Of Prufrock and an exclusive club — Tarun Tejpal’s virtuosity

Eliot’s poem finds new meaning in a proposed club in Delhi.

By Rajiv Theodore

NEW DELHI: “Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky,’’ so wrote T S Elliot as an expression of his own anxieties in the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. Comic and fussy-sounding, the name “Prufrock” seems to combine echoes of “prudishness” and the “frock” of a priest (suggesting primness, religiosity, or abstinence). But today the name Elliot gave in his literary anguish to his poem has nothing to do with the original at all as it  has now found its way into the murky world of property dealers and newspaper editors alike.

As the noose around Tarun Tejpal, the editor-in-chief of Tehelka magazine tightened over allegations of sexual misconduct with a junior colleague at a jamboree in Goa recently, it seems the quest for power simply brings together strange bedfellows.

Tejpal had come together in 2012 with the late Ponty Chadha, the liquor baron who had a huge real estate empire, to set up an exclusive club for urban Indians to be called Prufrock – which in the Tehelka founder’s own words (in an email invitation) to prospective members encapsulates “a vibrant cultural space, where a highly accomplished, eclectic community of select urban Indians can meet and engage in an atmosphere of great intimacy with eminent people who make and shape the world.”

The Chadha Group had decided to invest in the venture in 2012, before Ponty was assassinated. As of now, son Monty is taking the Rs. two crore investment ahead, as work on the club is on in full swing just a few blocks away from the Tehelka office in the swank Greater Kailash area of the capital. The proposed club, whose members would presumably belong to the elites from all walks of life, would have three floors catering to the mood of the eclectic conversations that could take place.

The club has been conceptualized by the Think team, the same members who happened to be at the helm of affairs at Tehelka spearheaded by Tejpal. The Think festival organized at Goa was the venue where allegations of sexual harassment has been leveled against Tejpal.

If the lid did not come off Tejpal’s conduct at Goa, almost everyone in the loop would be clapping at the concept of ‘’Prufrock’’ which apparently strives to create an invaluable opportunity to listen to those who wield power like the politicians, the business types, the spiritual gurus and social activists in the ultimate quest to build India through the medium of conversations.

And yes, if Tejpal the fire-brand editor, the man who stung those who wronged was not exposed in Goa, the plot of ‘’Prufrock’’ could never would have felt so absurd.

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