Of politics and pets

Smita Thackeray and the designer
Smita Thackeray and the designer

Once all powerful because of her alleged proximity to her father-in-law, the late Sena chief Bal Thackeray, Smita Thackeray, wife of Jaidev, was said to be almost the de facto chief minister of Maharashtra during the Sena-BJP rule.

Yesterday, the Thackeray bahu appeared far mellower, but more guarded when we spoke to her about her Mukti Foundation’s initiative for animal welfare to be launched next weekend with a glamorous fashion show, called ‘Furrever Friends,’ with designer Maheka Mirpuri. Christened ‘The Animal Police’, the foundation proposes to create awareness, as well as work towards bettering facilities for pets and find solutions towards doing away with the sufferings that animals face.

Thackeray, who is an avid animal lover, currently has three pooches, along with a cat called Bajirao. “The love that we receive from our pets is indescribable,” she said yesterday from the scene of another of her pet initiatives. A dog rally Mukti had organised, along with Oh My Dog in Lokhandwala on Sunday morning, to urge people to vote in the coming muncipal polls. “We thought it’s a great idea to remind people to vote through these angels,” she said.

Next week’s fashion outing will feature Thackeray along with the the likes of Soha Ali Khan and Kunal Khemu, Priya Dutt, Jimmy Shergill and Bikram Saluja and Schauna, walking the ramp along with their pets. As for her much vaunted political ambitions, Thackeray was demure. “My son has written a bio pic about his grandfather,” she said, adding, “but it’s best not to talk about it now.”

Happy birthday, sis!
“We were born only one year apart but we are completely poles apart,” says jewellery designer Farah Khan Ali, about her younger sister Simone Arora, on the occasion of the latter’s birthday yesterday.

Farah Khan Ali and Simone Arora
Farah Khan Ali and Simone Arora

“For instance, she went on to become head girl, while I was always considered the naughty one in school. When we shared a room, my side of the wall had Michael Jackson posters while hers had school timetables!” she laughs. “But she is also the kindest, most caring and generous of us all,” she says, adding, “Besides of course, being the one who likes to take charge and look after everybody.”

Farah Khan Ali and Simone Arora
Farah Khan Ali and Simone Arora

Any special memories? “Yes, this funny one of how whenever there’d be a prank at home and our mum would be angrily chasing us, I, who’d be the one responsible for it, would get away being scrawny and agile, whereas poor Simone would inevitably get caught and punished, as being plumper, she’d be waddling to escape!” she says fondly of the slim and confident aesthete, whose eponymous store in SoBo has crafted a distinct contemporary design vocabulary.

And what did she get the birthday girl? “My sis Susanne and I have to take Simone shopping next week,” says Khan Ali. “She’s not the type you can pick up anything for – she has a very sophisticated and particular taste.”

Going, going, gone?
While the jury’s out on the success of this year’s Delhi Art Fair compared to its previous outings, word from the art circuit, is that things are not looking so good any more for gallerists, auction houses, and dealers.

One of the examples being cited is news that this prominent SoBo gallery, run by an attractive woman, will be shutting shop soon because of things apparently going pear shaped in the art mart. What’s causing more shock and horror is the fact that its proprietor will be moving to America following the closure.

“To Trump’s America,” shudders an art grandee, to underline how bad things must be here to prompt such a drastic move. As for the Art Fair, he says, “There appeared to be less footfall, especially on Sunday, maybe because the prices of works being sold were frightfully high, perhaps to off set the large amounts that gallerists had to pay to participate.”

The art of boardroom battles
Always nice talking to our friend, Alok Kejriwal, CEO and co-founder of a popular gaming site, that is said to boast over 20 million unique users a month. And this is because besides being on the cutting edge of the digital biz universe, the Campion and Sydenham College educated SoBo lad has a unique approach to most things.

Alok Kejriwal and wife Chavi with their kids and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (centre)Alok Kejriwal and wife Chavi with their kids and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar (centre)

Take his recent post on ‘What goes wrong with founders and the CEOs they appoint,’ which garnered much debate. “The subject is very relevant today because of what’s happened in the Tata-Mistry case and now with Narayana Murthy and Vishal Sikka,” he said, when we spoke last evening.

“I’ve been thinking about this deeply,” said Kejriwal who often combines his business perspectives with matters spiritual. “The founder has never experienced people in his company being more powerful and taller than him,” said Kejriwal. “He has seen people in shadows; not as the sun. When the appointed CEO begins to become bigger than his past, he can’t reconcile with it…the petty becomes big. Molehills become mountains. Small issues the new CEO does makes the founder explode.

It’s just pent-up emotions looking for an excuse to be released,” said Kejriwal as one of the reasons for the rift, adding, “Founders don’t know how to let go. Leaving an office or vacating a cabin does not manifest in their real psyche. Mentally, founders are still sitting in oak boardrooms and leather swivel chairs controlling the Starfleets like Captain Kirk. They just can’t comprehend the state of “non existence” or Nirvikalpa Samadhi. But of course, boardroom skullduggery takes second place to his spiritual journey.”

Next weekend will witness Kejriwal, an avid devotee of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, conduct his first art of living course along with wife Chavi as a fully certified teacher, aptly titled, ‘Refill Your Happiness’ As for current raging boardroom battles, chanting Om, shanti om might help.

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