Dining with the RSS

>> It is fitting that in the week that an Iranian leader has reinstated the fatwa on author Salman Rushdie’s, even raising the bounty – we were invited by BJP spokesperson Shaina NC to meet and engage with Dattatreya Hosbole, the General Secretary of the RSS at her home in Mumbai. Our views on extreme ideologues are pretty well known and they cut across all communities and both sides of the ‘divide’ and Shaina knows them. But she also knows that as journalists we will never pass up an opportunity to learn more about issues and people or divest ourselves of personal biases. The evening turned out to be better than we expected. Hosbole is an articulate speaker and what’s more a thoughtful listener. In Shaina’s elegant drawing room were a dozen or so people drawn from different walks of life and he heard them out patiently. At some point in the discussion he brought up the media’s perceived prejudice against the Sangh Parivar and its misrepresentation of its ideology and actions. “Some of it is our fault, ” said Hosbole candidly, “We have not engaged with the media as vigorously as we ought to have.”

RSS General Secretary Dattatreya Hosbole
RSS General Secretary Dattatreya Hosbole

To which we added our two bits worth: we tried to explain that on the whole people who become journalists are by nature iconoclastic and individualistic. “Every time the media hears of women being roughed up in bars or an artist’s canvas being desecrated or even people taking part in regimented Shakha Pramukh’, it militates against its basic character,” we said. Hosbole responded by saying that it is the fringe-disgruntled elements of the party who resort to these acts. “We have always condemned such positions,” he said, “And always will.” We were happy to hear his audience voice their concerns over communalism and the attacks on minority communities. We were happier to see that Hosbole heard them out patiently and tried to explain his point of view. “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it with my life.” More such exchanges ought to be held.

Ole Senorita!
>> Ever since Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol and Farhan Akhtar shook their booties to ‘Senorita’ in Zoya Akhtar’s delightful ZNMD, there has been a spurt of interest in Flamenco dancing.

Shehzeen Cassum
Shehzeen Cassum

And now, we hear that classes are going to be held for Flamenco enthusiasts in Mumbai by Allianza Flamenca, in affiliation with Alegria Dance Academy.

Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol
Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol doing the flamenco

“This is a limited opportunity to learn the classical Spanish dance form from scratch, with a strong emphasis on technique, posture and style,” says Anu Ansari, one of the moving spirits behind Studio 189, which has put Salsa on the Mumbai map. “Classes will be taught by Shehzeen Cassum, at Studio 189 from September until December, and Ansari informs that a dance background is helpful, but not required. Er no, Hrithik will not be present to demonstrate his moves.

AB’s birthday
>> We hear that arrangements for the much-awaited party thrown by Jaya to celebrate husband Amitabh‘s 70 th birthday is well underway and that Mrs Bachchan is leaving no stone unturned to make it an occasion that worthy of the much loved icon.

Amitabh Bachchan

“It will be formal attire,” said one insider. “And male guests will be required to wear bow ties and formal suits.” Mr Bachchan’s 50th birthday a celebration, which we had attended at the Rooftop Rendezvous, was an equally grand affair we recall. Planeloads of orchids had been flown in from Thailand and the finest champagne was served.

Against religious extremism
>> All those appalled that Ayatollah Hassan Sanei has once again raised the bogey of the Fatwa on Rushdie’s head ought to watch an interview Bill Moyers conducted with the author a few years ago on PBS Channel ( 33621747) on the subject: ‘ Faith and Reason’ which Rushdie recently posted on his wall. It contains some of the finest arguments against religious extremism that we know of.

Salman Rushdie
Salman Rushdie

Vogue turns five
>> Priya Tanna, editor of Conde Nast’s Vogue in India invited us to the magazine’s fifth anniversary party to be held on Saturday, September 22 at the Mumbai’s Oberoi hotel. “

Priya Tanna
Priya Tanna (extreme right). 

Its our first big celebration in five years and would mean a lot to have you there.” We had attended the launch of the magazine in India held at the Jodhpur Palace where India’s bold and beautiful had gathered to partake of an al fresco sit down dinner on the Palace grounds, watch a fashion show and then dance all night to the music of DJ Donna D’cruz.

A lot can and will be said about Vogue and its five-year tenure in India. That it might be responsible for giving us a generation of girls who teeter around in six-inch heels is debatable. What is not is the fact that it has introduced two new creatures to the urban Indian landscape: the Voguette and the Conde Nasty. Depending of course on whom you speak to.

Foodie Week
>> We along with the rest of Mumbai’s foodie populace are eagerly looking forward with fork and spoon in hand to Citibank Restaurant Week India (September 24 to September 30) which offers Mumbaikars a chance to experience some of India’s best high-end restaurants through a prix fixe menu. 

Olive Bar & Kitchen
Olive Bar & Kitchen

Participating restaurants will offer a three-course prix fixe menu (with an option of vegetarian or non-vegetarian) in Mumbai (at Rs 1,000 for lunch and 1,200 for dinner).


The list of restaurants include some of our favourites like Indigo, Indiana Jones and Vetro and some which we’ve been dying to try out like Ellipsis, and Otto Infinito and Maya at the Trident in BKC. Mumbai’s salivating palate can never be quite satiated can it?  

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