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His big, cool friends

>> And now that the ‘Rahul will opt out of PM-ship, in order to run the party in the event of a UPA win in 2014’ theory is gaining more credence, there are many candidates that the Capital’s hyperactive grapevine is appointing for the vacancy.


Sonia Gandhi


Kofi Annan

Through it all, Shashi Tharoor’s name is being bandied around with curious certitude. Those in the know, speak of his stellar qualifications for the role: his international renown, his eloquence, and ahem, his good looks.


Shashi Tharoor

Added to that, we are informed that his two great alleged mentors have recently confabulated. According to our source, apparently, no less than his former UN boss Kofi Annan has pressed his case to Sonia Gandhi. Two big cool friends in the right places? How many can boast of that?

Twin Delights
>> And in a season of celebration, there’s one more in Nita Ambani’s life, possibly her most special, given what a devoted mom she is. Today happens to be the birthday of her twins, Isha and Akash, who turn 22. Over the years, we recall attending many of their birthday parties with our own progeny.


Akash and Isha Ambani

Parties thrown with love, attention to detail and a generosity of spirit that included children across the country. So, how will the 22-year-olds celebrate today? Word has it that in keeping with their recent grad status and work responsibilities, the celebrations will be a tad low-key. Akash, we’re told, who’s lost a ton of weight and is looking quite dashing, has been very busy working with his dad on the new 4G rollout. And as for Isha, she’s been offered a job at international management consultants McKinsey in NYC. And the word is, she wants to gain work experience abroad for a bit. It’s certainly a coming-of-age in more senses than one!

Ping-pong diplomacy
>> “When I asked Mukesh for a game, he readily agreed, saying we should rope in Sachin in future, as the Master Blaster apparently is also very keen on the sport and plays it with both hands,” says Niraj Bajaj, director, Bajaj Group, who also happens to be one of India’s foremost champions of the game, representing the country for seven years internationally and also captaining it for four in the 70s.


Niraj Bajaj and CM Prithviraj Chavan. pics/Shadab Khan

The Arjuna Award winner, who happens to be a scion of the Bajaj family, was at an international tournament on Sunday at the NSCI, sponsored by both Reliance and Bajaj. “It was an impromptu match we played after the tournament,” he says about his high-profile contestants Ambani and Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan, who both could not resist a game.


Mukesh Ambani

And how did they play, we asked Bajaj. “Both had obviously grown up playing the game,” he said. “They were much better than I expected!” Incidentally, Bajaj had led the Indian team when it played in China in 1974, when ping-pong diplomacy was at its best! “Mumbai should regain its premier position in the sport,” he says.

Sour taste?
>> They’ve always been known for their good-natured spirit of mischief, even as they make a comment on current affairs, which is why this time around, when Amul’s hoarding carried a snide comment on bowler Ishant Sharma’s recent abysmal performance, there were howls of protest. “This is outrageous.


Ishant Sharma

It definitely doesn’t go with Amul. There are far too many people to humiliate than a guy who tried and failed,” wrote former publisher of Outlook magazine Peri Maheshwar, a keen observer of media. Other comments like ‘Not done’ and ‘poor taste’ were also heard. But Rahul da Cunha, our friend and fellow columnist didn’t think it was malicious. “I love the guy,” he said about the hapless Sharma, “But he has consistently bowled badly at crucial stages of India matches. Such a senior bowler to repeatedly make the same mistakes. So why poor taste, I don’t understand!” he said, adding, “The Amul hoarding always mirrors what India is feeling. And at the moment, India is angry with Ishant.”

Salaam Mumbai: Being yourself
If you watch one celebrity interview this year, let it be the one with Kangana Ranaut, conducted by Anupama Chopra on The Front Row, which appears to have gone viral since its screening.

We have rarely seen an actress, let alone an individual, speak with such grace, candour and spunk. In its 28 or so minutes, it is not an exaggeration to say that Ranaut demonstrates important lessons in self-actualisation, ethics and individuality.

Asked how she evolved almost butterfly-like from a caterpillar-state, without a hint of self-pity or shame, she speaks about ‘over compensating’ about her small- town roots. When questioned about her picking bad films, again, without a trace of awkwardness, she speaks about the need for money that every professional faces. And when interrogated about her love life, again, there is no trace of bravado or false coyness. “I would like a companion who is honest and sensitive,” she says, adding, “Most actors and directors act as if they are carrying the whole world on their shoulders. Not cool.”

We have always been great admirers of this rare individual who has dropped into our midst with none of the baggage or hang-ups associated with her world.

But this latest outing on TV just confirms that adage we have always believed in:

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.”

Here’s looking at you girl. You seriously rock!¬†

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