My friend Ira is a lovely person. You’d like her, if you ever met her. She’s got all the old fashioned virtues of kindness and warmth and trust—stuff that no one seems to have anymore. BB and I had made it our mission to find her someone (the occupation of bored monogamous friends everywhere, I think) and were very pleased and curious when she announced to us a couple of months ago that she had “met someone”. It sounded like the meeting of your dreams—well, of our dreams anyway—you’re in a bookshop, you look up, make eye contact with a man and before you know it, you’re chatting away about books and life, and you’re making your purchases together and he’s taking down your number and it’s all very rom-com.
His name, he told her, was Anirudh Aiyar. He was a former vice president of something or the other over at Goldman Sachs in New York, now back in Bombay to set up a graphic novel publishing house. HIs education was impeccable—Oxford, LSE, Harvard Business School. He had a huge apartment in Breach Candy, which you could only enter with an access code and was a member at all the right places. We all met him, over the course of the next couple of weeks, Ira had never looked so happy, and he said all the right things. Except when he didn’t. The first time a little red flag popped up in my mind is when I tried to bring the conversation round to publishing—you know, this new industry he wanted to be a part of—not only was I shut down immediately, he also didn’t seem to have heard of Persepolis, that graphic-novel-for-non-graphic-novel readers. That was weird.
Then, it just started getting more and more fantastic. I began to notice that while he spoke about his $14 million settlement from Goldman Sachs, he never seemed to have any cash. He spoke about buying three cars—a BMW, a Porsche and a Jaguar—and went everywhere by rickshaw. He said, “You should all come over to my house and look at the Raja Ravi Varma’s I’ve acquired” and no invitation followed. Sure, he had pretty pat excuses for everything—a psycho ex fiancee had apparently broken into his house and cut up all his credit cards. She was also the reason he couldn’t keep his cellphone on. Or the reason he couldn’t party in South Bombay (“The press might see me”). Then his interior designer eloped, leaving his flat half done. Then, the ex trashed the bathroom of the Bombay Gymkhana (where he had put her up) and he had to pay Rs 2.5 lakh to have it fixed and was on probation so he couldn’t go there anymore.
I wasn’t the only one to notice all these little discrepancies. Ira noticed them too, but by then, she liked him a whole lot and was willing to take his excuses into consideration. When he kept breaking dates with her however—dates that involved fancy restaurants and not just sitting in her flat—she decided to call it off. And that was around the time that we discovered that Bombay Gymkhana? Has no rooms. A friend played detective and looked him up on the Willingdon club members list: he wasn’t listed. We all Googled him in vain, but apart from a Facebook profile (from where this photo is) and one defunct LinkedIn one, it was as if the man didn’t exist. “How is it possible?” I asked Ira, “If he is who he says he is, and also it’s almost impossible to not have a web presence these days.” No search results came back from the Oxford website either.
And through it all, he kept promising Ira that she’d see, the proofs would follow,etc etc. To give her credit, she did cut off all contact with him, until he emerged a couple of weeks later and told her he was dying. An old spinal injury had come up, a carbon injection had to be shot into his spine. Ira was terrified and heartbroken, she stayed in contact with a “friend” of his, who gave her updates via email. At one point, the friend said, “The heart monitor has stopped, it’s all over”. Imagine receiving that news. Imagine the regret and guilt you’d be filled with. But no, he didn’t die, he came miraculously back to life, she got him from the hospital the same day and didn’t question why he didn’t need any post-op care. Then, when she had more questions, his heart needed a something or the other. Then it was his brain. Finally, he told her he had 72 hours to live.
Ira’s a pretty smart young woman though. “Enough”, she told herself, and set about doing some research. And she had just received an email from an old colleague asking if she knew anyone called Anirudh Aiyar. Apparently, he had walked into an office in Marine Lines, told them he had just returned from the US, and all his bags had been stolen and he needed 500 rupees to get to the airport. He had offered his Facebook page as proof, and lo and behold, there was Ira listed as a common friend. This is when she called it off (FOR GOOD) and I went with her to go retrieve her things (we didn’t think it was a good idea for her to stay in her flat for a couple of days). There he was—Mr I’m-Dying-In-72-Hours—looking none the worse for wear, except a little haggard. In the next 24 hours, Ira systematically checked out every single story he told her about—and surprise, surprise, they were all completely false. The scary part? He had done this before. The ex fiancee had been a similar victim.
Here’s what we know about this man: his prey is educated young women at bookstores or coffee shops. He knows his lies—he can talk convincingly about Harvard or Oxford or whatever. He speaks well and is well read. The reason I am posting this, with Ira’s full blessing, is that we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Whatever information you might have on him would be a great help, and if you think any of your friends fits the above description of a girl he might meet, then please, send her this post. I have seen my friend go through very great pain and I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. He is, in short, an emotional leech and a con man. I haven’t put ALL the details in this post, partly because it would take too long, and partly because it’s not needed, but trust me, it’s pretty bad.