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The last few hours

>> For all those wondering about the suspense and high emotions that preceded the announcement of Bal Thackeray’s passing, here’s the inside story: it’s the stuff of a dramatic novel. Apparently, the ailing leader had turned critical last Thursday much to the shock of his grieving family and gathered friends who as a mark of respect switched the festive Diwali lights off fearing the worst.

This move immediately alerted his milling supporters gathered outside the gate and rumours began to spread. But Balasaheb’s devoted doctors were unwilling to give up the fight so easily and decided to administer a ‘miracle’ injection that they thought would revive him. The family agreed and lo and behold the patriarch sat up, appeared to be rejuvenated and his condition gave everyone hope that the worst was over.

It was amidst all this drama that Amitabh and Abhishek who had chosen to visit were faced with the anxious crowds that had gathered and in the melee, the stars had to scale an iron gate to escape the mobs. By the time they reached Balasaheb’s side they were bleeding and their kurtas were covered with blood. The now revived leader insisted they go to Lilavati to get their wounds attended to and receive tetanus shots from his own doctors there.

Meanwhile, his jubilant family and his supporters were praying that the effects of the injection were permanent and that Thackeray would live on many more years. Sadly that was not to be and on Saturday he took a turn for the worse and the rest as they say is history. One can only imagine the agony and tension that son Uddhav and his wife Rashmi must have gone through during this time. That they could conduct themselves with such dignity speaks of their courage. One more thing. The leaders last words as he clasped his devoted servant Thapa’s hands were ‘Mee aarti karaila zatoy’ (I am going to do aarti).

Swedish House Mafia gig
>> Ok. So, we have the absolute inside dope on the Swedish House Mafia’s aborted Mumbai gig. The group that had flown in from Dubai was supposed to perform at Mumbai’s Racecourse and tickets ranged between Rs 4,000-10,000 a seat. Eighteen exclusive tables had been placed right up front for a few special guests at the price of (gulp) Rs 5 lakh per table. Those who’d booked these included Katrina Kaif, Ajit Pawar’s son Parth, Pune builder Avinash Bhosle, Anshul Ambani, Imtiaz Khatri, Naief Memon and nephew of our President Pranab Mukerherjee (whose table was complimentary we are told).

Besides this, Queenie Dodhy, Shweta Bachchan, Yash Birla and Kajal Anand had been invited as guests on these tables. Six S-Class Mercs were sent to receive the band and their entourage from the airport by Shaliendra Singh. And they were slated to fly out on a fan’s private 10-seater jet. However, once the concert was aborted the band was keen to leave for Delhi where they were slated to next perform and they flew in on an early Jet Airways flight.

The concert in Delhi went off as planned. (Ahmed Patel’s son attended it but Rahul Gandhi was a no-show). However, for disappointed Mumbai fans here’s the silver lining. Not only is every ticket going to be refunded but the band returns in mid- January to perform (the announcement will be officially made tomorrow) Whew! Now you know it all!

When CCI bent the rules
>> This evening all roads will lead to one of Mumbai’s great institutions, the Cricket Club of India which is celebrating its 75th anniversary by felicitating legends such as Sachin Tendulkar, Andy Flower, Graham Gooch and Alistair Cook amongst others.

Incidentally, the relationship between Tendulkar and the club is a symbiotic one and dates back to the time when as a 14-yr-old Tendulkar was allowed to practice on the Club’s legendary grounds even though the rules allowed those 18 and above! We like!

You have nothing to lose but your Choos!
>> The storm in the C-cup in one of India’s best fashion mags Elle seems to be accelerating. Yesterday we carried an item (unconfirmed and un-denied) about the resignation of Nonita Kalra, the magazine’s long serving editor putting in her papers. Today we hear that ‘the entire edit team has quit’. What’s going on behind the elegant doors at the mid-Mumbai office of the monthly? Apparently, the reason for this unrest is the bane of every journalist’s life: long hours and low salaries! We don’t like!

Goa’s best mansions
>> So now that all eyes are going to be on Goa for the upcoming holiday season, who is going to be the ‘host with the most’ at the¬†beach resort which gets converted in to India’s billionaire playground over December? Many years ago, the title belonged unchallenged to the reclusive Parsi bachelor Jimmy Guzder (Rita Mehta’s cousin).

But having hosted half a decade’s worth of New Years parties, Guzder got bored and the scene shifted to Vijay Mallya’s breathtaking Bali-inspired villa at Candolim. Mallya spared no expense to ensure that his New Year’s Eve was India’s most lavish party. Caviar and champagne. DJs and deck chairs and plutocrats and Bollywood stars were part of the scene.

Close to the Mallya hospitality was the Salgaoncars (Raj and Dipti) whose palatial town mansion with its exquisite landscaped lawns and terraced balconies became the scene where the high rollers would gather. But now those in the know swear that the title of hosts with the most will belong to the brothers Ruia — Shashikant and Ravi whose brand new Goa home near Coco beach is one the most impressive that people have seen. So now you know where the Big Boys will be over the New Year!¬†

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