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State of grace

Malavika>> We have been admirers of her feisty mother poet, documentary filmmaker and patron of the arts Asha Sheth for over four decades, and Ketaki Sheth has been a friend and contemporary for as long. But nothing prepared us for the superb book of photographs that she has published, and is releasing today. Titled ‘A Certain Grace: The Sidi, Indians of African Descent’, and published by Photoink, the book is an astonishing work of one India’s finest (and most under-recognised) contemporary photographers. “It all started on a family visit to Gir in 2004 when we drove through a Sidi settlement, Sirwan, in the middle of the Gir, given to them by the Nawab of Junagadh in recognition of their services and loyalty,” says the photographer who started taking pictures of the community in 2005.

“My first impression on the first day I entered Jambur, a Sidi village, was that it looked like a dusty film set. Seated at the entrance of the village and by the chai-beedi stall were four Sidi young men in tees and baseball caps playing a mean game of carrom. If looks could kill I would be dead as I was an obvious outsider.


‘Rizwana is ready for Shakeel’s reception’, a photograph by Ketaki Sheth from her book. Pic/Ketaki Sheth-Photoink

Luckily for me I was shepherded by a trusted Sidi who took me to the home of the community organiser, fearless Hirbaiben who became the fulcrum of the many journeys that followed. I knew nothing about the Sidi and as I dug deeper into the work, I felt that my pictures might become an archive of a fascinating Indian community whose numbers are so small (65,000-75,000).

” After many years of hard work and true grit the result is here for all to see, portraits of a little known and hardly understood tribe, each imbued with the photographers humanity and unique way of seeing. One more attempt by a journalist to get under the skin of a subject. A book that reveals a hidden universe portrait by sensitive portrait. As Phillip Prodger, Curator of Photography Peabody Essex Museum says, “The ‘grace’ of the title refers to the people within it; it applies equally well to the artist herself. We like!


Kekati Sheth 

Botox for the bottom-line
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All this talk about private jets reminds us of a certain cement baron, who, to stave off the usual speculation of how poorly his business is faring went ahead and bought not one, but two, private jets recently. As another WAG said, “When in doubt, or your profile needs boosting, buy a plane-or two!”
In certain circles its known as Botox for the bottom line: a face-saver!

Relative flamboyance
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We heard his sibling Shashikant charmed audiences at last year’s Thinkfest with his down to earth and no-nonsense revelations about his life and working style, (sharing office space with his brother was one of them) and like him Ravi Ruia has been known to be a simple man with simple tastes.
Which is why friends who have known him for a long time are happy to watch the low key and shy Ravi Ruia blossoming. His recent acquisition of a spectacular home in Goa, a spiffy yacht, residences in London and Dubai and the emergence of his son as an eligible bachelor have delighted those who know him. “This relative flamboyance, though uncharacteristic is welcome,” said a friend. “Though what it stems from is not known”.


Ravi Ruia

A change of guard
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It’s one of Mumbai’s iconic institutions and one that the Birlas, one of India’s most respected business houses were known to control. Which is why when current Chairman Bharat Taparia (and a Birla relative) failed to fight for the family’s interests and Harsh Lodha, the eminent Chartered Accountant, featured prominently on the board of trustees it underlined the change of guard.


Harsh Lodha

For the un-initiated, Lodha is the son of the famous late RS Lodha, chartered accountant to the late Priyamvada Devi Birla, who had bequeathed her entire estate worth Rs 5,000 crore to him, an act hotly contested by the entire Birla family. Interestingly under Taparia’s leadership the hospital is undergoing a series of expensive renovations and upgrades, of interiors, facilities and infrastructure most of which are being overseen by the architectural firm Talati and Panthaky, who allegedly occupy office space within the precincts. Will the powerful Birlas be able to wrest control of what was once their jewel in the crown? Watch this space!


RS Lodha

The ultimate honour
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More news about the charming Rana Kapoor YES Bank’s ubiquitous Chairman. Word comes in that he was eminently in line for a Padma Bhushan this year, with a little bit of help from his friends.


Chanda Kochhar

And though the highly deserving banker Chanda Kochhar beat him to it, the prestigious honour is well within his reach. Or so, those in the know say. You heard it here first.


Rana Kapoor

It’s a bird, it’s a plane
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One last bit of insight into one of the most powerful gatherings of business leaders — the Adani–Shroff wedding in Goa recently. A WAG was heard to comment. “Whereas the ‘broke’ industrialists chose to fly in by private jet, the real big boys came in on Spice Jet.” A private inside joke enjoyed by only the very few who understand the nuances of these things. But for the record, those who attended were promoters of the DB, GVK, GMR and UB groups. And no, we are not telling who arrived in what!¬†


Cyril Shroff

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