From our Dubai source comes this story about the recent visit of top anchors Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai along with Congressman Shashi Tharoor to the desert state, to participate in a media seminar hosted by the Indian Institute of Chartered Accounts recently.
"On the evening of the panel, a mutual friend suggested that he, Barkha, and a friend dine at The At.mosphere in the Burj Khalifa which, at 123-storeys, is the world's highest restaurant," said the source. Apparently, when Barkha and company entered the restaurant, they spotted a group of aides to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Devendra Fadnavis and Barkha Dutt
Several hours later, well past the kitchen-closing time of 11 pm, when the diners walked to the elevator, who should walk out but Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. What followed was a cordial conversation between the ace anchor and the young CM, literally in the spot where the elevator door meets the platform.
"The time was almost 2 am. Since the restaurant's kitchen had been closed for nearly three hours by then, surely Fadnavis wasn't expecting dinner, or even a snack," said the source, adding, "But the bar was open and busy, and in the finest Dubai traditions peopled with quite a few blond, East European single women habitues of expensive joints like The At.mosphere, where reservations are difficult to obtain."
"Of course, there's nothing that says that an Indian chief minister cannot visit an expensive bar in Dubai at 2 am. Perhaps Fadnavis was checking out how tall buildings are constructed and populated, so that Mumbai could surpass the Burj Khalifa," said the source.
We told you so
We hate to say we told you so, but now that Lalit Modi is at the centre of things and his connection with Interpol Secretary General, Ronald K Noble is in the news after the agency has allegedly given him a clean chit, we'd like to recall an item that we'd carried last August citing the IPL founder architects' close friendship with one of the world's leading security heads.
Ronald K Noble with Shah Rukh Khan
"Only a few weeks ago (that) we had written of Modi's blandishment of Interpol's trendy 'Turn Back Crime' wristband. Found on the wrists of various showbiz celebs and high rollers, it's no surprise that Modi's famous IPL colleague has been named brand ambassador of Interpol's worldwide campaign against organised crime," we'd said, along with this pic of SRK with Noble.
And on the subject of Modi, we had, in fact, carried another equally interesting item last October: "(Modi) is said to have formed a consultancy firm called 'Last Call', which offers expertise to those who might experience similar hardships," we'd written. "After all, the knowledge he's acquired and the contacts he's made with top international lawyers, security agencies and authorities is unbeatable," said a source.
Sounds good, but at the rumoured $2.5 million per contract, only heads of state, top bizmen and the likes will be able to afford the services of 'Last Call," we'd said. To which, we'd like to add: at the rate the London based bon vivant is trumping his opposition — rates for Last Call's services might get even higher!
Expert time management
Nice to catch up with Shalini Piramal, who has taken over as president of the IMC's Ladies Wing, along with her husband Dilip (VIP) Piramal's ascension as president of the IMC for the coming year.
Shalini Piramal and Gauri Khan
"I plan to focus on social responsibility and work in areas like malnutrition, skill development and the rehabilitation of children of sex workers," she said before telling us of a forthcoming seminar she is planning to hold in August on women and time management.
"We hope to invite Shobhaa De, Gauri Khan and Amruta Fadnavis as speakers," she said, naming three women who undoubtedly are authorities on the subject. Way to go.
The chef, the photographer, the visual artist, and the painter
Could there be anything that epitomises hipster urban cool than this selfie featuring a chef, two shutter bugs, and an artist? "It was a selfie," laughed Samar Jodha, the peripatetic photographer, when we caught him between Venice and Dubai last evening.
Rahul Akerkar, Sheena Sippy, Samar Jodha and Bharti Kher
"Sheena Sippy took it on the occasion of the opening of the Indigo in Delhi. The others in the picture are Rahul Akerkar and Bharti Kher," he said. "And if you look behind us, you can see part of the two copper and brass metal works acquired by the restarting that was part of my show Outpost at the last Venice Biennale," he added.
"Sheena was getting us all in the frame plus the brass work on the wall in our selfie attempt," said Jodha whose next project is 'in Afghanistan conducting photo workshops with children in conflict regions.'
When we were young
They are known as the yin and yang of TV news anchoring. The trenchant, in-your-face Arnab Goswami, and the laidback and considered Rajdeep Sardesai. And not only do their styles differ so widely, but, right now, the battle for TRPs is also at its peak between Times Now and India Today, the channels that the anchors head.
Rajdeep Sardesai and Arnab Goswami at NDTV
Which is why, when we chanced upon this archival picture of the two men taken many years ago when they were not rivals, but colleagues at NDTV, that great incubator of TV news talent, we found it delightful.
Here you see them as two young men at an office meet with lots of bonhomie, and with stars in their eyes. Who would have thought that the two would not only leave NDTV a few years later, but also go on to make TV news history?