At home and abroad

Perhaps one of the finest tributes to a certain kind of Mumbai or more appropriately Bombay, is this striking portrait of two of its city icons: The stately Asiatic Library (right) with its sweep of cascading stairs like a giant's piano a bastion of erudition; in front of which stands Mumbai's very own son celebrated son, dancer Astad Deboo striking a pose in a stunning costume like a dandelion in springtime.

Astad Deboo dances before The Asiatic Library
Astad Deboo dances before The Asiatic Library

The celebrated dancer was in the same costume that he wore for his command performance for the President of India Pranab Mukherjee, King Carl Gustav XVI and Queen Sylvia and other dignitaries of Sweden on Tuesday night in Stockholm. In the other picture (above), he is being presented to a host of dignitaries, including the President on the occasion.

President Pranab Mukherjee and officials at Stockholm. Pic/Amit Kumar Photography
President Pranab Mukherjee and officials at Stockholm. Pic/Amit Kumar Photography

Notice the differing body language in both. The pride and aloofness of Mumbai and the arrogance of Delhi. Our take? Mumbai icons are best off in Mumbai.

No reservations
Our friend, Gaggan Anand from Bangkok, has been making huge strides in the international gourmet world. The talented molecular chef of the eponymous restaurant in Bangkok which was voted the no.1 restaurant in Asia at the San Pellegrino awards earlier this year, was present alongside the top chefs of the world including Joan Roca, Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse for the high profile awards ceremony in London this week.

Gaggan Anand Manish Mehrotra
Gaggan Anand and (right) Manish Mehrotra

And the Calcutta boy continued his strong run by not only making it to the no.10 position of the World's Best Restaurants, but also as the first Indian to ever make the top 10! But if you think Bangkok is too far to go to eat at the hands of this master chef, don't sweat, those who follow this column closely will know (we scooped the story in January) he will soon open doors in Mumbai.

And regarding the food world we were also pleased to see Manish Mehrotra's Indian Accent also make it on the list at no.77, (the only restaurant from India on the prestigious list.) And it has since been revealed that after years of hunting for the right space to open a second branch, Rohit Khattar and chef Manish (who now sports a rather charming fulsome beard), have confirmed that they will open at the Le Parker Meridien Hotel in New York.

Incidentally, Manish's food has been a big hit with food connoisseurs world over and he is now seen as Gaggan's great rival (though they are friends outside the kitchen) in the molecular space.

Chronicles of a bouncy bon vivant
Our peripatetic friend the ever-bouncing bon vivant, Suhel Seth, gives every sign of becoming this subcontinent's version of 'Zelig,' Woody Allen's protagonist of the film with the same name - a man who is seen with many important people at many important occasions all over the world.

Seth with Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Namita Panjabi, Rashmi Uday Singh and Chulani
Seth with Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Namita Panjabi, Rashmi Uday Singh and Chulani

Not only did Seth co host the Mayfair Times Indian Summer Party held at the Ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge in London on Monday, but he also managed to make it to Namita Panjabi's swish opening of her newest Chutney Mary in St James, on the same trip. And of course there were big-ticket names on both occasions.

The Mayfair Times India Summer saw well-heeled Indian grandees and their cohorts, like businessmen Vijay Mallya; Sanjay Hinduja; Prince Rostislav Romanov; cricketer Sajid Mehmood; BBC presenter Andrew Graham-Dixon; CNBC presenter Seema Mody; Tatler Fashion Director Deep Kailey and CEO of Diversity UK Lopa Patel in attendance; whereas the latter featured the likes of former Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia, restaurateur Namita Panjabi (owner of Chutney Mary), foodie Rashmi Uday Singh and erstwhile Mumbai diva Anju Chulani.

"We spoke about India, the economy and marketing of Indian food," said Seth when we spoke. What was Ahluwalia - arguably the cleverest economist in India certainly the most dapper - saying? "That it's too early to judge the government, but also said it was unfair to trash all the last ten years," said Seth. And what did you all eat? "Kejriwal Toast," laughed Seth wickedly.

Memories are made of this
'Twenty Seven Years, I Miss You. Memories Are All I Live With.' posted Raj Kapoor's younger daughter, the usually buoyant Rima Jain, poignantly on Tuesday in memory of her late father, India's consummate showman, Raj Kapoor. "He was my best friend," she said when we called her up to speak to her about him.

Rima Jain with her father, showman Raj Kapoor
Rima Jain with her father, showman Raj Kapoor

"We used to be the only two staying up while he had his drinks in the evening," she said. "I miss him so so much. I will give you a twinkling wedding, he used to say, because I was 31 and unmarried," said the unusually wistful Jain. "And what do you know? Not even a few months after he died I was engaged to Manoj and we were married in the December of that year… dad's blessings," she said.

And of course blessings they were. Not only are the Jains an ideally matched and popular couple but also their dashing sons Armaan and Adar, both in Bollywood, have inherited an exquisite gene pool. "Not only was he the nation's heartthrob but a wonderful dad…" sighed Jain.

Much celebrating in style
Oh dear. Word comes in that some of the high jinks and hoopla at the recently concluded European wedding, which saw a slice of Mumbai's creamy lot descend with their Chanel gowns and their LV Trunks, might have come from the very reluctant coffers of a high powered political bigwig of Maharashtra.

"Someone was naughty and ran off with someone else's share of the spoils and that same one is not in a position now to do much about it," said a source. Which means fun and games for someone who got away we said. Exactly said the source. Much celebrating in style.

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