Sarson ka saga

It was a virtual pride of women who assembled on Wednesday morning for the US Consulate Mumbai and the Asia Society India Centre's power breakfast in honour of visiting North Carolina Governor, Nikki Haley.

In attendance were business leaders like pharma doyenne Swati Piramal, the newly entrepreneurial Falguni Nayar, Lakshmi Venu, Vu’s Devita Saraf, Neera Saggi, Geetu Verma, Abha Pant, and two representatives from Lijjat Papad, apart from Asia Society’s indefatigable Bunty Chand and Moomal Mehta.

Nikki Haley (Centre) with Bunty Chand and Moomal Mehta from Asia Society
Nikki Haley (Centre) with Bunty Chand and Moomal Mehta from Asia Society

The fact that Haley hails originally from the Punjab (“It’s Nikki as in nikki si kudi, and her middle name is Randhawa,” said one of the delighted guests, the recipient of Governor Haley’s legendary charm offensive) made the meet something of a homecoming for Haley who wears her Indian-origins on her well-cut suit sleeve with pride.

Balle Balle!

Just relax and sparkle
She’s regarded as something of a trail-blazer in Bollywood, not only for her personal life but also for being one of the first star wives to strike out on her own professionally, and this Sunday will see Sussanne Khan hosting a slew of design aficionados at her hip luxury lifestyle store The Charcoal Project to celebrate a whole new line of drool worthy home accessories and furnishings.

Sussanne Khan
Sussanne Khan

“We’re calling it the char-gold week,” said the doe-eyed entrepreneur, “and its an entire new collection of curated bonsai trees pop art, breezy chic furniture and lighting philosophy, inspired and motivated by life!” she said, when we enquired what her new collection was all about. “The char-gold way of life makes one feel anything is possible, if you just relax and sparkle.”

Relax and sparkle?

We like!

The end of Kalyug
So Salman and SRK have kissed and made up.

Pop open the bubbly. Recall the troops. Declare a national holiday.

Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan

Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan. The two reigning superstars of Bollywood; the heartthrobs of Bandra; the phenomenon of Bandstand.

Kissed and made up.

Well not exactly kissed, but hugged. Yes, hugged. Big brotherly Real Men hugs. Flashing Real Men smiles with Real Men muscles. Fourteen packs of rippling abs between them. No accompanying background score but you could hear the clanging of steel as their ribbed biceps grazed. No songs sung by Yoyo Honey Singh to sing but enough cheer in the muggy Bandstand breeze.

SRK and Salman Khan.

They’ve made up and hugged. Out of the blue. One fine day. In front of cheering crowds. Outside an ordinary Bandra building. Late at night or very early in the morning. Just like that.

SRK and Salman. Hugged. Late night. Bandra. World Peace. End of hunger and war. Just like that.

Who woulda’ thunk!

Banking on them
They’ve been the subject of great envy amongst alpha males, mostly for the legendary bonuses they receive annually, but now there’s one more thing that the city’s top bankers are attracting the green-eyed monster for: their plush apartments in some of Mumbai’s top luxury towers.

“Whether it’s because of the prestige their presence lends these flashy buildings in the city’s newly developed areas, or because they offer builders attractive loans in return for attractive real estate deals-we can’t say,” says a source, “but all we know is that some of the most high profile luxury towers in Mumbai boast a roster of top bankers in them.”

Either way, you know someone is laughing all their way to the bank!

Ladies who tipple
We are all for ladies who lunch, especially ladies who lunch together on a weekly basis. We doff our hat to ladies who tipple too, especially ladies who tipple together.

Madhu Jain Urvashi Butalia
Madhu Jain and Urvashi Butalia

But ladies who tipple together on a weekly basis and that too on a Saturday afternoon at a bar, and not just any bar, but the bar in Delhi’s India International Centre-that bastion of intellectual superiority and bad hair days-deserve our whole-hearted unstinted fulsome high-five round of applause. Especially if some of them are pushing ninety. Especially if they refer to themselves as ‘les girls’, and especially if there’s a blue stocking or two between them.

“I’ve been invited to the bar to meet with a group of women,” writes feminist publisher and writer, Urvashi Butalia cofounder of Zubaan, in a recent issue of Madhu Jain’s IQ.

‘Meet’ les girls’: Lola Chatterjee is 90, Rani Ray 84, Shahla Haider is 78 and Bobo (Chatterjee’s son, the ‘honorary woman’) is 70.’

“We’re a familiar sight at the bar now,” they tell Butalia, adding, “The bartenders know exactly what we want. The moment we walk in and take our table, our drinks arrive,” they say of what is arguably one of Delhi’s most civilized traditions.

It turns out that ‘les girls’ is a throwback to another group that dated back more than half a century, set up by Lola Chatterjee’s mother, for the bored wives of American diplomats.

“The women were bored, so they’d get together at Lola’s mother’s home in Connaught Place and spend afternoons baking cookies, chatting, and of course, drinking,” writes Butalia. “As often happens with these things, the group went this way and that. Until half a century later, when Lola and her friends revived it.”

So there you have it, plonk in the middle of bureaucratic Dilli. A group of feisty women, cocking a snook at misogynists and sundry party poopers by raising a glass of cheer together!

And the best part? “They scoff at my 62 years. ‘You’re a mere spring chicken! But you’re welcome all the same’,” writes Butalia.

“Spring chicken,” she writes, “I haven’t been called that in a long time, but when you are in the presence of three centuries of combined age, 62 does seem very young. To celebrate, I have two drinks and walk out with a spring in my step.”

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