Meet the Clintons

Malavika SangghviOver the past two weeks, we have been receiving many text messages from our friend Meera Gandhi, CEO and founder, the Giving Back Foundation, USA.

These were mainly to clarify that she was not, repeat not and under no circumstance moving to Delhi and that she and her family were safely ensconced in the environs of their NYC townhouse (how posh is that?) and that ‘the kids are so thrilled too.’  But, of course, domesticity is only one facet of a dynamic woman’s life and so we were not surprised when a friend alerted us to the evening with Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton that the erstwhile Mumbai hostess and philanthropist was hosting.

Meera Gandhi
Meera Gandhi

Held in London’s Guildhall on Gresham street on Saturday, October 12, 2013, the highlights of this international schmooze fest for those interested are: a gold ticket for £5,000 per person, (includes cocktail reception and dinner) Platinum ticket for £25,000 per person (includes preferred seating for two and photo op with the Clintons).

Hillary, Chelsea and Bill Clinton
Hillary, Chelsea and Bill Clinton

And for those with very deep (emphasis on very) pockets: Vice Chair £50,000, Co chair £100,000 and (gulp) Chair £250,000. Who said international schmoozing came cheap?

Scurrilous attack
Of all the scurrilous attacks on the anti-Modi brigade could there be any more objectionable than those on Barkha Dutt? Over the years, we have been appalled by the nature and egregious content on what we consider one of India’s finest television reporters. A woman brave, spunky, bright, we may not agree with all her views or her methods but there is no denying that Dutt is way ahead of her peers and that she suffers most because she is a woman and an outspoken one at that.

Barkha Dutt?
Barkha Dutt

The latest assault on her linking her to an alleged Kashmiri separatist supporter is only another instance of this malaise. If you receive this in your e-mail, we implore you to hit the delete button immediately. If people want to take on others for their political ideology the least that they should do is to concentrate on that and not their personal lives!

Jacqueline Lundquist with  Richard Frank 'Dick' Celeste,  US ambassador to India
Jacqueline Lundquist with Richard Frank ‘Dick’ Celeste, US ambassador to India

Rocking Indian fashion
She is VP of corporate affairs and chief serendipity officer WaterHealth International and former manager of the iconic Californian 60s rock band The Beach Boys. He is an American politician from Ohio, a member of the Democratic Party besides being ambassador to India. And together they make two of the most stylish ambassadors of Indian haute couture. “Rocking Rina Dhaka and Raghavendra Rathore at the Fine Arts Center in Colorado Springs!” posted glamour girl, author and fashion maven Jacqueline Lundquist. Nice!

Another one bites the dust
“Hindustani music is our one great art. Something we can hold up to the world and say: ‘This is our essence, which we are. The idea of communicating deep emotion without words is fascinating.

Aakar Patel
Aakar Patel

Particularly, as we are older, communicating melancholy’,” says renowned writer and along with Tushita Patel, one half of what is easily one of India’s most charming couples, Aakar Patel about his recent foray into music when he made his public debut at a recent concert that was briefly aired on DD Chandana. “Trying to learn this is one of the most meaningful things I have done in my life,” said the man who has taken on some of India’s most sacred cows. And while we’re on the topic, what’s it with writers and music? Vikram Seth, Amit Chaudhri, Namita Devidayal any one?

Salaam Mumbai

Salaam Mumbai
Life in cafes

I am sitting at the Luxembourg cafe in Amsterdam’s Spun 24 as I write this. The New York Times called it ‘One of the world’s great cafes’ and my hotel concierge knew exactly where to send me when I told him ‘I need to write, sit, think. Drink coffee’.

The world of cafes is very close to my heart, having spent most of my childhood in one, as readers must have come to know by now. A local meeting spot, a view of the outdoors, a cup of coffee and the murmur of fellow diners, never intrusive but near enough to remind one of the presence of other warm blooded creatures how I revel in this.

And now that I am in Amsterdam on a rainy afternoon, I might as well confess that I have often thought of all of life as a cafe. Think about it: we enter alone, choose a table by the window (if we are lucky) or else have one chosen for us. We order what we please but, of course, what we eventually get is up to other forces.

We might get a wonderful bruschetta, a delightful blueberry muffin, a memorable espresso, but then again we might not. How we regard this is up to us alone. And, of course, the kind words of the waiter, the nods and smiles of the random customers or the absence of them, the book, the music the work that we have all contribute to our sense of comfort and well being.

We stare out of the window; we contemplate life and our situation, we commensurate with personal sadnesses and ourselves our private regrets. And yet when we look up, we realise that we are not alone, there are others like us and how we choose to engage with them is up to us alone. And then we pay our check and we leave alone. Life as a cafe. Relationships as a cafe. Cafes as the great metaphor of existence. For a rainy afternoon alone in Amsterdam one could do worse than ruminate on such profoundly shallow conundrums, don’t you think?

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