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'Dr J'and the Big B

There are hugs and hugs, but this one from no less than the Big B himself — is emblematic of the regard that Dr Jaishree Sharad is held in. The pint-sized dynamo, known as 'Dr J' is a distinguished name in cosmetic dermatology, and has been practicing her craft for the past 15 years, boasting a roster of the who's who of showbiz and Bollywood.

"He has been my idol since childhood. First met him at a film magazine shoot where he talked about his blog. I became a blog member in 2009 and the association started," she says of her association with AB.

Amitabh Bachchan and Dr Jaishree Sharad
Amitabh Bachchan and Dr Jaishree Sharad

And when you consider how important their appearances are for those in such fields, you can understand the genuine emotion behind this heartfelt hug, which she received from AB who inaugurated one more of her expanding chain of clinics this week.

Here comes the rain again
'I think of my mother every time it rains,' posted India's leading news anchor poignantly this week. '(I) love coming home to the soothing rhythm of the water dripping down the leaves softly or slashing loudly against the glass panes. At once primal and poetic,' she wrote.

Prabha Dutt and (right) Barkha Dutt with Annie Lennox
Prabha Dutt and (right) Barkha Dutt with Annie Lennox

"My mother Prabha Dutt was India's first woman war correspondent," said Dutt when we spoke to her last evening. "In 1965, she asked to report the war, but her editors at a national daily said a woman could not be sent to the front.

She then took leave, went on her own to the front and started sending back dispatches to it! In 1999, when I went to Kargil, I knew my mother had done — decades ago — what I was about to do now," she said, adding, "She died when I was 13."

And then, the famous feisty daughter sends us this extraordinary black and white portrait of the beautiful, gritty woman she was born to and who she remembers — especially when it rains. "Love that she named us after the rains," says Barkha.

Banana and chocolate chip muffins in Juhu
We think about Juhu a lot of the time, but most, when it rains. And so when we received news that Sassy Spoon's Rachel Goenka and Irfan Pabaney had extended their successful restaurant franchise to 'Sassy Tea Spoon,' a patisserie in the heart of Juhu, our thoughts went back to the sleepy colony of our childhood, where Pabaney's aunt Zarina Versi, an independent minded spinster, stitched magical dresses of lace and bows for us.

Rachel Goenka and Irfan Pabaney
Rachel Goenka and Irfan Pabaney

What do you recall of the old Juhu we asked Pabaney. "Besant Montessori and the Maneckji Cooper schools, and then NM College were all part of my growing up," he says fondly. "And of course, the cottage in Jussawalla wadi where my aunt Zarina, who we all lovingly called 'Tia Z' lived..."

And sure enough, we were in sleepy rain soaked Juhu, but of course replenished with Sassy Tea Spoon's scrumptious cakes, cupcakes, tarts, brownies, éclairs, cookies, macaroons, tea cakes, and above all their banana and chocolate chip muffins. Yum...

Size matters
Time was when alpha men boasted about a few inches here and there to announce their 'top o' the heap' status.

But such are the times that nothing short of inclusion in the billionaire list of certain American biz magazines will do.

And so when we are informed that swathes of high rollers spend their waking hours plotting and planning their arrival and progress on this most important of lists, we are not surprised.

After all size matters, especially if you're an industrialist in an age when everyone has the pent houses and the yachts and the jets…

Be that as it may, spare a thought for this pair of leading Kolkata industrialists who jointly own a profitable FMCG brand, and who apparently indulge in a daily exercise of counting their pennies, to see whether their rankings are on par … since the previous day.

"Every single day with a paper and pencil they calculate their worth and rankings," moaned one of their paid up chamchas. "Main bilkul thak gaya hoon." At least get them a decent Mont Blanc pen to do so, we said to him.

Back to school
Like most others of our generation, there had been nothing extraordinary about our education. We were sent to rough and ready schools, decent and kind places, but run on pretty outmoded ideas and concepts. Whatever inspiration we received, was at home, where our parents, unbeknownst perhaps to themselves, brought us up in an atmosphere of creativity and challenge.

Vasundhara Patni
Vasundhara Patni

So it's nice to know that today, young mom Vasundhara Patni, wife of Apoorva Patni, a scion of one of the pioneering families of India's IT services revolution, who runs a chain of specialty hospitals, has taken it upon herself to expose young Indian minds to a global curriculum to encourage them to be independent and creative thinkers.

Architects at work in the program
Architects at work in the program

"I have always had an interest in children and education and this was a great way to marry the two," says the alumnus of Upenn about the Expanding Minds Program (EMP), a progressive educational summer workshop for children between thee ages of 5-9, which she has been conducting from 2010. Designed by a team of early education professionals from both the United States and in India, EMP is a creative thinking and concept-building platform that encourages young children to think and reason creatively.

"I wanted to expose young minds to a global curriculum," says Patni about the summer workshop, which is being conducted at the Bombay International School this year. "We promote learning through an array of subjects and activities. The curriculum is structured in a way that engages children in an active and hands on learning process, making learning a more fun and meaningful experience," she says. Great. When can we sign up?

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