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1644/25/04 NYT Article on Rushdie's Marriage

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  • liquidmice
    Jun 23, 2004
      WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS: VOWS; Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie
      Published: April 25, 2004, Sunday

      WORRIED that you have been wasting time reading celebrity profiles?
      Don't be. The path to true love may be paved with glossy pages.

      This, at least, was the experience of the author Salman Rushdie.
      When he was in Italy to promote his 1999 novel ''The Ground Beneath
      Her Feet,'' a publicist
      gave him a copy of Panorama magazine. Although Mr. Rushdie was on its
      cover, he
      became absorbed in a profile of an Indian actress and model, Padma
      Parvati Lakshmi, who
      was sufficiently fluent in Italian to be the host of ''Domenica In,''
      a popular variety show
      on Italian television, and the star of two films.

      Mr. Rushdie, born in Mumbai, said he was proud to see a fellow
      Indian doing so well.
      Since his third marriage was ailing at this time, he also admitted
      that the comely
      photographs of Ms. Lakshmi made him think, ''If I ever meet this
      girl, my goose is

      Perhaps a goose prepared tandoori style, since yogurt and garam
      masala are frequent
      ingredients in Ms. Lakshmi's cookbook, ''Easy Exotic: A Model's
      Low-Fat Recipes From
      Around the World.'' A native of New Delhi, she spent most of her
      youth in New York and
      graduated in 1992 from Clark University in Worcester, Mass., where
      she studied theater.

      ''Padma is a born entertainer,'' her mother, Vijaya Lakshmi,
      recalled. ''Even back in
      elementary school talent shows, we had to drag her offstage.'' Ms.
      Lakshmi, whose family
      name is also the name of the Hindu goddess of prosperity, and Mr.
      Rushdie met on Liberty
      Island in August 1999, at Tina Brown's launch party for Talk
      magazine. Ms. Lakshmi saw
      Mr. Rushdie there and said hello. To her surprise, he began talking
      about all he had
      learned of her from the magazine.

      ''This couldn't be Salman Rushdie,'' Ms. Lakshmi remembered
      thinking. He seemed to her
      more like a distant uncle whom ''my mother had bragged to all about

      Though the chat lasted all of five minutes, their attraction was
      such that they exchanged
      phone numbers. ''She is a mirthful person, which made her immediately
      more attractive,''
      Mr. Rushdie said.

      Future rendezvous would have to wait, however, as the next day Ms.
      Lakshmi was
      embarking on a tour to promote her cookbook. Over the next month they
      phoned each
      other frequently, sometimes five times a day. ''Salman is very
      charismatic,'' she said. ''I was
      taken with him before I could even admit it to myself.''

      When her publicity tour ended, they spent a giddy afternoon in
      Central Park. Ayatollah
      Ruhollah Khomeini's death edict against Mr. Rushdie, issued in 1989
      after the publication
      of his novel ''The Satanic Verses,'' had been lifted, and the
      bridegroom recalled that it was
      blissful to walk about so freely.

      ''Because we hadn't spent any time together, it seemed ridiculous to
      think we were falling
      in love,'' Mr. Rushdie said. ''But we were.''

      At dusk on April 17, the couple exchanged vows before Howard A.
      Levine, a retired New
      York Court of Appeals judge, in an enormous photo studio overlooking
      the Hudson River.
      Rose petals were scattered on the floor, tabla drums and sitars
      played classical Indian
      music, and Ms. Lakshmi wore a two-piece purple sari that left her
      torso bared from the
      sternum to well below her navel.

      So dazzling was her appearance that it caused an explosion of cheers
      and wolf whistles.
      Nearly convulsed with laughter as she walked down the aisle, Ms.
      Lakshmi swatted the
      heads of several guests with her hyacinth bouquet. The nonreligious
      ceremony included
      Indian customs like an exchange of toe rings.

      Afterward, nearly 250 guests -- Ismail Merchant, Julie Taymor, Jay
      McInerney, Lou Reed
      and Diane Von Furstenberg among them -- enjoyed a buffet of Indian
      delicacies that
      included a seafood curry of the bride's own creation.

      ''They have a very alive relationship,'' explained the comedian
      Steve Martin. ''And she finds
      him funny, which, trust me, is very important.''

      ''Padma and Salman's is a marriage of sense and sensibility,''
      agreed Tina Brown, ''though
      when they met, it seemed a coup de foudre.''

      Dinner was punctuated with humorous speeches, including one by the
      bridegroom, who
      noted that each of his new wife's three names was shared by powerful
      Hindu deities.
      ''Three goddesses in one,'' he concluded. ''How could I pass this up,
      even if I am an

      Published: 04 - 25 - 2004 , Late Edition - Final , Section 9 , Column
      2 , Page 1