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When Fighter's Hrithik Roshan impressed a city editor: stories from communicator L Aruna Dhir's memoir 'Hotel Adventures with the Stars'

L. Aruna Dhir, a seasoned hotel and hospitality communications professional, has recently released her memoir ‘Hotel Adventures with the Stars.’

The memoir features 27 encounters with well-known faces. Some of the people Dhir has met include the ever-elegant La Tagore, politician and animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi and the inimitable Jackie Shroff.

Jackie Shroff with Dhir's book, Hotel Adventures with the Stars

Check out the account of one such meeting with Fighter star Hrithik Roshan in Delhi's Imperial Hotel.

Read on:

"It was an overcast day in the middle of the Delhi monsoon in 2003. The greenery outside the Imperial lobby looked verdurous and bewitching. I was glad that I was working the Lobby on this day.

I did not always like walking around the lobby.  I despised it. While I loved my role as the chief brand custodian and head of PR & Communications - every little or big thing about it; I did not like some parts that got appended to the larger role. Attending events (not designing and managing them, mind you, because that bit I enjoy) was one, and the other was making my presence felt in the lobby to meet in-house and visiting guests.

On seeing me in the lobby, ST, who was the restaurant manager at The Spice Route, approached me with a big smile.

Now ST was known for his networking skills and would work his charm both on internal and external customers with so much ease. An extremely zestful, guest-oriented resource, ST was liked by most people, whom he effortlessly befriended.

This afternoon, with a twinkle in his eye, ST spilled his enthusiasm, saying, “Ma’am, I’d like you to come and meet one of our very famous and extremely regular guests.” I asked him who it was, but he only grinned to keep the suspense alive for some time. As we were about to enter The Spice Route, he told me it was Hrithik Roshan.

Upon finding out that I was in the restaurant, the irrepressible Chef VA, the reigning Lady, and Mistress of The Spice Route kitchen, came out and gushed to me about her favourite guest.

Hrithik Roshan was accompanied by his then-wife, Sussanne Roshan. They were still married at that time. The two were seated on a table placed midway on the left-hand side of the restaurant, close to where the aesthetically carved fishing boat from Kerala was installed.

I was a little conscious as Hrithik and Sussanne seemed to be warming up for lunch. But both VA and ST insisted that he would not mind it at all. So, chaperoned by my very capable and eager colleagues, I inched towards the table where the Superstar was lunching.

Hrithik was dressed in a moss-green coloured T-shirt with highlights in a darker green shade, worn over a pair of jeans. He had donned an olive green-greyish cap, perhaps as a partial camouflage from people who would recognize him instantly. I don’t recall at all what Sussanne wore, but she made quite an impression on me with her congeniality and her sparkling smile that stayed lively and unpretentious for the length of time I spent with the couple.

As I shook my hand with Hrithik, he got up from his chair. I thought to myself what a fine, well-mannered gentleman the star was. “Lovely to meet you,” said to me, the Adonis of the Indian film world. “Likewise, Mr. Roshan,” I beamed.

“Please, it is Hrithik,” countered one of Bollywood’s most famous stars with innate good-naturedness. We coaxed him to sit down, and he obliged with some hesitation. Chef VA, obviously proud of her famed guest, chirped gleefully, “What would you like to have today, Beta? Or should I prepare your favourite?”

I recall they agreed upon Phad Thai Chae and Kaeng Kung – Tiger prawns cooked in Thai yellow curry – among a few others, and Chef VA proceeded to the kitchen.

With ST hovering on the sidelines, I talked to Hrithik about food, films, and his fans. He spoke about how he loved the fare at The Spice Route and tried to visit it each time he was in Delhi.

Despite the cap that hooded his look and stubble that was days old, Hrithik looked as handsome as he does on the screen. But what stood out more was the normalcy and niceness his personality exhibited.

There was no attitude or affectations, no strutting about or snootiness, no rude pomposity or rushing me out of the conversation. Fame seemed to be saddled casually but comfortably on his square pectorals.

“You head the PR for the hotel? You must meet a lot of interesting people,” Hrithik said to me.

Close on the heels of a chance meeting with an international Rock Deity, and not wanting to contain the excitement, I spluttered out the story to the debonair Greek God of India’s tinsel town.

“Yes, several Hrithik! I was extremely lucky to meet Paul Simon a few days back.”

Hrithik Roshan’s attention rose, and I went on to share the funny episode about how I got to meet the Rock Star.

When my phone rang in the middle of our conversation, I was not very pleased about it. But SB, the city editor, was on the other side, telling me he was sorry about being late but had now arrived at the hotel. For once, I was happy that my guest had been late for our meeting.

I excused myself from the lustrous company to receive my luncheon date for the afternoon.

Coincidentally, I had made reservations at The Spice Route for my lunch meeting too. SB and I were seated in the row of two seats in the area that follows through straight from the main entrance. I mentioned to SB about Hrithik and his wife being there at the restaurant, and then we got busy talking about other things.

A couple of hours later, as I dined with SB, the extremely polite and sociable editor of a leading city supplement, Hrithik came to my table to exchange a few more pleasantries and thank me for my hospitality. Having enjoyed their saporous meal, both Hrithik and Sussanne were leaving, and he wished to bid me goodbye.

I don’t think I had signed off his check, but the dashingly polished gentleman wanted to come by and express gratitude because he had enjoyed a fine lunch. We joked about the magic in Chef VA’s hands, expressed pleasure about our interaction, wished each other well, and hoped to meet again soon!

Such was the sense of familiarity and amiability that the editor felt I had known Hrithik for a long time. The moment Hrithik Roshan left, and I sat down, SB asked me with a sense of awe, “How long have you known him for? You both seem to be good friends.”

When I told him that I had met the superstar for the first time that day, he was even more astonished. We talked about how delightsome, genuine, and friendly the megastar had come across as. We rued about how a lot of them are too full of themselves and are blinded by their popularity; and how Hrithik was so refreshingly different.

Hrithik Roshan, the enchanter of Bollywood, with his chiselled looks and top-notch abs, his green eyes that smile and speak, his locks of hair that are entrapments for a zillion hearts, his nimble footedness, his intelligence, his boyish charm and manliness, his half-grin that could light up a stadium and his genuine amiableness make him the rightful contender to be Bollywood’s sexiest Prince.

Sexiness, it so appears, is far beyond looks and personality, wealth and acquired style. It rests lightly on the shoulders of those who have it and tempts from afar those who don’t.

Sexiness is intrinsic, it is a bestowed endowment, it is a way of life and thinking, it is how you let others shine even as your reflection sparkles.

And I think Hrithik Roshan has the formula down pat!"

L. Aruna Dhir is an international hospitality writer, brand management specialist, author, and poet.

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