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Fresh off the Mint

>> And this from our favourite bearded man and colleague Sidharth Bhatia, a piece of delicious mint-flavoured sheer nostalgia in involving two famous authors and our favourite café — Mumbai’s legendary Samovar (conflict of interest alert: it belongs to our mum!)


Zac’ O’Yeah

‘About 25 years ago, largely unnoticed by anybody, a bearded man called Harry was having a cup of tea at Samovar, the café in downtown Mumbai’s Jehangir Art Gallery complex. This was his first visit to the town.’ Begins the article carried in Live Mint by author Zac’ O’Yeah (Once Upon a Time in Scandinavistan and Mr Majestic: The Tout of Bengaluru) published on Saturday about the celebrated British author HRF Keating (1926-2011) of the popular and cult series about Inspector Ghote who wrote detailed and delightfully evocative murder mysteries set in Mumbai without ever actually visiting it.

“Keating wasn’t alone at Samovar that day. He was in the company of a young local writer and they had stopped for lunch at the bohemian café,” wrote O’ Yeah, who himself dropped in for a cup of cheer at said café to interview Bhatia about his memorable encounter with Keating.


Sidharth Bhatia and HRF Keating

“As I recall he had mint tea and I had coffee,” says Sidharth Bhatia, columnist and author of Cinema Modern: The Navketan Story, writes
O’ Yeah, quoting Bhatia’s response to the mystery of Keating’s familiarity with Mumbai with, “I understand that he studied Indian newspapers in the British library, and I think he laid his hands on a police manual. He was also helped by a British adman who used to live here in the 1960s.”

Two, no make that three authors, an iconic café and a shared love of Mumbai — for all those who swear by coffee shops and coco beans we say, so much can happen over a cup of tea…

Two satirists in a plane
>> Early May we will return to Goa for Anil Dharker and Raj Salgaonkar’s joint tribute to Mario Miranda under the aegis of Sunaparanta-Goa Centre for the Arts, the non-profit arts education initiative by the art- and culture-oriented Goa industrialist, which recently hosted a series of big-ticket events. Created as a cartoon festival, the two-day weekend festival will witness a host of big speakers and vibrant discussions on the fine art of cartooning in a country, and an age, where political correctness and authoritarianism threaten its very existence.


Anil Dharker, Mario Miranda, Behram Contractor and Naresh Goyal

Incidentally Miranda, a true Goan son-of-the-soil, was a close friend of both Dharker’s and Salgaonkar’s. We recall flying with him to Malaysia and the late Behram ‘Busybee’ Contractor in the company of Naresh Goyal many years ago to acquire an aircraft for the then nascent Jet Airways.

Two of India’s greatest satirists accompanying one of its most ambitious entrepreneurs to bring back an aircraft. That appears to be the start of a most hilarious joke, but we survived to say that it actually happened.

Be nice to the ladies
>> In the circles that matter in London’s high society, the saying ‘Be nice to the pretty ladies, you never know who they’ll end up with’ is taken very seriously and ignored only at people’s peril.

The same can’t be said for similar circles in India, unfortunately.

We learnt of this great social gaffe committed by a once- buoyant-and-social-mountaineering politician always in a hurry, who at a high-profile wedding, had a very beautiful actress ejected from a copter ferrying VIP guests that he thought he was entitled to first. Of course he got his way. But no guesses for the bad vibes created by that act and for who the said actress eventually married! Always be nice to the ladies!

Modern Living
>> The minutiae of modern urban lifestyles offer much in the way of fodder for scriptwriters like Woody Allen, Nora Ephron, Anuvab Pal and the cartoonists at the New Yorker who mine the tragicomic fault lines that we encounter in our daily lives to great advantage.

To their canon we add another snippet. An overworked and weary couple in need of urgent R&R check in to a spa in Goa. Not just any spa mind you but one replete with mod cons and gizmos and alleged Balinese personnel (not to mention queue of North Indian customers outside who demand family discounts for Papa, Mummy, Puppy and Pinky). Said couple ensconced in a double room, then settled down for an hour-and-a-half of Indonesia’s best kneading and prodding and pummelling.

But here’s the catch. Whereas one of them has been allotted a masseur from heaven (and promptly ascends its stairway one satisfied snore at a time) the other half’s frustration at being stuck with a dud with hands of lead is compounded by the sight of their partner’s obvious ecstasy.

What to do in such a case. Suffer in silence and mounting frustration? Or cry out for help and risk awaking the only half of the package that is receiving what they had paid (through their nose) for? Ah, the endless fault lines of fatuousness we face.

Vintage Beauties
>> There was horsepower of a different kind at the Mahalaxmi Race Course over the weekend. A bevy of over 70 classic vintage cars, dating to 1919 were the cynosure of all eyes. And for added measure, vintage bikes!


A vintage beauty that was on display

The RWITC had a rare and privileged guest — none other than the Honourable Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who not only took a detailed round of virtually every car on display, but then also joined Vivek Jain and Nitin Dossa — the people behind the event, for a leisurely tea! One gathers that it was cars and matters pertaining to the culture of Maharashtra that were discussed, and not Turf Club issues, as much!

The highlights were the seven-seater 1933 Hudson, a 1937 Rolls Royce, an Invicta, a 1933 Ford, Packards and more. The oldest was a 1919 Minerva!

Though the names of owners were not displayed, the biggest collection was from the ‘stables’ of Vivek Goenka, Hormusji Cama, Nitin Dossa and Hemant Ruia! We believe this could well become an annual event! 

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