Nico Goghawala, Kamal Sidhu and Ranjit Barot
Nico Goghawala, Kamal Sidhu and Ranjit Barot

You heard it here first. The next big food, wine, live music and culture hub that will most likely take Mumbai by storm is going to be The Quarter, located inside the Royal Opera House, when Nico Goghawala, Ranjit Barot, Ashutosh Phatak and Nakul Toshniwal launch their ambitious new venture at the city's newly refurbished jewel.

"Actually, Kamal thought up the name over dinner at Ranjit (Barot) and Maya's one evening," said Goghawala, when we spoke to him yesterday on his way to a game of tennis at his favourite club. "It's actually a dream project because the four of us bring such different things to the table: Ranjit, as is known, has spent his entire life dedicated to music; Phatak, also a musician, was one of the people behind Blue Frog, and in many ways, was instrumental in getting the whole live music thing going in Mumbai. Toshniwal (who recently married actress-psychiatrist Neha Dubey) is a man with a strong financial head, and there's me with my food background," he said.

The venture is a slew of four F&B spaces: a Parisian Cafe, a wine and mozzarella bar, a New Orleans-style jazz club with creole-influenced dishes, and a space for live jazz in the compound with food that fits into the atmosphere, and is slated to open its doors in September in a phased launch.

As for the sparkling new venue, Goghawala laughed. "It's a running joke actually. When people ask us where in the Opera House are we planning to open, we say 'In the Opera House,' and never fail to get a smile. It's such an iconic location."

Twinkle's juggernaut
The Twinkle Khanna publishing juggernaut shows no signs of slowing. Word comes in that her second book, 'The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad', has crossed more than 1 lakh copies in sales in less than a year of release, making it something of an industry record. "It's incredibly rare for short story collections to be a commercial success in India. With this achievement, she has completely bucked this trend in publishing," says Anish Chandy of the publishing company.

Twinkle Khanna
Twinkle Khanna

"When I was writing The Legend of Lakshmi Prasad, I was rather apprehensive, because not only was it a departure from Mrs Funnybones, but I was told time and again that people are not interested in anthologies; so, I feel truly gratified with the success of the book," says Khanna, who we are informed is already on to her third book.

Work, work, work
For long, designer Manish Malhotra has taken great delight in describing himself as 'a middle-class Punjabi boy'. What he forgets to add is that this comes with a heightened sense of work ethic, making him almost a workaholic. No surprises then that on the heels of his finale at a recently concluded couture show this weekend in Delhi, the designer is set to present his Festive 2017 collection as the finale at an upcoming fashion week later this month in Mumbai!

Manish Malhotra at work
Manish Malhotra at work

And while the collection is sure to reflect his signature glamour, what's interesting is that Malhotra has donned his geek hat for it (last year, he'd joined the ranks of Oscar de la Renta when he shot his Festive 2016 Collection for Virtual Reality). The new collection features work that's been conceptualised entirely on a new software product.

But even as he rolls this out, what no one knows is that Malhotra is working on an even more exciting new enterprise. His next big hush- hush project, which will be announced towards the end of this year, according to sources, is with an international champagne house, and the designer has designed an exclusive label for its produce. From Bollywood, to tech, to bubbly? Workaholicism never had it so good.

Old friends, new venture
They are easily two of the more attractive leaders in the Congress party, and news that Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor and former MP from South Mumbai Milind Deora have been appointed to lead the newly launched All India Professionals' Congress, a platform dedicated to engage with the country's tax-paying professionals, has been welcomed.

Shashi Tharoor and Milind Deora
Shashi Tharoor and Milind Deora

The idea is said to have been originally mooted by Tharoor a few years ago but had not been embraced by party workers. Today, with the Modi wave said to be predicated to a large part on the aspirations of India's urban professional demographic, it appears to be an idea whose time has come.

"It's the first-of-its-kind platform that has been created for tax-paying professionals to have their voice and their industry's voice heard and contribute to progressive politics in India," said Deora when we spoke to him yesterday. As for Tharoor, who he will be working with on the initiative, there is no doubt that the two share a pretty similar worldview. Both are tech-savvy, urbane baby boomers, and Tharoor had been a long-time friend of the Deoras, making it a point to drop in to see Milind's dad, Congress leader the late Murli Deora, every time he'd visit India.

"I've known Shashi since I was a student in the US, and I'm proud of all he has achieved as a diplomat-turned-"professional" politician," said Deora. Will this initiative manage to make friends and influence people for the Congress? Watch this space.

On the wine trail
Madhulika Bhattacharya, aka Madame La Cave, is relentless in her pursuit of bringing the best international wines to the Indian table. This week will see the Delhi-based oenophile and wife of Aman Dhall, one of the country's largest importers of spirits, host a sit-down dinner in Mumbai, which promises to showcase wines from Washington state's oldest winery.

Madhulika Bhattacharya
Madhulika Bhattacharya

These include Chardonnays, Rieslings and Pinot Noirs of star quality. Tuesday evening saw a five-star in Delhi host a similar evening at its fine-dining Japanese eatery to great acclaim; next on Bhattacharya's itinerary are Bengaluru, Pune and Mumbai.