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Storm in a C-cup

Malavika SangghviTrue to its clueless reportage on India, the Huffington Post has stirred up a hornet’s nest when it presented a list of ‘Top Indian Designers: 8 Fierce Leaders In The Fashion Industry’, and named Manish Malhotra, Sabyasachi Mukherji, Masaba Gupta, Pernia Qureshi, Nikhil Thampi, Payal Singhal, Tarun Tahiliani and Neeta Lulla.

Where’s Manish Arora, asked one fashionista, where’s Rohit Bal, demanded another. “Based on what? Number of showstoppers? Annual turnover? Profit? Bloggers hits? Designs?” thundered a third.

Masaba Gupta Payal Singhal
Masaba Gupta and Payal Singhal

But in our book the most elegant repose was Masaba Gupta’s who, eschewing her own glory, shyly demanded, “Why isn’t Anamika Khanna on it?”

Pernia Qureshi Neeta Lulla
Pernia Qureshi and Neeta Lulla

Nikhil Thampi Tarun Tahiliani
Nikhil Thampi and Tarun Tahiliani

Manish Malhotra Sabyasachi Mukherji
Manish Malhotra and Sabyasachi Mukherji

RIP Jagat Mehta
We were travelling when the distinguished Padma Bhushan Jagat Mehta, diplomat and politician, passed away early in March this year.

Father to our friend Vikram, the Chairman of Brookings India, he was emblematic of an era when the best and brightest in the country opted for careers in government and brought to it their brilliance and sophistication. Mehta, who had been educated at Allahabad and Cambridge Universities, possessed both these qualities in abundance.

Late Jagat Mehta Vikram Mehta
Late Jagat Mehta and Vikram Mehta

We recall meeting him with our friend Bim Bissell in Delhi on many occasions and his erudition and wisdom were much sought after. He had served as ambassador to China and Tanzania and then as Foreign Secretary from ‘76-‘79, and his conversations was laced with wit and anecdotes from his rich past. An Associate at Harvard and Fellow at Woodrow Wilson Centre, Washington, he moved in the highest circles in America and counted amongst his personal friends, the likes of Jackie Kennedy.

He leaves behind three sons, a daughter, many grandchildren and of course, his highly regarded books on foreign policy, which include: Militarization in the Third World (1985); The March of Folly in Afghanistan (2002); and Negotiating for India (2006). RIP Jagat. As India changes guard and re-calibrates her relations with other nations, your wisdom and experience will be sorely missed.

SOS on twitter
What on earth is going on in the N Srinivasan household? These tweets addressed to Lalit Modi from Avi Mukherjee, partner of Srinivasan’s son, Ashwin sound alarming, to say the least: ‘@LalitKModi We are trapped in Chennai.

Lalit Modi Avi Mukherjee
Lalit Modi and Avi Mukherjee

We have 80 pics. Of torture. Lives are in danger. Help. A+A,’ said one. ‘Satish Maneshinde is our strength in Bombay. We have to move back there,’ said another and ‘The 10 heads of the Ravana need to be sliced off 1 by 1,’ said a third.

Satish Maneshinde N Srinivasan
Satish Maneshinde and N Srinivasan

What do the 80 pics of torture allude to? Who is the Ravana with 10 heads? And above all, what is Lalit Modi doing in all of this? Will Satish Maneshinde enlighten us please?

Overheated conspiracy theories
Some of the industrialists who had been close to Arvind Kejriwal and now call him ‘diabolical’, might have just as likely been BJP plants. Or so say conspiracy theorists amongst AAP supporters who wonder how the tide could turn so resolutely against their leader after his tryst with governance in Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal
Arvind Kejriwal

Another theory floating around is that a powerful and leading Delhi industrialist has funded Kejriwal to counter his business rivals. As far as we are concerned, both theories appear to be just more grist for the election fever rumour mills that are churning at full speed at the moment.

Of literary words and beards
It was a gathering of some very distinguished Indian men of letters-or the usual suspects-depending on which way you looked at it, but last month when Consul General of India in New York, Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay kicked off ‘Media India: 2014-15’, a monthly lecture series, with a lecture by Suketu Mehta, it saw a galaxy of (hirsute) lit luminaries in attendance.

Salman Rushdie, Suketu Mehta, Tunku Varadarajan and Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay
Salman Rushdie, Suketu Mehta, Tunku Varadarajan and Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay

For one, sporting a promising stubble on his chin, there was Mehta himself, author of the best selling ‘Maximum City’, who is currently working with the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, New York University.

Moderating the discussion was Tunku Varadarajan, Professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism, with a more realised thicket of hair on his chin, and then there was the lit giant of them all, Sir Salman Rushdie with his Lennin-nesque goatee, who it is reported was promptly addressed by overwhelmed guests erroneously as ‘Sir Rusdhie’ (but, according to an onlooker, was gracious enough not to chide them, ‘unlike VS Naipaul, who became apoplectic in India when people called him “Sir Naipaul”’).

Apparently, the title goes with the first name in these matters. Incidentally, we don’t want to make a fetish of it, but Sir Vidia also sports some celebrated facial fuzz. Growing a beard is a career move if you want to be a lit giant, obviously.

Love is wearing your saree
Say what you will about Sheila Dixit but Delhi misses the urbane and elegant Miranda-House educated CM sorely. For one, her style so complemented the hyper-stylish handloom and hand-woven drawing rooms of Delhi in which the ‘women come and go, talking of Mrs Gandhi and co.’

Sheila Dixit (centre) with daughter Latika
Sheila Dixit (centre) with daughter Latika

But poetry aside, we can vouch for Dixit’s impeccable taste and graciousness personally. And this picture taken with her daughter Latika, after she assumed her new post as Governor of Kerela, in which the two women are sporting traditional Kerela saris with their golden borders contrasting with their white mundu neryathum, demonstrates quite irrefutably why Kejriwal and his muffler didn’t quite make it in Lutyen’s Delhi. Who’s Sari now?

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