Dr R P Soonawala, the man who treated Neetu Singh, Parmeshwar Godrej celebrates his birthday

Dec 01, 2017, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

This weekend will mark a special birthday of one of the city's tallest sons, the legendary Dr R P Soonawala, who in a career spanning almost 70 years has been the go-to person for its rich and poor, its high and low

This weekend will mark a special birthday of one of the city's tallest sons, the legendary Dr R P Soonawala, who in a career spanning almost 70 years has been the go-to person for its rich and poor, its high and low.

Parmeshwar Godrej
Parmeshwar Godrej

Such is the renown of the gynaecologist, one of the eight in the world to be awarded the Von Graffenberg Medal by the University of Kiel, West Germany, for his original work in Intra Uterine Contraception, that for every Maharani Gayatri Devi and Neetu Singh and Parmeshwar Godrej in his client list, there were even more whose names were not as famous or high-born.

Neetu Singh and Dr R P Soonawala
Neetu Singh and Dr R P Soonawala

And if Indian doctors are celebrated as being among the best in the world, it is certainly Soonawala (and members of his extended clan, also medical professionals), who have earned for this recognition. Many years ago, we had managed to persuade the good doctor and around 37, or was it 43, members of his clan of medical professionals, for a group portrait for the front page of a daily newspaper, knowing that it would not only be recor-breaking but also archival material.

They had all shown up, except for one member, who was living abroad at that time and could not be there. This weekend, there will be much celebration amongst them and legions of those whose lives he has touched, to celebrate a man, who was an athlete when he was young, and who even today keeps up a grueling work schedule, a demanding travel itinerary and joie de vivre that could put a younger generation to shame. (He still drives his own sedan and enjoys ice cream and candyfloss).

As told by professor Manoj, is it?
Recently, we read on a friend's timeline the finest description of a verbal; take down: 'The victim should take some time before he/she realises that he/she has been dealt a lethal blow'.

(L-R) Mohan Guruswamy, Narendra Modi and Manoj Kumar
(L-R) Mohan Guruswamy, Narendra Modi and Manoj Kumar

By that standard, Delhi-based Harvard-educated policy wonk Mohan Guruswamy, whose razor-sharp commentary on men matters and the political discourse, would qualify. In fact, his latest social media post in which he hinted that the PM's world view might just be inspired by a certain Manoj (Roti Kapda Makaan) Kumar, Bollywood's erstwhile resident philosopher, Guru might just cut.

"Yesterday, our beloved Modiji, while addressing the GES conference, looking at Ivanka, told the world that India had given the world the 'zero' and, by doing so, the binary system. He obviously got his history from Manoj Kumar. History is a little more complex," said Guruswamy, before going into a long and intricate narrative on the origins of the concept that took him from Mesopotamia around 300 BC to Western Europe in the 12th century.

"The shunya in ancient Hindu philosophy is to depict nothingness and is not a mathematical concept," said Guruswamy, before the stinger, "Bas jo Manoj Kumar ney gaaya hai toh wohi hai sahi." See what we mean?

Race to the finish post
There has been a lot of anticipation for ace restaurateur Rahul Akerker's next venture, since he parted ways with the F&B franchise, which he had founded some years ago. It was common knowledge that he had been given a non-compete clause that didn't allow him to open his own venture for a certain period of time.

Rahul Akerker
Rahul Akerker

Now, word comes in that Rahul's next restaurant is almost ready. He will open it at a large property inside the swanky Lodha World Towers in Lower Parel. What's more is that Delhi's popular Town Hall Cafe from Khan Market is said to be in talks to open its own city outpost neighbouring Akerker's in the same complex.

The race for the title of Mumbai's leading restaurant hub is hotting up - contenders include BKC, Bandra, Lower Parel and possibly the new development at the Sassoon Docks fronted by Riyaz Amlani's XXX. Meanwhile, it's boom time for foodies...

A brief respite for Mahabanoo
We have always maintained that humanity and decency are not the prerogative of any one ideology or even political party. It is more nuanced than that. Take the case of our friend, the thespian, feminist and theatre director, Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal, easily one of the most progressive people we know in Mumbai.

Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal
Mahabanoo Mody Kotwal

The quintessential SoBo grande dame, Kotwal, has done everything she can to turn the sobriquet on its head, storming bastions wherever she's gone, be it challenging patriarchal prejudices or performing her long running 'Vagina Monologues' in the hinterlands across India.

It is a matter of great shame that Kotwal, who (not that she will ever mention it) underwent serious surgery not too long ago, has borne the brunt of the collateral damage caused by the Metro excavation near Churchgate, running from pillar to post trying to get some relief from the authorities.

As is known, the Metro work began almost nine months ago and the cutting down of ancient trees was only the beginning of the non-stop trauma being meted out to residents daily. What's worse is that, residents said that despite a court order, the loud drilling just a few feet away from their windows used to start and end outside the stipulated times. Two nights ago, the work continued till 1 am and the cops had to come to shut them down.

For a creative person, and essentially a refined and gentle soul like her, the relentless noise and dust must be sheer hell. Yesterday, mercifully, there appeared to be a breakthrough: "Hurray, 71/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep," she posted at 6.46, when the work had not started, attributing the relief to the intervention of a Mr Satpal of the Shiv Sena.

"It seems he has kept his word. He told me that he would contact the chief of the Marine Drive police station and make him aware of the situation. I hope this state of affairs continues and I don't have to bother him again. Many thanks to Mr Satpal," she posted, giving credit rightly where it was due.

That's what we mean by humanity and empathy not being the prerogative of any one party. And on her behalf and others in the area, who must be grateful for a few morning hours of respite, we thank you too. Keep up the good work.

Time for double celebrations
There are some women who take multi-tasking to another level. Like BJP spokesperson Shaina NC, whose birthday falls today. After spending weeks campaigning in Gujarat for the upcoming elections, the woman came in to Mumbai for a flying visit to bring in the birthday of her daughter Shanaya, who turned 18 yesterday. "It will be dinner with her and Manish and Ayaan at a restaurant of her choice," she said, adding, "We are all such foodies."

Shaina NC with her family
Shaina NC with her family

What would she be doing to bring in her own special day, we enquired? "There will be a meeting with party karyakartas and our NGO activists at our jansampark karyalaya in Girgaum, in the morning," said the dyed-in-the-wool political worker, who had campaigned in Ahmedabad, Surat, Rajkot, Gondal and Baroda.

Interestingly, Shaina's links with the state are multifold. Her father Nana Chudasama is a Rajput from Saurashtra; her mother, the graceful Munira, a Bohri Muslim from Jasdan, and her husband Manish Munot, a Marwari Jain from Rajasthan! What does Shanaya want to do now?, we asked the young woman. "She wants to study finance and business," she said. And then added with a laugh, "And also politics." Attagirl!

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