SoBo circles cannot stop talking about the notice that went up recently at the bastion of SoBo snobbery, a top-notch club, banning one of its members — one of the country’s top bankers — for a month and members of his family for another six, for alleged misuse of membership facilities.

The notice sent by the club banning one of its members

Apparently, the billionaire banker, who’d got in as a corporate member, was only allowed to sign in his family as guests, whereas his card was being used otherwise, said a member who’d received the notice.

This is not the first time either that the club has rapped a leading member of the financial committee on its knuckles.

One big bull with major clout on the stock market is known to be the ‘most blackballed member’ in the club’s history.

“It’s not an old money versus new money issue,” sniffed an old- time club member.

“It’s just that the old boys don’t appreciate brash behaviour.”

Turning wine to water
By now, Vijay Mallya, Yash Birla must know that when it rains, it pours. But, often as in the case of the former, it pours wine. A Goan friend narrates how a few days ago, there was a collective whoop of joy that went up when it was learnt that a consignment of wines that had been impounded by the local Customs was auctioned in the market. “We learnt that the consignment had been for Vijay Mallya’s Goa home, and, given his taste, we knew they must be really good ones,” said our source. “So, we bought quite a few. Great reds and whites for as little as R100 a bottle,” said the young man. 

“And were they good?” we enquired. “Well, yes, but a few bottles had gone bad, because they hadn’t been stored in ideal conditions. But what the heck!” said the young person. “We would never have been invited to the famous Kingfisher Villa in Goa — so to be able to drink the wine from there was a real thrill!”

The irony.

The opening of an envelope
The lovely Meera Gandhi (in pic) threw a party. What’s new about that, you might well ask? To which we’ll say: a lot. Apparently, it was a party to inaugurate a portrait done of the international hostess with the mostest.

And according to a guest, the masterpiece was displayed in a gilded frame to the likes of an admiring Nimesh Kampani and other prominent NRIs of his ilk. A party to inaugurate a painting? Good grief! We are fast approaching an era when it would not be a spoof to say someone hosted a party for the opening of an envelope!

What’s Rs 500 crore more?
And this we have on extremely reliable sources that the very close, swashbuckling brothers, whose jointly owned company has vast interests in steel, oil and gas, power, communications and ports that owes the staggering sum of R1.20 crore to various banks, are now known to be shopping for two new splashy acquisitions: a large and expensive boat, (they already have a large and expensive one already) and a large and expensive executive jet (to add to their fleet).

And when questioned about the morality of it all, a hapless top executive of theirs was overheard to say, tongue firmly in cheek: “So they’ll just owe another R500 crore more, what difference?”

Birla’s plan A 
And word comes in that his need to pay off his creditors has prompted Yash Birla (in pic) to put two of his major properties on the block. The first is his pile in Juhu, said to be one of the suburb’s most spectacular (far better than Parmesh’s, says our source). And the second that he’s prepared to sacrifice is his beautiful Alibaug property designed by Nowzer Wadia, which was in the news recently when a Birla top executive gave the authorities a slip by escaping through its back door.

But, of course, the ace in Birla’s cap is his sprawling, and staggering bungalow at Malabar Hill, which, along with playing host to some very jet set parties down the years, also played host to leading lights of India’s historic freedom movement. But, of course, the Birla heir, it is said, has no intention of ever parting with that jewel. 

Loving my city
That I was not born in Mumbai is but a small detail. Except for two short stints in Kolkata and Delhi, I have lived in this city and hope to do so till the end of my days. 

And today, on my birthday, to Mumbai it is that I dedicate this column.

City of dreams, city of despair, city of hope and city of heartlessness, it is to you that I keep coming back, you that have given me shelter, and only you who know the words to my song.

City of floods and communal strife and back-breaking multiple scams.

Maximum city that maximises its triumphs and defeats with every new second. City of Gold for some and fool’s gold for others.

Like two battered and old friends who know each other’s weaknesses and limitations only too well, today on my birthday I salute you.

From an old old admirer a new burst of love: a ‘Salaam Mumbai’.

There, I’ve finally said it.