>> Last week we had written about the doctorates being conferred on a galaxy of distinguished personalities by the Jodhpur National University this Monday night, which included the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Captain CP Krishnan Nair and Dr C Rangarajan, all of whom turned up on Monday night for their investiture. Guests at the event couldn’t help reporting on Bachchan’s grace during the event.

Amitabh Bachchan. Pic/Pranay Gupte

“When it came to Amitabh’s turn to speak, not only did he make a speech in English and Hindi, but to encourage the medical students of the university, he made it a point to note that for all his medical problems over the years he had never, not even once sought treatment abroad,” says our source. “To inspire them further, he recited a poem of his father’s in which he said that excellence is a matter of willpower and hard work. And not only that,” says the impressed admirer, “but after his speech, we noticed that he went up to each and every other guest on the dais and spoke to them individually.” Nice!

RIP Goenkaji
>> The interesting thing about the passing away of a great savant is, that though there is a sense of personal sadness, so successful has been his life in the upliftment of his fellow beings, that the world is not diminished in any way by his departure. In fact, his followers feel his presence as palpable as they would a star in the sky.

And so it was with Satya Narayan Goenka, the great teacher and propagator of the Vipassana meditation technique on Sunday night, when he passed away at the ripe old age of 89, peacefully and amongst his family and loved ones. The news began trickling in from many of his followers who we know. And we noticed that to a man, they were full of gratitude, love and respect. “RIP Guruji Goenkaji, you are graced with eternal metta, love and light and we are forever grateful and thankful to you for giving us Vipasaana,” wrote one of his flock, while another said, “Forever connected by loving his spirit. Happy journey, Master.”

The story of Goenkaji is an edifying one; born in Burma into a prosperous business family, Goenkaji developed a condition of acute migraine as a result of worldly stress, for which he finally sought relief from a Buddhist monk Sayagyi U Ba Khin, who imparted him with the Vipassana technique, a practise that is traced back to Lord Buddha.

In 1969, he shifted to India and started teaching this to seekers. And by 1976, he had established a meditation centre at Igatpuri. Today, Vipassana is taught at over 170 centres in about 90 countries around the world and over 1 lakh students learn Vipassana every year in over 59 languages and free of any charge. And whereas we ourselves have not done the 10-day course, we have visited the Igatpuri campus and had the privilege of hearing Goenkaji speak on a couple of occasions. Each time we have been struck by his sagacity and humility, both qualities of a great soul. RIP Goenkaji, now a brilliant star that illuminates the sky.

Why so low key?
>> He used to be one of the most high-profile and media savvy nightclub owners in town not so long go. Which is why, those in the know are wondering why the owner of this popular mid-city watering hole decided to go so low profile with the details of his recent party. After all, given the kind of guest list he had (right down from the progeny of Z security families, real estate heirs, Bollywood stars to everyone who mattered in Gen Next of Mumbai’s social elite) why was he so low key? Could it be that the revellers were so high-profile that they required kid glove handling? Or that it’s a case of ‘been there, done that?’ for the owner? More likely the former.

The Ambanis fly in
>> And as if the presence of mega stars, hospitality legends and celebrated economists were not enough in the princely city, guess who had flown in that morning? Mukesh and Nita Ambani who had brought in a planeload of friends from Mumbai perhaps as an early precursor to the latter’s birthday celebrations next month.

Mukesh and Nita Ambani. Pic/Pranay Gupte

“They were dining at the terrace restaurant of the Jodhpur palace,” says our source, while Capt Nair newly conferred with his doctorate was at the eatery opposite the lobby. When a dapper looking and especially relaxed Mukesh heard that Capt Nair was next door, he dropped by with Nita to congratulate the octogenarian, who had been a friend of his father’s. “I will not call you captain but doctor now,” he is reported to have said.

Salaam Mumbai: Weighty matters
And now that NaMo has been weighed in silver, there has been a considerable rush in Congress circles to have the same done for Rahul.

“India is a traditional, ritualistic society,” said one of his spinmeisters while googling the word ‘ritualistic’.

Yes, I said.

“So, we are planning a massive rally where our leader too will be weighed in silver coins,” he said.

Good, I said.

“But for that, we have to fatten him up a bit,” he said.

Why is that? I asked.

“Well, you know, our Rahulji cannot be seen to weigh less than Modi,” said the brilliant consultant.

Oh, I said.

“Yes,” said the spin-doctor. “So at this very moment our loyal workers are fanning out to every restaurant in Delhi, to source all of Rahul bhaiyya’s favourite foods: pizzas, pastries, cakes, chaats, nachos, kebabs.” 

Well there’s one you needn’t get, I said.

“And what is that?” asked his strategic advisor curiously.

Humble pie, I said. He already ate that at the Delhi Press Club, remember? I said.

“Yes,” we know,” said his brilliant strategist from Harvard. “Yes, we know.”