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The Good General

>> Ever since Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar led the Indian Army’s successful assault against Khalistan militants holed up in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar, he has been on the hit list of Sikh terrorists.

Since that assault, between June 3-6, 1984, there have been nine assassination attempts against the general, who’s known to his friends as ‘Bulbul.’ The most recent one was on September 30 last year, when three Sikh men, accompanied by a woman, attacked General Brar and his wife Meena in London. Pushing Mrs Brar aside, they slashed his throat. Fortunately, General Brar recovered, but still carries scars from that attack.


Lt Gen Kuldip Singh Brar with wife Meena

“My husband doesn’t seem the least bit bothered,” Meena Brar said. “His only regret is that he doesn’t feel like going to his favourite city, London, any more.”

The general and his wife live in a south Mumbai bungalow adjacent to the house which Bulbul’s late father, General DS Singh, occupied when he was in command of the Army’s Western region.

Bulbul Brar joined the Maratha Light Infantry in 1954. He’s now been given Z-class security, the highest category. That means irrespective of where he goes, a dozen gun- toting guards accompany him. His assailants were found guilty at a trial held in London, and will be sentenced next month.

But the general and Meena Brar will not be present at the sentencing. They will be visiting their only daughter, who lives abroad and has just given birth to a son. Nice!

The maturing of Abhishek
>> And a shout out to Abhishek Bachchan, who appears to be coping well with his recent injury. Meeting him over the weekend, we noticed that the actor, though in considerable discomfiture with his hand in a cast (he’d pulled a tendon while shooting in Dubai), did not allow this to get in the way of his natural grace and good manners as he exchanged Diwali wishes with his friends and family.


Abhishek with wife Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan

There’s a certain maturity and sense of responsibility in Abhishek, which onlookers have ascribed to fatherhood.

Perhaps. Or the fact that he’s in two of Bollywood’s biggest and most awaited films — Dhoom and Happy New Year is what we say.

Royally dumped
>> And word comes in that this savvy and some say upwardly mobile art impresario has been royally shown the door by his paramour. That the timing coincides with the decline in his fortunes and the presence of creditors at his door comes as no surprise for those who know the lady’s style.

Oh dear, the more things change, the more …

Dubai Calling
>> Malini N Menon, an entrepreneur who’s based in Dubai but who spends a lot of her time in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, launched the Asian Business Leadership Awards in New Delhi in 2011. Today, it’s become one of the regions premier business events, televised by CNBC, among other networks.

This year’s award ceremony will be held in Dubai at the Armani Hotel, and the chief guest is His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development of the United Arab Emirates.


Dr Prathap Chandra Reddy

Dr Prathap Chandra Reddy, founder and chairman of Apollo Hospitals, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr Reddy started Apollo exactly 30 years ago, at the age of 50, after spending nearly a decade in the United States.

Capt Dr CP Krishnan Nair, founder and chairman emeritus of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, will receive the India-UAE Icon Award. Captain Nair, 92, is arguably India’s best-known hotelier, who built his first hotel in Mumbai, when he was 65 years old and he’s building another hotel in Dubai, which will open next year, called The Taj Mahal Arabia.


Malini Menon

Incidentally, there’s a connection between Dr Reddy and Captain Nair. In the late 1970s, when Dr Reddy was raising funds for the first Apollo hospital in Chennai, he ran into Captain Nair in New York. The latter was India’s leading garment exporter at the time. Captain Nair and his son Vivek — the current chairman of The Leela — introduced Dr Reddy to wealthy Indian-origin doctors in the US, and Dr. Reddy subsequently obtained considerable investments from them!

Nice that they will both be honoured together!

Salaam Mumbai: NoBo and SoBo
There was a time when the two halves of Mumbai — namely SoBo and NoBo — were so strictly segregated that their story could well have been called ‘A Tale of Two Cities’.

Truth be told, there were enough Mumbaikars who thought that never the twain would meet.

But that’s all a thing of the past now and this is the result of not only Ajit Gulabchand’s spanking new gift to the city — its Sea Link — but also a certain changing mindset.

Gone are the days when you could spot a NoBo or SoBo resident even before she opened her mouth. Today, with Mumbai’s wealth influence and power fluctuating like a needle between Dalal Street and the BKC and Juhu, it is hard to say which half has the upper hand.

Famous Mumbaikars who have moved effortlessly between the two sides have contributed to this healthy trend of the erasing of virtual borders.

Off the top of my head, I can think of two: Parmesh Godrej and Karan Johar. Parmesh lived at posh Carmichael Road, but chose to entertain mostly at her home in Juhu, opening her doors to Bollwyood and showbiz glam.

Karan Johar grew up at Malabar Hill, but took along his SoBo savvy when he migrated to Pali Hill.

Between them, they reinvented the rules of the game!

And not a moment too soon, I say!  

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