1644/25/04 NYT Article on Rushdie's Marriage
- Jun 23, 2004WEDDINGS/CELEBRATIONS: VOWS; Padma Lakshmi and Salman Rushdie
By STEPHEN HENDERSON
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
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
Mr. Rushdie said.
Future rendezvous would have to wait, however, as the next day Ms.
embarking on a tour to promote her cookbook. Over the next month they
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
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
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
noted that each of his new wife's three names was shared by powerful
''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