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Brunch with the Ansaris

The swashbuckling Khalid Ansari, columnist, sports enthusiast and the man who thirty five years ago founded the very paper you are reading, epitomises a certain kind of rugged individual, a man of letters and of the outdoors, someone who is as comfortable in a library as on a squash court.

And like the best of men, he is a loyal friend, has many, and loves nothing better than to spend time in their company.

This Sunday saw him, along with his graceful wife Zeyna, hosting an elegant Sunday brunch at his sea facing and garden-surrounded apartment in Sobo.

Khalid Ansari
Khalid Ansari

Over spicy snacks and an assortment of drinks and food, a happy group of people met and mingled. There was, firstly a posse of celebrated policemen: super cop Mumbai’s former Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro, with his lovely wife Melba, his renowned colleagues Surinder Pathania and Satish Sawhney, the city’s most famous Sheriff Nana Chudasama with the elegant Munira, the legendary Gen Kuldip Singh Brar (Operation Blue Star) with his attractive wife Meena, prominent businessman and philanthropist Gul Kripalani, a dapper and slim Dilip De, theatre actress Dolly Thakore, noted foodie Farzana Contractor, Income Tax commissioner and nature photographer Prakash Dubey and high-profile doctor Altaf Patel with his wife, the feisty Devika, and many more.

Gul Kripalani Dolly Thakore
Gul Kripalani and Dolly Thakore

“We travel between Mumbai and Sydney,” said Ansari, when we enquired what the occasion for the party was. “And each time we return we like to have our friends over,” said the man who devotes much of his time on his city, charity focusing on the girl child, when he’s not cruising to exotic locales around the world.

“This time we came to Mumbai to celebrate the monsoons but they eluded us,” he laughed referring to the city’s much-criticised dry spell. But the monsoons had arrived in their full glory this Sunday, in time for Ansari’s brunch; and faced with a turbulent sea and surrounded by a lush green garden we knew there could be no better way to enjoy the monsoons than in the company we were with over a Bloody Mary and some delicious nalli gosht. Thank God for the monsoons and old friends, we said, as we went back to the table for another helping.

Five gens in a pic
‘Four generations in one photo! Five, if you count the portraits on the wall,’ posted our friend, the actor and theatre impresario about this delightful picture, featuring his mother, the actress and director (The Vagina Monologues) Mahabanoo, his sister, his nephews and his grandmother.

Mahabanoo Kotwal and family
Mahabanoo Kotwal and family

“It was shot when Shilpa Shah of Garden Silk was researching a book on Chinese embroidery featured in Parsi traditional wear,” he said. And why wasn’t he in it? Kaizad laughed. “Good question. I think I was away that day. But more importantly, most Parsi men do not wear embroidery, their clothes tend to be more sober, mostly blacks and whites” he said.

Some foodie cheer
Foodies in Mumbai have much to cheer about: word comes in that Delhi’s best chef Manish Mehrotra will soon be opening up shop in Mumbai. Manish, who many food critics hail as one of the most inventive and innovative Indian chefs (along with Gaggan Anand from Bangkok), cooks at Rohit Khattar’s Indian Accent restaurant in Delhi’s Manor Hotel.

Manish Mehrotra Ananda Solomon
Manish Mehrotra and Ananda Solomon

Insiders say that the shy and humble chef, who was the winner of the TV show ‘Foodistan’, will be launching a new eatery at one of the fancy open kitchens at the Four Seasons. This mid city hotel, which opened its doors some years ago, appears to have been lagging behind in the food stakes of Mumbai.

Now, with news that the passionate foodie Adarsh Jatia has roped in the likes of Manish to open, things are sure to look up. Incidentally, Manish spent years training under the legendary Ananda Solomon, Mumbai’s own pride and joy.

To Bangalore, Ahoy!
It’s an eclectic list of people for sure: Supreme Court lawyer Manik Tarkunde Karanjawala, industrialist Ravi Ruia, TV producer Anuradha Prasad, writer and TV producer Fahad Samar, jewellery designer Farah Khan, actresses Simone Singh and Poonam Dhillon, fashionista Sujata Assomull, heritage conservationist Dipti Salgaocar, publisher Mala Sekhri, designer Bina Ramani, Reliance’s man in Delhi Tony Jesudasan and cigar aficionado Chetan Seth, amongst others, but the one thing they have in common is that they are all friends of TV bigwig Ravina Raj Kohli and have been invited to Bangalore to bring in her big birthday in September.

Ravina Raj Kohli Chetan Shah
Ravina Raj Kohli and Chetan Shah

Already, the excitement’s been building: flight and hotel bookings, outfits and gifts and the usual clamour to know who else will be there.

Fahad Samar Simone Singh
Fahad Samar and Simone Singh

“With someone as exuberant and energetic as Ravs,” said one of the invitees, referring to the birthday girl by her nickname, “we know it’s going to be one helluva weekend-non stop laughter, all-night dancing and a whole lot of fun.” Nice!

Remembering Bajirao
“In many ways it still is our talismanic production, our most significant and till ‘Class of 84’, our most successful,” said ad man and fellow columnist, Rahul Dacunha, about his iconic play, ‘I’m Not Bajirao’ that ran for a record ten years after it debuted in 1996.

Boman Irani Shernaz Patel
Boman Irani and Shernaz Patel

“It kind of introduced Hinglish as a language and Boman Irani as an actor to the world,” says Dacunha. We noticed nostalgia was alive and kicking as he re-launched the Rage theatre page, a paean to the enterprise he had started with fellow theatre lovers, actors Shernaz Patel and Rajit Kapur in 1993 to champion the cause of good theatre. Incidentally, Bajirao ran to packed houses till the tragic, untimely death of Sudhir Joshi led to its closure.

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