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Sheer nostalgia

>> “Notice the horrid pink building? That’s Cumballa Hill Hospital. The white building on its left? Surya Kiron -- that’s where I grew up,” writes peripatetic journalist Salil Tripathi but eternal Mumbai boy at heart about this photograph. “Along the road next to the sale sign is New Era School, where I studied.

Just before you reach the Marine Drive near Chowpatty, is the house where Celebrity magazine had its offices -- which was my first job.


Cumballa Hill Hospital surrounded by other buildings in South Mumbai

Not far from there, beyond the railway tracks, is Bombay Hospital, where my sons were born. And at the far end, Nariman Point, was my India Today office. Bonus info for Midnight’s Children fans: the pink Cumballa Hill Hospital was called Shirodkar Hospital till mid-60s, where, on Aug 14, 1947, in what was fictionally called Narlikar Nursing Home, at the stroke of midnight, a child was born -- a son… a son, sahiba, and such a son! Saleem Sinai was his name.”


Salman Rushdie

To which fellow writer and his dear friend Salman Rushdie adds: “The pink building in the middle of the picture, as Salil points out, is the hospital in which I, and also Saleem Sinai, were born. In fairness, I don’t believe it was pink at the time.” Nice!

The big fat Indian wedding
>> The founder of Save the Children India, the late Vipula Kadri was a friend of ours. A graceful committed lady she has left behind a legacy, which only few can match. Over the years, the Save the Children India has incorporated the core values that its founder inspired with emphasis on creating awareness and support for disfranchised children.


Mana Shetty with Sharmilla Khanna

Vipula’s daughter Mana Shetty has had a great role to play in keeping her mother’s vision alive. Araaish is a fund raising property of Save The Children India -- and with 25 successful shows in Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Dubai, for the first time the NGO is organising the Araaish Trousseau at the Four Seasons Hotel today. Manned ably by the mother-daughter team of Sharmilla and Shaan Khanna, it promises to be everything a big fat Indian wedding would ever require.

Boarding shotgun style
>> Spotted yesterday: Shatrughan Sinha boarding a Jet Airways plane at 1:30 pm at Mumbai airport, escorted right up to the plane in his own car with a red light and a police jeep with armed policemen. If that’s not all, this whole contingent walked the star right inside the aircraft followed by obsequious Jet Airways staff.

True to style, Mr Shotgun Sinha flaunted dark glasses and looked every inch the star he is. “He’s only a member of parliament like thousand others and not a minister,” said an onlooker, “blatant abuse of power.”

Salaam Mumbai: Art for art’s sake
Last night at a tony London restaurant overlooking the Thames, a glamorous Chinese investment banker asked me about the state of Indian art -- how was it doing these days? Over the din of happy diners I tried to answer her question. But, of course, after a few sentences I realised that I was hopelessly ill equipped. Because as I began to describe the cornucopia of style, wit, cut-throat rivalry, maddening narcissism and tragedy and triumph of the Indian art scene, I realised the banker’s eyes had glazed over: what she was asking about was if it was still a good investment. If her Gaitondes and Tyeb Mehtas were still appreciating.

It’s then that I thought of Kekoo and Khorshed Gandhy and the Chemould art gallery they’d set up 50 years ago from their little frame-making warehouse on Princess Street. Kekoo who had been the first Indian to be appointed as Honorary Secretary of the Bombay Society. Kekoo whose passion for contemporary had virtually created the Indian art scene. What would Kekoo have made of the implicit commerce behind the question? My mother ran the café Samovar on the verandah below Kekoo’s Chemould when it was housed at the Jahangir Art gallery. The Gandhys were a leitmotif from my early childhood as they sipped their tea and presided over a veritable legion of Great Masters: the flamboyant M F Husain, erudite S H Raza, shy H R Ara, rambunctious F N Souza, scholarly K K Hebbar. Talking, arguing, discussing, promoting, confabulating conspiring art --for art’s sake. And look at the people who were inspired by Kekoo’s infectious enthusiasm: Roshan Kalapesi, who went on to revive Indian crafts with her Paramparik Karigar and the poet Nissim Ezekiel both worked as managers at the gallery. And it was not art alone that fuelled the Gandhy zeal but a great humanity. In the emergency, I recall both him and Khorshed throwing themselves into civil rights activism and there was many an occasion when Kekoo would button hole me about some civic cause or another. Which is why, I guess when the glamorous banker asked me about the state of Indian art I was at a loss for words. What would Kekoo have replied, I wondered! 

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