Speculation is rife that Sir Salman Rushdie's recent overtures to gorgeous Bollywood actress Riya Sen may be a desperate attempt to make his estranged wife Padma Lakshmi jealous.
It is said that the 61-year-old master wordsmith has been unable to come to terms with being dumped by the India-born Padma a year ago. Based on sources close to Rushdie, the Daily Mail of Britain said the acclaimed author is far from over the breakup with the 37-year-old leggy former actress.
They say Rushdie is still obsessed with Padma and is absolutely desperate to make her jealous by being seen with this beautiful girl.
"Without wishing to give too much away, losing Padma put Salman in a very bad place that he is only now coming out of. He really crumbled after she left him, and I think he now wants to let her know that he doesn't need her any more," the British tabloid quoted an unnamed source at the heart of the publishing industry, who has known Rushdie for 25 years.
"Part of him might believe that as well, but I'd say he's being a bit over optimistic. Whatever he tells himself, he is still very raw at being thrown over by Padma," he said.
The report said that friends of the novelist are hardly surprised by the timing of the news of his dates with Miss Sen; or his parading of the string of other beautiful women who have escorted him recently.
According to the tabloid, they coincide with reports that Padma is being linked to 68-year-old Wall Street tycoon Teddy Forstmann.
Rushdie, who was forced to live in hiding for nine years after the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini pronounced a fatwa to kill him for his 'blasphemous' 1988 book 'The Satanic Verses', moved to New York from London in 2000 to be with the leggy Padma. But the marriage to Padma did not stop him squiring a host of gorgeous women to glittering parties on both sides of the Atlantic.
Apart from his dates with gorgeous Sen, Rushdie has also recently squired American paralympic athlete-turnedmodel Aimee Mullins to a series of parties in New York, where he keeps an apartment on the trendy Upper West Side.