>> The last time he spoke in Mumbai there was a standing room only and that too very little. And this evening when Nobel laureate and Narendra Modi’s most distinguished critic Amartya Sen engages in a discussion with economist Jean Dreze, expect a feeding frenzy of like-minded people. After all, both men have a somewhat cult like following amongst progressive liberal slightly left of centre members of the middle class.
The subject at hand will be Sen’s latest book: An Uncertain Glory: India and its contradictions (Penguin) and with the publication of Sen’s recent strident critiques that expose the shameful underbelly of the post reform triumphalism promise to be a much needed ‘emperor’s got no clothes’ kind of call. We like!
Our Brooklyn neighbour
>> More reason to cheer: Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest, The Lowland, is on the latest Man Booker long list. The Pulitzer winning author of the Namesake and the Interpreter of Maladies has been a long time favourite and we are still savouring the delicious short story she’d written about Kolkata during its Naxal era in a recent issue of the New Yorker that we read on the flight getting in to New York.
That she is a neighbour of ours in Brooklyn Heights is a matter of much excitement. Could the distinguished but solemn lady who was walking down Montague Street be one of my favourite authors? And how soon can I nip across to the best book shop in the whole world, The Powerhouse Arena (in very hip DUMBO) to get my own copy? Watch this space!
And then there was one
>> Who says man about own, party host and Page 3 permanent resident Raja Dhody does not have a sense of humour?
According to a source, when the bearded one received a call recently congratulating him about the engagement of his second daughter with the words ‘Now only one left to go’ referring to his underage son -- Dhody with excellent timing and self deprecating wit is reported to have corrected the caller by saying, “No there’s three left to go: there’s my elder daughter, there’s my son and then there’s me.” Nice!
The wages of love
>> Long before lit fests and Indian man Booker winners, way before David Davidar launched Penguin in India and changed the world of publishing, at a time when Midnight’s Children was but a gleam in Salman Rushdie’s eye and Arundhati Roy was just another rebellious school girl at a hill station boarding school down south, there was Kamala Das.
Dark and subversive, generous and enigmatic, ruling her poetry salons at her Marine Drive apartment near Sachivalaya with the gentlest hand, she was our friend. And we are delighted that at last, a book of her uncollected writings Wages of Love has been published this month. Edited by Suresh Kohli it carries vintage Das poetry, essays and short plays. And, of course, vintage Das wisdom: “A book is a good substitute for a man. Fiction preferably.”
>> Ok. So here’s an ‘oops we goofed’: Turns out that the excerpt of the Mumbai food guide to places to eat for under Rs 100 and Rs 50 that landed on our desk recently without provenance which we quoted from had been compiled by Mumbai Boss. Apologies to the people there. And, of course, to the writers and food critics who painstakingly compiled all that information. One round of sada dosa from Warden Road’s best on us!
New art museum
>> And word comes in that the much awaited and hyped art museum to be launched by Sangita Jindal at the erstwhile Peddar Road headquarters of the JSW group will in fact be housed at their Lower Parel premises after all.
The offices meanwhile have moved to the impressive ship like structure at the Bandra-Kurla complex where some very fine
works by Anish Kapoor, Subodh Gupta and Shakti Maira are housed.
Tangoing through Europe
>> We have never understood it but like a child with its nose pressed against a window observing a banquet we have been fascinated by the passion a certain group of Mumbaikars and their Delhi counterparts have displayed for tango. There’s the very attractive Kiran Sawhney, one of the capital’s great beauties who teaches it and who recently posted pictures not only of her tango shoes danced to shreds but also of her wrecked feet; there’s our friend Padma Rao, fellow hack, impassioned scrabble player and superb tango dancer and in Mumbai there’s our friend, an erstwhile Juhu neighbour, the distinguished lawyer Darius Shroff and his wife Sonia whose soulful twirling can stop a party in its tracks and have every one sighing.
Incidentally, Darius, Sonia and a few other tango aficionados are currently on a grand tango European adventure attending classes and demonstrations of the sensual and exquisite dance form. And not only sending wonderful pictures of their trip back home but this poster of a tango festival in Croatia which depicts Shroff dreamy eyed and dancing in the background of a large dance floor! We like!