The Hunk Factor

This is one social science observation that we can believe. According to one of its promoters, one of the reasons why the Pro Kabbadi league will make a profit in its second year of existence, is because Indian women cannot get enough of the visual delight it affords of handsome, swarthy and sweaty players grappling with each other on the field.

Abhishek Bachchan with the winning team of 2014
Abhishek Bachchan with the winning team of 2014

This, when the much hyped, glam and bigger by far IPL is expected to only break even in this its 8th year and the Indian Soccer League in its eleventh or twelfth.

Charu Sharma Anand Mahindra
Charu Sharma and Anand Mahindra

“The thing going for Kabbadi the brainchild of Star Sports, Anand Mahindra and his brother-in-law Charu Sharma with team owners like Ronnie Screwvalla and Abhishek Bachchan, whose team was the tournament winner last year,” said a source, “is that not only are the players amongst some of the best in the world in their own field, but also they have been bought at real and reasonable prices and the tournament does not require tons of money to conduct.” But who would have thought that a game so local and hitherto perceived to be so un-hip would do so well? “Never underestimate the hunk factor,” we said. “It’s Indian sports’ Lagaan moment.”

Manhattan Wedding
It’s been something of an Indian summer in Manhattan this past week with the wedding of Aarti Mody, the middle daughter of gaming tycoon Jaydev and his lawyer wife Zia Mody one of the country’s leading corporate lawyers, to Pratap Pandit, son of former McKinsey India head Ranjit and artist-spiritualist Gita Pandit.

Zia Mody Jaydev Mody
Zia Mody and Jaydev Mody

Though celebrations are said to have been spread over numerous venues, we hear the Taj Pierre was witness to some of the nuptials before the wedding contingent moved to the beautiful Loeb Boathouse restaurant at Central Park.

The marriage of the young couple both of whom live and work in New York is said to have epitomised old world elegance and understatement, and saw the coming together of some of the country’s exceptional jurists, gaming tycoons, lawyers artists spiritualists and finance whizzes. We wish the couple well.

Absolutely Fabulous in Austria
“I was in Wattens (next to Innsbruck) which is the centre of Swarovski! I had been invited for the 120th anniversary celebrations of Swarovski!” said our friend India’s leading scenographer, the Delhi-based Sumant Jayakrishnan about these extremely glamorous pictures featuring some very attractive people.

Sumant Jayakrishnan and Tarun Tahiliani
Sumant Jayakrishnan and Tarun Tahiliani

“They had reopened Crystal World their amazing art space filled with experiential art installations by artists from across the world with a gala dinner to mark the event,” he said about the celebrated Austrian producer of luxury cut lead glass, Swarovski Kristall, which has become such an important component of the glam fash universe.

“The entrance of Crystal world is the Giants head in the photograph with Tarun Tahiliani and me,” he said. “Some of the other people in the pictures are Nadia Swarovski, and Markus Langes-Swarovski from the 5th generation of the family, Preston Bailey the legendary floral designer and artist from NY, his associate Kathy Romero, Manish Arora, Tarun Tahiliani, and Vivek Ramabhadran (the current Swarovski head in India),” said Sumant, who being amongst the country’s most sought after wedding designers had ‘just landed in Florence on a rekkie’ (for such is the life of one of India’s most sought wedding designers.)

Brook no criticism
“One teeny sentence of criticism, one tiny negative remark in public and you become a persona non grata in Delhi,” it was our friend the very grand Delhi hostess, known to be the queen of the Lutyen’s set.

She was telling us of the latest topic of conversation amongst the Capital’s chattering classes. “No one who has been even mildly critical of the present powers that be in the past is being entertained by government these days,” she said, taking a long, thoughtful quaff of her Oolong tea.

Really? We said. “Absolutely,” she replied. “Take the case of this celebrated banker who’d made a few principled criticisms of those in power, a few years ago. It’s been two months since he’s been waiting for a meeting with two of the government’s most important people, and they have not granted it,” said our Oolong sipping friend before hanging up to prepare for her evening’s salon.

Remembering Balraj Sahni
Funny how some dates and anniversaries never leave you. In his obituary of our late grand uncle the actor, writer and humanist Balraj Sahni, his friend Khushwant Singh had commented on the coincidence that Sahni an ardent leftist had been born on May 1, which is known as International Workers’ Day or Labour Day.

Balraj Sahni
Balraj Sahni

But Singh had not left it at that. ‘Besides his commitment to the cause of workers, Sahni was also a loyal and proud citizen of Maharashtra, a state whose formation is also celebrated on May 1,” Singh had written (we are not quoting verbatim). On every May 1 we remember this. Sahni would have been 102 today. This post is for him.

A work of performance art
The yearning for getting inked has eluded us but that does not mean we don’t recognize it as a profound artistic endeavour combining almost equal doses of beauty and pain. Which is why this portrait of Sapna Bhavnani, activist, feminist, performance artist and fierce crusader for the cause of acid attack survivors, stopped us in our tracks.

Sapna Bhavnani
Sapna Bhavnani

Over the years we had been accustomed to seeing the celebrated stylist and founder of Mad-o-wot (and the only person Dhoni trusts his hair with) create striking portraits using herself in their narrative, but this one elicited an immediate text exchange.

“I’ve been getting inked since 1990,” said Bhavnani by way of explanation, adding modestly, “I’m still a work in progress”. Incidentally, Bhavnani whose interests have seen her adopt villages, raise money for schools, rehabilitate acid attack survivors and most recently, enroll for a teacher’s training course at the Nada Yoga School in Rishikesh says about this portrait, “The yoga teacher will find the flaw in the Namaste, the yogi will see the beauty in the attempt.”

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