The closest I came to the real Madonna of popstar fame was the Russian Madonna, Masha Rasputina. She had it all; sex appeal, the awesome presence, the spoilt-brat syndrome of a Prima Donna and enormous talent. I remember getting vaguely excited when my Russian travel agent Helena Sorokina booked a group with a brief to look after this famous but difficult client. A Russian equivalent of People's Magazine had paid her to visit Nepal on a photo-shoot to promote the magazine as Masha had just released a huge hit single called, "Put Me on Top of the Himalayas". In the process Nepal too would be promoted in Russia.
The Russian ambassador at the time Alexander Kulagin looked scandalized, "Oh that wench has come here", he laughed out loud heartily. I did not know what reputation the Russian Madonna had back home but I was ready to cut her some slack. After a VIP welcome at the airport I brought her to Hotel Yak and Yeti, the presidential suite reserved for her use. The next morning I was to learn what handling a diva was all about. Along with her entourage and the Russian speaking guide I had arranged I too was waiting for her to come down to the lobby at 9:00 AM sharp for a photo shoot in Bhaktapur. She appeared at noon with a sheepish grin and a warm hug and exclaimed aloud, "Where is everybody?" as if she was the one waiting. She had set the tone for the rest of her stay.
I sent her to Machan Wildlife Resort inside the Chitwan National Park, to Nagarkot, to heritage sites for the usual photo ops. Sometime later I was most pleasantly thrilled to see a multi-page exposure of her Nepal visit with Masha in her many poses. It was a great exposure for Nepal in Russia and blissfully Masha did not have many of the scintillating poses she had struck for Playboy's Russian edition in an earlier photo shoot.
Oh, those Russians!