Given how we are fascinated by trivia of all kind and that we can spend hours telling you how at one time the Indian Diaspora in America was dominated by the three Mehtas (conductor Zubin, publisher Sonny and writer Ved); or that the triumvirate of three Sunitas (Kohli, Kumar and Pitamber) had complete dominion over high society in Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbai) can anybody blame us for being thrilled about the three feisty women who share the name Mira, an Indian connection along with some of the world’s leading educational institutes and capitals between them?
To begin with there’s Delhi and Harvard University’s Mira Nair, winner of the Golden Camera award at the Cannes Film Festival and celebrated director of sensitive thought provoking films.
Then there’s the Paris based Mira Kamdar: Fulbright senior scholar, Author, (Planet India: The Turbulent Rise of the Largest Democracy and Motiva’s Tattoos: A Granddaughter’s Journey into her Indian Family’s Past) trained at Berkeley and a senior fellow with World Policy Institute.
And lastly our friend Meera T Gandhi, founder and CEO of The Giving Back Foundation (Delhi, Boston and Harvard University) who divides her time between New York City, London, Mumbai and Hong Kong. And you say what’s in a name?
Of barflies and cross-dressers
We love a good party. An electric mix of excitable people, joyful to be in each other’s company, sparkling conversations, much laughter and repartee, free flowing libations and a bit o’ song and dance - the post Rugger Revue party at the Bombay Gymkhana on Saturday night was all this and more. Held at the club’s legendary ground floor bar and spilling into the dining room and verandah, the party was a rip-roaring affair, according to our source.
“The thing about the Bombay Gymkhana bar is that you’re required to park your ego at the door before entering,” said an old barfly. “No one’s special, no holy cows and no holds barred.” Especially jolly exciting was the centre table reserved for members of the cast, which included the rugby team, well known actors, academicians, athletes and sundry cross-dressers. Also noted was the fructification of many a budding romance that had begun during rehearsals between various attractive members of the cast. Nice!
The taste of my childhood was boras (sour berries). The tiny ones: deep maroon, with their sweet vinegary lushness held close to their hearts; the bigger ones with their puffy cheeks and the particular putrefied aroma they would exude after a few hours of baking in the sun; and the very large ones - almost the size of walnuts with an altogether too grownup flavour that belonged more in grocery stores and not the borawala kiosks that littered the street outside our school.
We were given 50 paise daily and of that - even those of us who flunked math with flourish each year - knew the delicious fraction that would make short breaks and long breaks worthwhile: Thirty paise for bhel and twenty for the bora man. Or we could slice it up as 25 p for pani puri and the rest for Imli (the green spidery orchid resembling one or the lumps that we bought and kept flat against our cheeks all day for slow release.)
We do not know if there has been any study done by focus groups or food writers on Mumbai’s treasury of school tuck: buddhi ka baal, (when we met Cliff Richards he’d asked longingly after the delicacy) ragda pattice, candy floss, kala khatta, golas, seekh kebabs, and more! Each educational institution in Mumbai (even the SoBo ones mercifully) has its own legacy of school tuck. The chicken baida rolls outside Bombay Scottish, the pani puri walla near Sydenham, the dosa guy near Mithibai. And, of course, the cornucopia of foodie euphoria outside St Joseph’s in Bandra.
We mention this because yesterday after many years we bought a packet of boras: packed in cellophane in a disposable carton, sold by an impeccably dressed bai (so different from the grizzly borawala of our time) and sadly-unadorned with the crystals of salt that brought out their flavour so well, but boras all the same. One bite yielded the tightly kept secrets of our youth. A food guide on these movable feasts is imminently called for. We can provide details.
Chairman’s last stand
It’s being talked about as the only battle that the outgoing chairman of one of the country’s leading business houses had to concede defeat in. Known for having brought every challenger to his knees and of establishing his supremacy after many a hard battle, the final war was a tad closer home. It was to dislodge the family of an old titan from their company-given apartment so that the building they were housed in could be put to another use. Hard was the war and incestuous was its scope as both families involved had equally formidable pedigree and proximity. But ultimately David in the form of the titan’s feisty son stuck to his guns won and the chairman is alleged to have secured the apartments after handing out a very large and well-rounded amount. Meanwhile, unaccounted for collateral damage in the form of bruised egos, sulking legends and a palpitating social grapevine has been recorded.
And then we received this SMS from a friend who’d obviously dipped their cuticles in venom before texting us, while attending one of Sunday’s big-ticket social events. “Super Shishi event. Royal dregs; prime Bombay social trash; Big Boss types, (‘BBT’ as necessary as DDT but just as poisonous) a few from the ‘Maudlin’ world and assorted Eurotrash in all its glory (But all so old, poor things, decades of cocaine, high living and Botox writ large on every hungry face.)”We truly have no idea what or who they were referring to. But the tide was certainly high in Mumbai on Sunday, we noted.