The latest trend of travelling plutocrats is ski trips en famille to European ski resorts like St Moritz, Chamonix and Courchevel. The kids learn an international sport, the men get a good reason to glug single malts and cognacs, and the wives get to show off their latest line of fur fashion. What’s best, is that these places serve as good markers to differentiate the men from the boys.
After all, anyone can afford holidays in St Tropez and Paris. But for the true blue conspicuous consumer, what can compare with the thrill of hotels with room rates beginning at a 1000 Euros a night and luxury stores, which sell at 50 per cent more than anywhere else?
Pinky and Sanjay Reddy
Pioneers of this trend are the likes of Mukesh and Nita Ambani with their family and friends, Pinky and Sanjay Reddy with kids, and Namrata Baruah and Vikram Shroff amongst others. And so, if there are some clouds on some horizons in Mumbai these days it’s because it hasn’t snowed in Chamonix and the ski slopes are barren and bare.
Philistines and other Mumbaikars might be excused for thinking that former ambassador Nirupama Rao’s talk on China yesterday was about our growling neighbour. After all, Rao has been at the very height of international diplomacy and her geopolitical views are highly sought after.
But no, Rao in fact, described by a friend as a “renaissance woman,” was enlightening a select audience on early nineteenth century, ‘transferware,’ that is, ‘china with engravings of popular touristic or exotic scenes ‘transferred’ on to its surface, and coloured with cobalt,’ which enjoyed considerable popularity in the European and North American markets.
As for more instances of Rao’s renaissance qualities, “she paints, writes and I think even plays the guitar,” said the friend. Nice!
New Taj pops up
Word comes in that there is a new Taj in town. The much delayed project of the Taj and GVK Group’s The Taj, Santacruz, has officially been announced. Located off the Western Express Highway next to the airport, the property will be branded as a luxury destination and the fourth group hotel in Mumbai.
The Taj Santacruz, the Taj and GVK Group’s latest offering
“Pankaj Sampat, who spent seven years with the Taj President Hotel in Cuffe Parade will be the General Manager of the new property,” said sources.
Kareena and Saif Ali Khan
The property is also said to offer two large suites that occupy the top floor of the building, a spacious spa and new culinary options in the form of the multi-cuisine coffee shop Tiqri, and French and Italian cuisine ‘Rivea’, but a variant of The Golden Dragon is yet to be completed.
Katrina Kaif and Ranbir Kapoor
“It is the new jewel in the Taj crown,” said Farhat Jamal, Senior Vice President Operations, West India, “an oasis for business and leisure travellers alike.” Does this mean the Bolly stars like Ranbir and Kat and Kareena and Saif will not descend on the Wasabi any more? Watch this space.
Pankaj Sampat and Farhat Jamal
The Soulful Seeker
We had been seeing early blossoming of it on social network, but the full impact of poet Punam Chadha Joseph’s debut book of poems, The soulful seeker (Om Books), dawned on us when walked into her star-studded multi disciplinary launch at the Taj Land’s end on Tuesday night.
Kriti Sanon, Prasoon Joshi and Parineeti Chopra with Punam Chadha-Joseph
A warm and creative soul, Punam happens to be the wife of Sabbas Joseph, one third of the dynamic team that founded Wiz Craft, Bollywood’s go-to entertainment conglomerate.
She said she began scribbling little snatches of rhymed couplets as a response to emails from friends around the world and was soon ‘inspired to write poems beyond just emails’. With her family’s encouragement she put them in a book.
It is a handsome book by any standards. With a foreword by Shabana Azmi, over a hundred poems along with charming illustrations by the poet herself, and at the end of the evening the large and cheering audience composed of the likes of Kabir Bedi, Anu Malik, Parineeti Chopra, Kriti Sanon, Aditi Rao Hydari, Tanvi Azmi, Maria Goretti, were seen enthusiastically purchasing copies.
But by far, the piece de resistance of the evening was when Bedi employed his celebrated baritone to narrate Chadha Joseph’s Let’s Rise, a striking and powerful poem about the 26/11 terror strikes in harmony with the full-throated Vivienne Pocha and Merlin D’Souza. The first poem in the chapter ‘despondency and despair,’ it received a standing ovation.
Storm in a C-cup
Our Oolong tea-favouring SoBo hostess friend was chortling away. “Fire and brimstone babes” she said.
What on earth are you talking about, we said.
She shot us a withering glance. “It’s the women, babes. They are crying blue murder now.”
We said, huh?
Our friend sighed monumentally and began, “Remember that top notch business club — the one where members are known to divide up into select men only, women only groups which go on educative holidays abroad?
Ye-es, we said.
“Well their women have just put their Jimmy Choos down quite resolutely ever since it was noticed that too many of their husbands’ vacations were to Dubai, Bangkok, and places not particularly renowned for their educative faculties with stories of hanky panky coming to light.
The OTFSH sighed deeply. “So no one’s going anywhere without taking their wives now!All such trips - finito!” she said dramatically Gosh we said.
“Yes,” said the OTFSH, rolling her eyeballs. “Much screaming and banging of expensive doors and calls to shrinks and soothsayers.” “Just more collateral damage of rampant globalisation. And it’s going to impact our economy!”
The economy? We gasped. How so?
“Think of all the extra tickets the husbands will be buying to take their wives along!” chortled the OTFSH. “A first class airline bonanza!!” she declared.
I think you’ve been reading too much of The Economist, is what we said.
“Boy zara hot water jaldi lao please!” is what the OTFSH said.