'Ache Din? Ha! Ha!!'

Unfazed by the rumpus created by his alleged 'chai wallah' remark the feisty former Union Minister of Petroleum and current Rajya Sabha MP Mani Shankar Aiyar has gone ahead and written a book titled Ache din? Ha! Ha!! To be launched next week with a high-powered discussion in Delhi, when asked to comment on the book and Modi's one year in power, Aiyar said, "The best thing about one year of Modi, is that there's only four years left."

Mani Shankar Aiyar and (right) Suresh Prabhu
Mani Shankar Aiyar and (right) Suresh Prabhu

We had caught Aiyar yesterday in Indore where he'd accompanied Rahul Gandhi to Mhow, the birthplace of Dr Ambedkar. How had he managed to get such a wide range of eminent speakers - drawn from across the political spectrum - especially many of them from the BJP to agree to participate in the panel discussion at the book launch?

"Both Union Minister for Railways Suresh Prabhu and BJP MP Chandan Mitra agreed right away when I invited them," says Aiyar. "I think that is reflection of our democracy," said the bureaucrat-turned-politician.
What else is he up to we enquired. "Well since I will be retiring from the RS next year and the Congress does not seem to be in a position to offer me another stint - given its poor numbers - I will concentrate on writing," he replied.

"I'm completing a book on Panchayati Raj, and then my publishers want an updated version of my book on Rajiv Gandhi for the occasion of his 25th death anniversary which falls next year," said Aiyar, adding "Perhaps that will be the time to embark on my autobiography. It's called Leaf in the wind: The autobiography of a failed politician," he chuckled.

His Master's Voice
"We now represent Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's content in all forms past and future globally," said Devraj Sanyal, Managing Director & CEO of Universal Music Group, EMI Music South Asia, when we enquired about the enigmatic pic of his with the Groovy Highness himself. "This means across all video formats and audio formats across all verticals so YouTube, iTunes and all streaming services.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with Devraj Sanyal
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar with Devraj Sanyal

My job is make his 350 million followers worldwide consume his music and his works in every format known to man and all future formats as they emerge," he said. What's Sri Sri like and what does Sanyal dig most about him we asked the highflying music executive. "His work in education, medical and empowerment is next to none.

And what I like is the straightforward way it's done. You want his teachings - you pay. No free stuff like many," said Sanyal adding, "I love that he gets tech and is digitally savvy beyond his brief." A guru who's as much in to hardware as he's into Hardwar? Cool!

Dr Balan, we presume?
"At the age of four Vidya had dreamt of being a doctor, having seen her father suffer from a heart attack," said a source about the doctorate conferred this week on the award winning actress by Rai University, "and ironically though she became an actress, the doctorate dream come true."

Vidya Balan with her family after receiving the doctorate
Vidya Balan with her family after receiving the doctorate

This perhaps accounts for the actress' heart felt speech on receiving the honour and the moving sight of her teary eyed parents accompanied by the actress' sister and brother-in-law along with their twins and her husband Sidharth Roy Kapur in the front row.

The honorary doctorate is conferred for Balan's contribution to the Indian film industry and for empowering women across India and also affords Balan the privilege of nominating a bright, but needy female student annually who will receive free education and lodging at the university. Nice!

Atif Aslam
Atif Aslam

Istanbul ahoy!
And news from the site of the recently concluded mega glam wedding of Yash Goenka, son of realtor Pramod Goenka and jewellery designer Bina Goenka, to Natasha Narang, daughter of Poonam and Ramesh Narang of Mumbai's Ambassador Hotel, in Istanbul, Turkey, comes in that Atif Aslam, the popular Pakistani sufi singer and songwriter who had been flown down for a special performance, was a big hit. "He had the crowd singing along to his classic hits like 'Woh lamhe,' 'Tere bin' and 'Pehli Nazar Main' said the source. "It couldn't get enough!"

Delicious Food Memories
Friends and admirers of Malti Divecha, one of Sobo's legendary hostesses will be happy to know that even while she is recuperating from an illness, a few of her loved ones are busy completing her much awaited and long promised book of famous recipes.

A painting of Malti Divecha by Edie Michalski
A painting of Malti Divecha by Edie Michalski

The octogenarian Divecha who was a neighbour and friend of the late artist Jehangir Sabavala at Cumballa Hill, along with artists Meera Devidayal and Suruchi Chand and jewellery designer Jamini Ahluwalia, epitomized the highbrow, artsy, well travelled and read Sobo grande dame, famous for her soirees and salons.

Compiled by her US-based daughter-in-law Diana Divecha and Maya Khote Merchant, the duo have been calling out on social media for a 'sampling of memories made at Malu's (as she is affectionately known) table': "Perhaps it was an indescribable dish, or the first time you tasted something, or it was the matchmaking, or the bawdy jokes, or the soirees" says their solicitation.

"And just for the record we will be sending in our own 'Malu food memory' –an account of the fluffiest, butteriest, most scrumptious brownies that would come out of her aromatic kitchen and be consumed instantly!"

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