High notes in Mumbai

Gird up girls; it appears that Mumbai's swoon quotient is in danger of reaching lethal proportions. Not only is the leonine-maned internationally renowned, legendary conductor, the Mumbai born Zubin Mehta, all set to conduct the Australian World Orchestra (drawn from the Vienna & Berlin Philharmonics, the London & Chicago Symphonies in India) on its first-ever international tour next week (a story we first broke more than six months ago), but there's a good likelihood that the beatific Italian classical tenor, recording artist and singer-songwriter Andrea Bocelli might just be here.

Andrea Bocelli. Pic/Getty Images
Andrea Bocelli. Pic/Getty Images

As is known, the vocalist loved for his renditions of Time to Say Goodbye, Con Ter Partiro and Besame Mucho, who became blind at the age of 12 following a soccer accident has been named one of People's 50 Most Beautiful People.

Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta

Incidentally, when asked why she married Bocelli, his beautiful wife Veronica said in a recent interview with the Daily Mail, “He is like an 18th-century gentleman. I fell in love with him at first sight, and I hadn't even heard him sing a note.” Sigh...

Girls just wanna have fun
The nicest thing about the Friday night Fundraiser Gala in Mumbai to support Breakthrough's Mission Hazaar campaign, to prevent gender-biased selection, was the feeling of camaraderie and the generosity of spirit that it fostered. A fashion show involving some of the country's most well-heeled and well-known women, with big egos and bigger Birkins after all, is an organiser's nightmare.

Abu Jani, Jaya Bachchan, Sandeep Khosla and Mallika Dutt
Abu Jani, Jaya Bachchan, Sandeep Khosla and Mallika Dutt

But from the morning when rehearsals were held at the Taj to the show itself, “not one cat fight, or ego problem erupted. In fact the women were cheering and applauding each other, and helping out with backstage makeup. And a glass of wine sure helped calm last minute nerves,” said a spokesperson for the event.

Bindu and Radha Kapoor
Bindu and Radha Kapoor

“So even though there was Jaya Bachchan walking the ramp with Shweta Nanda, Sangita Jindal with her mother Urmila Kanoria and soon to be daughter-in-law Anushree Jasani, Bindu Kapoor with daughters Radha and Raakhee Kapoor, Pinky Reddy and daughter Mallika Reddy, and Kalpana and Sanjana Shah, not one temper tantrum ensued. It was not about whose outfit was better and every one got in to the spirit of contributing.”

In fact it was during the show that we recall Jaya Bachchan whispering to us, “Do mention that I will be walking wearing the same outfit by Abu-Sandeep that I wore at Shweta's wedding,” she'd said. Nice!

Some vegetables and a hen
Any Asian women's power list that begins with Begum Abida Parveen and ends with Zoya Akhtar, gets our vote. But the recently announced World Consulting and Research Corporation's '100 Most Powerful Women of Asia list' contains such other gems as Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, boxer Mary Kom, and IVF specialist Firuza Parikh amongst others.

Firuza Parikh, Malala Yousafzai and Mary Kom. Pic/Getty Images
Firuza Parikh, Malala Yousafzai and Mary Kom. Pic/Getty Images

And whereas the legend of most of the other women belongs in the public domain, we have had the privilege of knowing Parikh personally and know the levels of genius, commitment and sincerity her path contains.

For instance, we have run in to Parikh at the crack of dawn at Mumbai airport waiting patiently in the long queue, to catch the first flight to remote and distant places where she offers her services to barren and hopeless women bereft of children. We have visited one such centre.

“Most of the families are so poor that when they want to show their gratitude for finally being able to have a child, they've come with a few eggs from their farm, even a few bunches of vegetables. I even was presented a live hen once,” said Parikh fondly.

Incidentally, the award function to honour those on the list will be in held in London's Grosvenor House, where coincidentally, not so long ago, Parikh had been put up by the British Government in 6 BR apt. She had been invited to address a committee of the British Parliament in Parliament House on Stem Cell Research.

Though knowing Parikh's slightly absent minded professorial aloofness to awards and celebrity, we're sure she mustn't have even noticed her grand accommodation. No difference between a hen and a few sprigs of corn, or heady applause from British Parliamentarians for Firuza Parikh. Which is exactly the way it should be after all.

Party politics we like
Well, you have to hand it to him. High profile Congressman, Tehseen Poonawalla, has a unique way of protesting against India's unfortunate turn to Puritanism and misguided nationalism. To announce his political opposition to the culture of bans that are becoming so frequent in our country, he is organizing a series of protests.

Tehseen Poonawalla and Ghulam Ali
Tehseen Poonawalla and Ghulam Ali

The first among these is 'an exclusive dinner on November 7 along with Pakistani ghazal legend Ghulam Ali at his home in Pune,' said an email we received. A party to protest against this objectionable narrowing of our hearts and minds? We're all for it!

Size matters
Our Oolong-tea favouring friend (OTFF) had revealed a hilarious insight into the psyche of a handful of city high rollers.

Apparently to keep up with the big boys and their shiny toys, this clique having acquired their mandatory yachts, has found that of course it's not just any yacht that gets you noticed — you have to own a yacht of decent length.

To give you an example, the UAE President at 180 metres owns the longest. Vijay Mallya's Indian Empress clocks in at 95 metres - and you need to be above at least 85 metres, or you just won't be taken seriously in the circles that matter.

“So there's this sweet chap whose yacht at 85.04 meters has just made the grade by a whisker of .04,” informed our OTFF. “All this just so he can say mine's big too,” she said wickedly, adding, “Who says size does not matter?”

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