The Big Schmooze

>> It was — as they say — ‘le tout Mumbai’ that had converged on to the lawns of Shanti Bungalow, Nana Chudasama’s haven at the end of one of Mumbai’s most coveted lanes on Napean Sea road.

The flamboyant ex-Sheriff and his politician daughter the graceful Shaina NC, a leading light of the BJP, jointly hosted the dinner in honour of the newly appointed BJP Chief Minister of Goa Manohar Parrikar.

The Chudasama family, one of Mumbai’s best connected and networked has hosted such evenings for well nigh over four decades bringing the best of Mumbai from the world of politics, business, finance, art, entertainment and society together effortlessly.

Jay Mehta, Yash Birla, Nandini Sardesai meet Parrikar. Pics/Santosh Nagwekar, Viral Bhayani 

But even by those standards, Tuesday’s dinner was sparkling.

For here under the sultry summer sky were the movers and shakers of Mumbai, doing what they do best — moving and shaking:

Star Plus’ erstwhile boy genius (the man who launched AB in KBC) Sameer Nair telling us about his newest plans for cyber space, RIL’s suave Nikhil Meswani arriving with the dapper builder Niranjan Hiranandani, Dilip Piramal talking about the activities of his 3 dynamic daughters, (the youngest only 5!) India’s big bull Rakesh Jhunjhunwalla holding forth about the markets even while informing us about his minor vices (20 ciggies a day and 3 pegs of whiskey-or perhaps the other way around?), IE’s Shekhar Gupta, being button-holed about Delhi’s latest political scandal, ( yes, he’s seen the tape!) Filmmaker Fahad Samar reporting the progress of his much awaited novel on Mumbai, film makers Kailash and Arti Surendranath flushed with the news of their son’s academic success, ace night club owner Rishi Acharya with the latest buzz on Tryst his popular nightclub at Lower Parel, Upper Crust’s ebullient Farzana Contractor informing us about the dog camps she conducts at her farm, Mickey Mehta on his SoBo gym successes and so on and so forth.

Just another evening in the exquisite, incestuous, cross-pollinated, precious and entitled goldfish bowl that is known as Mumbai!

Saving the Race Course
>> Vivek Jain the dynamic and charming Chairman of the RWITC, who has worked tirelessly to make the Race Course a thing of beauty and a joy forever for Mumbaikars across the board, set off alarm bells ringing in our head when he told us that the lease for SoBo’s prime 200 acres of green space runs out next year! 

“We’ve staved off plans to convert it in to an underground parking lot, a fly over, shed for railway rakes, a hotel and all kinds of threats,” says Vivek, who in a bid to divest the course from its elite tag and bring in people from all walks of city life has introduced art and culture exhibitions, jogging tracks and football coaching classes.

“Our biggest supports to save Mumbai’s vital green lungs are the media and common citizens of Mumbai who say they will march with me against its take over.” 

Count us in, we say!

The IIT boy
>> At the dinner to celebrate his victory and introduce him to Mumbai’s power elite, Goa’s newly appointed CM Manohar Parrikar appeared cool and laid back eschewing neta-wear in a sky blue unconstructed linen bush shirt and cargoes. (Though we have to admit that Minister of Public Works Chhagan Bhujbal looked quite dapper in a designer kurta with a natty scarf.) Just the kind of thing an IIT-Powai alumni who was in class with Nandan Nilekani and two classes below Jairam Ramesh would wear for a night out with the boys.

And Parrikar demonstrated that he was no slouch in the art of the repartee, when Vinod Khanna ribbed him a little about being the ‘only IIT alumni who was not a billionaire’. (“More surprisingly” he retorted “I’m the only CM who is not a billionaire!”); and responding wittily to this diarist’s teasing that the Maharashtra’s CM scored higher on the education food chain with a degree from Berkeley!

On a more serious note, Parrikar impressed us too with his candid confession that given the dismal State machinery he had inherited from the previous regime, he would have a long way to go before things in Goa would be in order (“Because they wanted to support corruption, they destroyed all the systems,” he said).

However once he cleaned out the Augean stables it was obvious that he had his eye on Goa’s big picture too, telling ace architect Noshir Talati that he’d be interested to engage him in a discussion on development, and making it a point to schmooze with all the biz folk who wanted to interest him in their projects.

Polite, intelligent, attentive and informal, the Goa CM stayed on till the very end and made it a point to talk to all of the Chudasama’s guests.
We like!

Corporate Citizen of the Year
>> The ever gracious and hardworking Nita Ambani received the ‘Corporate Citizen of the Year’ award at the prestigious AIMA’s (All India Management Association) Managing India Awards 2012 held at Delhi yesterday.

Nita is the chairperson for the Dhirubhai Ambani Foundation, which takes on initiatives for funding and encouraging development in the fields of education, health-care, human capital and infrastructure and is known for her work with the blind. She is also the founder of the Dhirubhai Ambani International School.

When asked what husband Mukesh had to say about her being chosen for the award, she said, “You know what he’s like, always talking about nation-building and the big picture, so even though he was thrilled that I was getting it he urged me to work even harder and more passionately to make a difference.” Said the wife of one of the world’s most awarded business leaders. 

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