Of a Life Lived in the Limelight and its Loss

I am hardly ever starstruck. I would have been as a child, but as I grew up and my career path veered into journalism, meeting actors, sportstars and politicians, interviewing them on a regular basis, I lost that thing about looking up to anybody. Do you know what I mean? You see the people behind the personalities. Well, sort of. You see through one’s carefully cultivated veneer at any rate. But there are a few exceptions and one of them has been lost to us today. Who knows if Anthony Bourdain was a tortured soul. The man was certainly an urban poet.

I have never had the fortune of meeting him, but in the year 2008, which seems like some time ago, when I was 28 years old, when I had not yet met Adi, when life was a whirl of covering fashion shows, meeting chefs, and furiously digging for stories to produce at edit meetings, I did get to interview him through e-mail. Now I know how measly that seems. An e-mail interview, hah. But for someone who has always been an icon for me, a badass one, I was in the clouds. I wrote a small piece on this modern-day philosopher who took us places the way no one else did. The man who maintained this that “Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: To know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

I always had this secret notion that I would meet him. Someday. Somewhere. The world is unbelievably small and you never know who you meet around the corner. Do you have a small list of people you would really want to meet in real life, no matter how terribly it might dash your perceptions of the individual? Leonard Cohen was on my list. That never happened and it appears this shall not too.

The news made me think of an English professor when I was studying literature in college. He analysed the works of authors and poets like no one ever had for me. He was an odd one, this professor. But he was bloody passionate about English literature. If you think about it, it is the quirky ones who make an impact upon you. The disturbed souls. They know how to rent your thoughts, make you think of new things. Anyway, we were studying Somerset Maugham’s short story, The Lotus Eaters. In it the protagonist is a British bank manager who decides to control the fag end of his life after living it to the fullest on the island of Capri. It is a distressing story.

When we had arrived at the end of the story, the professor looked at his small batch of students and said on a sombre note, ‘From the day that we are born to the day we die, we have no control over anything. Have you thought about it that death is the only control we have over our lives? That we can choose when and how we end it. It is like writing your own end.’

I thought of him today morning when I got the news about Bourdain. Am I justifying the act of taking one’s own life? Hell no. But I cannot help empathising and this sorrow that wells up at the thought of one having to snuff out one’s own existence, as if not being in this world is the only way one can be.

So I can only say this, RIP Mr. Bourdain. You shall be missed.




  • The Cozy Pages

    A lovely post to share your sentiments. An e-interview seems to have been a delightful opportunity, especially for someone like him! At least you had that memorable experience. 😊

  • The Snow Melts Somewhere

    Interviewing him via email is a big thing 😊 I’m never shocked by celebrity deaths because I didn’t know them, it seems a it hypocritical sometimes to be more shocked by them than the kids dying in wars every day. Anyway, for some reason Anthony Bourdain’s death, and that it was a suicide, shocked me. And saddened me. He voted to go. I wonder if it was an impulse or calculated over a long period of time. On the outside, he appeared to be living life as he wanted… you never know.

    • dippydottygirl

      You are right about the fact that we do not know them. I hear you about the casualties of wars, for there is only deep sorrow for lives that are extinguished with no hope, but I do hope sorrow does not have to be exclusive. You got ‘voted’ alright. Who knows what goes on in the life of others?

  • InspiresN

    It is sad to read about the loss of lives in such a manner .People in limelight seem like they have it all, but may not be .It is wonderful to know that you got an opportunity to interview him and can cherish those memories.

    • dippydottygirl

      It is Nisha. Thank you, you are kind. A fleeting touch with the man who is an inspiration to me, no matter how it ended. The limelight is indeed never what it is made to be.It is a double-edged sword. xx

  • anotetohuguette

    The loss of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have left me feeling sad, not because of their celebrity but because of their humanness…what a lovely memory to have knowing that you connected with this urban poet in the world via words even if you were unable to meet him in real-time, thank you for sharing your poignant words!

    • dippydottygirl

      Dear Kim, it is a disquieting thing when people opt out of the race. You keep wondering what happened. For we will hardly know, shall we? But here’s to their memories and rich legacies. xx

  • Anu

    Very poignant Arundhati! Your email connection with the man you admired is yours for you to keep forever! I too was in awe of his life and his work and it is a sad day indeed! RIP Anthony Bourdain

  • Sheree

    It’s always terribly sad when someone feels that death is the only way to go. There have been two “celebrity” deaths this week, Bourdain and Kate Spade. No one knows what prompted these tortured souls and, of course, they won’t have been the only ones.

    That was a fitting tribute Dippy!

    • dippydottygirl

      Merci Sheree. It is a disquieting feeling indeed. Celebrity costs them much that we do not know about, it seems.
      You have a good weekend. xx

  • Osyth

    Don’t do yourself down – Bourdain wouldn’t have. You did interview him by email which means, put purely, you posed questions and he answered them. That is closer than most got to this extraordinary rich tapestried man. I too have worked closely with celebrity (whatever the hell that means) for much of my adult life and in the end you do become aware of the simple truth that we are all human. Anthony Bourdain took his own life. Who knows why. There will be theories and there will be questions and answers of those closest to him and there will be a sentence passed on his life. But the fact is that it is bloody tragic. Whatever the verdict he was loved and he has left a scar on the hearts he cared for most which I know will never heal. I wish him peace now. Because for a person to be so tormented and tortured that they consider and carry out a suicide that is surely what they are seeking. This is a beautifully written, gutsy, ballsy and eloquently gentle piece of writing. Go as gently yourself, dear DD.

    • dippydottygirl

      I hate the judgement and the thought of the sentence. It is not something that anyone wants to do – opt out. And we never know what pushed anyone to the edge. Who are we to pass a sentence on another who has given us years of brilliant work? Really Osyth, I am pained by his loss. He was and shall continue to be my role model.

      Thank you for your beautiful words.

      One of his quotes to sign off with. “I don’t know about ‘charmed.’ But I’m still here — on my third life or maybe fourth. Who knows? I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car — a really nice car — and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s nothing yet.”

  • Osyth

    I’m seldom lost for words but to be honest, I am finding this one particularly difficult to articulate. I will stop now because I will only spoil your remarkable tribute with clumsy affectations. xx

  • a mindful traveler

    The fact is you got to interview him, even through email. You had the opportunity to share something special with him and that you will always remember. It is very sad Arundhati. We just don’t know how others suffer deep down. He will definitely be missed. 🙁

  • restlessjo

    Sad and thoughtful piece, Dippy. Life can be hell sometimes but there’s usually hope. Who knows what was in these two heads but you can only wish them peace.

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you Jo. I hear you. How have you been? I have been pretty slow on blogging because I am trying to finish a book I have been working on for some time. Have you moved finally to the Algarve?

      • restlessjo

        Hiya hon. 🙂 🙂 No, not moving permanently till the autumn. Just come back from a week in Poland, visiting family, and am off to my daughter’s in Nottingham later this week. Then the Algarve for a week- just to make sure it’s still there. 🙂 Quite a lot of happenings in the UK over the summer so it’ll soon fly. Good luck with the book. Fiction?

        • dippydottygirl

          Autumn will be here in a jiffy. Time is really flying and I wish I could trap it in a jar. Poland is so pretty and the food delicious, especially their love for mushrooms. Where were you in Poland? I believe I saw Warsaw on your insta page.
          Algarve for a week sounds delightful before you move bag and baggage.
          Enjoy Nottingham, I have nice memories of it.
          The book is non-fiction. A travel book (no surprises). 🙂

          • dippydottygirl

            Zawady…sounds interesting and different from the usual Polish names? Our extra was Zakopane in the Tatras which was thanks to a wonderful cab driver. Okay, I am voting for summer to linger. xx

  • whatismaria

    It’s so incredible that you had the opportunity to make a connection with him. What happened is truly heartbreaking and makes you recognise how fragile life is – thank you for sharing your thoughts on such a complex topic xx

    • dippydottygirl

      It is a disquieting topic. Brings out such a range of emotions in people, isn’t it? Nothing is right or wrong though, I think. Anyway, thank you for reading and leaving this comment, love. xx

  • TheresaBarker

    Super-nice reflection on Bordaine’s death, Dippy-Dotty Girl! I confess my first thought when I heard the news report was, no matter how successful a person may seem from the outside, we never know what demons or what problems they may have inside. It makes me think about reminding myself not to take for granted the good things in my life which may seem mundane. 🙂

    … and, your story about the professor’s declaration that we can only control our own death reminded me that, for me, in the case of my son’s death and my mom’s near-death this Spring, these events were not under their control, and even though my son hoped for a “good death” in which he did not succumb to despair, at the end, when it came suddenly and unexpectedly after being profoundly ill from cancer, he fought to stay alive, he was angry and disconsolate, and in the end his life ended before he was ready. So, maybe death can, and cannot, be controlled, both at the same time, eh? :/

    I really enjoyed this post. Thank you for a peek at your experiences as a journalist and your thoughts about this sad and unfortunate event. 🙂

    • dippydottygirl

      Thank you for sharing your experiences of your son and mum, Theresa. It is all so terribly unfair. That all that lies at the end of a life lived over years should be cut short by this event called death. As for control, do we really have it? Do treat the professor’s thoughts as a supposition, for we can never be sure about anything in life. The day I am sure about anything, something happens gradually to overturn it. Nothing is constant it seems. xx

      • TheresaBarker

        Thank you, Dippy-Dotty Girl! I appreciate your kind message. 🙂 When I think back to 2013 before my son died and before I really realized what it was like for a beloved family member to die, in spite of all the interventions and medical assistance provided, I had a much different thought towards death. It had been only elderly family members who had passed on, at the more-expected time of life. I’m not sure what all that means, but again, thank you for your kind message! xx

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