Empowering their daughters?

Ok, even we are tired of saying 'we told you so' but in spite of sounding like a stuck record — we will say it once again. Yesterday even as every newspaper headline, carried the story of the sale of the Jatia bungalow for a whopping Rs 425 crore to Kumar Mangalam Birla, we are happy to say that not only were we the first to feature the sale of this prime piece of real estate, but had actually been the ONLY ones to mention it in the media so far.

We were first to feature that Jatia House, bought by Kumar Mangalam Birla, was on sale
We were first to feature that Jatia House, bought by Kumar Mangalam Birla, was on sale

"Said to be worth in the region of Rs 400 crore to Rs 500 crore! Like the next-door Bhabha mansion, the sale of Jatia House is sure to be a closely watched affair", we'd said in an piece titled 'Most coveted mansion' as far back as on July 22 this year proving, as always that we pick up on stories even before they headline.

Kumar Mangalam Birla
Kumar Mangalam Birla

Be that as it may, word comes in that Birla has most likely bought the bungalow to bequeath it to his daughters. Naturally, our Oolong sipping, prime real-estate tracking friend was beside herself with excitement about this.

"In the grand tradition of Marwaris like Sajjan Jindal and Ravi Ruia, and in fact, in the case of Kumar's own sister, married daughters are given a property," said our friend. "It appears that Kumar's two daughters will get a choice of the Jatia bungalow or the four apartments at Ill Palazzo at the right time," she said.

"The Marwaris must be commended for being so progressive and empowering their daughters in this way. After all, as one of my favourite book club authors Virginia Woolf has written, every woman needs a room of her own Na? Boy, some hot water please jaldi".

Song and dance over Asha
Who best to eulogise Asha Bhosle on the occasion of her birthday which fell yesterday, than one of her most ardent fans — Filmfare's editor and our former colleague, Jitesh Pillai. "Like Remy Martin her voice grows finer as she ages.

Asha Bhosle with Jitesh Pillai
Asha Bhosle with Jitesh Pillai

She peaks when she hits the higher notes unlike her other contemporaries. And we often tend to forget it's a great grandmother who's scaling the peak, traversing maybe four or five, maybe six generations of music directors. From S D Burman to R D Burman. From Chitragupt to his son, Anand Milind.

From Naushad to Code Red. I'm yet to see a singer who's constantly reinvented the form and her voice. In one word, terrific," he gushed. And why does Pillai single the diva out for so much praise? "I went to do an interview with her for Sunday Review. She gave me lessons of a lifetime.

She doesn't speak from the heart — she speaks from her gut. Full of anecdotes, her pure soul reflects in the amber tones of her voice. She adds grace and gravitas to even the most blah of questions. Seldom do you see celebrities making even journos look good. He said, adding quite predictably, "To know her is to love her — unconditionally!"

Safe and sound
Those who read of the incendiary words between William Dalrymple and Aatish Taseer, might be forgiven for thinking that the former's gratitude, for having emerged unscathed yesterday had something to do with them.

William Dalrymple
William Dalrymple

But no, Dalrymple, in fact, happened to be amongst the 146 passengers on AI 405 Khajuraho-Varanasi-Delhi who'd had a miraculous escape on Monday after their plane made an emergency landing due to a technical snag. "Not every day your plane catches fire and you leave by a slide while being doused with fire hoses, but I'm home and completely fine — not a scratch, thank God," said the relieved author.

And of course, his safe landing brought much cheer to his family, friends and fans. 'You realize the preciousness of people when they have a close brush with something terrible. It is frightful to imagine a Dalrympleless Delhi,' wrote one. 'A Dalrympleless Delhi'? Even Taseer wouldn't like that.

Branding India
News comes in that Amrita Chowdhury, author and former Country Head and Publisher of Harlequin India, has joined as the Head of Business for DY Works. What's that we asked the publisher, whose last novel Breach we had occasion to release at Crossword.

Amrita ChowdhuryAmrita Chowdhury

"DY Works is the largest strategic branding firm in India, which build brands beyond advertising and finds culture-based solutions," she said, adding, "We also look at innovative branding solutions for rural India, Smart Cities, SMS and start-ups." But why did she leave Harlequin?

"My move followed the global merger of Harlequin with HarperCollins, and comes at a time when the Indian marketplace has opened up to the notion of branding at all levels," said the engineer from IIT and MBA from Carnegie Mellon. "Interestingly, the largest ever IPO in US history was for the Chinese brand Alibaba last year," she said.

Naughty restaurateur
Oh dear, the Food and Beverage grapevine has been jangling with news of some rather naughty activities of this capital-based businessman and restaurateur, whose company operates over 25 food properties in India, including one upcoming mega 40,000 sq ft property in Pune.

Word is that his empire has grown exponentially in recent times and he has further plans to open a whopping 150 restaurants in India and abroad. "He's popping them out like eggs," said a source familiar with proceedings in the industry.

"It's allegedly a front for laundering of money," said the source. "And he finds many an investor in his projects, mostly bars as he also manages to change the colour of their money. Kudos to him for getting this far but it's a precarious business model," said the source, pursing his lips in disapproval.

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