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An officer and an author

"It's about a terrorist unit like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, who threaten an Indian prime minister," says Additional Commissioner of Police Brijesh Singh about his book 'Quantum Siege', published by Penguin, which is going to be launched this Saturday by Amitabh Bachchan and Rakesh Maria.

Thoroughly impressed with his output, we inquired of the officer how long it took him to write the novel. “I wrote it in two months,” he said, adding, “And what’s more, there’s another one I’m working on now on Indian history.”

Amitabh Bachchan Brijesh Singh
Amitabh Bachchan and Brijesh Singh

What made him choose Amitabh Bachchan as one of the chief guests who’d release the book? Rakesh Maria being a colleague and peer, we can understand, we said. “Actually, there’s a character in the book who reminds me a lot of Mr Bachchan,” said Singh.

An actor? we enquired. “No,” he replied, “actually, a police commissioner.” Well, now we know who will be his choice to play him if the film is made!

Bhutanese delights
Does our PM have a sweet tooth? Amongst the dishes he was served at the Taj Tashi, Thimphu, where he stayed during his ‘good neighbour’ trip to Bhutan, we are informed that Philadelphia cream cheese, gulab jamun and cheesecake featured prominently.

Narendra Modi with Sibi Mathew
Narendra Modi with Sibi Mathew

Other delicacies were traditional Bhutanese dishes like Momo, Kakaru Jaju, Ema Shamu Datshi, along with, of course, Gujarati favourites like Bhinda Batata nu Shaak, Gujarati Dal, Methi Thepla and Masala Puri.

Staying at the 1,000 sq-ft ‘Luxury Suite’ of Taj Tashi, we are told that Modi enjoyed an uninterrupted and magnificent view of the famous Buddha Point. The hotel itself, with its blend of Bhutan’s Dzong architecture and modern design, and adorned with classical hand-drawn Buddhist murals, is said to be a work of art.

“It was a pleasure to be able to host the Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on his first international visit,” said General Manager of Taj Tashi, Sibi Mathew, about the historic occasion for which his hotel had also catered the State Dinner at the Royal Banquet Hall. “Our entire team had been preparing for days for this visit, and we are glad we could exceed his expectations in our offerings.”

Needs some R&R
For some time now, friends of leading news anchor Barkha Dutt have been aware of how overworked and in need of a break she’s been. Her posts on a social networking site have often hinted at her boredom with the daily grind.

Barkha Dutt
Barkha Dutt

To be sure, the daily attrition of news and views is a deadly one, and certainly wearying for someone at the top of her game, like Dutt is. So, now that she’s announced her plans to take a bite of the Big Apple, there’s cheer all round.

“She’s off to New York,” said a friend, “No, we don’t know if it’s in connection with the book she was purportedly writing. We’re just happy that she’s taking a break since the elections.” Nice!

An end to detente?
Has the cold war between the country’s most powerful media house and its leading corporate group finally ended? Dilliwallas appear to believe so, after they woke up recently to find a full-page ad in a newspaper belonging to the media house, issued by the group.

It will be recalled that a few years ago, during the previous chairman’s tenure at the corporate giant, relations had hit an all-time low following coverage that he’d found offensive. Since then, he’d banned all advertising in the media group’s titles.

A lesser entity would have been reeling from this blow of deprived revenue, but of course, the media house’s deep pockets saw it through. But, insiders on both sides were hoping that things would improve once a new chairman took charge. Now, it appears that they have. “You cannot have the two top powerhouses of the country engaged in a cold war,” as one media insider said.

Kamal Sidhu. Pic/Rafique Sayed
Kamal Sidhu. Pic/Rafique Sayed

A joy forever
And because this iconic image was not published the other day when we wrote about Shahab Durazi’s revisit to his 1990 Catalogue, we carry it here: Design: Shahab Durazi Photograph: Rafique Sayed, Model: Kamal Sidhu, Hair & Make-up: Joseph Edward. In the tradition of all great classics, it still appears fresh and relevant.

Art for the public’s sake
The other day, on our way to catch a film at Inox at Nariman Point, we were riveted by Chintan Upadhyay’s giant baby head sculpture ‘City of Dreams’ at the traffic island near the Trident Hotel. We have always loved public art ever since we were introduced to the concept many years ago in Melbourne and later in New York.

Harsh Goenka, Chintan Upadhyay standing next to ‘City of Dreams’
Harsh Goenka, Chintan Upadhyay standing next to ‘City of Dreams’

Art belongs to open spaces, the common man and vibrant settings not the antiseptic insides of museums, or the stuffy walls of galleries, or the corners of private homes. It needs to provoke, excite and offend, and Upadhyay’s in-your-face, shock-horror orange skull does just that.

Jaideep Mehrotra’s tribute to Sachin Tendulkar
Jaideep Mehrotra’s tribute to Sachin Tendulkar

The brainchild of philanthropist and collector Harsh Goenka, chairman of RPG, this is the first in a series of the RPG Art Corridor that will dot our city and provide artistic relief for the common man.

Later this week, there will be two more: Jaideep Mehrotra’s tribute to Sachin Tendulkar at the Worli Sasmira Junction, and Valay Shende’s 13-foot rendition of a dabbawala outside the police commissioner’s office at Crawford Market.
Nice!

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