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The incurable hack

>> Six months ago, we had written about his appointment as editor of the highly readable and feisty New York Times blog on India, ‘India Ink’, and so when we heard that the celebrated journalist and author of Curfewed Night (Simon and Schuster) Basharat Peer had stepped down recently, we wondered why.

In this age of high-profile media resignations could there be a high-profile and contentious story here too?


Basharat Peer

Mercifully not. Peer, an alumni of Columbia University, responsible for some of the finest reportage on Kashmir, says he left for a simple reason: he preferred writing to editing. “I really enjoyed my short stint of six months editing the India Ink blog. It was intense work and despite being a small team, we were able to run some excellent essays and reported pieces,” said Peer. “But I chose to leave because I missed my own writing. I am fundamentally a reporter and a writer,” said the incurable hack.

And the gentleman that he is, Peer has only good words to say about his former employer.

“I loved working with terrific colleagues like our Foreign Editor Joe Kahn, South Asia Bureau Chief Ellen Barry, Gardiner Harris, and the brilliant and lovely Jim Yardley before that,” he said adding, “It was a joy to publish a mixture of bright, young reporters and some very experienced scholars, writers, and photographers in India Ink like Sai Manish, Neha Dixit, Zahir Janmohamed and Gyan Prakash, amongst many others.”

And what now?

“I am fundamentally a reporter and a writer and have my second book to complete. I am working on it now and hope to turn in the manuscript in 2014.”
Nice!

Shaina’s latest hat
>> And word comes in that BJP treasurer and designer Shaina NC, the lady who wears more hats than we can count and that too with considerable elan has turned her gaze to high-end jewellery. “Basically I am launching a line of jewellery that I have designed for Sunil and Kiran Datwani’s store GEHNA.


Shaina NC with Kiran Datwani

The designs are mine, made and sold by them so it’s called Shaina NC for Gehna,” she informed us. “It’s a mix of rubies, diamonds, emeralds, polki jadau all put together, so it’s quite unusual,” she said, inviting us to the launch at Bandra over high tea next week.

The Circus comes to town!
>> Time to break out the bubbly. Le Cirque, that bastion of French gastronomic excellence from New York will open its doors this Friday in Mumbai as Le Cirque Signature at the Leela Mumbai.

Inspired by the success of its first foray in Asia, at the Leela Delhi, the brainchild of the legendary, Sirio Maccioni, will kick off with a private diner thrown by a fashion magazine. It will be its first signature restaurant and second Asian outpost, and its launch will further highlight the mutual regard and camaraderie between two icons of the hospitality industry, Sirio Maccioni and Captain CP Krishnan Nair.


The legendary Sirio Maccioni with his wife and three sons —Mario, Mauro and Marco

Located on the hotel’s top floor, the restaurant will be helmed by Chef Matteo Boglione whose fans we are told include the likes of Leonardo Di Caprio, Sarah Jessica Parker, Woody Allen, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

And to oversee this momentous enterprise, Sirio’s eldest son Mario Maccioni, co-owner and vice-president, Maccioni Restaurant Group, was in town with his wife Maria. “This was the first trip for both Mario and Maria to India and Mumbai and they loved it. Aside from shopping for their beautiful home in the Hamptons, Long Island, New York, they had a giant-sized brass Buddha and elephants shipped back. The couple spent time discovering new hotspots in Bandra,” we were informed.

So amidst Villeroy & Bosch tableware, Schott Zwiesel stemware and accompanied by a wine list that includes such winners, including Sassicaia, Penfolds Grange bin 95, Chateau Smith haut Lafitte and Bollinger ‘grande anne’ Vintage, Mumbaikars can enjoy their favourite Le Cirque dishes such as Lobster salad, Spaghetti Primavera, Paupiette of black bass and Doversole. 

Stars and their privacy
One of the most telling points Salman Khan made on his much watched and discussed interview this weekend with Karan Johar was how besieged stars feel by their lack of privacy.

Khan recounted, for instance, his frustration when cell phones and video devices are thrust in his face while he is jogging. “We never refuse to pose for fans,” he said plaintively. “But ask! You can’t point something at us sneakily,” he said, adding “It’s not done.”

But his main ire was reserved for the person who leaked pictures of Katrina and beau Ranbir taken without their permission on a private holiday in Spain.

“That person should be slapped,” he said leaving no doubt how he felt about that intrusion.

As far as we know, this has been one of the most emphatic pleas for privacy by a star in recent times and one that we endorse.

Everyone deserves their moment of privacy, we believe and we were happy to see this sentiment echoed by the owner of the two adjoining midtown nightclubs, which had played host to some of Bollywood’s biggest and hottest stars over the weekend.

“The stars had been brought by a personal friend,” said the desi Flavio Briatore about his A-list crowd. “They deserve their moment of privacy,” he said.

We agree! We totally agree! 

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