>> “They leave home as children but come home as adults,” said Nita Ambani yesterday on the eve of her youngest son Anant’s departure to college. With her elder twins having recently graduated, the proud mum, wife and partner to the country’s leading industrialist Mukesh should know. “But the realisation that Anant is leaving hasn’t actually dawned yet,” she said.
Will the absence of her youngest child free up more time for the committed philanthropist and educationist to devote to her work? “My focus is going to be primarily the Reliance Foundation and its many activities like rural transformation and urban renewal,” she says, adding, “The 80,000 sq ft world class Dr HN Hospital and Research Centre in Mumbai will be ready by the end of the year and we are expanding the ambit of the DAIS school. And this year is going to be my big birthday.” The wistfulness could be a result of Anant’s imminent departure.
Following in the footsteps of his elder brother Akash (now back and working with his father), Anant will be studying biology and business at Brown University -- both subjects he has a passion for. Cited by family members as being the grandson who most closely resembles his grandfather the legendary Dhirubhai Ambani’s larger than life personality, stories of Anant’s charisma abound: “When he was hardly six, Mukesh and I used to take him with Pappa for drives on Marine Drive and I recall him asking me what we paid for the balloons we bought there,” laughs Nita. “On hearing each balloon cost Rs 10, little Anant looked thoughtful. The next day we heard a commotion on the road outside our building.
It was Anant with a huge bunch of balloons in his hand, which he’d filled with his air pump and was proposing to sell on the road himself for Rs 5! The commotion arose from the worried building security who were trying to dissuade him,” she recalls. Other stories concerning his innate business acumen recount his door-to-door fresh milk-selling scheme to residents of Sea Wind and his uncanny grasp of business and political affairs. But most telling is the manner of his departure: called upon to make a speech at his farewell party at Antillia, Anant is said to have flamboyantly pulled out a paper saying he’d made points already.
“He then went on to thank every member of his staff, his teachers (whom he referred to as his gurus) and all the friends and family who he had grown up with,” says Nita. The grand finale was when a procession of his stray dogs and other animals trotted in carrying baskets of flowers in their mouths to say goodbye! “I told him he’d have to write a memo for me about how to care for his menagerie in his absence,” says Nita.
Jaitley fights back
>> Even his worst critics would not accuse him of financial impropriety. Which is why when blogger Prashant Pandey cast aspersions on the source of Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley’s wealth it created a flutter. The two recent blogs titled ‘How does Arun Jaitley make so much money’ and the second blog ‘Forget Vadra, BJP should learn business lessons from Arun Jaitley!’ alluded amongst other things to the 338% rise in the assets of the senior BJP leader and the fact that certain assets of his had increased 5 times.
But what Jaitley’s advocate Pratibha M Singh pointed out in a stinging response was that prior to his RS membership her client had been a highly sought after and successful senior advocate practising in the Supreme Court and High Courts. As a Dilliwalla said, “Anyone wanting to criticise Jaitley should go after his politics not his financial integrity -- which every one knows is unimpeachable!”
Emerald days with Queenie
>> “The store is in baroque style and the new jewellery collection is timeless,” said one of Mumbai’s favourite divas Queenie Dhody about the opening of her flagship store in Bandra this evening.
And what’s her favourite piece of bling and may we have a picture of her with it? “A Columbian and emerald necklace,” said the attractive Page 3 pillar but alas -- demurred: “Not one quarter way decent pic of me and Columbian necklace still with damn karigar! I’m at Hyderabad airport and keeping fingers crossed all will be well!” Us too. As for the ‘not one half way decent pic’ we beg to defer and here’s proof!
>> He more or less redefined Mumbai’s nightlife with his classy SoBo venture, first called Athena and then Prive.
They were to the last decade what Nelson Wang’s China Garden and The Piano Bar had been to the city in the ’90s and Sabira and Chottu Merchant’s Studio 29 to the ’80s: de rigeur places to go to when the in crowd wanted to kick up its heels! And then after their unchallenged reign -- poof -- Vikrant Chowgule’s popular nightclubs disappeared into that great hole in the sky where trendy nightclubs vanish after their sell-by date is over.
The irony is that even though Chowgule has been cooling his heels for the past month in London, today will witness the launch of a new nightclub in the same venue. “But this one has absolutely nothing to do with Chowgule or his team,” says an insider.
“In fact, it is such a shame that the high standards he set are being besmirched by the unknown new lot who’ve come in,” he said. “Their first venture Ghost shut down in three months and now they’re trying to parlay Chowgule’s goodwill with a new one opening today!”
A candle for Dabholkar
>> We cannot find words enough to condemn the dastardly assassination of anti-superstition activist Dr Narendra Dabholkar, who was shot dead on Tuesday morning in Pune.
A champion of rational thought and a fiery opponent of inhuman rituals, tantrics and the preying by so-called religious leaders on simple minds, Dabholkar had devoted his life to his cause. Your life shall not go in vain sir.