Magnificent fest in Mahabaleshwar

“A few grand colonial homes were opened during the festival,” says the erudite and dynamic Swati Piramal about

>> A few grand colonial homes were opened during the festival,” says the erudite and dynamic Swati Piramal about MabeHillstation fest 2013, which concluded this weekend of which she was the main organiser. “These were the Babbington House (Rahejas), Bohemia (Bhogilal), Villa Zeenia (Zeenia Lawyer), Greenwoods (Piramals) Glenogle (Neville Patel) Rigell (Baba Kalyani) and Shivoham (Cyril Shroff).

Dr Swati Piramal

The MabeHillstation fest 2013 was a series of events with three goals: conservation, culture and community of the twin hill stations of the Sahyadri Mountains — Mahabaleshwar and Panchgani.

Convened by Jaysinh Mariwala and Dr Swati Piramal, it involved heritage bungalow owners (there are over 200 heritage homes in Mahabaleshwar), environment protection and the architecture of the Anglo-Maratha period.

The cultural events included a classical music recital by Pandit Jasraj, a jazz music group, a symphony orchestra, a sitar and Bharatnatyam fusion and a wonderful reading by actor Tara Sharma (along with her mother Sue) from her father, the late great Partap Sharma’s books for children, most aptly held on Christmas Day. Sharma, the author, playwright and great raconteur did most of his life’s work in Mahabaleshwar.

Azim Premji, Cyril Shroff, Tara Sharma and Pandit Jasraj

“Amongst the attendees were Shiamak Davar, Aparna Piramal, Vandana and Cyril Shroff , Uday and Pallavi Kotak, Yasmeen and Azim Premji , Baba and Sunita Kalyani, and the Adani family,” said Piramal, whose restoration of her own mansion. Greenwoods, a century-old summer palace, with its a flower show inspired by the Chelsea flower show, was a highlight of the festival, according to the Sharmas.

Celebrated Bodyguards
>> So who has the best collection of sports cars in Mumbai? Contrary to popular perception, it’s neither the city’s top industrialists or Bollywood stars. In fact those in the know say it’s none other than Zaheer Khan owner of one of the country’s top security agencies and son of the charismatic (and controversial) AA Khan, the retired IPS officer whose colorful career was an inspiration for ‘Shootout in Lokhandwala’.

Ronit Roy and Salman Khan’s bodyguard Shera

When we spoke to the impeccably mannered elder Khan about his son’s collection, he confirmed our information, but sounded suitably unimpressed. “Well,” said the sharp shooting father, whose book Surrender (Yogi Impressions) reveals a man with a deep streak of other worldly wisdom, “he has a couple of Porches, and Ferraris and BMWs but I don’t know if it’s the best collection in Mumbai. For that, you should speak to him,” he said laconically. (We tried, but received no response.)
However, a longer story on security agencies is called for. After all, they seem to be as glamorous as they are lucrative: TV star Ronit Roy is said to run one of the top agencies rivaling Khan’s, Diwan Rahul Nanda’s is another such and even Salman Khan’s bodyguard Shera appears to be doing extremely well, ever since the big- hearted actor gave him a leg up in his 2011 film ‘Bodyguard’.

Woman on top!
>> Last year, when we wrote about the winner of the IMC Jankidevi Bajaj Puraskar Josephine Selvaraj, a bee farmer from Vadipatti taluka of Madurai, who won the prestigious award for rural entrepreneurship, we received a mail from none other than Jackie Shroff, who showed interest in her work as his philanthropic bent had led him to similar work. Of course his missive inspired many obvious puns on the birds and the bees, which we are proud to have eschewed, but such is the caliber of the award that tomorrow when we write about this year’s winner — Thinlas Chorol, founder and owner of the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company (LWTC), the first travel agency in Ladakh, solely operated by women, based in Leh, Ladakh we wonder who will write in.

Born and brought up in a small village called Takmachik, near Leh, Thinlas started her professional career as an independent guide in Ladakh facing a fair share of challenges in an industry dominated by men.

But this did not deter her and in 2007, to gain expertise, she completed a mountaineering course from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering. She received an A grade for her dynamic and robust performance, augmenting her professional skills by completing a diploma course in wilderness activities and leadership skills at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)-India.

In 2009, with the core objective of empowering women in Ladakh and giving them financial independence, Chorol laid the foundation of her passion and dream by establishing the Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company.

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Another highly-charged election
>> The dust refuses to settle on the affairs of the Royal Western India Turf Club.

After a highly-charged election and controversies galore, the new Committee got elected in December with Vivek Jain once again taking the chair.

Julio Ribeiro and Vivek Jain

A recount was demanded by Shivlal Daga, backed by the requisite number under the articles of the Club, and members were being wooed to sign a petition to demand a scrutiny, as Mr Daga lost by four votes of the over 1,250 cast. The three scrutinizers included two eminent legal names and Julio Ribeiro, ex Police Commissioner and respected as a leading citizen of Mumbai.

The scrutiny was completed on Friday, and Jain and his team retain control of the Committee with no change to the result. “I feel relieved as it’s been a nightmarish election and the tension of the recount. We are vindicated and truth, the ultimate barometer, prevailed, and we have shut the door on the motivated campaign, which never stopped. I know it will be a tough year, but we will do our utmost to respect the confidence of our members,” said Jain.

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