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Two men, two birth-daze

Readers will recall our sporadic and profoundly frivolous interest in pulp astrology, predicated on nothing more than the fact that often people who seem quite similar share birthdays.

Indira Gandhi and Zeenat Aman, both indisputably powerful women, were born on November 19; Aishwarya Rai and Nita Ambani share their birthday on November 1; Rupert Murdoch and Samir Jain (and ahem, yours truly) were born on March 11 and so on and so forth.

And on such evidence we’ve concluded that there must be something about the configuration of stars that results in similar personality traits and fortunes of those born under them.

MF Husain Narendra Modi
MF Husain and Narendra Modi

But hold on. All such speculations have come crashing down. Yesterday happened to be the birthday of two extremely famous and successful Indian men. Two men who could not be more dissimilar: avant-garde, progressive, free-spirited artist MF Husain, and driven, detail-oriented, workaholic, ideologue PM Narendra Modi.

Conclusively proving that there’s nothing in astrology or the stars after all.

Get well soon Ash
A shoutout to our friend, stand-up comic, Ash Chandler, who met with a bike accident in Goa and was in the ICU for five days with a serious injury.

Ash Chandler
Ash Chandler

Fortunately, he’s better now and is back in Mumbai nursing a broken arm. Get well soon Ash and stay safe!

Razor-sharp humour
He’s always been known to be a smooth operator, but you got to hand it to international razor tycoon, Rocky Malhotra, for possessing a truly zany sense of humour.

Rocky Malhotra
Rocky Malhotra

Recently embroiled in a messy family feud, which involved accusations of cheating his Mumbai-based kin out of their share of the company, Malhotra surprised his friends by posting what looked like a smashed-cat portrait of himself on Facebook at the start of this week.

Comments ranged from ‘Oops’ to ‘Had a rough night?’ to ‘Why is Rocks angry early in the morning?’ to ‘Life is so hard?’ to ‘Here’s my sage advice to you as a friend - change this profile photo now!’

But another of Malhotra’s posts might explain his approach best, ‘An optimist is one who figures that taking one step back after a step forward is not a disaster, it’s more like a Cha-cha,’ it read.

Black humour is often the best humour and a man who can laugh at himself when the going’s tough gets our vote. Incidentally, when we asked Malhotra about his recent travails he sent a polite, ‘I’d rather not comment if you don’t mind, thanks’.

As beautiful as the Valley itself
One of the first people we thought about when we heard about the floods in Srinagar was our friend, the lovely Dilshad Sheikh, whose beautiful three-storied home in Rajbagh we had occasion to spend time in not too long ago.

Dilshad Sheikh
Dilshad Sheikh

Sheikh, the sister of the swashbuckling Juhu Khans had been married into a leading Kashmir family many decades ago and had chosen to live there after the demise of her husband, even during Kashmir’s most turbulent and dangerous times.

A legendary beauty and a great hostess, for many she had been emblematic of the beautiful Valley itself not least because, like her chosen home, she had faced undeserved tragedy and hardship.

How was she, we had asked her niece, jewellery designer Farah Khan Ali, when reports of the water rising and entering homes began to circulate over the news channels; mercifully it was not too long before we were informed that she had been rescued to safety.

Now, almost a week later, we have the full story from friends who met with her over the weekend in Delhi.

“By the grace of God, Dilshad is safe now,” they told us, “But it’s been a harrowing time for her. For a couple of days she was stranded with her daughter Shahala and the family retainers in the attic of their home with no food, electricity or communication.

Fortunately, a kind neighbour rescued them by boat and gave them shelter in his guesthouse, where along with other guests, they waited for rescue for over five days. During this time, as is her nature, Dilshad became the moving spirit amongst the frightened crowd, keeping everyone’s morale up and tending to the ill and weak, refusing to be rescued, until everyone, including her household staff were air-lifted. But the damage to her home and estate is unimaginable and unrecoverable and even though she is determined to go back, there are great fears of epidemics and looting,” narrated the friend.

Why do bad things happen to good people? Why have the people of Kashmir suffered so much from manmade and natural disasters? Is there really such a thing as being too beautiful for one’s own good?
There are no answers to such questions. Often such questions of cosmic import are unfathomable.

Just Desserts
Oh dear, this is going to ruffle a lot of high-profile society feathers. Word comes in that the husband of a prominent and statuesque Sobo diva, someone known for her sugar and spice and all things nice, and above all sweet personality, is being investigated for appropriating the liquor cash flow at Mumbai’s snootiest club. “Suspected of having his fingers in the till, old chap!” harrumphed a ferociously snobby committee member, “not in public domain and not proven yet-but investigations are on”.

Which in these rarefied circles is as damning as a lifetime in social Siberia.

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