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Salman is in the house

A veritable truckload of stars rolled up Sunday night to attend Baba and son Zeeshan Siddique's grand Iftar dinner. We spotted Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif, and were told SRK arrived later after we'd left.

Held at the Taj Land's End, it has become something of a landmark event on the city calendar and as expected lived up to the expectation. At the head of a long almost 100-feet main table, which had been bedecked with rose petals, dates fresh fruits and tumblers of falooda, presided over by Salman's dad, the celebrated scriptwriter Salim Khan and his wife, the legendary dancer Helen. Around them sat the likes of Praful Patel, Sushil Kumar Shinde and others.

Salman Khan with Baba Siddique at the Iftar party. Pic/PTI
Salman Khan with Baba Siddique at the Iftar party. Pic/PTI

As expected Salman Khan's entry brought all activities to a standstill. Sporting a buzz cut and a black Pathani ensemble, the star exuded a sense of relaxed ease, as Baba and Zeeshan walked him around the table introducing him to the guests.

Sanjay Nirupam, Manikrao Thakare, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Chavan etc
Sanjay Nirupam, Manikrao Thakare, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ashok Chavan etc

What does one do when one is seated across Salman Khan at a dining table? For starters you remind yourself to stop gorging on the biriyani and haleem and assume a more lady-like demeanour. Then, even though you know it's rude you can't help but fall under his spell like every other person in the room, and stare at him. Fellow diners, waiters, fans, family friends, almost 500 pairs of eyes, staring unabashedly at the star.

Praful Patel
Praful Patel

All conversations wind down, all eating ceases as we experience star power. Nearest to him is his security detail, his ever-faithful companion Shera, hovering unobtrusively but always on the alert within hand distance. Industry colleagues, politicos come for a quick darshan and tactfully drop away not wanting to hog all his time; a few ardent fans meanwhile slip through the cracks and he signs autographs and selfies almost on auto control. Khan meets and greets everyone with a beatific warm smile.

Noticing our attentiveness the person seated on our left remarks cattily, "We didn't know you were a fan of Salman Khan's." We weren't until yesterday when we saw the trailer of Sultan and were blown away by him, we reply expediently. "And who says we can't change our mind?"

A fine sensibility
When we'd met Kresha Bajaj a few weeks ago at her parents, Kintu and Kishore Bajaj's elegant home in Pali Hill, we were delighted to find that the young designer shared a similar view on fashion.

Kresha Bajaj
Kresha Bajaj

"I like clothes that empower women even as they are feminine," she says. When Kresha was a child her father always searching for the Holy Grail of design had engaged the late great architect Nari Gandhi to design a weekend home and he credits the visionary designer for his celebrated aesthetic sensibility.

Some of it has obviously rubbed off on Kresha, who this week wrote a blog post about designing her own wedding ensemble, a challenging enterprise for any bride, after she found nothing she liked in the market. "I started creating my lehenga a kali at a time. First, the entire embroidery was hand drawn. Then, our names were hand sewn with beautiful zari, which was hidden into the embroidery of the fabric, forming a delicate optical illusion.

Each of the kalis had intricate frames, in which I had all the important moments of our life showcased – the bottom of my lehenga and dupatta was finished with a hem of jumping dolphins, which was how our story began, as we (had) worked on a protest against cetacean captivity together," she'd written in the post accompanied with exquisite photographs of the finished all ivory gossamer and burnished gold lehenga. Even Nari Gandhi would have smiled from his perch above.

Coldplay, again?
What is it about Chris Martin and Coldplay that gets India's heart racing? Chris has been in India two times over the past year and both occasions were secret hush-hush visits that left fans slightly underwhelmed and wanting for more.

Bonoand Chris Martin. Pics/AFP
Bonoand Chris Martin. Pics/AFP

And now there's good news: word comes in, of plans to bring Coldplay to India this November by a popular digital start-up app. What's even more exciting is they have also said to have approached Bono and U2!

Swati Snacks goes to Nariman Point
For years Swati Snacks, that clean, efficient establishment, serving some of the best chaat and Gujarati dishes available, has been on my list of top restaurants in Mumbai.

Asha Jhaveri
Asha Jhaveri

Having patronised the place in its first avatar as a modest shack, before its stunning sleek steel and frosted glass Rahul Mehrotra makeover, we like to believe we are Swati aficionados, going there often for its peerless pani puri, dahi batata puri and sugar cane juice.

Asha Jhaveri, who runs the restaurant started by her mother 50 years ago, will be opening their third franchise at (there's one in Ahmedabad) Nariman Point next week and has roped in her friend, entrepreneur Venita Bhandare to host the launch. "I work in the area," says Bhandare. "A few buildings up the road, and I also I enjoy their healthy and fast veg food," she says. Nice!

Arrivederci amico
Many die-hard loyal fans term it the 'best authentic Italian food in Mumbai,' and we know of many SoBo foodies who travel the sea link for their dose of the Tuscan- Piedmontese cuisine. Yet this Italian eatery hasn't seem to have got its due.

The restaurant, a franchise of a popular London eatery, will soon cease to exist. And what will take its place? "I do not think a decision has been taken as yet, but the General Manager and the F&B Manager of the hotel are two of the best in the industry today, so it's in good hands," says a source.

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