Going pear-shaped in Dubai

It's not every day, that we receive text messages which have words like 'suing' 'five million US dollars' and 'Newsweek'.

But that was exactly the cryptic SMS we received from Dubai-based author and columnist Pranay Gupte yesterday. 'Suing Newsweek for US$5 million. Suit filed today in New York and Dubai. Am in Chennai. Please call; thanks' was the entire terse missive.

Pranay Gupte
Pranay Gupte

It might be recalled that a few months ago, the Mumbai-born former journalist of NYT had been roped in to shepherd a Middle Eastern edition of the iconic American magazine, whose regional title had been acquired by a group of Pakistanis.

The genial Gupte's social media posts, which had initially reflected his enthusiasm for the venture, had been observed to have rapidly turned sour and pear-shaped all too soon. Can we break the story, we asked Gupte, when we spoke to him in Chennai about the matter. "You sure can," he said. So we just did.

Timeless melodies
Bijal Meswani who works tirelessly to support Magic Bus, amongst other good causes and who is married to Ambani cousin and executive director of Reliance industries, Hital Meswani, known to be part of the Reliance core team, has reason to be chuffed.

Bijal and Hital Meswani
Bijal and Hital Meswani

Her teenage son Harsh's first album titled Timeless, consisting of covers of classic rock songs is available on Itunes we hear, and the lad has not only played all the instruments on his keyboard, but also belted out some pretty decent notes.

Harsh Meswani’s album cover
Harsh Meswani's album cover

And what's more, he's done it all by himself, to support a cause dear to his heart: a midday meal programme for disfranchised children. Nice!

Separated at birth?
For some reason, we are inordinately delighted by twins. Real ones born of the same womb, and those who appear to be cosmically-related. Like those in this pair of hilarious portraits.

Bhaichand Patel and Prem Shankar Jha
Bhaichand Patel and Prem Shankar Jha

Of garrulous high roller and sound bytes deliverer, and man-about-town Suhel Seth, and equally garrulous high-roller and sound byte deliverer, and man-about-town Sunil Alagh who appear to be joined at the hip.

Suhel Seth and Sunil Alagh
Suhel Seth and Sunil Alagh

We shot the picture ourselves at a dinner not so long ago, at Sanjay and Zarine Khan's, when the decibel levels of both high-spirited men had achieved ear-splitting levels. Even while we shot it, we knew it would afford us many hours of giggling.

The other portrait, of two crusty old Delhi bachelors, both pillars of the Lutyens set, the erudite outspoken and eccentric Prem Shankar Jha, seen in identical profile with the erudite outspoken and eccentric Bhaichand Patel at the KSLF, is equally entertaining we think. Separated at birth, cosmically-related, or just twins lost in the Kumbh long, long ago, we leave it to you, gentle readers.

Rocking his boat
Our Oolong tea-favouring friend was beside herself, insisting we went over right that moment. Propped up by half a dozen cushions, with her plump and expensively serviced scarlet painted toenails matching the exact shade of the Raza on the wall behind her, she was chuckling away to herself, when we entered her 'den'. "So that's their modus operandi," she gurgled. "Such a cozy arrangement na?"

What on earth are you talking about, we said. "The gallivanting, much married Mumbai-based high profile tycoon," she said shooting us a withering glance. "You know, the one who has a yacht permanently sailing the high seas. Guess how he manages to spend time with his er paramour?" She cackled.

No idea, we said, but we're sure you will tell us. "He invites the lovely lady with her husband to holiday with him on his yacht," she said. "After a few days, hubby conveniently excuses himself to attend to urgent work in Paris, and the er paramour allows herself to be easily persuaded to stay back for a few more days of European sojourn," said our Oolong tea favouring friend. "It's so civilized, na?"

If you insist, we said. "Infinitely civilized," emphasized our friend, already punching her cell, eager to spread the news amongst her tribe of SoBo grande dames. But not before she said "Boy, zara more hot water lao, please."

Swimming with the sharks
The last time the hunky deep sea diving indie film directing Homi Adajania went diving, his boat hit a rock in the dead of the night, and almost sank. In complete darkness, the occasionally thinking woman's pin up found himself stranded 1,500 kms off the coast of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean; the boat was quickly filling with water and outside it was teeming with sharks.

Filmmaker and scuba instructor Homi Adajania in the Andamans. Pic/Sumer Verma
Filmmaker and scuba instructor Homi Adajania in the Andamans. Pic/Sumer Verma

Now word comes in, that Adajania has had another narrow escape. On a recent job in the Andamans, which involved diving off an unidentified WW2 shipwreck, the SoBo lad found himself in deep waters. The ship had blown-up and sank very deep into a strait.

When asked about this, he laughs, "It was a tricky gig and the strong currents could have pulled me into a salt-water crocodile estuary. Believe me, I've seen these Andaman crocs a few times," he shuddered. Come, come, Adajania, an outsider to the Mumbai film whirl, has managed to survive far more rapacious creatures in the Bollywood pond, we're sure.

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