Dining with royalty

As expected, the gala dinner reception held at a five-star ballroom on Sunday evening for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, or as their new acronym WillKat goes, resulted in a flurry of news leaks the next day from those who attended, eager to share the details.

From the curious but charming seating arrangements: guests were initially made to stand around consoles in groups of nine along with a designated British ministry official to wait to be greeted by the royal couple; the invitation came accompanied with a one page protocol and logistics advisory; to the proceedings of the evening — Shankar Mahadevan and his son sang three songs, Shiamak Davar’s troupe did a medley of Bollywood numbers.

Prince William and Kate dine at the reception held for them
Prince William and Kate dine at the reception held for them 

Shah Rukh Khan gave a welcome speech, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan presented a bouquet of pink roses to Catherine; there was a delicious Thali service...

Kate with Cyrus Poonawalla
Kate with Cyrus Poonawalla

What no one wants to admit is that aside from the High Table, on which the couple sat with a few handpicked guests, every one else present were more or less fillers for the occasion: made to come early, wait for almost an hour to get their two seconds of royal PC, and then to watch from the sidelines as those on Table One spent the rest of the evening breaking bread and exchanging sweet nothings with the couple du jour.

And who were the cherry picked few who had been invited to sit at this august table and dine with royal pair? Shah Rukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, RBI Governor Dr Raghuram Rajan, the Taj’s Rakesh Sarna and Dr Cyrus Poonawalla and family, including son Aadar.

Did these table arrangements cause a tad amount of heartburn among the rest of the invitees? Given the fragile egos possessed by the city social set, what do you think?

No cavalier on toast and foie gras any more
They have long been celebrated for their legendary hospitality, and the splendour of their tables groaning with delicacies, and with both Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla showing particular fondness for good food, the fact that the celebrated designers are both undertaking a self-imposed detox at a European Spa, it has been received with a fair amount of incredulity by their friends and fans.

Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, and one of their detox meals
Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, and one of their detox meals

But of course, even here the maestros display an unerring eye for detail. Dispatches from their spa read: ‘Thebigbreakfast #atthespa #imagine #me #eating #misosoup #tinyolives #riceporridge #tiny #cutfruits #thatsall #smile #abujanisandeepkhosla #original #always #trendsetters and other such plaintive communiques.

Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla on a detox? Goodness, what is the world coming to?

Karmic connection to publishing coup?
“Like all publishers I have been hooked on getting the book and have been in touch with him for a while,” said Juggernaut’s Chiki Sarkar, about the fact that her newly formed publishing venture had won the rights to publish what must easily be this decade’s most interesting saga.

Chiki Sarkar and Rajat Gupta. Pic/AFP
Chiki Sarkar and Rajat Gupta. Pic/AFP

It is the story of how Rajat Gupta, prince of the corporate world, a man as admired as he was respected, fell from grace after being convicted for leaking tips to hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam and spent 19 months in a US prison as a consequence. Gupta, who for nine years had headed the world’s most renowned consultancy, McKinsey, and who hit the headlines with what was said to be the largest insider trading case in the US – will be penning his memoirs for Juggernaut.

“My life has had many ups and downs and in this book I want to talk about my struggles and how I’ve found solace, strength. How do you act without attachment? Help others without expectation. And forgive without bitterness,” said Gupta, known for his good looks, who is said to have turned deeply spiritual in the past few years with particular interest in the Bhagwad Gita and its laws of cause and effect.

Cause and effect and the laws of Karma could subliminally have had something to do with Juggernaut’s publishing coup. Born in Kolkata, Gupta’s journalist father had worked for the Sarkars. And it was this family, who is said to have stepped in and helped the young Gupta and his siblings when they’d been orphaned in their teens. One good deed deserves another.

By affording the rights to what will certainly be one of the most awaited books of our times, Gupta is also perhaps unknowingly repaying a karmic debt he owed Sarkars’ progeny — Chiki Sarkar and her newly minted publishing venture!

Level playing fields
Even as party hearties in Mumbai were torn between the many varied entertainment options in the city on Saturday night, which included the IPL game and the Miss India contest, word comes in, that this scion of Mumbai’s pre-eminent political clan, was content to chill with his pals at a five-star pop up hosted by his close friend.

And according to those present, his presence came in for a fair share of teasing with other guests asking why the lettering of the event had not been rendered in a local script, or the music changed to more ethnic beats. What’s more, they say that though he was seen having a good time till the wee hours, the cops magically arrived only a moment after he left the site. That’s the way the big boys play.

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