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My friends and other animals

>> Many years ago when we lived in Delhi, many of our evenings were spent at Salman and Louise Kurshid’s big rambling home in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi, surrounded by kids (theirs and ours), a host of farm animals (guinea fowls, cows, dogs, cats, rabbits and even a couple of horses) and a vast vegetable garden (where Louise would grow excellent spinach, lettuce and carrots that would go into the salads of some very discerning people). Here, we were introduced to the finer aspects of Delhi’s ministerial life. All this came back to me when we received an invitation to the Khurshid’s traditional pre-Christmas brunch this weekend.

Salman and Louise Khurshid
Salman and Louise Khurshid have organised a pre-Christmas brunch at their home in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi

“It’s totally casual,” said Louise. The Khurshids have always been a couple committed to simple living and high thinking. Salman, the maternal grandson of Zakir Hussain, India’s third president of India, taught at Oxford where he distinguished himself with his erudite pursuits and liberal bent of mind and Louise, who hails from a family of renowned civil servants (her father was Secretary Finance GOI for many years), has been a journalist of repute. They ran an open, happily rambunctious and delightfully chaotic home that was open to friends, family and especially those in need we recall. This Saturday we will have opportunity to see if Salman’s recent promotion to Cabinet rank as Minister of External Affairs has cramped their style somewhat. Though we doubt very much if it can.

Jazzy writer
>> We don’t know if the picture was photoshopped or if that was really Naresh Fernandes, author and winner of the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize 2013 for his excellent tome Taj Mahal Foxtrot: The Story of Bombay’s Jazz Age, but we loved the way his publishers Roli Books chose to congratulate their dashing author on Facebook!

Naresh Fernandes

Thai high!
>> Wednesday night saw us dine impromptu at what is easily India’s finest Thai eatery (and the best priced too) the Thai Pavilion, the jewel in Chef Ananda Solomon’s crown and his abiding love. And even though we’d had them all before — who could resist the foie gras, the soft shell crabs, the sea bass, the morning glory and the chicken green curry followed by that divine water chestnut in coconut milk concoction?

Chef Ananda Solomon
Chef Ananda Solomon

Favourite hangout of the likes of the entire Ambani family, Ratan Tata and other leading denizens of Mumbai, the Thai Pavilion has graduated into that league of Mumbai’s classic F&B outlets (the list includes Trishna, Swati, Mahesh Lunch Home and the Harbor Bar amongst others), places where you are assured of getting the same standard of food each time, every time! Our guest from Delhi summed up our feelings exactly when he said, “This is the best Thai meal I’ve ever had in India!” We like!

Vive le difference!
>> The other great Delhi party, which we hope to make it to this weekend, is to uber PR maestro and spin-doctor supreme Dilip (and his charming wife Devi) Cherian’s annual December bash to which all of Delhi seeks an invite.

Dilip and Devi Cherian
Dilip and Devi Cherian

At the last one we’d attended, we’d run into P Chidambaram, Jairam Ramesh, Kamal Nath, AK Antony and Arun Jaitley along with editors, civil servants, artists, socialites, fashionistas and the like. That’s the difference between Dilli and Mumbai.

P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh
P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh

In Mumbai, there are different crowds, different sets that exist in silos (like, business, media, Bollywood, fashion theatre, art, South Mumbai, North Mumbai, old money, new money) and you can go through a whole week of not running into people even if you’ve been through a week of big parties. Delhi — it’s the same people at every do.

In fact, the term ‘the usual suspects’ takes on a whole new meaning in Delhi. And dare we say it, in this day of rape and crime and corruption — a whole new significance!  

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