Fearless and feisty

Feb 22, 2017, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

"Fear is the prevailing force today. Dalits, minorities, students live in fear. Businessmen dare not speak," said former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, whose book 'Fearless in Opposition: Power and Accountability,' will be launched at the Nehru Centre today

P Chidambaram
P Chidambaram

"Fear is the prevailing force today. Dalits, minorities, students live in fear. Businessmen dare not speak," said former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, whose book 'Fearless in Opposition: Power and Accountability,' will be launched at the Nehru Centre today.

Chidambaram was responding to our query about what the media, opposition and civic society could learn from the feisty resistance that Americans have demonstrated to Donald Trump's presidency. The book is a collection of the erudite Congressman's Sunday columns and covers a wide range of subjects, mainly economics, the political economy, governance.

"There are five columns on J&K and six on demonetisation," says the man, who, besides his role as a political leader and thinker, also happens to be one of the most sought after and highly paid lawyers in the country. "Fearlessness is the hallmark of a free and democratic society," he says. The event will feature Chidambaram in conversation with Vikram Mehta and Ajit Ranade.

A symphony of a book
It was a select group of some of the country's most high-profile personalities that had gathered this Saturday afternoon, for the release of Harsh Meswani's book 'The Torchbearers: Keeping the Flame of Indian Classical Music Alive.' In it the 18-year-old author, himself an impassioned musician with two albums to his credit, has profiled those who had kept the flame of classical music alive through their dedication and genius.

Nita Ambani and Zakir Hussain at Harsh Meswani's (Centre) book launch
Nita Ambani and Zakir Hussain at Harsh Meswani's (Centre) book launch

"The afternoon had begun with a short performance in tribute to the late Mandolin maestro U Srinivas, to whom the book is dedicated, as his was the first interview that Harsh had done, and perhaps the last extensive one the legend had given," says Meswani's mother Bijal, wife of industrialist Hital Meswani. The book is a symphony of colour portraits and profiles of artists such as Shankar Mahadevan and Rahul Sharma, and also carries forewords by the likes of Shiv Kumar Sharma, Zakir Hussain, Amjad Ali Khan and Amitabh Bachchan.

At its release, Nita Ambani, who did the honours along with Bachchan and Zakir, had spoken passionately about the importance of inculcating art and culture in our lives. Incidentally, the hosts had witnessed Bachchan's famous punctuality. "I'd requested him to come at 12 pm," says Bijal, "knowing how the rest of Mumbai strolls in at its own pace. But he arrived at 11.45 apologising that he had encountered no traffic along the way!" How does he do it?

Unique door stoppers
Oh dear. This real estate baron, known for his penchant for fast cars, flashy women, and in your face security detail, sure had everyone puzzled the other day. Sources say that when he checked into a five-star resort recently, there were at least 15 nubile female Russian escorts who'd accompanied him, along with the rest of his entourage.

What confused people however, was that the women were made to wait outside the door of his villa for most of his stay, rather than join the party inside. What gives? "Most probably they'd been engaged and thus positioned, to buttress his image as a ladies man," says a source. "You could tell the girls were not amused."

A hundred Parsis with bikes
Good to know that the recent Tata-Mistry battle hasn't dampened the legendary joie de vivre of Mumbai's Parsi community. This Sunday, almost a hundred Parsi motorcycle enthusiasts banded together to recreate an age-old tradition of the Sunday morning ride.

Dr Burjor and Jenai Banaji with the Triumph Tiger 500 cc
Dr Burjor and Jenai Banaji with the Triumph Tiger 500 cc

"There were vintage bikes, classic bikes, modern super bikes, which all showed up for a slow jaunt from Marine Drive to Bandra Reclamation," says Dr Burjor Banaji, one of the city's renowned ophthalmologists, whose penchant for trekking, photography, and outdoor adventure belie his somewhat sombre presence in his clinic. This weekend Banaji says he was delighted when he was reunited with the first motorcycle he had ever owned: a Triumph Tiger 500 cc, which he rode through his years at medical college.

"It was so unreliable that I never knew if I would make the journey from home to hospital in one piece, and my long suffering wife often had to push the bike to get us started!!" he recalls with a laugh.

"And here we were last Sunday, the three of us reunited after 40 years, all sins forgiven. I must say it felt wonderful," he says. As for the 'Mad Bawa easy riders,' we're told that true to form, they had been disciplined and orderly, even as they enjoyed themselves and had retired post the ride to the Parsi Gymkhana to feast on a very hearty breakfast!" Nice!

A home with a view
Realtors take note: If you want to sell a property in Goa you might want to take tips from the breezy whimsicality and poetic lilt of Bina Ramani's post on social media this week, about her sumptuous riverside villa, which she is selling. "This North Goa home can be yours! The backyard has a flowing dreamy river, the villa has 5 bedrooms with views. Rent it or buy it," she said, adding, "the cows are free! So are song birds! Send me a note... ."

Bina Ramani
Bina Ramani

Along with a picture of the said villa in the background were her beloved cows in the fore. A weekend artist, Ramani has taken to painting cows in all their glory of late and is particularly fond of these two. Mind you, there is no mention of square foot rate, mod cons or the going rental rate. Buying a dreamy riverside villa in Goa, after all is an act of poetic whimsicality, and Ramani, a renowned international gypsetter knows that the rest is all detail.

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