Author: Danielle Lussi
Sitting on a dark velvet chair, I am surrounded by twinkling, sparkling figments of light. The light refracts off the silver in the ornate lobby, in what once perhaps functioned as the drawing room. I have been here before, but nevertheless cannot contain my curiosity and inspect black and white photographs of the Kennedys, the Mountbattens, and of course His Highness Maharaja Sawai Padmanabh Singh of Jaipur.
I pause on the last photograph, for although it is black and white, it is less than a year old. Time stands still in this historic room full of commemoration, yet years are already flashing by as memories continue to be added. It seems like just yesterday that the His Highness, or “Pacho” as his friends call him, turned eighteen and gained sole responsibility of the extensive Jaipur royal family estate – in actuality, it has been nearly two years.
A ray of light bursts into the dark room and snaps me out of my reverie. A head pops in to alert me that guests have started arriving.
I have attended a Suján Rajmahal Palace party in the past, so thought I knew what to expect. No, no – expect the unexpected. If 1,000 candles were lit last year, the number must have been tripled. Candles adorning the lawns, candles shimmering in the pools, candles dangling in the trees, candles seemingly hovering in thin air.
As usual I assume my position ‘gliding’ around the party (that ever paddling swan) making sure that everything is in order. Normally there’s a glass here, a stray plate there, a candle or three has blown out – but this time, at this party – not a single glass nor candle is out of place. I’m at a loss. What on earth am I meant to do when the host team has it all in order?!
I gaze around in search of a guest in need, a champagne flute to clear, or a crisis to avert. Instead I find a buzzing crowd, tongues quietly being lubricated by French wine and Scotch whisky.
To my left, I see the High Commissioner and his wife, Lady Asquith, discussing the recent British Army polo team victory in Delhi with coach, Col Simon Ledger.
To my right, Indonesian actress Nikita Willy is deep in conversation with none other than the Keeper of the Quaich himself, Peter Prentice. How he managed to get a glass of Royal Salute whisky into her hand in the first five minutes of the party I’ll never know.
Kathy Kendrick, former head counsel for Dreamworks and a great ally of Steven Spielberg, is chatting with the young Maharaja, Pacho, about the stir he and Reese Witherspoon’s daughter, Eva, caused in LA with their opening waltz at Le Bal in Paris last month.
Scanning past the pre-production talks, I see the Vice President of Walmart Asia, Dalad Tantiprasongchai, animatedly arguing over the pros and cons of private aviation travel with Andrew Thomas of VistaJet. Fingers point as they indicate where exactly would be best to land your helicopter on the model of the Chelsea Barracks development.
CEO to CEO, Mr Jaisal Singh exchanges words with Mr Ben Vestey of Britannia Elevation who is just introducing Mr & Mrs Singh to Misan Harriman & Camilla Holmstroem. The quintet immediately vault into the subject of content amplification in the digital age and the effects on the luxury hospitality industry.
Finally, the young, beautiful, and entrepreneurial round out the mix. The local ladies, fur clad and bejeweled, swap fashion startup tales and compare stones with Lady Violet Manners, London socialite, model, and fashionista. Hot topic of the evening was whether Amrapali Jewels or Gem Palace ruled the night.
Eventually, the music abruptly stopped and the voice of British Polo Day came booming through the speaker:
“Would everyone please make their way to the Maharaja’s Apartment for the after party.”
Guests who had told me they were turning in for the night suddenly found a second wind, interest piqued by the after party location. What is the Maharaja’s Apartment, where is it, how do you get there, will it fit us all?
The train of guests soon found themselves parading past elegant and brightly papered walls of 51 Shades of Pink and the turquoise Polo Bar, before wandering down the endless corridor leading to the entrance.
It’s rude to stare and unbecoming to gape, or so my mother taught me. But in this instance, mouths dropped wide open at the sight and expanse of the suite. The entryway leads to the living room, just past the dining room, which leads to the drawing room, which leads eventually to the master bedroom and marble bathroom.
Music is soon pumping from the decks and pouring through the 3,126 square feet of space. Before I know it, my hand has been snatched up and I am being spun like a top into a never-ending twirl. Swing dancing, Argentine tango, the Irish jig and Indian Bollywood – you name it – someone owned those steps in the living room of the suite.
The rest of the evening, well that is history. Who saw the sun rise? Who took the classic car for a spin? Well, that is for me to know and you to find out. Come to Jaipur, throw your dance card to the wind, for at a British Polo Day, you never know who you might meet, but you sure as hell will have a great time. See you next year Suján – I just know that I won’t be able stay away.