>> There are a few iconic annual events on Mumbai’s social calendar which define the city: and self-made billionaire, the soft spoken and erudite Uday Kotak’s Diwali party at the Taj last Thursday was one such.
This is where you will run in to a dapper Anand Mahindra (in kurta pajama and bandhgalla) accompanied by his writer publisher wife Anu.
This is where Shekhar Gupta will drop in between airport hops and deadlines.
Where Citibank’s head honcho Pramit Jhaveri and wife Mukeeta will catch up with their peers, where uber businessman Anand Jain and wife Sushma will meet old friends and where Ravi Dhariwal, TOI’s CEO (arguably the most powerful publisher in the country) will hold forth.
And of course, like every year before, Uday and his lovely wife Pallavi were at the door, this year too, graciously receiving each and every guest personally with a special word for each. We like!
Pradeep Guha’s sparkler
>> On Sunday night we partook in another Diwali ritual, Pradeep and Papia Guha’s Diwali party. Pradeep has been an old colleague and friend, and his parties have a delightful mix of zeitgeist Bollywood glamour and Bengali old world hospitality.
The Guha bash is spread over three floors of his art and sculpture filled suburban penthouse. We ran into the glamorous Simi Chandok, the originator of the Page Three phenomena and a true blue journo if ever there was one.
Designer Anna Singh and her handsome husband Jai Veer (who we swear has a doppelganger) the gorgeous aesthetician Dr Jamuna Pai, and man about the universe Suhel Seth amongst many others. On our way out Shobhaa and Dilip De and Priya Dutt walked in and it looked like the party would go on for many, many more hours. With much Bollywood glamour still to come!
RIP Kekoo Gandhy
>> Sad about Kekoo Gandhy, the grand old man of Indian art. Ever since we can recall, there’s been Kekoo Gandhy in our lives, shuffling through the Jahangir Art gallery trying to interest any one he could find in high minded causes and human rights issues; encouraging young people and art lovers to not only buy art but feel it deeply in their bones; taking up cudgels for the underdog; tilting swords at holy cows and challenging the establishment.
He was not modern Indian art’s biggest champion, he was Mr Modern Art in India.Gentle, soft-spoken, idealistic high-minded Kekoo. We shall miss him.
Cherry tomatoes by Deepak Chopra?
>> We like nothing more than subtlety and insidious humour. Which is why when we dined at the newly-opened Serafina at the Palladium on Sunday night, we were kicked to see a salad called ‘D Chopra Salad’ offered on the menu. Why would a true blue Italian eatery have a salad called D Chopra, we wondered.
Well, our Sherlock Holmes brain joined the dots and came up with the only explanation that seemed likely. Serafina has been brought to India by the Chatwals whose NYC hotel houses one of the restaurant’s main outlets. The Chatwals — especially son Vikram — are close to a certain Deepak Chopra, international author and enlightenment guru.
It’s not too far fetched to surmise that the restaurant’s promoters have honoured their enlightened friend by putting his favourite salad on their menu. Interestingly the D Chopra salad which we ate was a lot like Deepak Chopra’s teachings: fresh, organic wholesome and nourishing. So there you go: lettuce be enlightened!
The Ruias’ glam Diwali bash
>> The next evening, it was time to attend the Ruias splashy do at their magnificent seaside mansion at Walkeshwar. The Ruias are a surprising package.
Billionaire brothers Shashikant and Ravi for all their astonishing wealth and success have retained an earthy charm and unassuming no-nonsense approach to things and unlike many members of their community are progressive and forward-thinking (Shashikant for instance along with Peter Gabriel and Richard Branson is one of the financiers of ‘The Elders’ that august body of world statesmen).
This down to earth, workmanlike approach has been adopted by their wives and children too, who maintain a dignified low-profile in spite of their riches.
Naturally, the long winding road to the Ruia mansion was chock a block full of limousines, but it is a measure of the hosts’ thoughtfulness that every measure had been taken to ensure smooth traffic management and the least amount of inconvenience to anybody. Once again, this was Mumbai’s movers and shakers with a substantial dollop of beauty and glamour thrown in.
We spoke to old friend the brilliant Oxonian lawyer Mahesh ‘Tony’ Jethmalani and congratulated him on his brave move of standing by his principals by quitting the BJP’s NEC over the Gadkari issue.
“We would have expected no less from you,” we told him. With Dilip Piramal (another old friend) we discussed the making of vintage champagne and Grand Cru wines. The lovely Anu Behl, wife of Reader’s Digest’s erstwhile publisher Sudhir whose daughter has married into the Ruia family enlightened us on the sartorial splendour of the guests (apparently Sabyasachi was the most popular designer of the evening). We spotted the handsome Swami Parthasarthy whose sermons on the Gita have enlightened many.
Gayatri Rangachari Shah, the attractive columnist for the New Yorker blog shared insights into the Obama victory and the new David Remnik biography; we swapped media news with swashbuckling politician and industrialist Kamal Morarka and finally air-kissed designer Manish Malhotra (making a late entry and grand entry with Sheetal Mafatlal) and so on and so forth. By the time we left around midnight, the super luxury sedans were still driving up to the porch discharging exquisitely dressed women and captains of industry. This party had legs!