New name, new beginning

When iconic designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla say "it's a brand new beginning for us," it's time to sit up and take notice. After all, the duo had been the very foundation on which India's fashion industry is predicated.

Sandeep Khosla and Abu Jani
Sandeep Khosla and Abu Jani 

"Abu Sandeep is now ASAL by Abu Sandeep," they announced by way of a handsome communiqué yesterday. "It's diffusion taken to a whole new level," it said. And to demonstrate the seriousness of their intent, they have invited their loyal clients to visit their new store in Bandra. ASAL by Abu Sandeep. No more 'Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla' or ' the boys' or any other acronym. A new name - for a new year. Nice!

Not Really Indian for Indians
Word comes in that Chef Atul Kochhar, the Michelin starred chef of the highly acclaimed Benares restaurant in London's Mayfair, is all set to open shop in Mumbai.

Chef Atul Kochhar
Chef Atul Kochhar

Kochhar, who has received two coveted Michelin stars (2001 for Tamarind and 2007 for Benares), has lived and cooked outside the country for the past two decades. His newest culinary outing will be called NRI (Not Really Indian) and will open to the public on the 11th of January in BKC.

"NRI is going to star dishes that Indian immigrants took with them to far corners of the British Empire, adapting the recipes to locally available ingredients. Each dish has a beautiful story and I believe it's a good time to bring them home," said Kochhar.

And those who have had a sneak peak, confirm that the dishes include roti canai, pepper crab, Caribbean goat curry, East African zeera chicken and the wonderfully named South African bunny chow. And if all this is not reason enough to cheer, we hear Kochhar has plans to open a Latin tapas bar, called Lima, in a next-door BKC property towards the end of the year.

Jaipur Highlights
"Casey is presenting her book, In the Mind Fields, with Dr Sudhir Kakkar, and I am in Delhi from about the 15th, then taking a car to Jaipur where I'm moderating a few panels at the Jaipur Literature Festival."

Dr Sudhir Kakar and Marie Brenner
Dr Sudhir Kakar and Marie Brenner

It was our friend the New York-based author, investigative journalist and writer at large for Vanity Fair, Marie Brenner, telling us about her daughter Casey Schwartz's debut novel, which attempts "to bring some of the old ideas about the mind into the new landscape of the brain" by exploring the New Science of Neuropsychoanalysis.

Brenner is an old hand at the Jaipur Lit Fest and an even older hand at India, spending months on end researching her articles and books here and meeting all those who matter.

Casey, who is a staff writer at Newsweek and The Daily Beast, and a graduate of Brown University with a Masters in psychodynamic neuroscience, is new to India, having only visited last year when we met at the Sea Lounge for a delightful tea (which expanded to include a lachrymose poet from another table); but her love for the country appears to be inborn. One more reason to get to the Jaipur Lit Fest then. Diggi Palace bookings any one?

Plans for Lincoln House
Meeting Parsi billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla, fresh from his triumph at the Iranshah Udvada Utsav where he was felicitated, we learnt that the celebrated bon vivant would be bringing in the New Year's in Pune with old friends and family.

Cyrus Poonawalla
Cyrus Poonawalla

As for plans on his newest acquisition, Lincoln House, the former residence of the American Consulate in Mumbai which Poonawalla had purchased for the staggering sum of Rs 750 crores, he informed us that work is still to begin on it. Who will be the architect who will work on this city landmark? "We will be bringing in an architect from abroad," said the industrialist, adding, "may be even a team of architects, after all, it's a huge project."

Calling Sharif, calling Modi
Spotted at a high powered event on Tuesday night, man of the moment, steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal, who is credited with having brought the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan closer, was asked where art patron wife Sangita Jindal was. "She's at an art and architecture related event," said the affable steel tycoon whose resemblance to the original Man of Steel has not escaped many.

Sajjan Jindal
Sajjan Jindal

"Since we have different interests we tend to divide our time covering different functions - that way we have lots to speak about when we meet up - and of course we keep all hosts happy," he said. Incidentally, Jindal, who spent a lot of his time at the event speaking on the phone, was the subject of comment.

"Is it Modi or Sharif at the end of the line?" remarked a fellow industrialist, half in awe and half in jest. Mercifully for bilateral relations, Jindal was seen smiling after the phone call.

From SoBo to Bandra
As is known, Linking Road's One Street Over has been creating quite a buzz in the Bandra bubble. The restaurant had been started by ex-Ellipses head chef Kelvin Cheung, who was quite the customer favourite during his stint in SoBo (we have heard stories of him going up to each table with a round of gratis drinks).

Anil Kapoor and Chef Kelvin Cheung
Anil Kapoor and Chef Kelvin Cheung

Chef Kelvin, who we last heard was concentrating on the 'Momofuku Milk Bar'-isque Ellipses bakery in Worli, had since left and teamed up with Chef Boo Kwang Kim from Chicago's Little Goat restaurant for this new venture.

The restaurant opened last week and those who have visited give a thumbs up to the food, namely the crab Rangoon and the potato skins filled with Mac and cheese. And though the food is not up to the Ellipses level, that might be because dishes One Street Over are almost half the price of the Colaba eatery!

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