Age no bar

Lawyer Harish Salve with his wife Caroline Brossard during their wedding ceremony in London

Harish Salve married his woman friend at the age of 65. It’s never too late to do a good thing

It’s time to look at some famous, successful people marrying in the seventh decade of their eventful life. Recently, renowned lawyer Harish Salve, 65, got married to Caroline Brossard, 56, in a church in London, which was described as an “intimate affair due to Covid restrictions”. Brossard is a London-based artist.

Technology came in handy. Last week, many of Salve’s friends made it to his wedding online. Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, chairman of the Reliance Industries, joined the ceremony online, and said in his speech, a video of which is doing rounds on the social media, “I look forward to seeing you and all your friends, this is the same set of people we met at Gleneagles. I hope we don’t allow you to go so easily with a virtual piece. Like your best man said, you better shell out all the money.”  Salve is the counsel for Reliance.

The wedding was first reported on social networking sites much before it flashed on the media. One of the earliest people to share pictures of the wedding was veteran journalist Sheela Bhatt—the caption read: “The love story, 2020. Super lawyer marries his girlfriend in London.” To which Sanjaya Baru—a political commentator of repute who has served as the media advisor and chief spokesperson in Manmohan Singh’s PMO—retorted, rather wittily, “Once bitten, twice why?” Baru was referring to the “irreconcilable differences” that lead to the recent divorce of Salve from Meenakshi, his wife of 38 years; they have two daughters – Sakshi and Saanya.

A baptised Christian, his father, NKP Salve was a Congress leader, his grandfather PK Salve a legal luminary. Also, a chartered accountant like his father, he started his legal career in the early 1980s. He is now a leading lawyer, also had a stint as the solicitor general; his famous clients include Salman Khan, Vodafone, represented India before the International Court of Justice in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, and earlier this year Salve became a member of the Queen’s Counsel in England and Wales.

While Brossard is of French-Spanish descent, she has a Master’s in Fine Arts from Chelsea School of Arts and looks much younger than her age. She lives in London and is the mother of an 18-year-old daughter. It’s a new innings for both of them and 15 guests present at their wedding wished them the very best.

 Harish Salve with his wife Caroline Brossard during their wedding ceremony in London

One of the friends of Salve, in his late 50s, who was in London but was not amongst the select 15 guests at the wedding, says on a WhatsApp call from London, “Older people marrying always intrigues me,” and after a long pause adds, “It’s not only about love and companionship.” He has his own set of experiences that help him arrive at this conclusion.

He refers to some famous couples who either have a big age difference or were well past their prime when they decided to tie the nuptial knot. Actors Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu, Salman Rushdie and Indian-American model Padma Lakshmi, Nobel laureate VS Naipaul and Nadira—the list is long.

While Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu’s, as the latter claimed on many occasions, are made for each other, not all have had a similar experience. “And it’s safe to say, age is a factor,” he says, rather diplomatically. He pointed to the recent memoir by Padma Lakshmi Love, Loss, and What We Ate where she is not particularly appreciative of her former husband Salman Rushdie—23 years older than her.

One of the things she writes about her former husband is him being “needy” sexually and recounted in detail how he called her a “bad investment” after she didn’t reciprocate his sexual advances.

Rushdie returned the compliments in his more recently published memoir, Joseph Anton, describing her—his fourth former wife—as “Millenarian Illusion” who was ambitious and celebrity–seeking and that he was enamoured by her beauty as she “seemed to contain his Indian past and his American future” and she was “capable of saying things of such majestic narcissism…. her moodiness was unpredictable and extreme.” People get vicious about their former spouses, and age is no bar.

VS Naipaul’s wedding to a 20 years younger Pakistani journalist, Nadira, was a famous one. This was after he had spent 40 long years with his first wife. Nadira seemed protective of her husband and would escort him to various public events during the latter part of his life. Patrick French, who wrote Naipaul’s authorized biography, The World Is What It Is, contrasts Naipaul’s genius with his often brutal behaviour toward his wife and his mistress: “Why do artistic gifts seem to come at such a high relational cost? When does playing the muse, the hovering and ever-facilitating female presence, mutate into something more psychologically disturbing? Does the proximity to fame compensate at all for the pain and humiliation of such relationships? Would Naipaul’s first wife or mistress have been happier had they never met him or were they both in their own ways doomed to a downward trajectory? And, perhaps less-obviously, does a roller-coaster ride of intimate relations offer a life of excitement that may mask deeper questions and qualms about oneself, one’s existence?”

Culinary historian Ashish Chopra married Prescilla Zinyu, 15 years younger than him, seven years ago at the age of 51. “Marriage at this age is more about emotional compatibility and companionship,” he says, stressing that, “women mature faster than men—it’s a biological fact.” He thinks that age is not a big factor that needs to be overemphasized, “People are together because they like being together—and as long as they like to be together.”

Like Issac Asimov, famously wrote in his book The Sensuous Dirty Old Man, “We must not be taken in by the myth of youth, the unending propaganda to the effect that young men are younger than old men; that they are better looking; that they are slimmer, stronger and more athletic; that they can hold a girl in more romantic fashion and speak more sweetly.”

Here’s wishing Harish Salve and Caroline Brossard a long, happy married life!

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