He’s always worn his Birla surname lightly, never pulled his ‘I’m rich and famous’ card and more often than not has broken out of the industrialist mould - be it while bopping at trance fests, releasing bodybuilding videos of himself or meditating on the Ganges.
Which is why those who know him are bewildered that Yash Birla has employed a phalanx of muscle bound security men to accompany him at all his public appearances. After all, even cousin Kumar Mangalam Birla, who has far more to protect, does not have such ubiquitous security presence.
One explanation from a business insider is that the heavily leveraged Birla heir who unfortunately did business with some unsavoury characters recently, requires the presence of these guards to keep creditors at bay. Whereas that could just be an uncharitable explanation, guests at nightclubs and restaurants that he frequents are puzzled by their ‘Guddu’s’ behaviour.
Indian artist to watch
It’s known as ‘Insider access to the world’s best art’ and so when Nalini Malani was picked by Artspace as part of its list of ‘10 artists to watch this September’ along with the likes of Norway’s celebrated Bjarne Melgaard and conceptual art practitioner Sol Lewitt, naturally it was only a validation of the artist’s much admired talent.
But a glance at the prices dismayed her Indian fans and collectors: whereas the other artists were being sold at $7,500 (Ashley Bickerton) and $5,500 (Mathew Day Jackson) Malani, one of India’s leading artists known for her cerebral and highly nuanced approach to her work had three works on sale priced at $1,200 each. Surely her work is worth a lot more than that? After all, the site’s editors describe her as an artist who is “known for lyrical figurative paintings and animations.’
Neville Tuli, who brought a certain swashbuckling style to art retail but whose slightly unorthodox ways attracted a SEBI probe, will be seen after a long time in Mumbai, when his auction for cricket memorabilia will be on view to a few select collectors tonight at the CCI. But uncharacteristically, there has been little publicity or hype around the event, which has surprised those who have followed his career. In fact, a lady who had been instrumental in launching him in the art world who didn’t receive notice of today’s function is quite miffed, we hear.
No Can Fly
Leading denizens of India Inc were in for a rude shock when they found that permissions to fly to Europe on their private jets were being refused recently. On closer inquiry, they learnt that European authorities had closed their ports after a controversial businessman, indicted in the 2G scam had jumped bail and flown to a European capital. Hence, the thumbs down! He had done this by omitting his name from the mandatory passenger manifesto. What’s worse is that one of India’s leading and most powerful politicians was with him on board. Tch Tch.. Only in India.
12 years on, the madness remains
Twelve years ago, I was at the newspaper office editing copy, when a friend called, alarmed. “I can’t believe what I just saw,” he said with a gasp. “A plane just crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Oh no!” he shrieked. “There’s another one that’s crashed into the other tower. Oh my God! What’s going on?”
Twelve years. Huddled together with family watching TV, watching a tragedy unfold in real time across the world. New York. The center of the universe. The capital of the world. The throne of wealth and power. The scenes of mayhem and carnage were incredulous. Two of the city’s most iconic skyscrapers were crumpling like a child’s cardboard school project before our eyes.
The panic in the usually composed newsreaders’ voices was palpable. Victims caught inside the burning towers were waving flags of SOS, were jumping off balconies often holding each other’s hands, were dying before our eyes.
Then word came in of the crash at the Pentagon and of a fourth plane that crashed killing all its passengers but sparing many other lives in an open field at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The world had gone mad. It was the end of the world. This was not supposed to happen. Except in superhero comic books. And then, of course, it would all be set right when the caped crusader flew in.
Except this time there was none. Only death and fear and the end of America’s sense of invincibility. September 11 established the fault lines between the East and West; it ignited the clash of civilisations, it put an end to innocence. It unleashed America’s inner bully.
Twelve years. Since then many real time horrors. An equally heinous one in Mumbai. Too many in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran. Too many graves, too many widowed women, too many orphaned children. A dozen years seems a long enough time for the madness to cease. But the madness hasn’t. Let’s give it another 12 years, shall we?