>> We like that Amitabh, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan have been invited as the guests of honour at the 17th edition of Bal de Let in Monaco hosted by Prince Albert II in aid of supporting the Monegasque Association of the Sovereign Order of Malta and the World Association of Children’s Friends. Until now, the playing fields of European royalty and socialites, it is apt that this year — given the Ball’s Rajasthani princes’ theme — India’s best and brightest like Arvind Singh Mewar, Abu and Sandeep and Raghavendra Rathore have also been invited.

Jaya Bachchan, we are told will not be accompanying her family, as Parliament will be in session. Incidentally, our Dilli jassoos tells us that now that Pranab-da’s chances at pipping his rivals to the Prezzie post is more or less a given. But the topic that’s keeping the Dilli grapevine animated is: who’ll be the next Fin Min?

Mother’s pride!

>> We cannot get over the poignant irony of Life. Not only did the late Mona Kapoor die a month before her son Arjun Kapoor’s spectacular film debut in Ishaqzaade (how proud she would have been) but she missed her daughter’s graduation from Columbia University last week as well. To cheer her on, her father Boney Kapoor with his brother Sanjay flew down along with actor Shabana Azmi and made a jolly group in the audience when Obama delivered the keynote address. And we could have sworn that up in the sky one star beamed brighter that night.

Honey Trap Extraordinaire
>> That there are gangs of extortionists in Mumbai who target the wayward progeny of the rich and famous is something we’ve always known; the way it usually works is that a pimp working on his own or in a group observes the target over weeks and then lays a honey trap out for him. So rampant has the practice become that most so-called ‘A list’ parents keep some kind of a security cover around their kids, in case they become prey.
Which is why members of this inner circle overheard were particularly distraught when the son of a Mumbai tycoon got himself royally caught in a blackmailer’s net when he spent some quality time with a model/occasional singer and actress at a city hotel and was filmed doing so. “It cost the family almost Rs 4 crore to pay off the blackmailer,” said a city wit, “making it the aspiring actress’ highest paid performance yet.” Meanwhile, son and heir has now been provided a 24x7 bodyguard by his concerned dad.

Mumbai’s Melting Pot
>> Are there one too many new restaurants aiming to tickle Mumbai’s palate? Our head is reeling with the details of not one but four new offerings slated to compete for the Mumbai foodie’s wallet and interest.

Le Pain Quotidien is alleged to be opening its second city outlet in Bandra Kurla; soon we hear the Leela hotel will try and replicate the resounding success of its Japanese eatery Megu in Delhi (and give Wasabi a run for its money!); then there is a new 4,000 square foot Pan-Asian restaurant slated to open in the Famous Studios location called M One, and the cherry on the cake — ice cream franchise Haagen-Dazs is rumoured to be launching a coffee shop at Marine Drive. Spoilt for choice, we are. Which means we’ll stay home and boil an egg!

Books We Loathe
>> One of the most scintillating blogs we’ve recently read is Tom Hawking’s 10 Books That Should Be Challenged Instead of 50 Shades of Grey on FlavorWire in which he argues that instead of removing the suburban erotic bestseller from American libraries on the ‘grounds of depictions of people enjoying themselves in bed’ his list of objectionable tomes ought to be considered.

Leading his list is that torch bearer of the college jock with intellectual pretensions: Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged charged with ‘tedium, long-windedness, philosophical unpleasantness’, followed by The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (awful, awful prose) and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne (ghastly self-help simplicity). In his Obligatory disclaimer Hawking writes: “We’re of course not in the market for banning any books, but we’d much prefer to find the kiddies reading 50 Shades of Grey than any of this lot.”
We agree!