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PM Rajiv Gandhi of India at the Waldorf Astoria

A Waldorf Story by Jaswant Lalwani
1985

I first set eyes on the magnificent Waldorf Astoria in 1971 while I was a student at Columbia.

I had read and heard about it throughout my childhood in India, but little did I realize that I would be dining there one day. The seminal moment was meeting a friend at the iconic 1893 World’s Fair Clock in the gracious lobby and then dining in Peacock Alley.

It was obvious from the first moment that one was part of history. It seeped into your every pore, and you felt a delightful frisson which remains with me to this day.

Little did I realize in those first moments that I would be associated with The Waldorf in a very special way years later.

In 1985, when PM Rajiv Gandhi of India was in NY and staying at The Towers, I was asked by his staff to help host the one social evening available; it had to be at The Waldorf. I remember with nostalgia and excitement the enormity of the task ahead of me. The event went off very well and PM Gandhi was personally delighted.