‘I am not that human being, who will abscond.’ So said ‘flamboyant tycoon’ Subrata Roy Sahara in a statement issued before his arrest in Lucknow yesterday for failing to repay billions of bonds to India’s small investors.
Though his arrest made national ‘news of the day’ (Roy’s remand and the prospect of the Indian tiger ‘losing its stripes’ in a further economic slowdown), Roy himself seems not of our time.
His moustache belongs in a wartime wardroom – or perhaps the members’ lounge of a post-war Home Counties golf club; his (surely) dyed black hair is bouffed up for an American boardroom in the 1970s; and his way with words – see above – is based either on elderly Hindi phrases, or the Anglo-Indian habit of learning English like it’s Latin (in Britain this tradition died out 50 years ago), or both.
As for the broad lapels on the black sleeveless jackets he likes to wear over short-sleeved white shirts and a company tie, they are as anachronistic as the gull-wing doors on a DeLorean; though less likely to drop off.
Of mockery an almost too easy target I am, as Roy might have said of himself. Except he almost certainly wouldn’t say it because saying it of himself implies a level of self-consciousness in keeping with the widespread Western selfie-ishness which he himself seems barely conscious of.
Yet for all his gaucherie there is something incontrovertible about Roy – a substance that comes from employing 1.1 million people in his Sahara conglomerate (hotels to aviation). More than a million people earn their living from being in his employ; enough to make his being a matter of fact, rather than the subject of speculation, self-examination or some other ‘First World‘ trait.
Compared to the unbearable lightness of being a Londoner – living on thin air and thetiniest share in a bubbling property market – goofy, bouffy Subrata Roy is a world heavyweight.