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A Sula in the South of France

As the city gears up to welcome Rajeev (Sula) Samant's wine bar called Vinoteca at Worli opening on Wednesday, here's a story that will warm his heart: I was in the South of France on a silly junket when our posse of hacks was joined by a TV actress who'd been commissioned to send back a TV lifestyle story about the trip.

Known for her sweet ‘Dract from the Punjaab’ charm, she was a source of wonder and delight to us ordinary journos, especially when faced with a serious and extensive wine list at a one-star Michelin restaurant, she looked at the snooty Frog wine steward sweetly in the eye and asked “Do you have any Sula?”

Apparently she thought it was a generic term for white wine! Incidentally, few know that Rajeev named his wine business after his elegant mum Sula. We hope this fact doesn’t affect his tough boy street cred.

Sanjeev Kapoor’s Italian Job
>>  What on earth is TV chef Sanjeev Kapoor cooking up with Mario Monti, the prime minister of Italy and very distinguished ex-Competition Commissioner of the European Union. Well, we hear the ambitious Sanjeev is helping Alessandro Giuliani, the Italian partner of his kitchen and food import business — Wonderchef, in an interesting new venture.

Giuliani, who we met at the very hot and happening Café Zoe over the weekend, is setting up an India arm of the famous Italian business school Bocconi University, which will be known here as MISB Bocconi. A site has been found in Powai and though there is much to do (how many Indians even know that Italy has a world class B-school?) the direction is clear.

So, what’s Sanjeev doing, and how does that connect to the scholarly Monti? Well, Sanjeev is an informal advisor to the backers of the Bocconi School, whose chairman is none other than the professorial Mario Monti. I’m not so sure which is tougher: saving Italy or creating another business school in Mumbai.

When Rahul checked in
>>  Whatever else might have been on the menu at Sunday’s lunch featuring Rahul Gandhi and the Zardaris, we are certain that arrogance and bad manners were not on the list.

A nurse at one of Mumbai’s toniest nursing homes, who was in attendance when Rahul Gandhi was admitted for a small procedure last year, tells us that the Congress leader couldn’t have been better-behaved. “No fuss, no hangers-on, no special attention was demanded,” she says. “In fact our other patients didn’t even know he’d checked in for the day.” Accompanied only by sister Priyanka, he was polite and understated. We like!

City’s most expensive haunted house
>>  We are not unduly superstitious (Yep, notwithstanding the double G in our name) but when we hear of something that even our rational minds cannot explain, we can’t help but sit up and take note. It has to do with one of Mumbai’s poshest mid-city ‘ghettos’, built decades before the concept of gated communities existed, which is supposed to be massively unlucky for its residents. Not only have most of the building’s residents suffered separations, divorces, financial setbacks and tax raids, but two have experienced misfortunes that have made national headlines: the bankruptcy and subsequent early death of a financial bull and the unexplained death in prison of another high-profile beleaguered corporate legend. Coincidence or spooky mumbo-jumbo? We hear the remaining residents are taking no chances and periodically conducting religious ceremonies to propitiate the Gods.

Separated at the Kumbh Mela
Reader Neeraj Maheshwari sent us these pictures to show the remarkable similarity between former England cricketer Nasser Hussain and PM of Russia Vladimir Putin.

Karan Johar — are you listening? An international film about a cricketer and an East European head of state who turn out to be long-lost brothers is asking to be made. 

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