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Grounded?

>> For those who saw him ascending a Mumbai-bound Jet Airways flight at Heathrow 10 days ago, it was a case of pigs flying! The high rolling, private jet owning Vijay Mallya on a commercial flight? And that to on Jet Airways, the rumored cause of his nemesis?

But for those cluck-clucking about the beleaguered industrialist’s alleged penny-pinching ways and lack of funds, here’s some food for thought.

According to an insider, VJM “has enough funds to cater to all his luxury needs”. The reason for his alighting a commercial flight was only because of the recent problems private jet owners in India have been encountering, because of the clamp down by European authorities due to the security lapse recently (which we had written about). According to this source, “Except for Mukesh Ambani who took to resorting to private charters, everyone else had to fly commercial, while their own jets were grounded!” Whew!

Picture perfect
>> As photographs go, this is one for the archives. Seated prettily on a bench are three amongst India’s most renowned photographers Sooni Taraporevala, Dayanita Singh and Ketu Seth. Taraporevala and Seth are currently being displayed at Delhi’s National Gallery of Modern Art, for their exhibitions ‘Through a Lens, By a Mirror 1977-2013’ and ‘A Certain Grace: The Sidi.


(On bench) Sooni Taraporevala, Dayanita Singh and Ketu Seth. pic/Pablo Bartholomew

Indians of African Descent 2005-2011’ respectively, so, we presume the picture was shot in Delhi. But what makes the picture a collector’s item is its photographer: none other than the legendary Pablo Bartholomew, another of the discipline’s icons. We like!

Missing kid
>> “I used to see him picking rags from the dustbin each day from opposite our building, before getting his kids ready for school. I used to marvel at how clean and tidy he always got them,” says out friend Maleeka Lala, whose family runs the Jaslok Hospital. She had called in a state to tell us that the ragpicker in question Narayan Waghmare’s son, 10-year-old Dinesh (in pic), had been missing since Saturday. “Some of us from the neighbourhood have filed a complaint at Cuffe Parade police station. Senior Inspector SH Barde and PSI More are handling the case,” she said. “Please publish his picture in case people have seen him.” We have, Maleeka. Fingers crossed for Dinesh now.

Combustibles
>> They were the bad boys of rock and roll back in the day when people’s wallets, cheeks and butts were not stuffed with plastic. We remember how the nuns in school would single out the band members of the rock group The Combustibles for a special place in Hell for their wild, women-attracting ways. So, we are particularly happy to know that last month, UK-based Harkit Records, has released two singles that The Combustibles recorded in the early 1970s in a limited edition 7” vinyl record. Good girls go to Heaven. Bad boys live forever through their music!

Salman in France
>> And this from a young Paris-based friend. “Salman Rushdie came to speak at The Louvre auditorium this weekend as part of the Festival des Écrivains de Monde 2013(Festival of writers of the world) being held in Paris and Lyon over five days.

Unsurprisingly, the hall was packed, with people standing in the corridors. Rushdie spoke in English, whereas the host questioned him in French, which Rushdie understood perfectly, stumbling on only one occasion.

Towards the end, he was asked what he thought of Islam. He said, “I’m not a big fan of Islam. I’m the wrong person to ask.”

He also reacted to a question on the fatwa saying that a month after the fatwa, he thought that maybe he did not want to be a writer, not out of fear but rather disappointment. He had spent five years writing Satanic Verses, and this is what he got in return.

He would rather be a bus driver, at least that would be a more respectful job. And mercifully for us, his readers, that bus was never taken.  

Salaam Mumbai: Watching TV
Jokes aside, these days when I watch the news unspool one mishap at a time, I find myself recalling Mr Kurtz’s dying words ‘the horror, the horror’ from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. How far will we sink? How deep can the malaise go? How cynical and self-serving is our agenda? Many years ago, in the age of India’s innocence, the slate of our nation was clean and various segments of its society had not been besmirched.

By the ’60s perhaps, through acts of its own or as a result of Nehru’s tryst with socialism, the business community lost its lustre; soon the halo around babudom fell away and it was not long before the standing of different sections of society began to wither, as scandals and scams came to light: media, the intellectual community, the art world, the financial community, NGOs, godmen, the medical fraternity. One by one, they all fell in the public eye. Often, it felt like the only people who stood for a set of values and principles were sportsmen. There they stood in their simplicity and commitment to sport and honest endeavour. And then before we knew it, that myth was busted too.

The only thing left now is our armed forces. In spite of everything else. they have remained unsullied, apolitical and seemingly above it all — give or take an arms deal or two.

Our armed forces are India’s last bastion of integrity and hope. Politicise them, compromise them, demoralise them and interfere with their working systems and morale, for petty political reasons — and we will have nothing left.

Will the last man or woman then remember to turn the lights off before leaving? 

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