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|October 17, 1997||
I have two specific memories of Reita Faria before she became a Miss India. I donít remember whether I was in the audience or participating in the fashion show that year, but when I met Reita Faria I knew she was a certain winner. She was statuesque and very confident. Not the abrasive, assertive confidence of the 90s but a very proper self-assurance, a natural trait many Christian girls who participated in those days possessed. I asked her if she required any help and she said, a little hesitantly, that she needed a bathing costume. For a brief moment, I sentimentally felt reluctant to part with the pink swimsuit that I had worn at my Miss Universe contest he previous year, but then I immediately arranged for her to have it. The second incident, that illustrates her confidence, happened at the time of the Miss Bombay title. Because she was tall, Reita used to wear flats and while walking down the ramp during the contest, her sandal broke. Such an unexpected occurrence in front of an audience would have unnerved any young girl, but Reita remained composed, simply left it behind and walked away with the crown.
In India, Reita Faria has remained something of a mysterious legend Ė a name without a face and a title without a story. Few Indians know where their first Miss World is today, or what she is doing"
Excerpted from Pride of India by Persis Khambatta, Rs 1495, Parijat Media Limited, with the publishers permission. Special copies, signed by many of the Miss Indias and priced at Rs 5000, are also available. The proceeds of this special copies will go to the Missionaries of Charity.
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