High tea at Shilpa's

The lissome Shilpa Shetty Kundra invited us for high-tea this Tuesday to her stunning Suzanne Khan-decorated home in Juhu. We try and miss no opportunity to visit our childhood neighbourhood, and though it took us a very long time to get there, we were glad to have made it.

Shilpa resides in a sea-facing condominium built on the precincts of the cottage once owned by the late Sunita Pitamber on who we have penned an article in a fashion magazine this month. “Amitabh says it’s always a very special place to visit, as it’s where he used to bring Jaya when they were dating,” said Shilpa, as she served us a generous helping of gently steamed water chestnuts and a chilled pudina welcome drink.

Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Nisha JamVwal and (R) Chhaya Momaya
Shilpa Shetty Kundra, Nisha JamVwal and (R) Chhaya Momaya

“Everything you see on the table is wholesome, nutritious, and from my book, The Great Indian Diet,” she said, pointing to a table groaning with delicacies. Both Nisha JamVwal and Chhaya Momaya, who were also present, spoke about their tryst with healthy eating and living.

Then Luke Coutinho, the charming young holistic nutritionist and exercise physiologist, who has co-authored the book with Shilpa, spoke about the study he was conducting at Yale on cancer patients and their treatment through foods.

“There have been path breaking successes of patients who have been weaned off chemotherapy by being put on the diet,” said the founder director of Herbs Nutrition Pvt Ltd. “I am so grateful to my parents who inculcated healthy eating habits in us,” said Shilpa.

“Indian food is the very best of all. Why on earth should we eat quinoa when we can have rajma and brown rice?” she said. “Red rice is even better,” said JamVwal. Momaya nodded thoughtfully at this but didn’t look too convinced. Shilpa passed around some more water chestnuts.

“I have sent the book to our PM,” said Shilpa. “He is a vegetarian and believes in healthy Indian fare,” she said. That’s when we came up with what we thought was the wittiest line of the evening. “Yes,” we said. “Our PM loves dal,” we said, then added, “Tour dal.” “Brilliant!” said JamVwal, “Super,” said Momaya. And we were happy to see both ladies agreeing for once over something!

Lunch with Asha
Salvador Dali, Francoise Gilot, Jonas Salk, Paloma Picasso, Bina Ramani, Kamaldevi Chattopadhaya, Akbar (Dumpy) Ahmad, Simi Garewal, Harindranth Chattopadhyaya, Boy George, Naveen (Papoo) Patnaik, Tarun Tahiliani, Romulus Whitaker, Khushwant Singh, Salim Ali, The Shah of Iran, Asha Sheth, Bob Geldof, Raj Kapoor... if you’d eavesdropped at a lunch yesterday, taking place at the Yacht Club’s Dining Room, where we were catching up with old friends — including the New York-based jazz singer Asha Puthli — these would have been the names you would have heard discussed.

Naveen Patnaik, Asha Puthli. Pic/AFP, Rajmata Gayatri Devi
Naveen Patnaik, Asha Puthli. Pic/AFP, Rajmata Gayatri Devi

Puthli is an icon of many worlds; as a young woman, this daughter of a well-heeled publishing clan (her father owned the first off-set printing house in India), had left India in the Sixties and rapidly become the toast of the fashionshowbizglam Andy Warhol set in New York, acting in avant garde movies and cutting path breaking discs.

Over a fine fish Veronica (no kidding), some couscous salad and asparagus soup (OK there was a steak and roast potatoes and a carrot and ginger cake too), Puthli, a natural storyteller, told us of how she might have been the inspiration for not only the roles played by Simi Garewal in Siddhartha, and Zeenat Aman in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, but also for the one played by Linda Lovelace in Deep Throat. Yes, such was the banter that took place as fellow lunchers measured their lives out in coffee-spoons around us.

Many stories were unprintable, many were fantastical. But one we must share: when he spoke of the iconic Puthli to us, Naveen (Papoo) Patnaik, now all powerful CM of Orissa, at that time a pillar of Lutyen’s Delhi had said, “The Rajmata of Jaipur used to always say fondly of Asha: she can turn a gay man straight and a straight woman gay!”

As we were saying, it was a helluva lunch to eavesdrop on yesterday at the Yacht Club!

In a city that is notoriously late
Next week will see the coming together of two iconic luxury watch brands at an event to showcase the 2015 collection of one of the brand’s watches for the first time in India.

Vivaan and Nikhila Bhatena and (R) Divya Palat
Vivaan and Nikhila Bhatena and (R) Divya Palat

The event will take place next Wednesday at a mid town rooftop bar, and a discerning audience is expected. Incidentally, the event has been put together by Nikhila Palat, a former longtime PR personality of a well known five-star, and sister to the talented actress and theatre personality Divya Palat.

With this outing, Nikhila, who is married to hunky actor Vivaan Bhatena (he recently featured in Bolly movies Hero and Katti Batti), makes her foray into entrepreneurship with her management startup. And given the iconic brand names involved, it looks like Mumbai’s notoriously late latifs (Midnight’s Children, as we call them) will show up for this one on time.

Media’s musical chairs
Sources say that the much-awaited collaboration between a new English channel and a foreign media conglomerate will not go through after all.

A few months ago, we, along with many others, had written about this impending partnership, but word comes through that the foreign entity has agreed to remain yoked to its current Indian media house even after its recent change of hands — and loss of key personnel. The media’s game of musical chairs is alive and kicking!

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