>> We dined with the very posh outgoing chairman of Shell, Vikram Mehta (educated at Mayo College, St Stephen’s, Oxford and Harvard!) last week on the eve of his trip to Pakistan where he was slated to speak at ‘Aman Ki Asha’ the Indo-Pak Economic Conference. Looking forward to meeting his friend, the swashbuckling cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan whose Tehreek e Insaf movement is making waves, Mehta, who shared a room with the Pakistani legend while at Oxford, told us a very funny story of how the two met.
“I was new to Oxford, didn’t know too many people there and at a bit of a loose end, so when I received an invitation to an evening party on campus, I thought it might be a good place to meet some fun interesting people. But to my dismay when I arrived at the venue I found a Christian evangelical group was hosting it in order to convert students to its faith!
So, there I was very bored, when across the room my eyes spotted another tall young Asian, who probably had made the same assumption. It was Imran Khan! We had a good laugh about our error of judgment and have been close friends ever since!” Hilarious especially when you think of Imran’s avowed religious convictions!
The enfant terrible gets older
>> One of our favourite designers, the Delhi-based Rohit Bal celebrated his 51st birthday on Tuesday, and we wondered how India’s most flamboyant designer was going to bring it in.
“The workers at his factory in Noida threw a lunch for him this afternoon and there will be a small impromptu party for family and friends at his home in Defence Colony,” Alok, his partner at Veda told us. From all accounts the party was full of old friends, great bonhomie, lots of laughter and warmth and a striking cake shaped like a giant champagne bottle. Once known as the enfant terrible of the design world, Bal has obviously grown up. When we asked him if he’d mellowed, he responded with: “Yes. Like a fine wine. Hahha!”
Dead Poets Society
>> The exquisite poet, cultural theorist and curator Ranjit Hoskote (if you haven’t read his recent ‘I, Lalla: The poems of Lal Ded’ — Penguin Classics — do yourself a favour and get a copy!) under whose general secretaryship the PEN All India Centre headquartered at Theosophy Hall has been flourishing, invited us to participate in a tribute to the recently departed gay feminist American poet Adrienne Rich (1929-2012).
“Adrienne Rich was that rare figure, a lavishly gifted poet and splendid intellectual who readily dirtied her hands at the barricades of social revolution,” Hoskote had written in his obituary for her in The Hindu. To be held this Saturday, May 12 at Prithvi House, (opposite Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu, Bombay) at 6.30 pm, the evening promises to be a fine one for lovers of Adrienne Rich’s sensual and evocative poems and for poetry-lovers in general.
“She extended her vision constantly, experimented with her craft, set herself fresh challenges in the exploration of a complex selfhood and relationship to the world, and its articulation,” says Hoskote. We like!
Soho House – but not in SoBo!
>> Now that we know that Soho House, the legendary London private club for rich, famous and creative denizens of the media and entertainment world is going to open its doors in Juhu around the latter half of this year, we can’t help wondering who its Indian partners are going to be. For a few months now, we have been reading of the imminent arrival of Richard Caring’s successful ‘private recreational club’ for those in film, media and creative industries.
So far, word is that a beach-front property has been acquired, which like its cousins abroad will offer amenities like residential accommodation, cafes, a health club, spa pools and a tennis court. Whose brainchild was it to bring Asia’s first Soho House to Mumbai? Many years ago, the visionary Anand Mahindra who studied film making as one of his subjects at Harvard had spoken to us of a similar concept that he was considering starting at his property at Apollo Bunder, in conjunction with the innovative restaurateur Rohit Khattar: a top of the line private club for the city’s movers and shakers; but nothing had come of it. We think it’s an idea whose time has eminently come!
Every tune he plays
>> The effervescent Prakash Thadani, Jazz India’s indefatigable champion wrote in after reading our piece yesterday on Sting performing with the Police in Mumbai in the ‘80s.
“Sting came with his band Police to perform at Rang Bhavan and the concert was a joint effort of Jazz India and the Time and Talents Club,” says Thadani, who now runs Cool Chef café where his love for food and music have come together.
“After the concert, Sting donated his Steinway Grand to Jazz India,” Thadani informs, “which is still in Mumbai and is regularly tuned and kept in tip-top condition. In fact, we hope to use it at a jazz concert to be staged soon in Mumbai in memory of the four late founders of Jazz India: Niranjan Jhaveri, Adi Katgara, Firdaus Jehangir and Busty Cooper.”
Incidentally, Thadani says his passion for jazz was ignited when he saw the Duke Ellington group in their white sharkskin suits and shiny black patent leather shoes performing to an elegantly attired, bejewelled audience of Indians expats and consulates when he was around 11-years-old!