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In gratitude we ramble

Gratitude makes a man ramble. And none can grudge the beleaguered and flamboyant founder architect of the IPL Lalit Modi his moment of glory. “It’s been a long roller coaster ride since I landed in London four years, two months 18 days and 7.45 hours ago,” he wrote recently, “Lots of down hills, a few up hills. But what a ride it was.”

And then he got specific. “A few assassins, lots of thugs, blackmailers, kidnappers, extortionists, backstabbers, corrupt officials and politicians like Lungi Wala and Tharoors of the world tried there (sic) best when the ride was on its downward spiral,” he said about some of the people he’d famously crossed swords with.

(From left) Preity Zinta, Lalit Modi and Shilpa Shetty. Pic/AFP
(From left) Preity Zinta, Lalit Modi and Shilpa Shetty. Pic/AFP

“But guided by greatest of friends and family members and well wishers and fans of cricket - there (sic) small words of encouragement at times - coming over to London at other times, ensuring we were surrounded by, the ride went on to finish smoothly,” he gushed, adding in true Oscar acceptance speech style: “I want to, from the bottom of my heart, thank so many of you - just have for the moment the greatest sigh of relief and a sense of relief that you just can’t imagine. Thank u all once again. Now my turn to come to u.”

And with this he posted a handsome docket of his newly acquired, hard-won UK passport. And word comes in that the grateful Modi made a pilgrimage along with his family to Portugal’s Holy Church of Fatima-the Loja Santuario De Fatima, for ‘a mannat fulfilled’.

Just two words
It takes a great writer to know that you need the fewest possible words sometimes to make the sharpest point. And in this regard, could there be anything more pointed than feisty long time Chetan Bhagat-baiter Meena Kandasamy’s response to the furore caused by the marketing onslaught of the author’s latest offering ‘Half Girlfriend’?

Meena Kandasamy Chetan Bhagat
Meena Kandasamy and Chetan Bhagat

Along with what looks like the tweeting populace of India, Kandasamy whose book ‘Gypsy Goddess’ has received rave reviews from critics in India and abroad (but alas did not get a TOI front page advertisement), had only two words to say about Bhagat and his new book. ‘Half-wit,’ she said. It spoke volumes.

The overgrown village
In a certain swathe of Sobo society, the post caused the expected consternation and considerable nervous giggling. A dashing young man in his thirties, known for his success with the ladies, had on his FB timeline the notorious words: ‘Had enough of hiding guys. I’m coming out of the closet. Folks, I’m gay’. Or words to that effect.

Raja Dhody

Naturally, the grapevine went into overdrive, with those who knew him being asked to weigh in on the matter. Was he? Had he always been? Did he suddenly discover? Was it a prank? Was he bi-sexual? etc, etc.
“I told everyone who asked that we would soon see a post saying, ‘fooled ya’ folks’,” said one of his friends.

But when the correction didn’t come till ten hours later, even she began to wonder. Maybe her friend had experienced a meltdown in public? May be he’d been keeping a secret from her all along? Which is why, a collective guffaw rent the air, when the man in question, announced a full fourteen suspense-filled hours later: “Sorry guys. Raja Dhody’s had a lot of fun with my Facebook page last night!” revealing the culprit of the ‘prank’ post.

“Shows Dhody’s still child-like at heart,” said one of his friends. More childish is what we say about the prank and the response to it. That such a furore could ensue over someone’s stated sexual preference, (prank or not) amongst a self-styled bunch of hipsters, educated at some of the world’s finest universities, that too in the year 2014, is a matter of great concern for us all. And they say Delhi is an overgrown village!

Changes at the top
So word comes in that there might be a change of guard in the top echelons of one of Mumbai’s most iconic hotels. The rumour is that the dapper head of the hotel group might be asked to leave, as the chain continues to have bad financials.

Ratan Tata Ajit Kerkar
Ratan Tata and Ajit Kerkar

And already a name is being whispered about whom his successor could be. Insiders say the move has been expected ever since a new head honcho took charge of the group. “A bit like when Ratan Tata took charge of the Tata group and people like Ajit Kerkar and Darbari Seth had to go,” they say. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Taj tour guide
Yesterday we were witness to a curious sight. Bang in the middle of the Taj’s Sea Lounge, that landscape of lassitude, where we were savouring a welcome and soothing cup of Earl Grey, appeared a group of people, coalesced around an extremely animated man speaking at the top of his voice loud, gesticulating wildly and at one point even breaking into a jig! “Oh that’s the in house hotel tour guide,” we were informed by the staff on enquiry. “Every afternoon he takes guests around the hotel to show them the sights.”

The guided tour of Taj Hotel
The guided tour of Taj Hotel

We listened in. Sure enough, he was talking about the Lounge’s legendary sofa where couples are introduced for marriage, the chaat on the menu and the bay windows that look onto the Gateway. Not once did he mention bombs, guns, bodies, terrorists and broken glass. Like an ageing and graceful beauty, the Taj hides her scars and puts on her best face for her admirers. That’s savoir-faire!

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