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Royal Romance
Text by Devanshi Mody
Published: Volume 17, Issue 5, May, 2009

The Yuvraj of Alsisar, Abhimanyu Singh, princely playboy and the finest catch in Jaipur and ‘army brat’ Sanyukta Kumari get engaged at a right royal ceremony. Devanshi Mody reports

Abhimanyu Singh is a 23-year-old lively imp of a boy whose head teams with a million inspired projects to enhance the family’s fleet of heritage hotels; whose lips play a perpetually mischievous smile, the sort you would associate with the boy Krishna and whose hand ever brandishes an ultra sophisticated telephone, or even a couple. Abhimanyu Singh is very much the man about town (whichever town he may in, which might be quite a few given that the family runs heritage properties all over the place). But in Jaipur, where he lives at Alsisar Haveli, he has quite a reputation for being the dashing, debonair party animal, the Prince Charming of all Princes Charming. I begin to tease him about whether the new title has surged his endless supply of girlfriends, and he smiles enigmatically.

And announces, “I’m going to be engaged in two weeks.” A million maidenly hearts broken, a billion raj mathas’ match-making intentions dashed, a trillion princely bachelors’ relieved sighs that finally, the thorn in the path of their romantic aspirations has been removed…. But could this be? Just a year ago, Abhimanyu Singh had intended to long play the field, a veritable Krishna amongst the gopis of Jaipur, and marriage was to be an eventual eventuality when the family properties required a responsible bahu to oversee them. I ask if his parents, distressed about him being crowned a princely playboy, decided his romantic reputation required rapid alteration.

Quite the contrary. He reveals that for some time there had been activities within royal ranks to furnish this most eligible Rajput with a suitable bride. Even the likes of HH Gaj Singh II of Jodhpur (close family friend of the Alsisars) had intervened in this matter. But then, his father, also called Gaj Singh, wondered why one of Abhimanyu’s childhood friends, who had been there under their noses all along, could not make for the perfect match.

Abhimanyu Singh cannot contain his excitement as he describes his future bride. She looks like a supermodel, just slightly shorter than his strapping 6 feet 3 inches. She is modern but respects tradition. He tells me unabashedly that he is in love and cannot wait to be married. Sadly, owing to some astrological impediments, their engagement will be a long-drawn, two-year affair. His fiancée looks at the situation otherwise. We are en route to fetch her from her home and he tells me that she is responsible for the simple but sophisticated décor of their house. “She has style....” And indeed she does. She is shy and reticent. But her attire (slim-fit jeans, jumper and smart scarf) leaves little doubt of her assertiveness. She is not your purde mein rahene do type of conservative Rajput girl who spends her life behind a veil and her husband’s shadow. Yet, the one unmistakable symbol of Rajputana tradition flashes cheekily – her nose ring. Not in the least incongruous with her sartorial flair, it adds rather piquantly to her over-all allure.

Sanyukta Kumari is the face of contemporary Indian royalty. She is also the very spirit of it, I learn over coffee. At 23, she prettily counterbalances Abhimanyu’s impetuousness. And why does it not surprise me that he is the one who is learning to cook. Asked what she thinks about the swift engagement she reveals that she is still trying to come to terms with it. And she is relieved that the wedding won’t be for two years. She needs the time to make the necessary adjustments… Her priority is graduating from Delhi’s NIFT where she is doing a course specialising in leather. She has strong and independent views about fashion (and intrepidly pooh-poohs another well-established royal designer whom she feels over-uses his lineage to sell his line…). Whilst she is happy to assist her future husband in his ventures (and there are many), she will contribute in her own way. For instance, if he were to open a boutique hotel then she might design an all-leather suite with a heritage twist.

An army brat, she has unequivocal views on how India should deal with terrorism in general and with the border menace in particular. She is a girl with a mind of her own, but not in any rebelliously unpleasant way, for she is nothing if not grace incarnate. I can understand young Abhimanyu’s enchantment with her. His eyes betray he cannot have enough of her. Her eyes look down, as if she has not noticed the homage. My eyes flit from one to the other. I decide two is company, three is a crowd...

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