Of superstars, scientists and chicken coops

>> Those who know Sumati Bhide, the renowned scientist who did pioneering work in cancer research, would not be surprised when her son Amar, the noted Harvard economist and academician found this picture of his late mother in a chicken coop with the reigning star of the era Raj Kapoor. It created a stir from Sumati’s friends and admirers and students alike. “I’m not making this up,” said Amar.

“Till I was 3 or 4, we had our own cows — in Bombay. For decades, after that we grew our own rice (ambe mohor) fruit, vegetables... Then for some inexplicable reason my parents decided to raise poultry, though both had rather consuming occupations.

Raj Kapoor

One day, Raj Kapoor, an old friend of my father’s (RK studios and the famous Kapoor bungalow was close by) came to check out the latest nuttiness. So, here is mother earnestly showing him around,” says Amar.

Amar Bhide
Amar Bhide. (top) Sumati Bhide and Raj Kapoor in Bhide’s chicken coop

Though when we asked for more details of this amazing story (Superstar? Poultry farm? Scientist?) we were met with a “Unfortunately, I now have to scoot off to teach class,” by Amar. Ah well, we’ll have to wait for the rest of the story another day! But Mumbai was like this only!

Love nests then and now
>> We kid thee not but in the ‘60s there existed a building on Cumballa Hill, which had acquired the reputation of being the place where some of the city’s highest rollers had parked their mistresses!

Tucked away in a leafy cul-de-sac it was exactly the spot where you’d go to meet a posh lady when you didn’t want to be seen. Anyway, most of those redoubtable gents and ladies have passed on and the apartments have been reclaimed or sold.

Now, we’ve learnt of another such building, this time located in mid Mumbai, which is home to a sizeable number of glamorous women and a couple of well-heeled bachelors, who use it to carry on their after-hours activities. Are we going to spill the beans on who the occupants are?

No sir, our interest is merely anthropological: how the scene in Mumbai has shifted geographically is what caught our interest.

Mumbai’s popular re-settlers
>> She left her singing career behind but those who know the enigmatically named Sagarika Mukherjee da Costa (one half of the erstwhile sister brother duo with Shaan) are pretty sure that her talent will manifest soon.

Sagarika Mukherjee da Costa
Sagarika Mukherjee da Costa 

Back in India after a stint in London where husband Martin da Costa, the LSE trained CEO of the Seventy Event Management Group was based for a while, the couple with their two adorable sons are recent re-settlers in Mumbai and are a popular couple on the social circuit. In fact, yesterday when Sagarika celebrated her birthday there was an avalanche of good wishes and cheer on the occasion, not least because they had been sorely missed in the city where they had met married and worked. (She’d been one of the earlier partners in the AD Singh fronted Olive when it was first launched at Pali Hill). Last year, when we visited London we recall spending a delightful afternoon with the da Costa family at their favourite Italian eatery at Portobello road, discussing the intricacies of their imminent move back to Mumbai (apartments, schools maids, the usual) So, happy birthday lovely Saag to which we’d also like to add a tad belatedly ‘and welcome home!’

Women on board
>>  As the clamour for ‘gender diversity in the board room’ gains momentum ever since the Companies Bill 2011, recommended that ‘certain categories of companies must have at least one woman director on their boards’ there’s been a search on for suitable candidates. And according to one eminent industrialist it’s a shallow pool to fish in.

Swati Piramal, Chanda Kochar, Naina Lal Kidwai
From left: Swati Piramal, Chanda Kochar, Naina Lal Kidwai

“Some of us who are genuinely interested in complying with this directive have found that there are basically only 11 women to choose from!” we were informed. “And these include the usual highly regarded women who have distinguished themselves in the corporate world like Swati Piramal, Rama Bijarpurkar, Camellia Panjabi and Urvi Piramal. “What about the clutch of eminent bankers,” we enquired. “Women such as Naina Lal Kidwai and Chanda Kochar? Surely they’d be ideal candidates to have on board?” “Yes we agree,” we were told, “but we are still unsure if they will be allowed to join our boards due to conflict of interest.” So, now you know what’s occupying mind space in corporate India!

The Art Critic
>> Fans of the late Richard Bartholomew, India’s preeminent art critic and father of Pablo one of the country’s most accomplished photo journalists are overjoyed that a book on the late Richard is finally ready to be launched.

The book jacket
The book jacket


“This is it, the front cover of the book Richard Bartholomew, The Art Critic, over 600 pages covers four decades, 250 colour and black-and-white illustrations, approx 2,25,000 words, 1.75 kg, 15 years in the making... A good sized brick it is,” says Pablo about the book, which according to denizen’s of the art world has been long overdue. Incidentally, the book’s arresting and unusual cover is a reproduction of a page from Macbeth heavily annotated in Richard’s own hand. We like! 

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