Rahul and Sonia Gandhi
The Gandhis, I presume?
An inveterate traveller had an interesting tale to tell. Catching her connecting flight at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport recently to return to India after a week in Europe, she says she spotted a familiar duo. "It was Rahul Gandhi with his mother Sonia."
As reported, the Congress VP had accompanied her to America for her treatment in the middle of last month. "We overheard him greet someone and say that they were returning home and all the Congress leader's reports were clear," said the lady. "And yes, Mrs Gandhi did look better."
Incidentally, the source is very impressed by the Gandhi's low-key style of travel. "No flunkeys or hangers on. Just a mother and son travelling with dignity," she said. Nice!
A hard rain?
Who would have thought that the twitterati could appreciate subtlety? Yesterday when rocker Congress leader and one-time MP, Milind Deora, tweeted a stanza from one of Coldplay's popular songs, there was an avalanche of responses from those who read between the lines. To be sure, the lyrics: 'How long am I gonna stand with my head stuck under the sand? I'll start before I can stop, before I see things the right way up ~ @coldplay' could be interpreted as a message for his dear leader, Rahul Gandhi, who has become a lightening rod for the country's disappointment in the Congress. "Seems like you guys want to say something very political to folks in the party - as the lyrics suggests so, but are both shying away :)," responded one. 'Seems MD is planning to join BJP, otherwise no Cong leader can openly criticise the high command/Gandhis like this,' said another.
'Nation needs young leaders as you. Don't waste your time with #RaGa-led Congress,' said a third. Fellow Congress leader and self-styled rocker Shashi Tharoor nimbly responded with another popular lyric, albeit from another era: "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow!" he tweeted.
Of course, let it not be said that this singing out of laments is a latter day version of Nero fiddling. After all, if this supposed genteel dropping of hints was an attempt to shake a leader out of his complacency, then surely the Congress was in deeper trouble than any one imagined - and a hard rain was gonna fall?
"The tweet wasn't really directed at anyone or relating to any recent event," said Deora when we enquired about it. "It was just a song I was listening to in my car and I liked that verse. I believe it's being seen as a political message of sorts, which is flattering."
To Mumbai, with love
The legion of friends and admirers of dapper Israeli diplomat, Dov Steinberg, will be happy to know that their charming friend is now his country's ambassador to Finland. Steinberg's stint in Mumbai had been in the nineties, when he, along with a few other equally charming diplomats, had embraced and been embraced by the city like few others. It had been the time when Mumbai had been in its first flush post the opening up of the economy and liberalisation: Indian beauty queens were winning international titles, stand alone restaurants and lounge bars, and restobars (good grief) were the order of the day, multiplexes brought in a new kind of film culture, and of course everyone was driving cute new foreign cars!
Steinberg, who resided in an art and book lined apartment on Cumballa Hill, had thrown himself into the city's ebb and flow with gusto, befriending artists, restaurateurs, film makers, music impresarios and business folk and was often heard saying that even after his stints in some of the world's supposedly hottest cities, nothing had come close to Mumbai's hectic social life!
This picture was taken at the annual banquet hosted by the President of Finland for the ambassadors stationed in Helsinki this week. "What a celebration," he said. And, as always, he looked as dapper as ever!
Mumbai's material girls
Love comes in all forms, of course, but none as fascinating as the one between an epic High Maintenance Mumbai Girl and her counterpart, the High-Rolling Mumbai Billionaire. This pretty lady, from a well-heeled clan was once married to another high roller, but that had ended badly. More recently, she was dating what her friends describe as a really nice chap, someone who quite adored her, but unfortunately could not keep her in the style she was used to. "The end came quite brutally when on an international holiday, he was unable to book her into the hotel's best suite," says a source. "Bas, that was it.
Of course, the material girl/ woman meanwhile has landed on her Jimmy Choos. Her new paramour, a veteran high-rolling Mumbai billionaire, is supposed to like nothing more than spending his bucks on exactly such things!
(From l) Shobha Nehru, Indrani Rahman, JFâÂÂKennedy, Jackie Kennedy, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Rose Kennedy and BKâÂÂNehru
The end of an era
For all those who are busy applauding the new winds of change that are sweeping trough the nation, this picture might serve as a gentle reminder of what we stand to lose, when in an attempt to bring in change, we throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Take a look at this picture. This is what we stand to lose. This urbane, elegant outward looking India, in step with the best across the world.
Shot in Washington during the sixties, it features the Hungarian Shobha (Fori) Nehru (extreme left), the wife of BK Nehru, India's ambassador to Washington. Fori, a legend in her lifetime, passed away yesterday at the age of 106 in her home in Kasauli. Next to her stands the statuesque dancer Indrani Rahman (mother of art photographer Ram Rahman), with the President of the United States JF Kennedy, Jackie Kennedy, PM Pandit Nehru, Rose Kennedy, and ambassador BK Nehru. This is the style and elegance that we stand to lose when we demolish the vestiges of an earlier era.
The Hall of Nations in Delhi that was recently demolished, incidentally, is closely associated with this picture. It had been built on Nehru's inspiration and Indrani's husband, the celebrated Habib Rahman, had been on the jury that had commissioned it!
Put that in your pipe and smoke it, we say.