I caught up with Tikka Shatrujit Singh of Kapurthala just as he was about to set off for yet another trip to his favourite destination, Paris. In his choice of destination, Singh is merely following in the footsteps of his illustrious grandfather, Maharaja Jagatjit Singh (1877-1949), a well-known Francophile, whose palace in Kapurthala is modeled closely on Versailles.
Singh has been associated professionally with the house of Louis Vuitton for 15 years now, which is the chief reason for his trips to that city. And how does he occupy himself there when he’s not working? Walking along the River Seine or in the Marais soaking in the atmosphere, visiting museums (he’s visited the Louvre ten times, and hasn’t seen even a fraction of its collection) and looking for memorabilia of his ancestors. Singh’s forays across the city have paid dividends: the Musee de Albert Kahn uncovered a rich vein of photographs of not only Maharaja Jagatjit Singh but also Kapurthala itself. Albert Kahn was a financier whose life’s mission was to document ways of life of communities all over the world.
This man about town bicycles to work from Hotel Le Bristol, rue du Faubourg St Honore to the headquarters on Champ Elysees. So often does he stay at Le Bristol that a part of his wardrobe is kept permanently in the hotel, so that he can travel light. His one bete noire is the management of the iconic Ritz Hotel who keep trying to make him shift from Le Bristol. “Your grandfather used to book the entire Ritz for his visits to Paris,” they say. Singh answers, with becoming modesty, “He was a maharaja; I’m just a businessman”.