Some interesting anecdotes from a life lived among the ‘stars’ 

 Some interesting anecdotes from a life lived among the ‘stars’ 

Upasana Kaura

The opening lines of the Foreword by Ruskin Bond could not have fit better than the author of Hotel Adventures With The Stars – “L Aruna Dhir is one of those people who pop in and out of your life from time to time, like a ray of sunshine bursting through the clouds. She is quite irrepressible!” So true for someone who has not only been a PR and corporate communication specialist but also an author, YouTube host, poet, memoirist and of course, a recognised international hospitality writer.

From her maiden ‘first’ job at the Australian High Commission in India (she also worked and freelanced for a number of publications and dailies) to spending a major part of her corporate life as a Communication and PR professional at iconic hotels like The Oberoi, Hyatt and most importantly, The Imperial, Aruna has had the opportunity of brushing shoulders with some of the biggest names the world has ever known. And that too, over generations. As she mentions in Hotel Adventures With The Stars – “I have become a friend to Royalty. I have broken bread with Bollywood A-listers, sipped coffee with international stars, been knocked for six by the Indian cricket team, have taught Hindi words to globally-acclaimed authors in jest, savoured regular lunch dates with celebrated voices from international television, organised tennis and golf clinics with some living legends, had tea in the houses of others and turned a few celebrities into willing chefs at a hotel restaurant.”

The author has attributed one chapter each to a celebrity (or celebrities in some of them) where she talks about the experience, she had had with them. And there are 27 of these chaters! Of course, all of them come with a personal touch like it happened in the case of Bollywood diva Dimple Kapadia at The Oberoi. Aruna pens – “I noticed that she carried the weight of being a big Bollywood star rather casually. She was not even snooty and supercilious about her ravishing looks. That was a strong departure from scores of conceited women with half her beauty. The air around her was light and easy to breathe in as against being stuffy and obnoxious.” And how the Bobby girl gifted her handmade candles, which she (Aruna) still hasn’t had “the heart to burn them and have kept them as souvenirs” even after a decade-and-a-half.

In one of the chapters, writes about the bhidu of Indian cinema or as she calls him – Bollywood’s Golden Heart ie Jaggu Dada aka Jackie Shroff. This was when Aruna worked with the Delhi Hyatt. “For his simplicity, innate swank, originality, and humility, it is difficult not to like Jaggu Dada, as India loves to call him.” She reminisces even asking him – “How do you manage to stay so unwavering and rooted, Mr Shroff,” to which he replied, “It’s all a matter of perspective, Arunaji.”

The book details close encounters with legends like cricketer Kapil Dev, author Khushwant Singh, supercop Kiran Bedi, actors Shashi Kapoor, Sharmila Tagore, Shabana Azmi, Poonam Dhillon, Madhuri Dixit and Neha Dhupia, filmmaker Mira Nair, singer Shubha Mudgal, danseuse Sonal Mansingh and some more. The book also has a few other ‘stars’ sprinkled around to lend balance, though even these are legendary names.

Each of these chapters come with interesting anecdotes which leaves one wondering how could the author remember these incidents so well? Had she decided back then that one day she would compile these happenstances in the form of a book? Whatever be the truth, it is indeed an incredible effort.

Hotel Adventures With The Stars is worth a read, especially if you love Hindi films and actors. Surely, there would be so many of them who would have failed to make it to this book, but who knows they will find their way in the next one soon!


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