Sunday, June 20, 2010

The curious case of David Davidar

David Davidar, the publishing don, had quickly quit his job before his company was to fire him on charge of sexual harassment by his subordinate Lisa Rundle. An impressive line of writers, editors and publishers - most of them benificiaries in one way or other of Davidar's grand position in the publishing world -now stand by him. But is he really clean?

The point I’m trying to make here is that I’m not some outsider sitting on a fence and bitching because of some personal grouse. On the contrary. I’m being brutally honest and saying that sure, David had some excellent qualities. But he had some major vices too. And some were unacceptable. He drank way, way too much. He admitted to me that Frankfurt and London Book Fair were basically excuses for him to get drunk and stay sloshed for days on end, alongwith a group of other equally inebriated editors of major international houses who often pitched one another books and bought and sold one another’s pitches, sometimes for million dollar advances. He exulted in the sheer power he wielded and while he was always a thorough Gentleman in the best old-fashioned sense of the word, he also suffered from the classic Gentlemanly vices – a love for the company of other powerful decision-makers with fat chequebooks and money (not their own) to splurge as they pleased, a bottomless expense account, loads of alcohol…and, in David’s case, women. He loved women. He adored them. That was fine in itself, perhaps. But David had a problem: He fell in love with women at the drop of a spoon. He was always either in love with someone or other or had just been in love with one and was now in love with another…it was quite a mess. Everyone who knew David well knew this and while I can’t speak for the women he worked with, at least two other mutual friends that I know of – Dom Moraes and Jeet Thayil – were quite aware of David’s fondness for romance. He loved wooing women with roses and champagne, chocolates and nightgowns, candlelit dinners and long night drives. He lived for it. He was a man of big appetites and his biggest hunger was always for the romance of romance.

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