Anand Mahindra launches 'Mahindra Open Sky', an intimate adventure experience

Anand and Anuradha Mahindra
Anand and Anuradha Mahindra

Is there anything Anand Mahindra does not do? The consummate tweeter with considerable interests in utility vehicles, information technology, financial services and vacation ownership in India, who owns the world's largest tractor company, an award-winning fine-dining restaurant franchise, a blues festival, a couple of TV channels, a few glossy mags, and also enjoys a strong presence in logistics, real estate, steel, aerospace, defence and two-wheelers, is all set to launch his next big adventure.

'Mahindra Open Sky', an intimate experience celebrating adventure, music and culture will be set this November on the first dune of the Thar Desert near Jodhpur. Held at a camel camp, featuring a specially curated line-up of Indian and international artists, the festival has been designed as an intimate setting for 500 guests over two nights and three days. "With its immersive experience of culture and adventure, Mahindra Open Sky celebrates the romance of the desert and embodies the spirit of 'Live Young, Live Free,'" he says.

But, of course, as in all things Mahindra undertakes, there is a keen sense of his brand's extension. From dune bashing in one of his company's iconic SUVs to a 2-hour guided tour at the wheel of one of its utility vehicles, many of the elements of Mahindra's varied interests in music, hospitality, adventure sports and utility vehicles appear to be coming together in Open Skies. "Now if only he gets in his fine-dining restaurants to cater, his TV channels and magazines to cover, and he tweets about it live, everything is taken care of," says an avid Mahindra watcher, tongue firmly in cheek.

Love me, love my genes?
So one of Rahul Gandhi's many bright sparks has advised him to seize the opportunity created by the general disappointment in Narendra Modi's leadership (the murder of dissenters, a plummeting GDP, and the irresistible rise of the loony fringe), and re-re-recast himself as a forward-looking technocrat, as someone in step with the best in the world, and someone unlikely to turn down an invitation to a good steak and a coke.

Rahul Gandhi, Milind Deora and Sam Pitroda. Pic/Twitter
Rahul Gandhi, Milind Deora and Sam Pitroda. Pic/Twitter

Towards this end, pictures of the Cong VP clad in tight-fitting jeans and Tee while schmoozing with sundry East Coast NRI success stories such as Vinod Khosla and Ram Sriram, and at the Tesla factory, have made their way to social media this week. But the response has not been as enthusiastic as hoped.

From tweeple enquiring, quite rightly, why he chooses to wear crumpled kurtas in India, to remarking that the Tesla car's number plate he is posing in front of described his intelligence quotient (and where was Elon Musk?), the barbs flew in hard and fast. Only proving that however disturbed they are by the way things are in Modi's India, people are still not convinced that RaGa is the answer... "We need more than jeans and genes to save India," as a WAG said.

Turf wars
It's always been a fractious, hotly contested affair, but this year, the RWITC Turf Club elections witnessed some real cliffhangers, according to our racing jasoos. Firstly, the high-profile Vivek Jain finally saw his flag lowered by the Khushroo Dhunjibhoy-Jaydev Mody nexus. The first knock the media-savvy, outgoing chairman received was before the elections, when three of his colleagues - Geoffrey Nagpal, Gulam Vahanvati and Milan Luthria - shifted sides and joined Dhunjibhoy and Mody.

Cyrus Poonawalla and Zinia Lawyer
Cyrus Poonawalla and Zinia Lawyer

This was followed by his chief ally Champaklal Jhaveri being dropped out of the committee altogether.Further spice came in the form of Cyrus Poonawalla, who after years of keeping a distance from Turf Club politics, decided to flex his muscles by throwing his considerable heft behind fellow Parsi Zinia Lawyer, who was elected.

The billionaire is said to have canvassed door-to-door and was even seen on election day fervently requesting members for just 'one vote'. This is said to have been to the chagrin of some of his staunch followers, including his brother Zavaray. As the results were announced, Poonawalla was reported to have said, "Who says I am a has-been," the consensus being that Lawyer had benefited greatly from his campaign. Insiders say all that is left is for Poonawalla to come back as chairman at a future date, with Zinia Lawyer as his right hand, to put the club's matters in order. You heard it here first.

Taking His and Hers too far?
It is one of the most curious cases in this city of many curiosities. We are referring to this suburban clan, known amongst European luxe goods manufacturers as being amongst their biggest Indian customers. The patriarch is said to commute to his office daily by helicopter and the family spares no expense to travel the world in great style. The curious thing is that they are pathologically low-profile in India, and avoid the usual platforms for conspicuous consumption, like being featured in the glossy media for their parties and Bolly connections. This is most likely because their wealth is said to be closely connected to political clout.

Well, obviously no such hesitation constrains them abroad. Recently in Marbella to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary, their lavish hospitality is said to have seen no limits. "Not only did the husband engage a couple of female strippers to entertain guests on one of the occasions, but he was thoughtful enough to have two male strippers present too, so that his wife and her friends would not feel left out," says an insider about the overseas hi-jinks. His and Hers strippers on call? No wonder they keep a low profile in Mumbai!

The butterfly effect
Word comes in that designer Maheka Mirpuri is hosting the fifth instalment of her annual charity gala and fundraiser early next month. Called 'Canfly', the fundraiser is in aid of the Tata Memorial Hospital (TMH), under the aegis of Maheka's foundation MCan, which provides financial assistance to the underprivileged fighting cancer, particularly head and neck cancer.

Maheka Mirpuri
Maheka Mirpuri

Over the years, Mirpuri, who lost her father and brother-in-law to cancer, has raised more than Rs 2.5 crore, benefiting over 200 patients fighting the Big C at the TMH. "I realised that fighting cancer is such a huge financial drain and it got me thinking of how difficult it must be for the less privileged to fight this disease," she said, when we spoke to her yesterday. "There are 5,000 to 6,000 patients each year who need financial support. The foundation is putting in extra effort in order to double the funds it raises at this year's charity gala."

As in the previous years, the fashion show and auction features a carefully curated collection of art, jewellery, fashion and experiences that will go under the hammer at the glittering event. "I want to get the word out that even a small contribution goes a long way," she said. Incidentally, Mirpuri says that the collection she will be presenting this year has been inspired by the struggles that a butterfly must go through, before it emerges as a creature of beauty.

"MCan's objective is to help patients in their metamorphosis from mortality to life and to help them realise that just when you think your trials could not be harder, you could have a butterfly moment, where everything falls gracefully into place," she says.

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