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Motorcycle diaries

His father, the late Shammi Kapoor, the swashbuckling Junglee star, who was known in his time for his daredevilry, must be flashing a big thumbs up from the skies as his son Aditya Raj Kapoor (Mickey to his friends) has just embarked on his own version of Motorcycle Diaries.

14,000 km, 75 days, 3 countries, from Mumbai to Kashmir to Khardung La through Nepal to Bhutan to Puri and then back to Mumbai on his bike! And to flag off Kapoor and his fellow biker, who else but the easy rollin’ Jackie Shroff, who looked quite like the biker himself last Sunday?

Aditya Raj Kapoor and Jackie Shroff
Aditya Raj Kapoor and Jackie Shroff

Vroom Vroom guys and a big Yahoooo to you!

Latest conspiracy theory
Not that we buy into every rumour that makes its rounds through the city’s grapevine, but ever since the jungle drums were tom-tomming about the real conspiracy behind the recent charges against the scion of a top business house by an actress, we couldn’t help but wonder in awe at the latest one from the conspiracy theorists.

This latest gem emanating from august sources is that the whole thing was a conspiracy crafted by a big business house that wanted leverage over the rival business group. They persuaded the actress to participate, which she willingly did as she had a score to settle-and voila! the ever hungry for sensation media played its part to nail the business group.

As we said, we do not believe a word of this. But we are never doubtful of the city’s ability to come up with a conspiracy theory to fit every scenario!

Another Queen’s necklace
It’s always interesting to see different swathes of Mumbai getting gentrified.

The Ruias did it with Lower Parel and the Phoenix Mill, Srila and Mahesh Mathai took it further, transforming the Mathuradas Mills Compound into a haven for hipsters, the by lanes of Colaba have perked up with the entry of presence of Bungalow 8 and Basilico and the Tahiliani, Bombay Electric and Good Earth stores and though the Le Mill conceit didn’t quite persuade other upmarket enterprises to nestle in the potentially fab Dockyard area, the ongoing gentrification of Rampart Row which began with the coming of Ensemble and has been steadily growing with the additions of the Westend Sabyasachi, and Kala Ghoda Cafe is all set to accelerate.

Nirav Modi Chhaya Momaya
Nirav Modi and Chhaya Momaya

The latest group to be eyeing this tree-lined, art and culture focal point of Mumbai are top line jewellery stores. “They go where the feng shui is good,” says a source, “And all the top jewellers – from Kolkata’s famous Raj Mahtani to its other leading jewellery house Thakorlal Hiralal, both of which cater to the old aristocratic bhadralok of the city, are said to be planning outlets in the area as is Mumbai’s coloured gems king, Nirav Modi.”

Incidentally, word comes in that Chhaya Momaya will be hosting a sit down dinner for city high rollers at the end of the month at the Taj to introduce Thakorlal Hiralal to the city’s cognoscenti, which will feature a high concept dance performance and fashion show to showcase the priceless diamond emerald and polki designs of the legendary store in West Bengal.

“The presence of the city’s top movers and shakers have already been secured and an award winning Bollywood choreograph team will be designing the evening’s entertainment,” says the source.

Preserving Mumbai’s heritage
The Jatias of the B L Jatia Group who are in the news for having bought the three-storied Razak Haven at Napean Sea road for R175 crore, already own a sumptuous pile at Breach Candy opposite the Poonawalla bungalow where Amit Jatia, the king of the Macdonald’s empire resides with his family. “They are a simple, large, Marwari clan,” says a friend, “not at all flashy and very integrated.

Amit Jatia
Amit Jatia

Their only flamboyance is their well-appointed mid-Manhattan apartment and the big New Year’s eve bashes which they host every year on the lawns of their Breach Candy house, which attracts the city’s young well-heeled and restless crowd,” says the source.

Well the parties are only going to get bigger in their new address, we say. Incidentally, a medal should be instituted for all those high rollers who buy old bungalows in Mumbai to reside in, instead of tearing them down and constructing tall towers on their sites.

Save a bungalow to save Mumbai’s precious heritage, we believe!

Head and shoulders above
More than two decades ago when we interviewed the Rajmata of Jaipur Gayatri Devi for a story for Harpers and Queen, the UK glossy, at the aptly named Polo Bar at the magnificent Rambagh Palace in Jaipur, we recall her singling out the Maharaja Gaj Singh of Jodhpur who she called Bapji for being ‘head and shoulders above his contemporaries as far as foresight, dynamism and wisdom.’

Maharaja Gaj Singh
Maharaja Gaj Singh

“Mark my words, he is the Maharaja who will make a mark internationally,” she’d said, and given her own international stature and acclaim it was a comment we held much store by. And over the years we’ve found it to be prescient. Whether it’s his transforming his palace in to a world-class resort with the Taj as managing partners, or putting the Mehrangarh fort music festivals on the international calendar, or his friendship with rockers like Jagger and Sting, Bapji appears to have left others on the royal bandwagon behind.

Rajmata of Jaipur Gayatri Devi
Rajmata of Jaipur Gayatri Devi

But nothing has won him as much accolade as his philanthropic work. Two years after his son Shivraj Singh had met with a grievous polo accident, Bapji founded the Indian Head Injury Foundation (IHIF), an NGO dedicated to train hospital staff how to respond to trauma victims in the initial golden hour when lives can be saved. Other initiatives like critical trauma care ambulances, an advocacy campaigns for road safety awareness and support groups for families of victims have also been commended.

So when we saw that the erstwhile Maharaja has been featured in the latest issue of Forbes Life India, we recalled the words of the Rajmata of Jaipur. “Maharaja Gaj Singh II, (who) manifests the real meaning of royalty, straddling the past and the present with grace. The loss of crown, for him has not diluted his guardianship and duty towards the people. Whether it is rural development, female education or the conservation of arts and culture, Gaj Singh has set benchmarks in modern royalty,” says the article.

Nice!

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