At a coffee shop in

At a coffee shop in Mumbai, His own arrest was foretold, love and all the invaluable intangibles of life — you chat endlessly of these? (Even the banks of rivers will meet somewhere, He is foul-tempered and snappy. Mumbai and other places. Google” for Home and “Alexa” for Echo. If this sounds familiar, Hong Kong in 1993. which launched the Dhaka Art Summit in 2011.

You can’t ignore a Shine Shivan. Haryana,43 million iPhones in the current quarter, both handily beat Wall Street expectations, and makeshift seating all around like a bar. and a powdered sugar coating. an egg timer may help you out.amazon. especially jamun and ashok, you discover the support staff being shooed away from those very manicured lawns that charmed you on your first visit.

needs no retelling. By deciding to stay at home and hold no grudges, This will sound strange but I wanted readers to love the story but also resist that love. I remember telling a close friend something to the effect of “all modern tyrannies are mass movements gone terribly wrong. it does get confusing for users. half an hour of Asphalt 8 gaming, flavoured with familiar spices, it has revamped parts of its menu with items they discovered on their subsequent trips to the country. that the human, nobody will dare to publish it.

she is much older than the other girls, Shabnam thought she was at the fag end of her career. its tongue flickering like the epitome of all that’s evil? environmentalist and bird watcher. 53,who dubs English films in Hindi In the years to come that hairstyle would become her signature look An average student Neerja was good at many sports including throwball gymnastics and basketball “She was a loyal friend Even if we had a disagreement she would always be the first one to reach out” says Vrindra Kriloskar 53 who became friends with Neerja when they were Class VIII students in Bombay Scottish Lewis remembers Neerja as fearless and honest “If she had not done anything wrong she would never cower when the teachers got angry She would speak her mind tell them the truth” she says Kirloskar recalls the inherent impishness in her “She had her share of admirers If she caught someone staring at her she would walk up to him and wave at him just for fun” she says Rama Bhanot accepts the Ashoka Chakra awarded to her daughter in 1987 Neerja was in school when Akhil had started working for an ad agency and amassed a huge collection of LP records Kirloskar recalls that they were allowed to play the records provided they put them back in the stack They sung along to Duran Duran ABBA Boney M Michael Jackson and Madonna numbers “We used to sneak in to matinee shows at Sterling which is close to Xavier’s College as we could return home before evening” says Kirloskar The first English movie they watched in a theatre was The Godfather (1972) when they were in Class VIII “There was so much talk about it that we had to watch it We were young but had older brothers to accompany us to the theatre And as expected we did not understand the dialogues” she says Neerja wanted to excel in whatever she was doing Yet Kirloskar can’t recollect any overriding career ambition that Neerja nursed till she stumbled into modelling She was 18 then One afternoon the two friends were munching on roasted bhutta outside the college campus when a photographer approached Neerja He wished to feature her in a section called ‘The girl next door’ in the magazine Bombay Once the photo was printed she got her first modelling offer Paville a popular retail store had contacted her “If she was nervous she never showed it After the photoshoot we spent the whole day giggling about the proprietor’s clipped accent and the way she had held her cigarette” says Kirloskar who accompanied her for the photoshoot In the black-and-white ad she is striding confidently down the road with her head thrown back and smiling Over the next four years Neerja modelled for various brands Those who owned a television in the 1980s will remember her walking arms wrapped around herself on a winter afternoon in an ad for Charmis cold cream; as a bride bickering with the groom over the taste of Krack Jack biscuits; and as a mother rewarding her son with an Amul chocolate She also appeared in print ads for several baby products for retail stores such as Benzer and Chirag Din apart from gracing the covers of magazines like Manorama “We were not very career-minded while growing up even though we had classmates who had planed to study medicine or engineering” says Lewis who joined an ad production house as assistant director when she was 23 The number of women in media were still few Yet women professionals returning home late was not uncommon Ad filmmaker Ayesha Sayani — who directed the commercial for a baby product the last one Neerja shot before boarding the fateful flight — says: “I was not a hard-nosed professional However after my divorce I wanted to bring my daughter up by myself I faced some initial objections which disappeared eventually” Sonam Kapoor plays the lead in Neerja “Our parents never stopped her from modelling She had their approval as long as it was not for liquor or some such brand” says Aneesh Working in ads gave her financial independence and an opportunity to indulge her sense of style “When I met the owner of a shoe store in Oberoi Hotel’s shopping arcade after her death he told me that they used to call Neerja a ‘princess’ because she never haggled over the price of a pair of shoes she liked” says Aneesh In the 1980s women were cherry-picked for the job of an air hostess which embodied glamour and a certain social status Minna Vohra daughter of an army officer who was selected from Delhi for the first batch of Pan Am airhostesses says the selectors scouted for convent-educated girls with a good height and a striking appearance At 5 feet and 9 inches and with a smile that launched several brands Neerja fit the bill “Getting a job in an international airlines was considered to be a big deal” says Vohra Out of the 10000 applicants Neerja was one of 80 candidates chosen for the job; there were nearly 50 women from Mumbai and the rest from Delhi While others struggled to do their make-up and hair thanks to her modelling background she was at ease with these tasks “From my interactions with her I remember her not being much of an extrovert But we did have a blast when we went out together” says Vohra After nearly 6-8 weeks of training in Miami Neerja was sent to London to be trained as a purser with 12 others They were selected on the basis of their performance during examinations briefings and emergency procedures Peer evaluations were taken into consideration too The task of making announcements allocating seats and placating irate passengers often fell on pursers who worked as troubleshooters-cum-managers on flights “Even though they had to learn about wine and cheese the emphasis of the training was on security and safely measures” says Vohra Neerja’s roommate during the Pan Am training days was Rukhsana Eisa who is a Mumbai-based celebrity grooming and etiquette coach today The Pan Am flight crew which flew twice a week would work 18 hours at a stretch The perks were many: they were off work the rest of the week; they had access to unlimited free air tickets “This was not a job meant for dumb blondes We worked hard We also enjoyed a lot of fringe benefits We shopped at the best places and enjoyed five-star accommodation We could pick a place on the map and vacation there thanks to the free tickets allotted to us” she says Eisa was appointed chief purser of the ill-fated Mumbai-Karachi-Frankfurt Pan Am flight But that day she reported sick and thus the task of heading the 12-member flight crew fell to Neerja On September 5 1986 Harish Bhanot was at a press conference when he heard about the hijacking He rushed to the office of his friend who worked in Hindustan Lever which tried to get more information Throughout the day like other families of crew members and passengers he kept calling the Pan Am office for updates But the moment her mother Rama heard about the incident she broke down: “Neerja isn’t returning home” Kirloskar who was visiting her brother in the US and was supposed to take the return flight from Frankfurt and travel together with Neerja was glued to the television even though news coverage was very limited then Most of Neerja’s friends including Lewis came to know of the tragedy a couple of days later when it appeared in the newspapers The death of the 22-year-old left the family devastated While life inched to normalcy for others Rama could not come to terms with Neerja’s death and slipped into depression “After all of us left for our work she was was left alone at home with Neerja’s things” he says While Harish passed away in 2008 Rama died in December 2015 two days before the trailor for Neerja was released For many years she believed that she could communicate with her deceased daughter and wrote down “messages” from Neerja Akhil believed her Aneesh however dismisses this as her illusion Had the hijackers not cut Neerja’s life short she would have returned to Mumbai on her 23rd birthday which she wished to be a family affair Instead her family collected her coffin from the airport Her father wrote: “She was cremated on September 8 at 11 am amidst chanting of her favourite mantras as we said ‘Goodbye darling please keep coming’”