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A chance encounter

Meghna Mukerjee chances upon Grammy awardee Ricky Martin at a five-star hotel in Kolkata. Excerpts from the chat.

music Updated: Mar 26, 2008 13:14 IST
Meghna Mukerjee
Meghna Mukerjee
Hindustan Times

Meghna Mukerjee chances upon Grammy awardee Ricky Martin at a five-star hotel in Kolkata. Excerpts from the chat.

I think it is going to be just another day, hanging around in the lobby of a five-star hotel, waiting interminably for a press conference to begin, toying with my cell phone until a foreigner approaches me and asks in broken English, "I’m on vacation here. Can you tell me nice places to visit?" I look up and my mind goes blank.

Trivia: Ricky Martin

In November 2006, it was revealed Ricky Martin had sponsored three children in India.

He has recieved popularity worldwide and helps the poor.

Ricky Martin is Puerto Rican.

He turned down a role in West Side Story playing opposite Jennifer Lopez.

He has received a humanitarian award for his charity work.

He played Marius in Les Miserables on broadway for six months.

Source: Wikipedia

Because the handsome, thoroughly tattooed man in front of me is Ricky Martin. Yes, you read that right; he of Maria and Cup of Life and Livin’ la vida loca fame, he of the delicious smile, whose posters I used to collect a decade or so ago.

Gaping a bit, I take a while to be certain that the man in faded denims and a blue T-shirt is, indeed, the Grammy Award-winning Puerto Rican. He smiles warmly as he realises I’ve recognised him, and asks me my name, though he has trouble pronouncing it ("Me-gha what?"). I tell him my baarir naam, an alien concept for him, but at least it’s easier to pronounce.

“How do you have two names?” he asks. Now that needs detailed explanation, not that I have a problem. However, noticing the urgency of his companions, I say, “That’s common in India.” Questions race through my mind. What’s he doing here? What’s he been up to work-wise? Martin puts some of the queries to rest.

“No concert, on vacation here,” he says, smiling that smile. Touring other parts of India is on the agenda. “Nothing certain yet. I’ll go with the flow,” he says. What’s happening on the music front? “Working on a few things,” he says. No details. As his friends move towards the exit, I sense the conversation coming to an end.

“A picture?” I ask, flourishing my cell phone (thank god for technology). He is glad to oblige and his friend clicks the photo. I muster up courage and ask him for five minutes more, maybe an interview?

Fatal mistake. The moment he hears the words, “Actually I’m a journalist…” his smile goes from sweet to saccharine and he reiterates firmly, “I’m on vacation.” That is that. I mumble a ‘thank you’. Martin and friends courteously do a namaste and move out to a waiting car. I stare for as long as it is polite. I think I’ll hang around in five-star lounges quite often from now on.