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A suitable cockatoo

‘Vikram demonstrates on Albinia the power of poetry as an aid to seduction.’ Said the post and with that the India-loving author, Delhi-based William Dalrymple unleashed a wave of witticism and gentle ribbing when he posted six pictures of literary giant Vikram Seth murmuring sweet nothings to his much beloved cockatoo Albinia.


Vikram Seth

Albinia has been the focus of Seth’s sweet murmurings before. A poem, the best selling novelist and poet wrote by way of an apology for cancelling dinner at the Dalrymples’, also mentions the bird. ‘Dear Willie, I’m a sickly and illy,/ moaning weakly in bed/ with a sore head./ dearest Olivia/ what excuse can I givya/ for remaining in Noida?/ (I’m not trying to avoidya.)/ beloved Albinia,/ wdvluvd2hv seen ya/ but there's less than perfect bliss/ in a viral kiss.’ He’d penned on a previous occasion.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that Albinia has made it to these pages. On a previous occasion, we had written about the singular literary bird, Dalrymple’s writing companion.

Trishna cousins
We ran into our cousin Madhu Jain, the Delhi-based attractive former India Today journalist and current editor of Indian Quarterly, the latest title from the Mahindra stable that champion’s long form highbrow writing. We were happy to learn about the waves that part of the extended clan was making in international cuisine. Jain told us about her nephew Karam Sethi, patron chef at London’s Trishna, whose highly rated Blandford street eatery was awarded its first Michelin star last year. 


Karam Sethi

Much like its famous Mumbai cousin, Trishna offers diners the coastal cuisine of south west India and some of its most popular dishes are its seafood biryani, duck seekh kebabs and Dorset crab.

Sethi has not rested on his laurels though. His second restaurant, the British Colonial Raj inspired Gymkhana had Richard Vines’ the Bloomberg critic gush, “The food is so good, I have eaten here five times in just over a week, including lunch and dinner on the same day.” And there is an involvement in a third ventures a popular hot dog establishment called Bubbledogs.

Incidentally, the relationship with Mumbai’s Trishna is enigmatic. Calling it ‘one of the world’s best seafood restaurants’, Sethi informs that ‘Trishna London is completely independent to the Mumbai restaurant apart from the two of us sharing recipes and cross marketing each other.’

The good Samaritan
Always nice to run in to Congressman, the former Union Minister for Petroleum and consummate Mumbai boy, Murli Deora. From the days when we first started as a rookie journo, Murli has been a friend and mentor. Meeting him with his wife, the bridge champ and artistic-minded Hema and elder son, poet and movie producer Mukul at a Sobo club on Friday night, we were delighted to see that the warhorse had lost none of his enthusiasm for the rough and tumble of politics. 


Hema and Murli Deora

“He enjoys nothing more than politics,” laughed Mukul, the lone Deora male who has opted out of the political fray.

“But what he really loves most about it is that it allows him to help as many people as possible,” he said.

We agree. We have never come across an individual as passionate about being of help to so many as Murli. From the humblest to the most famous, the instances of how he has gone out of his way to come to people’s aid is legendary.

“His eyes literally light up when the office door bell rings and someone drops in to seek his advice and assistance,” said doting wife Hema. “And where’s Milind?” we enquired of the South Mumbai MP and Minister of State for Information and Technology. “Out campaigning,” said Hema.

And then, after an hour or so of trading political news we all bid adieu to go home and watch (what else but?) political news on our TV screens!

Finding Sajid

For sometime now, friends of the charismatic Mumbai-born international teenybopper idol Sajid Khan (in picture) were beside themselves wondering where on earth the pop singer and actor had vanished. 

Catapulted to international fame as the star of Hollywood productions Maya, (1966) My Funny Girl and The Prince and I (1971) the striking looking actor had besides a legion of swooning fans, the dubious credit of having been adopted by three sets of parents!

First by the legendary film producer Mehboob Khan, then by Alan Courtney a powerful Hollywood showbiz personality and lastly by Sunita Pitamber the doyenne of Mumbai society!

After the death of Pitamber, Sajid, whose marriage to Zeenat hit a rough patch, had disappeared. But on Saturday, we were happy to learn that the actor, a fixture at city high society soirees in the past, was alive and well and supposedly living a quiet life in Bandra.

And when you consider that Bandra is where he began his incredible life, as the son of a gardener at the Mehboob Khan household, the amazing life of Sajid Khan who conquered the hearts of teens in America and was an international pop sensation-almost has a poignant storybook ending!

Masterclass with Shyam
“Initially I had thought of doing it as just Benegal on Benegal since he is extremely articulate. That was taking the easy route... and I realised I had to include the actors and technicians as well. That did take time... close to two years... but looking back I am glad that I took the tougher route,” says film critic and director Khalid Mohamed on his documentary, “‘The Master’ Shyam Benegal’, which had its first screening recently at the Asiatic. 


Shyam Benegal with Khalid Mohamed

The 95-minute documentary seeks to give insight into the celebrated director’s 23 films and touches upon his TV and documentary work as well. How did the auteur respond we asked the shy and self-effacing Mohamed?

“Shyam gave me the warmest hug in the world. And so did his wife Neera,” he said.

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