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Banks and budgets

Malvika>> Mumbai’s very own Adi Godrej led the aristocrats of business as they gathered for the ritual CII viewing at Delhi’s Habitat center yesterday, for the announcement of a budget more pedestrian than profligate.

In a speech short on mirth (and why should there be with growth at five per cent?), the loudest cheer came when Chidambaram announced the creation of a bank for women, run by women.

Smart move, that, but what a shame that there was barely a single woman business leader in the room to smack her lips, whistle, applaud loudly — and drown out the smirks from the sea of men. Meanwhile, word in the corridors of power is that with this budget PC’s thrown his hat into the PM’s ring.

Adi Godrej
Adi Godrej

Our men in Delhi
>> Both men left India many years ago for expensive educations in America and then settled into successful careers in NYC. And both have come home to roost making Delhi their home. But still that does not explain the deep and profound admiration that Pranay Gupte, author and ex-New York Times reporter has for Shashi Tharoor, MP and Minister of State for Human Resource Development.  

Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor

“So, the Indian budget has been released by Finance Minister P Chidambaram. Pictured next to him is Shashi Tharoor. Did Chidambaram seek Tharoor’s help in preparing the budget? What does Tharoor’s smile suggest?” posted Gupte yesterday. “Tharoor may not be a man of the masses, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that Sonia Gandhi believes in him. I think she’s smart enough to realise that her own biological son, Rahul ‘Dynasty Boy’ Gandhi simply can’t hold a candle to Shashi Tharoor. So, why not sustain the myth — and it is just that — Rahul is being groomed for Prime Minister? That leaves plenty of room and opportunity for Tharoor to amplify his voice and heighten his public profile.” As a long time observer of Congress politics said, “If Tharoor’s friends are openly projecting him as a PM candidate then it’s the kiss of death for the man. There’s nothing the lady hates more.” Oh dear.

P Chidambaram
P Chidambaram

Tonight’s the night
>> History of musical sorts is going to be made tonight at the Regal Room at the Trident, we’re told. In a first time anywhere; audiences will hear a percussionist play with a choir. But, of course, not just any percussionist and not just any choir. It’s the greatest tabla player on earth playing with one of the world’s finest choirs. Yes, we’re talking about Ustad Zakir Hussain combining with The Shillong Chamber Choir in an hour of musical excellence that someone who was at the rehearsal yesterday says, was ‘mind-blowing’. How did this crazy, magical pairing happen? Simple: serendipity and selflessness. Both, the Ustad and Neil Nongkynrih, director of the choir, have come together for Rahul Bose’s foundation, The Foundation’s annual fundraiser held for an exclusive audience this evening.  As Zakir says, “I have known Rahul for 13 years ever since I scored the music for his debut feature, Everybody Says I’m Fine. It is my pleasure to help in his efforts to give bright, deserving children from distant parts of this country a top class education. It is education that will bring the two Indias closer. I look forward to playing with the Shillong Chamber Choir. They are wonderfully talented and the evening should be one of a kind!” We like!

Rahul Bose with Ustad Zakir Hussain and the Shillong Chamber Choir
Rahul Bose with Ustad Zakir Hussain and the Shillong Chamber Choir

Our first class friend
>> Our friend from the very front of the aircraft called after her recent trip to Europe. “I was on a London-Mumbai British Airways flight, babes,” she said. “And sitting next to me was an interesting looking ‘gora’. Little bald, but so what. You know how I always want to know, na? So, I asked him if he was a banker. I mean only they fly first na?” she said. “But he said, ‘I’m a real estate broker’. “Turns out,” said my globetrotting friend, “He comes to Mumbai at least once a month to sell fancy London properties in Mumbai. All in Mayfair!” she sighed. “All between Rs 5-60 million!”  “He said to me one third of my clients are Indians, one fourth are Arabs and Russians and others make up the rest but too many fractions to follow. So, I asked are Indians your biggest buyers?” “By far,” he replied and asked if he could send over some pictures of his properties. “The economy is rocking,” said our friend. From the mouths of babes we thought.

Mallika and Motown
>> Only a few weeks ago, we heard our friend Elsie and Hosi Nanji’s daughter on the same stage move people to tears with her rendition of Sarah McLachlan’s In the arms of an angel and last night Mallika Barot, daughter of celebrated musician Ranjit Barot repeated the triumph when she sang
at the Blue Frog with Louis Bank and his band at the Motown — Soul gig.


Louis Banks 

 “It’s basically this fantastic group of singers led by Thomson Andrews, and a great band doing popular 60-70s tunes and they roped in Mallika in to do a couple of songs,” said Maya, her proud mum. We missed it but according to lovers of music it was quite a night and in the words of Banks’ himself: Motown came alive and shook the rafters. It brought back memories of my Calcutta Blue Fox days.” Nice!


Mallika with dad Ranjit Barot

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