Tennis legends and Melba toast

Mar 09, 2015, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Any one who has had the pleasure of visiting Mumbai’s iconic race course early in the morning will know what a charmed life the city can afford some of its citizens.

There you are, the pungent aroma of freshly bathed horses in your nostrils and the warm morning sun on your back, amidst the city’s horse and dog people, the Indian equivalent of town and country squires, out for their morning trot, all pip pip and tally ho as they revel in a morning that starts with a brisk ride and ends with akuri and melba toast next door.

Leander Paes and Martina Hingis with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI
Leander Paes and Martina Hingis with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Pic/PTI

But word comes in that the RWITC had rare visitors few days ago, when the Australian Open champions Leander Paes and Martina Hingis were seen at the riding school. “Martina, quite an expert rider breezed around on a magnificent Argentinian horse for 45 minutes and was soon joined by the more reticent Leander,” says former RWITC Chairman Vivek Jain, who was at hand to show the international sportstars around.

“Leander was all charm and his humility for a 15-time Grand Slam champion was so refreshing.” The icing on the cake apparently was Leander’s promise to be back and also come on a race day. “Come and see me play at Wimbledon, that will be a treat,” said Paes, before sweeping Jain off his feet by pulling out the original Aussie Open Trophy, and posing with it along with a delighted Vivek and a bemused Martina.

And afterwards the two thoroughbreds experienced one of Mumbai’s most civilized rituals a light breakfast at the Club.


The eye of the master
Word comes in that the father-son duo of Vickram and Tushar Sethi, will be hosting their eleventh auction for Asta Guru, their online auction house later this week; and with the works of legends like Raja Ravi Varma and Rabindranath Tagore being sold, the preview at Palladium is expected to attract the who’s who of collectors.

Tushar and Vickram Sethi will be hosting their online auction shortly
Tushar and Vickram Sethi will be hosting their online auction shortly

“Since these are national treasures, sourced by ICIA Gallery (Sethi’s brick and mortar gallery) from various renowned collectors within India, there’s a lot of buzz,” said a spokesperson for the Asta Guru. And for whatever it’s worth, though we do not own an Indian master, we would like to describe our reaction on seeing an original Tagore for the first time in our lives.

It was at the house of a very grand Bengali bhadralok, and when we came face to face with the canvas, we recall feeling quite faint, it was the same kind of feeling that Pi felt when he gazed into the face of the tiger. Who would imagine you could now have a Tagore at the click of a mouse?

An editor and a gentleman
Others will tell you of his formidable achievements, his sterling integrity, his zest and joie de vivre. But still imbued in the sadness of Outlook’s founding editor Vinod Mehta’s death, all we can say is what we wrote to his beautiful wife Sumita: ‘He was a fine human being and a fine editor, in a world where being even one of these is rare.’

Vinod Mehta
Vinod Mehta

RIP dear Vinod, at your feet we learnt our trade. Without you Indian journalism would have been a very different animal. Goodbye and Salute! We shall miss you.

He said, she said...
She is a beautiful, dusky writer with an internationally awaited novel under her belt, he a swashbuckling TV anchor, one of the country’s most famous with a Cowboy charm of his own, they meet across the Capital’s soirees.

“What do you do when you find yourself seated across a gorgeous, bearded man? You ask him what he does for a living,” she narrates. He says he works for a channel. “Would I have seen you on TV?” she asks, being more interested in the arts than in current affairs. The table erupts into casual laughter at her ignorance.

“You realise that the very man you’d publicly admitted to having an intangible crush on, is in front of you; charming, balanced, differently gorgeous in real life, altogether as delicious as the image you’d built of him in your hormone-driven imagination,” she says later after creating various hashtags such as #Delhi Evenings #GorgeousDelhiMen #Post-adolescentcrushes #Menwithbeards. #Delhi’s gorgeous men with beards! Indeed.

Power women unlimited
Her sultry dark eyes and vivacious smile are often seen on TV, even as she takes to task some of the country’s most powerful men for their misdemeanors.

Abha Singh
Abha Singh

So when former Indian Revenue Services officer-turned-advocate and activist Abha Singh tells you she has an equally powerful sister, albeit in another field, you can’t help but think errant alpha males are an endangered species.

“Me and my dynamic sister Meenakshi Singh, who heads the International Trade Promotion Council, are going to Chile with more than 95 Indian companies to explore business prospects in Santiago,” said our feisty friend who happens to be married to the even feistier YP Singh, the incorruptible and outspoken IPS officer who left service to become a lawyer, author and activist in Mumbai.

But back to Abha. “We will attend the Indian Expo between 11-15 March. On Women’s Day we dynamic sisters will take part in the UN-organised Gender Equality Walk in New York,” she said.

That’s called a power walk.

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