The aphorist Christopher Spranger wrote: “The author who possesses not only ideas of his own but eloquence with which to clothe and adorn them cannot avoid cutting an impudent figure in this world.” Spranger might have been describing Farah Damji when he wrote those words. For she is such an author, creative, eloquent, and most definitely impudent. And it’s the impudence that makes her memoir Try Me so delightful to read.
Farah Damji is an Indian woman born in Uganda. She grew up with a silver spoon in her mouth. When she was 18 years old, she left London and went to New York, where she ran with the rich and famous. The fast crowd. The Beautiful People. Farah became a notorious reality. Drugs, sex, alcohol, more sex and haute couture pretty much sums it up. Later, for reasons equally irrational – sheer boredom being one of them – she became a dilettante criminal. After a number of stints in prison, she decided to write the story of her life.
And oh! What life she led. The kind of life only a very few women have lived. Women like Cleopatra of Egypt, the Queen of Sheba, Theodora, Elizabeth Taylor, and Marilyn Monroe. Women who had style, imagination, elan and a lust for life.
Farah Damji tells her story with equal parts of amused indifference, flippant disdain, and somber intensity. Yet whatever her mood, she’s always right on the money. For example, “Later the London bad boys, the downtown city-slickers in their handmade Oswald Boateng suites with flashy silk linings came to roost. These were my favourite boys, they were like proud peacocks in mating season. If I had been born a man I would have been just like them.”
Or, as she leaves the luxury apartment of one of her lovers: “There was no last look back at the building. It had been a lovely evening, he was a nice guy. Nice was never enough.”