Born in a town near Sopore in Jammu and Kashmir in an army family, Sunanda Pushkar married a fellow Kashmiri pandit, Sanjay Raina, who later became a small-time music director and launched a few music CDs. She was a teenager, and still in college then. The couple divorced within two years. Sunanda went to Dubai with her second husband, Sujith Menon, a businessman who was Raina’s best friend. He tried to organize some shows in Dubai with Malayalee actors, but the venture failed.
In 1997, Menon was killed in a road accident in Delhi; some say he took his life. By then, the marriage was on the rocks. The reason: in the 1990s,
“This is a Pakistani woman who is an ISI agent and she is stalking my husband. And you know how men are. He is flattered by the attention. I took upon myself the crimes of this man during IPL. I will not allow this to be done to me. I just can’t tolerate this.” — Tweet of Sunanda, referring to Mehr Tarar
Sunanda, who ventured into events management, became ambitious and subsumed herself in work, distancing herself from her husband and friends. Everyone who knew her saw her as an upwardly mobile person burning with ambition.
Sunanda went to Canada but returned to Dubai in 2000. By 2005, according to an article in Indian Express, which was published after her death, she landed a job with TECOM Investments, “a government-owned body responsible for the management of Dubai’s business parks—Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academy City. Her stint there, as sales manager, ended in January 2010.”
In 2007, Tharoor and his second wife, Christa Giles, took up residency in Dubai for a brief while. But he never met Sunanda. They finally met in October 2009 and married in August 2010. Although Tharoor was interested in cricket, it was she who influenced him to invest in IPL’s Kochi team, months before their wedding. She did not understand the technicalities of cricket, but she loved to hobnob with celebrity cricketers.
Sunanda and Tharoor were in love. They hung out together at parties. But their friends realised something was amiss in 2013, when Sunanda told them that there were problems between them. The animosity came out in the open on January 15, 2014, when followers of Tharoor’s twitter account read personal tweets involving Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar.