Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Prakash Javadekar, Akshay Kumar and Sushmita Sen
This weekend saw a slew of high-profile names wing it to Jaipur, to attend CM Vasundhara Raje's two-day Festival of Education hosted by Dubai-based educationist Sunny Varkhey's firm, to promote holistic education at the grass root level across Rajasthan.
Besides HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, other dignitaries attending were our friend Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the Minister of Culture of the United Arab Emirates, who inaugurated the festival, and delivered the keynote address, along with Akshay Kumar who spoke on his pet topic of personal hygiene, Sushmita Sen who spoke on empowering the girl child, Shabana Azmi, and Minister of State for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap Rudy.
But it was not all work and no play. Saturday witnessed a sparkling dinner at the Rambagh, attended by all of Jaipur's high and mighty, and many who'd driven down from Delhi for the occasion. There was music by Shankar Mahadevan and it all ended with a Bollywood dance performance. Incidentally, so inspiring was Mahadevan's performance, that we are informed the CM offered a place for him to set up an academy in Jaipur on the spot!
A feast for Ashiesh
Architect to the stars, SoBo boy Ashiesh Shah, had quite an eventful birthday weekend we hear. It began with him cutting a cake with BFF designer Masaba Gupta, and ended with him being blindfolded and taken hostage to an unknown location in the city for a surprise dinner.
Ashiesh Shah (with the bottle) with friends
"He literally had no idea about anything, and it is only after he was driven to a venue and allowed to take his blindfold off, that he realised that his friends had booked out the Magazine Street Kitchen and had organised a cook out for him," says a source.
And the evening saw the likes of Prerna Goel, Karuna Rajan, Greg Foster, Mishali Sangani and Samir Dattani don the chef's aprons, and cook up a storm, after which the party moved to Dattani's house, where the group was joined by others including Aaditya Thackeray to continue the celebrations.
Our F&B insiders insist that restaurateur Riyaaz Amlani, the man who put the Social into the Mumbai melting pot, is soon going the Gordon Ramsay way, and will be appearing in a reality TV show called 'Grilled', in which the larger than life food impresario and serial restaurateur will give wannabe new restaurateurs the benefit of his wisdom, as they share their plans of their start-up proposals.
Riyaaz Amlani and Gordon Ramsay
"That should be one fascinating television series providing us hard-to-get insights into the business," says the insider. As the show's name suggests, Amlani will literally grill the punters making for some dramatic moments. Amlani did not respond to our request for clarity on the show at the time of going to press.
Of wits, wags and outstanding achievements
Congratulations are due to our dear friend and former editor, the Delhi-based political commentator and policy analyst, Dr Sanjaya Baru, who is about to become Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the largest, and oldest business organisation in India, making this one of many of his outstanding achievements.
Amit Mitra and Dr Sanjaya Baru
Besides editing some of the country's leading pink newspapers, Baru has served as media advisor for former PM Dr Manmohan Singh, and his book about those years resulted in the best-selling 'The Accidental Prime Minister,' before he went on to head a think tank. Besides (or in spite of) being a brilliant political analyst and a legendary Delhi insider, Baru is famous for his wry sense of humour and wicked wit.
Which is why on hearing the news, many in his circle were given to wit themselves. 'Here's congratulating Sanjaya Baru on his new role as Secretary General of @ficci_India,' posted Delhi wit Suhel Seth. 'Next stop may well be Finance Minister of West Bengal,' he said wryly, as a dig at economist and politician Amit Mitra who having served in the same role at FICCI, went on to become the Finance, Commerce & Industries Minister of West Bengal under Mamata Banerjee. Of course Seth was joking. Baru's earthy sense of humour and penchant for calling a spade a spade mercifully will prevent him from taking the political plunge a la Mitra hopefully.
Growing old, growing young
He's one of the country's most respected business leaders known for his ultra conservative approach to things, and the impression he gives is of being older than he is. But there's hope yet. Word comes in that as part of the ongoing celebrations for his 50th birthday that fell this year, he is off on a Mediterranean cruise.
"There was an earlier destination celebration but that was mainly for family elders and the like," informs an insider. "This time, thankfully, he has even persuaded by his family to let his hair down a bit, and so he's inviting people in his own age group, and it will be a lighter, more relaxed party."
What he does not mention is that all are hoping that the onset of his senior years will see him assume a younger persona. "As it's known he's a bit of a recluse and takes life too seriously," says the source.
Rinaa's balancing act
She may be pint-sized but make no mistake about it. Rinaa Shah is a certified dynamo. No sooner had the Mumbai-based designer mastered the sport of polo, emerging as one of the few women players competing in prestigious tournaments, that she has thrown herself into her next big passion - drumming.
Rinaa Shah on the drums
"I have been playing the drums since the past 8 months and my goal is to start my own gig in a month," she says in her characteristic determined style. "I played at the pool party I hosted for my birthday in Gurgaon recently, to which many Mumbai friends came. I've also played at Cherie with assorted percussion artist and DJs, and at Zorba the Buddha last week."
Why drumming? "It's a great feeling to play a music instrument that is a super stress buster. I believe everyone should play one sport and one musical instrument," she says. "Both balance you, and for me both are a form of meditation that takes me away from the world, and gives me feeling of fulfillment."
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