>> And now that we are in Sachin hysteria week and are going to be inundated by all things Sachin, here’s a Master Blaster story that few might have heard.
According to an impeccable source, amongst the Cricketing God’s legion of fans is one who is something of a God himself: Mick Jagger. Our source says that when he was introduced to Mr Rubber Lips himself once at a cricket match in Kolkata, he asked the Rockstar what was his biggest excitement of coming to India.
“To see Sachin bat,” was Jagger’s reply. And as a special thrill, his good friend, the former cricketer Dilip Doshi introduced Mr ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ to Tendulkar that day. And given that Sachin is a rock fan himself, this constitutes one of the most fascinating mutual admiration societies ever!
India’s foremost intellectual fest
>> We are in Goa as we write this, on the eve of THINK fest, easily India’s foremost intellectual gathering, and certainly its best organised. From the quality of its programming, to the logistics of its organisation, to the scale of its evening entertainment and its branding design and merchandising, THINK is by far one of the best conceived products of its kind to come out of India in recent years and Tarun and his team of THINKERS (especially his sister Nina) deserve full credit for pulling it off, and keeping the momentum and standards going in its third year.
And though this year, the line-up appears to be one of the best yet (Robert De Niro, Tina Brown, John Makinson, Mary Kom, P Chidambaram, Priyanka Chopra amongst others), we learn that Tejpal is already on to his next big venture. An exclusive members- only intellectual/social club in Delhi called ‘Prufock’. Membership will be low and accessible to all, but the vetting will be extremely strict and conducted by Tejpal, who believes that to make it truly exciting, a high intellectual quotient will merit entry over big bucks. In the room the women come and go… talking of Sonia Gandhi and co.
The passionate restorer
>> Lunch at Raj and Dipti Salgaocar’s yesterday, with a very special and charming guest Lady Helen Hamlyn, the legendary philanthropist and wife of the late publisher Paul, who has to her credit the restoration of some key monuments in India, not least of which is the spectacular Reis Magos Fort on the banks of the Mandovi in Bardez, Goa.
Speaking to the passionate restorer, we ask her what it is that brings her back to India and motivates her to carry on her great work here. “It’s the Indian people,” she says in her soft, measured voice. “Their great nobility, humanity and richness of spirit. Regardless of their economic status.” And is the restorer done with her India projects?” Almost,” she says. And then we tell her about an old abandoned castle on a beach, and see her eyes light up.
The Suitable Boy comes home
>> And though his presence is evoked at all gatherings of literary and intellectual merit, this week in Goa, Vikram Seth’s absence will be felt more keenly, and that’s because the writer spent a considerable amount of time in Goa, while he was working on his magnum opus, A Suitable Girl, the much-awaited sequel to his A Suitable Boy).
And though Seth’s cherished dream of building a home in Goa did not see fruition during that time (he spent time when here at his sister Aradhana’s, in fact) we are happy to learn that his book, which encountered some hiccups with publishers Hamish Hamilton over reported delays, is on its way to fruition, with Seth returning to write it at his family home in Delhi. In a way, it is a completion of the circle. After all, his parents’ home is where Seth had written his monster success A Suitable Boy two decades ago!
Boo and Hare
>> And in Goa, we learnt of something that gave us particular cheer: Katherine Boo’s Behind The Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity is well on to seeing light of day in its new avatar as a David Hare written play to be directed by Rufus Norris in early fall next year.
What’s more, we hear that many of the slum dwellers whose lives were so brilliantly captured in Boo’s book will be involved in the production. Nice!
Salaam Mumbai: Property prices in Goa
And now that we are in Goa, may we talk about property prices? Seriously. There was a time when even hacks like me could contemplate buying a small cottage in Goa and retiring there to a life of siesta, fiesta and quiet contemplation in between.
We had been going to Goa since the late 70s, even before the Taj Village had been conceived or any of its ubiquitous bridges had been constructed.
Those were the days, when Goa still retained its untrammeled un-spoilt self and the Domino’s and McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chickens had not eased out the beach shacks and the palm trees and the stately Goan homes.
And, of course, the big money from Delhi, the low-end charter tourists from Europe and the international drug mafia had not changed the slow, unchanging landscape of the beautiful state.
Today, Goa is a different kettle of mackerel altogether. Unprecedented development, overstretched infrastructure and rumours of a nasty underbelly of crime and graft.
And yet, there’s something about Goa that stills draws us back. It’s the zing in the air, the sway of its palm the height of its cathedrals.
And so, we are back in Goa, older, not wiser and with our dreams of a Goa retirement still unfulfilled.
But we aren’t complaining.
In Goa we do like the Goans do: Sussegaad!