#MeToo: Suhel Seth held the back of my neck and pushed me down to his crotch

Oct 13, 2018, 09:45 IST | mid-day print correspondent

An anonymous fashion writer looking for work in London recounts an evening from 2012 and a humiliating few minutes inside Suhel Seth's London hotel suite

#MeToo: Suhel Seth held the back of my neck and pushed me down to his crotch
Suhel Seth

TimeI was almost through with my masters degree from London's Central Saint Martins, and hell-bent on seeking work experience there. Seeing my eagerness, my father requested his employers, one of India's most prominent industrial families, to help with contacts. I was told to meet Suhel Seth.

Having worked in the fashion industry for close to a decade, I was aware of Suhel's reputation with the ladies. In fact, he had made a pass at me at a fashion week party earlier in New Delhi. Thankfully, a colleague had rescued me from the interaction, and that was that.

I couldn't get myself to share my apprehension with my father, and decided to meet Suhel. This was in February 2012. I told myself that he wouldn't dare act fresh with me again, considering he knew I was coming via a reference from a prominent family.

Suhel responded to my introductory email thus: 'Darling: Come to the Taj 51 Buckingham Gate reception when you arrive this afternoon at 3 pm. I will be waiting for you there... (sic)' Fancy address, I thought, and decided to splurge 15 quid on a black cab. We had a quick chat at the hotel coffee shop where he hurriedly rummaged through my resume and published work, and spent the rest of the time inquiring about what I wished to do here on, my experience of having lived in London and whether I had a boyfriend. He had to fly off to New York the next day, but he assured me that we would meet again to discuss work possibilities.

It was a pleasant interaction, and I returned feeling a little in awe of this maverick, and less discouraged about my chances of finding work in London. A few weeks later, we met again. But this time it was at a party he had thrown at a plush suite at the same hotel. He was to introduce me to the illustrious set and possibly get a career started in London. A personal elevator brought me to his door where he was standing. He took me to the living room, sat me down and made enquiries about my family.

The party started soon after and was attended mostly by women. I felt comfortable. His reputation of being a great host was bang on. With a glass of malt-on-the-rocks in hand, he personally attended to every guest, offering them Indian cuisine and bubbly. It was a good party brimming with conversation and laughter.

He then said he wished to give me a signed copy of his book, Get To the Top, and led me to another room. He sat by the edge of the bed, and signalled me to sit, too. While he was talking, he suddenly pushed his tongue into my mouth. The stench of malt was overpowering. I pushed him away. He held the back of my neck and pushed me down to his crotch. I stumbled, but got back on my feet and mumbled, 'I can't. I am going to throw up'. I gathered myself and walked out of the room. The eyes of the female guests were on me, as if to say, we know what happened in there.

I downed a glass of water, still holding the signed copy of his book. I was alone, and in a country that wasn't home. I spent the next few weeks calming my mind and heart. Strangely, he continued to interact with me on mail and text about possible work assignments. Neither of us brought up that evening again. Until today.

Also Read: #MeToo Movement: Fire Turns On Casting Agents Mukesh Chhabra, Vicky Sidana

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