Anupam Kher and Shobhaa De
We could not figure out what high-profile author Shobhaa De had meant when she texted us on Sunday morning, that she was 'really, really thrilled out of (her) skull to be featured on such an impressive list!!! I am at 94. Not 6.'
What could have made the usually even tempered lady so exultant? On opening the accompanying link, we saw it was a listing of the world's most influential 200 authors, that had been created by an automatic algorithm based on social media, Klout scores and what was enigmatically referred to as 'a secret recipe'. No surprises then that it included names like JK Rowling (no 1), Paul Coelho (No 2) all the way to De, who appeared at a respectable 94 (given she pipped 106 others.)
But what was that reference to 'No 6'? Turns out that it was to none other than actor, political commentator, and De's past prime time TV sparring partner – Anupam Kher. The award-winning actor, impassioned spokesperson for Kashmiri Pandits, and outspoken defender of the BJP's policies, yes, but author? De could not let that pass without a jibe. "I guess it helps to belong to the 'write' party!!!" she said, adding, "I must be doing something 'right' since I am the sole non-politician on the India list."
A bygone era
"Another time. Another era," said Rhea Pillai from the site of the magnificent Gyan Bagh Palace in Hyderabad, built almost 150 years ago by her great grandfather Raja N Dhanrajgir, which is currently being restored. Pillai was accompanied by her cousin, the former actor Tarun Dhanrajgir, brother of Sabita Dhanrajgir Umrigar, with whom she grew up at the magnificent Dhanrajgir Mahal at Apollo Bunder, which had been the family's summer palace.
Rhea Pillai and Tarun Dhanrajgir
The restoration is being lovingly overseen by Tarun, who divides himself between Hyderabad and Mumbai. Incidentally, the scion of the royal clan had been a model and actor who is producing Ishq-e-Hyderabad, which he has scripted.
Now that the Justin Bieber India tour has been officially announced by the teen heartthrob himself on Twitter, the spotlight is on the two Delhi boys who managed to wrest the concert away from bigger players, to bring the pop icon to India for his maiden tour. Arjun Jain and Chaitanya Mathur (who is a cousin of funny man Vir Das), are behind the organising company, that is said to have outbid the competition.
Justin Bieber and Arjun Jain
A triumphant Jain took to social media over the weekend to crow, "After endless sleepless nights, full of self-belief and perseverance, we are proud to announce that today we finally have the privilege of bringing an artist like Justin Bieber to India, this May at DY Patil stadium, Mumbai. Yes folks, its really happening!! Time to ignite that Bieber fever." And if insiders are to be beliebed, Mumbai might just get more than it bargained for, with a few other international big names said to perform along with Justin.
All at sea
"It's about 10 to 14 boats, with 6 to 10 people per boat," says Ranjit Ahuja about the Bombay Mercantile Cup race that take place every Saturday, between October and May from Mumbai. "There's intense competition during the race, but much camaraderie afterwards," says the avid sailor whose family has a long mercantile tradition. "The participants are mostly those who have sailed competitively before, so we see a high level of expertise amidst all the fun and games."
Ranjit Ahuja (in blue t shirt) with friends
Ahuja, whose day job is the design and retail of high end home linen to some of the world's top international stores, often takes a break from work for a quick sail around the harbour. It helps that his studio is a stone's throw away from the Gateway. "It's about combining creativity with sport," he says. Incidentally, those interested in joining the race, or even starting out as amateur sailors should show up on Saturday afternoons, or enquire at the Yacht Club for the schedules.
High end con women
Mumbai is not the only city where glamorous con women make fortunes by duping the gullible. This week, Delhi reeled from revelations that the NYC-based Nisha Sabharwal and her husband Mohit had swindled high-profile Manhattan philanthropist and Asiaphile Shelley Rubin out of $18 million, by selling her what she thought were 'museum quality' diamond and emerald encrusted jewels that turned out to be knock-offs made from glass and coloured paste.
The Sabharwals apparently had told Rubin, who had co-founded the Rubin Museum of Art with a $100 million grant in 2004, that they were in touch with an 'Indian princess' who wanted to sell off her priceless jewels at a throwaway price. 'Rubin thought she was getting a deal on pieces like a $1 million diamond necklace for just $470,000 – only to find out from an expert that it was worth just $14,000,' reports the New York Post.
What's got the Capital's chatterati agog is that Nisha is the niece of the socially prominent Bim Bissell, wife of the founder of FabIndia, and one of the city's much loved grande dames. "All of us have been swindled by Nisha at some point or the other over the years," said one Delhi-based socialite on news of the case which is being heard in a Manhattan Supreme Court, adding, "But no one had taken her to task. It was high time someone called her out." Indeed.