>> She was one of our closest (and kindest) friends when we lived in Delhi. The glamorous Reeta Devi, married into the royal family of Cooch Behar, with Maharani Gayatri Devi as an aunt, legendary photographer David Bailey as a friend and Mother Teresa as mentor belongs to her neighbour Khushwant Singh's inner circle of friends.
“I have to pass by his window each day, you see, and I often pop in. He’s been very good to me and dare I say he’s in very good form,” she said recently to the Telegraph’s Sankarshan Thakur, adding that the writer who turned 99 on Sunday will certainly live to see 100 and more!
Reeta Devi and Khushwant Singh
But amidst her fond prayers and affection for her illustrious neighbour, the feisty Devi registered a note of protest. “LK Advani invites himself to come and wish Khushwantji for his birthday and without asking any one — security gates are put up in E block for a family member to trip and fall over the electric wires!” she said, “Sick!”
Baptism in Goa
>> This weekend we had the privilege of attending our first Baptism in none other than Goa’s most historic church, the Bom Jesus Basilica.
The occasion was the christening of young Rayaan Jose Suresh Miranda, son of Aisha and Suresh Miranda, a stylish and well-heeled couple from Dubai, who happen to be at the top of their respective professions in luxury and interiors. Given their predilection for the finest that life has to offer (the couple, originally from Mumbai, had met in the South of France at a luxury conference!) the festivities had been organised to the highest aesthetic standards and no stone had been left unturned to make it a stand-out affair.
From left to right: Jannat, Dr Rajesh Parikh, mother Aisha, baby Raayan Jose, father Suresh Miranda and Dr Firuza Parikh
There were dinners and dancing at Martin’s Corner, specially created crests for the occasion, open-air sit-down lunches at the Park Hyatt that appeared straight out of the Godfather, and friends had flown in from as far away as New York, New Zealand and of course, Dubai and Mumbai!
We do not know how many of our readers have attended the solemn and beautiful ceremony of a child’s christening. To resonant organ music and a beatific choir, the priest anoints the child with holy water and accepts him into the Christian order.
Prayers are said, speeches are made-and then of course there are photographs and congratulations all round.
Through it all we are happy to report that baby Rayaan (dressed to the hilt in a christening gown made by the same designers who had done young Prince George’s recently) looked every inch the young prince he is. It was only later that he let his hair down and was seen rocking contentedly n his mum Aisha’s arms at the al fresco post christening lunch. We might add that he was dressed from head to toe in an exquisite miniature Armani suit !
Queen of arts
>> As much as the art world is about art — it’s also about power. From New York to London, Paris to Tokyo, there exists vigorous and highly politicised arenas where the mandarins who command the very lucrative art worlds of those markets, keep changing.
The artist is only a small component of this universe. Around him there are gallerists, critics, collectors, auction houses, banks and of course, powerful women who weigh in with their views.
Immersing oneself in the art world and watching how trends, prices and artists emerge is a fascinating occupation, but not for the faint hearted.
And as friends returned from the Delhi Art Fair, we were curious to know who had emerged as the Capital’s zeitgeist cultural czarina.
At one time Lekha Poddar had been the queen of Delhi’s art world. With her Devi Art Foundation and patronage of Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher and Sudarshan Shetty amongst others, this Birla scion along with her son Anupam had built up a formidable reputation as the arbiter of good taste.
But as these things go, we’re informed the crown has now passed to the art collector and philanthropist Kiran Nadar, wife of Shiv, the founder of HCL Technologies. “Perhaps the collection built up by the Poddars was a tad too avant garde for Delhi’s taste,” says a source. “But going by the buzz around her — it’s Nadar now who calls the shots!”
As for Chennai and Kolkata, we are informed that Rajshree Pathy and Raakhee Sarkar are the current art doyennes of their cities.
And Mumbai? There are many contenders — but the jury’s not out on that one yet!
Celebrating gay pride
>> Even though we’ve never walked in support of Gay Pride before, we’d have liked to do so this year:
Because ever since the Supreme Court reversed the July 2009 ruling decriminalising gay sex and then dismissed the review petition filed by the Central Government and other NGOs last week, the rights of the LGBT community have become as urgent as they are fraught.
Supporters of the LGBT community during the gay pride march
With the absurd and highly objectionable tag of ‘criminal’ on their head, this year would enough people — gay or otherwise — march for this unimpeachable cause, we wondered. The answer to that is: yes! We hear that on a warm afternoon last Saturday, the Bombay Gay Pride Parade took off in full swing, bigger and more vigorous than ever before. “Thousands of supporters, including people from all walks of life marched with pride,” says a source. “There was singing and dancing all the way.”
But even though reports hold that this year’s march, the biggest and most colourful ever — it was given short shrift by authorities. The parade was relegated to the back roads of Grant Road (East) and Lamington Road, and ended unceremoniously ahead of the Opera House signal we’re told.
“The police made participants take to the back lanes even while corrupt criminals in cars with red lights disrupt traffic everyday,” said our friend, the dancer and savant Faredoon (Dodo) Bhujwala. We agree!