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Big-ticket international ball

>> For those in the know, it is the ultimate rubric of international acceptability. Called Le Bal des Débutantes, but better known simply as the Crillon Ball, it is an annual event that claims to bring together the daughters of celebrities, heads of state, aristocrats, actors and the like.

First held in 1992 at Paris’ luxury Crillon hotel, some of the notable young women to have participated in it have been Clint Eastwood’s daughter, the Gorbachev siblings, Barbara Berlusconi (daughter of former Italian prime minister) Bruce Willis’ girls Scout and Tallulah Willis, George W Bush’s girls Ashley and Lauren, heiresses like Lydia and Amanda Hearst, and princesses like Princess Lorenza de Liechtenstein and Princess Fawzia Latifa of Egypt among others. Recently, the daughters of billionaire Chinese magnates Guocang Huan and Henry Fok have also been invited to participate.

Barbara Berlusconi
Barbara Berlusconi. File pics

And this year along with the daughters of Sylvester Stallone and Rosanna Arquette, guess who enchanted the international attendees with her poise and charm? None other than India’s own Isha Ambani, the Yale educated daughter of Nita and Mukesh who we are informed wore a magnificent Christian Dior gown as her proud parents escorted her to the event on November 24. What persuaded the usually traditional Ambanis to participate? “Perhaps it’s because the benefits of the ball are given to charity, and this year they will be donated to Save Children in Asia,” said an insider.

Isha with her father Mukesh Ambani.
Isha with her father Mukesh Ambani.

Delicious coincidence
>> We like nothing more than a bit of unexpected coincidence and so, the fact that the lovely Leeza Mangaldas’ hip talk fest Evoke held this evening at the US consulate supported by her alma mater Columbia and featuring one of its brilliant professor’s Mark Lilla amongst others will play out against the backdrop of Ambedkar’s death anniversary particularly appeals to us.

BR Ambedkar
BR Ambedkar

Why so? Because the noted BR Ambedkar, father of our Constitution himself was a graduate of Columbia! We like!

Leeza Mangaldas
Leeza Mangaldas

Brewing battle
>> If the grapevine is to be believed, there is a battle brewing in the family of one of India’s leading newspaper proprietor that will be as long drawn, as it will be fiercely fought. It involves the children who happen to be stepsiblings of a twice-married baron, who observers say will both put claims to inherit their father’s publishing empire. Already the gauntlet has been thrown by the daughter whose budding F&B interests just happen to be located in the famous building her father inherited. Where does that leave his son and (traditional) heir? For a family that’s seen its fair share of battles, this one promises to be one from which none none except the country’s top lawyers will benefit. One hopes that good sense prevails and matters will be soughed out amicably and with dignity.

They got the music
>> Tuesday night saw the music Gods smiling down on Mumbai. Not only were winners of the World Billboard Music Awards and Grammy nominees Jorge Strunz and Ardeshir Farah performing at the NCPA, but also glancing around the auditorium we found a veritable orchestra of musicians in the audience there to listen!

Gary Lawyer and Leslie Lewis
Gary Lawyer and Leslie Lewis

First, we spotted Leslie Lewis raptly filming the performance on his cell phone; slowly as our eyes became accustomed to the dark, the majestic outline of ace percussionist Ranjit Barot could be discerned, still later we spotted guitar maestro and composer Ehsaan Noorani and as if our musical cups were not full, in the interval we ran into Gary Lawyer and Uday Benegal! And here’s the thing about musicians.

Ehsaan Noorani and Ranjit Barot.
Ehsaan Noorani and Ranjit Barot. 

Unlike the rest of us, we noticed that they demonstrate their respect for their colleagues on stage by sitting in reverential stillness through out the performance. And so even as the audience lost itself in Strunz and Farah’s trademark acoustic Afro-Caribbean, Latin and Flamenco blends, tapping their feet, swaying rhythmically and clapping in time, the maestros in sat still, erect, barely breathing in admiration. As for us? We are embarrassed to admit, we swayed, clapped, tapped and even hummed along on a few occasions! Vive le difference!

Carnival ho jaye
>> Does Mumbai’s nightlife ever take a day off? In a month of exhilarating parties, by far the most alluring is that of Asia Society India Centre’s opening night celebration dinner for the TOI’s Literary Carnival on Friday.

Katherine Boo
Katherine Boo.

According to Bunty Chand, executive director of Asia Society India, “It will be a unique occasion of dinner, music, discussions and exchanges, with all the participating speakers of the carnival and a select list of some of Mumbai’s most dynamic and distinguished personalities, amidst live music by Gods Robots, a band that blends pop music edge with classical Indian instrumentation.”

Ramchandra Guha and  Javed Akhtar
Ramchandra Guha and Javed Akhtar 

Amongst the expected guests that evening will be the likes of Sunil Khilnani, Ramachandra Guha, Ruchir Kiran Desai, Anita Desai, Javed Akhtar, AD Miller, William Dalrymple and Katherine Boo. And the dress code has been indicated as ‘Asian Glam’ (expect wall to wall dhotis, turbans, mang tikkas bangles and mojris!).

Incidentally, the festival’s curators, Bachi Karkaria and Namita Devidayal seem to have captured the current mood of the literary fest attendee naming the weekend a ‘Literary Carnival’. ‘It has been designed not just around literature, but its intersection with the eclectic passions of Mumbai: money, films, music architecture, food and relationships, making it distinctively inclusive,’ says the promotional notice. Carnival ho jaye!  

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