous conversationalist and a really serious and hands-on father. He’s a great friend.”

About her not being adequately intellectual, Lakshmi said: “I’m an educated woman. If you want to talk to me about the best nail polish I can do that, but if you want to talk about Proust, I can do that, too. I don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive.”

She said she is flattered that the heroine of Rushdie’s latest novel Fury was explicitly modelled on her. “When someone like that takes you so seriously, it makes you take yourself more seriously.”

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