"It was the wettest day of this year’s monsoon, but that didn’t stop Our Lady of Salvation Church at Dadar - better known as Portuguese church - from filling up for the service for Charles Correa. "It was our friend Anil Dharker telling us about yesterday’s service, which we could not attend because of a sprained back. Dharker had been one of the celebrated architect’s oldest and dearest friends, along with the late Vinod Mehta and Behram Contractor. "It was an apt choice of venue, because this very unconventional and modern church was designed by Correa himself," he said.
We could picture it as he spoke: the church filling with the choir’s sublime rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’; the strong rousing voices of Gerson Da Cunha and Julio Ribeiro reading from Psalm 24 and Correa’s legion of family, friends and admirers -not a dry eye amongst them.
They cried for him of course, this man of a humanity as colossal as the buildings he used to design, ideas as lofty as those imposing towers he built and as open and welcoming as his famous spaces, which allowed in sunlight and sky.
They cried for this poor city too, bereft of one of its most ardent lovers, the fount of its wisdom, the creator of its rugged aesthetics.
But most of all they cried for themselves and how each day, they were losing one by one, those who stood for a certain way of seeing things, of caring, of being.
Behram Contractor, Vinod Mehta, Nissim Ezekiel, Dom Moraes, Frank Simoes, Mario Miranda and now Charles Correa.
The last one to leave Mumbai might as well put the light off...
The first time we laid eyes on current Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis it was last year at Nana Chudasama’s birthday. We had observed a curious little queue of extremely powerful individuals lining up to greet a somewhat shy young man and had enquired who he was. "Most likely our next CM" someone in the know had said. That’s the kind of crowd at Chudasama’s - top and about to be top politicians, industrialists, socialites, film stars... After all Chudasama is one of the city’s most popular figures: a Sheriff, a wit, a raconteur and an institution.
Niranjan Hiranandani with Shaina NC who organised the birthday party
And this year, in spite of the MCA elections, in spite of the rains, in spite of traffic snarls and other Mumbai snafus, a juicy layer of the city’s top echelons made it to the Wankhede stadium to congratulate Chudasama - all 82 years of him at the celebrations organized by his daughter BJP leader Shaina NC and her husband Manish.
"Among the first to come was the Governor, Vidyasagar Rao with his wife and grand daughter, the Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse, CM Devendra Fadnavis with wife Amruta Fadnavis, the minister for Housing, Mining and Labor, the minister for Water Resources, MP Gopal Shetty, MLAs Raj Purohit and Sardar Tara Singh, industrialist Vijaypat Singhania, builder Niranjan Hiranandani, theatre personality Dolly Thakore, foodie Rashmi Uday Singh, jeweller Poonam Soni, singer Pankaj Udhas...
And yes, there were many new queues forming, in front of many new people who would sooner or later assume positions of enormous power.
But like last year the longest queue was the one for the beaming birthday boy. "He grows younger with every passing year and party," laughed his doting daughter Shaina.
Women on Top
"I think professional women should find their way into boards and add a diversified point of view. I don’t think it’s fair to get in by being a family member!" it was Lynn de Souza, former head of Lintas, informing us about her recent professional engagements. We had called up the ace advertising leader and philanthropist to enquire about her recent inclusion on the board of Croma.
Lynn de Souza
"I had also joined the board of UFO Digital Cinema last November a few months before it went public," she said. "I’m on three UFO boards and counting Croma and including Social Access which I co founded, that makes five," said the lady who describes her post Lintas phase as ‘much more fun’.
What are the highs of her not for profit NGO Social Access? "We have done more than 15 projects in two years, made 10 films and put four of them on air - pro bono. The issues we’ve worked with are solar lighting, water conservation, and education of girls, child abuse, and marathons for charity. Am really proud of what we do and we get enquiries every day." And the best part?
"We have a small cute office at Linking Road Khar," she said. "All girls and a cat."
"Pa Pa Ya is a modern take on Asian food. The goal and inspiration behind it comes from my deep admiration for Asian cuisine and the fact that in India it has seen little innovation with usually similar concepts being rehashed, said Zorawar Kalra, about his latest restaurant with its clever name, which will launch sometime next month at the Palladium Mall.
"With Pa Pa Ya our audacious endeavour is to radically re-interpret and re-invent pan Asian cuisine on a global scale," said the man behind Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, Made in Punjab, and Farzi Café. Because like Farzi Café, which has Dilliwallas clamouring, it takes Asian food and twists it entirely on its head while also introducing some gourmet elements that previously were available in only much more expensive 5 star restaurants," he said.
What is Kalra, the son of one of India’s earliest foodies, Jiggs Kalra, most looking forward to on the menu?
"My favorite section is the modern sushi section which is a very unique take on regular sushi. My favorite dishes would be the beer battered avocado tacos, sriracha lobster puffs, and the Rockefeller oysters with homemade ponzu," he said before signing off with a "Food tastings will start soon. You must come." Chopsticks to the ready.