Lunching with Hollande

It was certainly the lunch to be at in Delhi and its exquisite after taste, is still lingering for those who attended it. Hosted by Analjit Singh, in honour of the visiting French President Francois Hollande, it featured winners of the Legion and Chevalier Honors like Ritu Beri, Subodh Gupta, Bharti Kher, Priya Paul and Manish Arora, along with other guests like Suhel Seth, Gautam Thapar and Analjit Singh’s daughter Tara Singh Vachani.

French President Francois Hollande with Aishwarya Rai, Ritu Beri, Vikram Seth and Karan Thapar
French President Francois Hollande with Aishwarya Rai, Ritu Beri, Vikram Seth and Karan Thapar

“We spoke about the recent terrorist attack in Paris,” said Beri who found herself seated at a table with Hollande, Aishwarya Rai, Vikram Seth and Karan Thapar. “The President recalled how he’d been right in the centre of it at the stadium. How at first, he’d thought it was firecrackers. Of how his heart bled for his people,” said Beri. But of course, more edifying subjects were also discussed. “He asked me about my passion for branding India globally and about my company, The Luxury League,” recalled the designer, an earlier recipient of the Chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres from the French government.

As for what she wore to the occasion, the true blue fashionista, who’d been the first Asian to head a French fashion house, said she wore “Narciso Rodriguez with a red velvet jacket, a black skirt, a white shirt and a happy smile.”

When feet do the giving
The instances of Europe’s philanthropic contribution to India are rich and gratifying. From dedicated missionaries who work quietly in remote hinterlands to bring succour to the disfranchised, to corporations that work tirelessly towards education and empowerment, to expat wives of local citizens who dedicate their waking hours to upliftment of the needy, it’s an edifying list.

Purab Kohli and Tara Sharma with volunteers for Footsteps4Good
Purab Kohli and Tara Sharma with volunteers for Footsteps4Good

Rachel Wawn, whose charity fundraising walkathon, Footsteps4Good takes place in the first week of February is an example of the last. “I was asked to take over spearheading Footsteps4Good by Jill Beckingham, wife of the ex-British Deputy High Commissioner Peter Beckingham who started it in 2011, and as I am passionate about and committed to the social sector, I agreed, as I think the concept is fantastic,” said the UK-born Wawn, who is a trained social worker and has worked on projects for the UN.

“Anyone takes part for any NGO of his or her choice, and his or her Rs 2,000 goes straight to that NGO!” she said. In its fifth installment in Mumbai the charity walk/run will see the likes of Boman Irani, Tara Sharma, Poonam Mahajan and Miss Malini join many other philanthropic Mumbaikars do their bit by walking or running for a good cause.

“We are targetting schools to make it a family fundraising event, as well as corporates and the running community, and we hope to have at least double the numbers of last year — aiming for 3,000-5,000 participants, so raising Rs 60 lakh to Rs 1 crore for charity” said Wawn, who happens to be married to leading advertising and media maven, Ashok Kurien.

“With support from our sponsors, we are looking forward to bringing together good people and good causes to help make a difference to the lives of the less fortunate,” she said.

Media slug-fest
The fur certainly flew on Tuesday night on a TV channel for an unsuspecting Republic Day audience, when Arnab Goswami anchored a discussion on gender equality and women’s right to pray wherever they liked.

Shobhaa De and Arnab Goswami
Shobhaa De and Arnab Goswami

In what started as a run of the mill discussion featuring women from across the political sphere and sundry sadhvis and maulanas, Goswami decided to take great umbrage at a chance remark by guest Shobhaa De, who in fact, had begun her speech by supporting Trupti Desai, the firebrand activist spearheading the movement.

What followed was a blow-by-blow slugfest of epic proportions by two of India’s leading media stars. Have we seen the last of it? Watch this space.

Social climbers unlimited
You could say it set the cat amongst the pigeons. When a once prominent socialite from Bandra decided to post a long diatribe on Facebook in chaste Hindi, rendered in English script recently, it created a veritable storm in a Villeroy and Bosch cup.

“Meri Diwali party mein ek friend ki friend gate crash ki,” she began. “Mein usse galae lagaaee,” she said to demonstrate how naïve she’d been. “Uskae hubby ko bhee welcome ki,” she said, and then went on the denouement. “Crowd dekher miya bibi karnae lage social climbing. Card ki table pae dost banaee... chun chun kar select kiya kuch mashoor logo kae phone layene ke leeye,” she posted for all to see, before her rant about feeling used and abused was mysteriously removed from her timeline.

But the damage had been done. “Kya aap log aage ki kahani sunanae pasand kareeingae?” she asked sweetly digging the knife in to her erstwhile friends, who obviously used her for social climbing, and then dumped her when they got where they wanted. But her tale of woe may have a happy ending. Before you could blink, it had already been lapped up by the Birkin babes’ grapevine — and the couple had been outed.

“Everyone knows who she’s taking about,” said one from the circle. “No prizes for guessing who they are. They feature daily in the glossies now.”

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