>> When we met her at Ram Jethmalani’s birthday celebrations last week, we couldn’t help telling a svelte Neetu Singh what fans we were of her son Ranbir. Especially of his dancing skills and comic timing, we added. But later we realised that we ought to have also mentioned what fans we are of her own prowess in these departments.
Because whether it was in Khel Khel Mein, Kabhi Kabhie or Amar, Akbar, Anthony, the graceful actress never failed to shine. But such is a mother’s love, that when we gushed over her son’s talents, overlooking her own, Neetu was a typical mom. “I feel happiest when someone praises my son.” She glowed, “I can’t explain the feeling of pride I get.”
And yesterday, like the rest of KBC viewers we were especially looking forward to the mother-son duo as they sparred with AB and promoted their upcoming film Besharam.
Bon Vivant at large
>> And our favourite bon vivant Suhel Seth is back in Mumbai after “a 5-week lecture tour in the US and UK and enjoying semi-retirement”. This time, the peripatetic bachelor will be in Mumbai for the entire week, ensconced at the Taj Land’s End. What’s keeping him in Mumbai, we enquired. “I’m co-chairing the India Retail Forum along with heavies like Kishore Biyani and Ajit Joshi at Renaissance, Powai from September 25 to 27,” he replied.
“Then doing Laxmi Dhaul’s book-reading on October 3, even while discussing the TOI lit fest with Bachi and addressing YPO Bombay along with Tavleen Singh on October 4,” he said adding, “Back to having fun!” Er.. and which nubile nymphet will he be squiring this time around, we slipped in quite casually. “As if I’m going to tell you that!” he chuckled.
St Regis comes to town
>> And word comes in that Shangri-La’s exit from Lower Parel will be St Regis’ gain. Part of the $5.6 billion Starwood Hotel and Resorts group, the hotel chain is said to be in serious talks about acquiring a share of the mid town property after Shangri-La’s recent high profile and sudden exit.
“Of its 1,200 international hotels worldwide, Starwood has 30 St Regis luxury hotels and is keen to introduce the brand to India with at least five new hotels in the future,” says our source. Incidentally, Starwood has nine premier hotel brands including ‘W’, Le Meridien, Westin, St Regis, Sheraton, and Four Points amongst others.
Love me, love my pets
>> His Facebook handle describes him as ‘writer, goatherd’ and his penchant for exotic and interesting pets has been noted on this page earlier. But now renowned historian, prolific author and celebrated literary impresario William Dalrymple has outdone himself: one of his latest posts features him busy at work with not only a handsome white cockatoo perched like an angel on his shoulder, but what looks like a gorgeous cobra coiled on his desk! ‘Hard at work with my beautiful research assistant,’ is the cryptic accompanying comment.
(On second thoughts, the cobra might be a cardboard replica, though we can’t put it past him, but we could swear there was a goat in attendance when we last checked) Incidentally, when asked how the cockatoo assists him with his writing, the famous author replied, “She gently nibbles at a small mole I have under my right ear.” We like!
Salaam Mumbai: Lonely City
‘All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?’
There used to be a time when I thought that as evening descended upon Mumbai, all of the city’s lonely people could be found either warming the bar stools of various watering holes across the city, or at the casualty wards of local hospitals. After all, at both places they would be assured of human interaction, a bit of sympathy and some TLC.
Of the social service that bars perform we know; bar flies have been caricatured for centuries as people who pour their hearts out to bartenders and fellow drinkers even as they postpone for as long as they can, that dreaded hour when they have to drag their feet back home. The gathering for solace in the city’s casualty wards was brought home to me over the years as I accompanied friends and relatives to the emergency wards of hospitals at night. Here, I witnessed another face of loneliness: mostly young bachelors, living away from home for the first time in a new city, dropping in because they ‘suspected they were going to come down with a fever’, or because they ‘noticed a slight irregularity in their heart beat’ or some such specious reason, just so that they could get the TLC their mothers used to give them at home. To their credit, the doctors and nurses treating these lonely souls never called their bluff. These days, I notice lonely souls have found a new place to hang out (besides Facebook that is): the first row at comedy clubs. And this is because where else can they be assured of a steady patter of conversation, some laughter and a whole new opportunity to warm their hearts at the fire of human company? Bars, casualty wards of hospitals and the front rows at stand-up comedy shows. The things Mumbaikars do for love!