Only a debate, for God's sake

It's a debate that's become the talking point of much adolescent fervour. 'Does Britain owe reparations to her former colonies over the damage caused?'

The reason for the excitement has been the performance of India's own Shashi Tharoor, who, a few months ago, dusted out his legendary St Stephen's College debating society skills to put up a rousing performance at the Oxford Union the debating society founded by members of Oxford University nearly 190 years ago in favour of the motion.

Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor

Rolling out figures, punctuating his silken delivery with vigorous shakes of his celebrated cowlick, and winning for himself much adulation from the assembled undergrads and fellow speakers, Tharoor was at his witty best.

Of course, the fact that he began this rousting performance saying he 'belonged to the Henry the VIII school of public speaking' and quoted the celebrated wife slayer's comment to the hapless women ('I shall not keep you long') was a tad unfortunate, given circumstances back home, but nevertheless his speaking skills won him the evening and his team romped home winning by 185 to 56 votes.

Now the only issue is how to tell those over-enthusiastic adolescents back home that it was, in the grand tradition of Oxford, only a debate and the views expressed by the speakers were not necessarily their own?

Such is the outrage factor these days amongst the twittered, that Tharoor has become something of a folk hero and they've embraced the reparation argument the way they'd once embarked on Modi's 'bring back Swiss bank black money' spiel. Twits.

Breezy in Frankfurt
Our Bangkok-based friend Deepak Ohri called in from Frankfurt with exciting news. "We've opened Breeze in Frankfurt and it is just stunning!" Ohri, the CEO of Lebua Hotels, one of Bangkok's most sought-after hotels (the venue of the Hangover 2 movie), was speaking of one of his popular eateries, Breeze.

The Breeze at Frankfurt
The Breeze at Frankfurt

Launched as a luxury Asian dining restaurant in 2006, and featured on USA Today's 2014 list as one of the world's 'Top 10 Most Cutting-Edge Restaurants,' it had become one of the must-visit places for well-heeled Bangkok visitors, drawing much footfall to the all suite Lebua.

Deepak Ohri
Deepak Ohri

Ohri had called to say that, now, Bangkok's pride had found a new home at the Steigenberger Hotel in Frankfurt and with chef Poon Kam Loong's modern take on Asian cuisine and dishes from Malaysia, Taiwan, and Singapore, gave every sign of becoming one of the city's hottest culinary destinations.

Jay Z and Beyonce. Pic/AFP
Jay Z and Beyonce. Pic/AFP

In a stroke of genius, Ohri, who has gained a formidable reputation as an international player on the hospitality world scene, had entrusted 'Eight Inc' to design the space, the same firm which designed the iconic Apple store on 5th avenue in New York. How had they managed to replicate the ambience and success of the Bangkok original, which is above 50 storeys, and has one of the city's most stunning views?

"It's come out more beautifully than even our Breeze in Bangkok although it is in a basement," he said. And, in keeping with Ohri's glam dazzle style, if rumours are to be believed, Jay Z and Beyoncé are soon going to announce the opening of the next Breeze in Philadelphia. How do we know? Why, it was blowing in the breeze.

Peruvian for all
One of the highlights at the party held last week to celebrate the engagement of Parth Jindal with Anushree Jasani was the vegetarian Peruvian food served on the occasion. Said to be the passion of Chef Hemant Oberoi, who was keen to introduce the cuisine to India, guests who sampled it were gung-ho about its reception on Indian shores.

Chef Hemant Oberoi
Chef Hemant Oberoi

As is known, Oberoi, who has retired from the Taj Group, but is on a year-long consultancy with them, had been hoping to house his dream cuisine in a restaurant in the space now occupied by the Zodiac Grill.
Interestingly, Oberoi's long stint as the face of Taj's F&B has won him a few key assignments still.

"Neeraj Bajaj, who will soon be celebrating a wedding in the family, for instance, has requested that only Hemant supervise the menu and arrangements," said a hotel insider. 'I'm sure he'll suggest Peruvian to them, too."

Most coveted mansion
With its spread of 2,926 sq metres, its location at Malabar Hill, its Burma teak interiors, and many gardens and sea view, it's certainly one of the most coveted bungalows in the city. And now that Jatia house on 38 Little Gibbs Road is on sale, there's expected to be a feeding frenzy amongst the rich and famous to acquire her.

Jatia house
Jatia house

For many years the residence of the extended MP Jatia clan, the business family known to have migrated from Burma, and who now have interests in hospitality F&B and luxury, the sale of the family home is being lauded as a new high in the manner it is being conducted, with the international real estate company JLL publishing a handsome hard cover, richly illustrated tome on the mansion, which is said to be worth in the region of Rs 400 crore to Rs 500 crore!

"Who will buy it??" said a lady familiar with the property market in Mumbai. "After all, it will have to be a cheque payment and that will exclude most Richie-rich names in the running." Like the next-door Bhabha mansion, the sale of Jatia House is sure to be a closely watched affair.

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