"I have known (Nana) Chudasama for the longest time. He represents the best of what defined Mumbai as intelligent, inclusive, decent and caring," wrote Tasneem Zakaria Mehta the feisty and internationally renowned managing trustee and honorary director of the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum, Mumbai in a much applauded recent article titled 'When a great city dies' in the Indian Express.
Tasneem Zakaria Mehta, Nana Chudasama and Shobhaa De
She was responding to the recent accelerated assaults on Mumbai's liberal and progressive bastions: the attack on Chudasama's office the vitriol spewed at Shobhaa De's innocuous remarks and the attacks on the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum for hosting a fashion show'. "Mumbai's long-standing tradition of openness and tolerance is fast eroding," she wrote.
"(Chudasama) is known for his acerbic humour, and his political witticisms on a banner outside his office, like the Amul butter and Air India maharaja ads, were among the few welcome markers of public culture in the city," wrote Zakaria-Mehta. "His daughter is one of the well-known faces of the BJP in Mumbai.
My first thought when I read about the attack was, "Dear God, if this can happen to him, are any of us safe in this city?" Mehta's words are timely: With every act of illiberalism, intolerance and regression we are witnessing the slow, painful but inevitable dying of a once-great city. Will the last person to leave Mumbai kindly turn the lights off?
City of Romance
It's official: all roads lead to Venice as far as over-the-top glamorous destination weddings go this season. Venice city of water, city of masks, where Fellini placed his Casanova, Shakespeare his Othello, Madonna her Virgin and Ian Fleming his James Bond not once but three times!
And this June not only have we been invited to Venice by dear friends of ours who will be celebrating the wedding of their lovely daughter in the world's most romantic city, but now word comes in that Sangita Jindal has decided it will be the venue of the forthcoming nuptials of her son, the recently engaged Parth.
"Remember it was Jindal in the first place who had upped the destination wedding ante by hosting one of the most fabulous weddings in Florence at the Ferragomo estate when her daughter Tanvi had got married," said a source.
"With her dynamism, attention to detail and passion for the arts, she'd set the bench mark and now that she's chosen Venice the spotlight will shift on this beautiful city," said the source. Meanwhile, we're brushing up on Philippe Sollers 'Dictionary For Lovers Of Venice' and dreaming of Murano glass chandeliers and Rococo divans...
This time, the times are changing for the better. Word comes in that a leading media house not known to loosen its purse strings usually flew its top management cadre (including senior editorial staff) to ... hold your breath: Cambodia for an off -site visit! "In our time we only got as far as Madh Island," said a former staffer, tongue firmly in cheek. See what we mean by the Times changing for the better?
Thirty Michelin Stars
The stars seem to be smiling on Mumbai's foodie platter. Though Europe's ubiquitous Michelin-culture of credible restaurant reviews does not exist, gourmets still find options to dig into ultra-luxe ingredients prepared world-renowned star chefs.
Some of the dishes from the Pop up
Our foodie source called up to tell us about the recently concluded 'Pop up' hosted by the JW Marriott hotel, where it brought down two world renowned Michelin star chefs who for a period of 2 weeks dished up 8 course menus (for a considerable price) totalling up the Michelin stars to 3 between themselves. The first was chef Laurent Peugeot from the one star Le Charlemagne, located in Burgundy.
Known to combine the cuisines of Japan and France, he served up ingredients like, sake marinated scallop, wild sea bass and Canadian lobster. However foodies complained about the heavy use of gravy that overpowered the ingredients and left many unimpressed. The second chef Giovanni D'amato from the two-starred Ristorante Il Rigoletto on the outskirts of Bologna fared better.
The highlights of his offering included his starter 'Tartufo E Tartufi' or truffle and truffle, an Entrée of shellfish cappuccino and a main of Black Cod. "The new management of the hotel wants to make it the gastronomy center of the city and has promised to present a total of 30 Michelin stars in a year," said our source, adding "Perhaps after the dismal performance of their restaurant Arola (in partnership with Sergi Arola - the 2 starred Michelin Spanish Chef from Madrid) they realize that Pop ups are the way to go!
The 'We like to party' gang
Mumbai will see two high profile concerts next month. Those who were busy partying it up in the late nineties and year Y2K will recall the Dutch Euro dance winners the Vengaboys.
The coolest pop group to emerge back then, they had produced back to back number one hits like, 'Boom, Boom, Boom', (not to be confused with Biddu's 'Boom Boom') and 'We like to party', numbers which are still some of the most requested at retro night parties.
Vengaboys will perform in Mumbai on 8th May. The second big-ticket concert will be headlined by British indie rock band Alt-J later that month. Though the venue hasn't been disclosed, tickets are up for sale online and we hear the young and restless have already marked their calendars!