Cyber crimes and other things

Dec 15, 2014, 06:01 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Described as a dark and edgy cyber thriller, author publisher Amrita Chowdhury’s ‘Breach’ (Hachette) which along with cyber crime expert Vijay Mukhi we had the pleasure of launching on Friday evening at the Crossword Book store appears to be exactly what the publishing industry requires: an intelligent racy informed read, set in Mumbai written by some one who seems to have mastered her subject and craft.

Chowdhury who is country head Harlequin and whose educational qualifications include IIT Kanpur, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon and Harvard Business School along with her husband Sumit Dutta Chowdhury who as President at Reliance Industries, is busy with the launch of the Reliance Jio 4G rollout, epitomize India’s new urban aristocracy, highly accomplished people, at home any where in the world, who wear their success lightly.

Authors Amrita Chowdhury and Ravi Subramanian
Authors Amrita Chowdhury and Ravi Subramanian

Over coffee and cupcakes we grilled Chowdhury about her latest offering, along with questions to her and Mukhi about cyber crime, women’s safety, hacking and Internet fraud.

How frightened should the average Internet user be about cyber crime? “Very” was Mukhi’s terse response. “For instance, a woman should under no circumstance accept a phone given to her as a gift,” he said. “It’s one of the most commonly seen practices that subsequently every call or sms she then makes will be routed through her benefactor, compromising her privacy.” Said the man who proclaims that ever since Uber messed up in Delhi he’s loath to call himself a technologist. “They gave every one a bad name,” he said.

You have been warned.

Truffles come to town
It used to be foie gras and caviar that were considered the epitome of luxury at any of the top five-star restaurants in the city, fancied and patronized by gourmets and gourmands alike. And while the supply of caviar has always been scarce and there was a recent ban on the import of foie gras in India, a new ultimate luxury item that has started to pop up on many Mumbai restaurant menus is fresh truffles - carefully shaved on your eggs or pasta they have become the ultimate foodie delight and the source of considerable one up-manship amongst self styled foodies.

Alex Sanchez, chef of The Table
Alex Sanchez, chef of The Table

Though many restaurants like Zoe and Indigo have had dishes like truffled mashed potatoes or truffle fries on their menus (prepared with sprinklings of truffle oil) - it is only now that restaurants have begun to get the real thing: black and white truffles freshly shipped in from Europe.

Simply put, a truffle is a kind of a mushroom found frequently in Europe (most commonly in France and Italy). The attraction of the truffle comes from the intensity of its smell and flavour; even a small helping is usually enough to enhance any dish.

So last week, when we walked in to Colaba’s The Table we were not too surprised at being handed a special truffle menu with young Chef Alex Sanchez from the three Michelin Star Restaurant Eleven Madison Park in New York, promising to shave a generous helping of the fungus on our scrambled eggs.

Sanchez (who had launched the restaurant, gone back to the USA and just returned to reside in Colaba) claimed that the Indian palate has evolved from the time he was first here. “More and more people now have knowledge about truffles. They even know the different between the white and black varieties.”

And that isn’t the end of Mumbai’s tryst with truffles: The Leela’s ‘Le Cirque Signature’ has its own truffle festival currently running and we hear they even make their own truffle ice cream using freshly grated white truffles!

So if luxury suits your fancy and your wallet - you can now find the world’s most expensive fungus in Maximum City!

Remembering The Post
The weekend saw a reunion of the Indian Post, the stylish and ahead if its time daily broadsheet, which launched in April 1987 and was edited by S Nihal Singh. Boasting a galaxy of talent such as writers Ayaz Memon, Dina Vakil, Rahul Bedi, Salil Tripathi, Amu Joseph, Nandini Bhaskaran, Ranjit Hoskote, Girish Shahane, Coomi Kapoor, Darryl D’Monte, the photographer Hoshi Jal, cartoonist Hemant Morparia and graphic designer Aurobindo Patel amongst others, The Post was that era’s abiding conceit: a newspaper launched by an industrialist who genuinely believed in an independent press.

Post-Independent Reunion with (L-R) Hoshi Jal, Jyoti Punwani, Dina Vakil, Fawzia (Times), Shashi (Independent) and Meher Pestonji
Post-Independent Reunion with (L-R) Hoshi Jal, Jyoti Punwani, Dina Vakil, Fawzia (Times), Shashi (Independent) and Meher Pestonji

Alas, however it did not last for long, tired of proprietor interference, Singh had handed in his papers shortly after its launch and was replaced by another brilliant editor Vinod Mehta who came in from the Sunday Observer.

And though they all could not be there this Saturday at Mumbai’s Press Club a substantial representation of the crack team did make it to laud, reminiscence and celebrate what was once a truly great newspaper.
“The Indian Post was a bold effort in its time, and The Independent grew out of it. The party at the Press Club showed that the friendships formed, and the humour and camaraderie they generated, continue to thrive.

We would have liked many more to come, but it was great that so many did make it. For a brief moment, it seemed as if these 27 years that have passed didn’t exist, and we recalled a more innocent era of journalism,” writes Tripathi who at the tender age of 25 was appointed its assistant editor.

Those were the days!

Guess who came for dinner?
Whether it’s all a ruse to add to the mythology of his omnipotence or NaMo really is the all-seeing all knowing leader who possesses eyes even at the back of his head, political insiders were chuckling over this latest bit of Modi alacrity: apparently when a senior and suave Union Minister visited the home of a leading billionaire for dinner recently, rumors have it that he received a call the very next day from the PMO with this pointed and sarcastic message: don’t get food in your own house? Of course, whether apocryphal or not, it’s exactly the kind of story that adds to the NaMo legend.

Sad though that BJP MP Sakshi Maharaj and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti on the other hand don’t receive such cryptic messages to rein them in!

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