Rushdie at the NCPA

>> Tuesday evening we were invited by Anil Dharker of Literature Live! to what was easily a lit fest coup to beat all others.

At short notice, he had managed to get together Salman Rushdie and Deepa Mehta to talk about there much awaited, soon-to-be released film Midnight’s Children.

Packed to capacity, the NCPA’s Little Theatre had writers (Shobhaa De, Amish Tripathi), directors (Alyque Padamsee), actors and activists (Gerson da Cunha, Dolly Thakore) and prominent members of Mumbai’s high society (Simone Tata, a regular at Literature Live! events) in attendance.

Salman Rushdie and Deepa Mehta. Pic/Bipin Kokate

When asked the inevitable question about the transition from book to film, Rushdie is said to have rubbed his hands in glee saying, “This is where I tell my cinema joke: Two goats go into a cinema projection room. One finds a can of film and starts chewing on it. After a while the other goat asks, ‘Was the film good?’ The first goat replies, ‘Yes, it was good. But the book was better’.” And tonight at the film’s premiere we shall see if the goat was right!

A store to die for
>> We love it when parts of heritage Mumbai are further gentrified by the presence of mini style miles. And Filter, the Kala Ghoda store launched by aesthete and ad guru Aloke Nanda seems to be one more happy addition to the area which boasts of the Kala Ghoda Cafe, Sabyasachi and other hip retail outlets.

Filter, the art store at Kala Ghoda. 

The brainchild of Nanda, adopted by creative director Ajoy Advani, Filter tucked away in the narrow lanes of the Kala Ghoda art district is a retail space that houses curated works of illustrators, photographers, graphic designers and product innovators.  

Aloke Nanda

The products range from one-off pieces of furniture, framed limited-edition prints and stationery to t-shirts, mouse pads, diaries and sketchbooks. “It’s called Filter because we filter out all the mundane banal and ordinary,” says Advani. Nice! 

Royal visitors
>> Our royal cups runneth over! This is our season to sup with various members of European royalty obviously. Following on the heels of our wine–soaked lunch with the dapper Prince Robert of Luxembourg has come the invitation to dine with not one but three visiting members of royalty: the fiery Turkish born Princess Esra Jah, the former wife of Prince Mukkaram Jah, the current Nizam of Hyderabad, our dear jet setting designer friend Princess Ira von Furstenberg (also related to the fabulous Agnelli clan) and the swashbuckling author, conservationist, elephant lover and all round buccaneer Mark Shand, brother to Camilla, wife of the heir to the British throne.

Princess Ira von Furstenberg.

Dinner is to be at the home of the very elegant Poonam Bhagat who with her various berths on international art forums appears to have inherited the late great Sunita Pitamber’s title of cultural and society czarina of India.

Come to think of it, even their homes, sprawling bungalows on the two opposite flanks of the city between which genteel Mumbai nestles havea similar vibe to them!

A time to wine
>> The lengths we go to for fine wines! Monday morning saw us sea-soaked and windblown from a weekend on the Alibag beach taking a one-and-a-half hour excursion to the Mandwa jetty, a 20-minute speed boat jaunt to the Gateway, a half hour zip to our home and then another 20 minutes drive to make it to our lunch appointment with Prince Robert of Luxembourg, scion of The Grand Ducal Family of Luxembourg and managing director of Domaine Clarence Dillon, two of the most prestigious Premier Grand Cru estates in Bordeaux: Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion.

Given our close encounter with the beach, we were hoping the prince would not be a stuffy wine snob-and mercifully he wasn’t. Considered something of a rebel in sanctified wine circles, the Prince was here to present his newest creation, a kind of pret wine Clarendelle, which he hopes would be the first super premium-branded Bordeaux wine at an affordable price. (Sold at $15 to $25 a bottle against the $300 a bottle for Chateau Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion). But, of course, over a specially crafted lunch, we tasted not just his excellent Clarendelles (Bordeaux Blanc 2009 and Bordeaux Rose 2010) but also the more legendary wines from his bouquet: the 2009 La Clarte de Haut-Brion Blanc (cost $80-$129 ‘Oodles of figs, melon, crushed rock, white flowers’ according to Robert Parker); the 2009 La Chapelle de la Mission Haut Brion (Cost: $67-$125, ‘Hints of volcanic soils, burning embers, sweet black currants’); the 2008 La Clarence du Haut-Brion (cost $87-$256. ‘Black cherry and loamy soil notes’); the 2001 La Mission Haut Brion (Cost: $170-$350. ‘Expressive, medium-bodied, seductive’); the 1998 Haut Brion (Cost:$390-$912. ‘A dense ruby/purple colour’) and a few others whose names I quite forget! Ish!!! A tough job gentle reader but shomebody gotta do it! Hic!

A toast to Nina
>> Hats in the air! Our former colleague and one of the country’s finest journalists, the lovely Nina Martyris has been chosen as one of the fellows of the first Gabriel García Marquez fellowships in cultural journalism by Colombia’s Ministry of Culture and the Gabriel García Marquez New Journalism Foundation.

Nina Martyris

Author Gabriel García Marquez

She was chosen from 465 applications from 70 countries throughout the world. As the official announcement says, ‘The high level of journalists who applied for the fellowship, and the rich diversity of profiles that were evaluated, are a strong evidence of the vitality of the cultural journalism around the world.’ Readers will recall Martyris’ always insightful and well-crafted articles, suffused with her innate humanism. We like!

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