Union of biz men

"It's a great budget and every one has appreciated it across the board," said Suhel Seth, one of the country's most astute men, who is particularly familiar with the anthropology of its upper reaches.

"But of course, nothing has changed amongst India's business men." He said, referring to top tycoons from CII and FICCI, who had gathered together for budget related meets yesterday.

Arun Jaitley and Suhel SethArun Jaitley and Suhel Seth

"To the TV cameras they say, 'Great, great, great!!!' Amongst themselves they say 'terrible' and to the Finance Minister's face they say, 'Transformational! Path breaking!!" said the marketing maven, known to be a close friend of the Fin Min.

"But you know what?" he added, "The Fin Min doesn't care what they say — after all he is announcing a budget for the Union of India," said Seth. "And thank God not the union of FICCI or CII!!"

Singh on a wing
Anyone familiar with Mumbai's impassioned restaurant critic on permanent wing Rashmi Uday Singh, knows of her intense energy. One day in LA, the next in Dubai and the third in Oz, Singh's hover board is continually on full speed as she circumvents the globe one great meal at a time.

Rashmi Uday Singh with Gaggan Anand in Bangkok
Rashmi Uday Singh with Gaggan Anand in Bangkok

No surprises then that this message came to us from Bangkok even as Singh, jury chairperson of the Indian subcontinent for the past many years for both the World's 50 best and Asia's 50 restaurants, was about to attend the awards ceremony last night.

"The air is thick with excitement," said the foodie. "Chefs have flown in from all parts of the world for the awards ceremony to start in the next 20 minutes. Joan Roca (whose restaurant was crowned World's best 2016) Peter Gilmore from Sydney, Ashley Palmer from London, Tetsuta Wakhuda from Australia, Narisawa from Tokyo, Paul Pairet from Shanghai — each a superstar in his own right are here," she informed, adding, "I'm excited to see our own restaurants making the cut and rooting for our very own Gaggan, who was Asia's best 2015," said the restaurant reviewer on roller skates.

And then, as she had promised, a few hours later she texted us the happy news that Gaggan, the eponymous restaurant belonging to the Kolkota-born Chef Gaggan Anand, had been declared Asia's best restaurant for the second row, running before she boarded a flight for Sydney!

The heroic girl next door
This is a story from many moons ago: as a rookie reporter for India Today's now defunct 'Bombay magazine' we recall being sent out on an assignment with our fellow hacks. It was the early eighties and we were supposed to return with photographs and interviews with Mumbai's most attractive 'girl next door.'

Sonam Kapoor and Neerja Bhanot
Sonam Kapoor and Neerja Bhanot

An assignment as corny as the era it belonged to. So there we were, scouring the habitats of such creatures— college canteens, play grounds and markets (there were no malls in those days) when we chanced upon one who undoubtedly led the field.

A second year student of a SoBo college, we still recall how fresh and sweet and charming she was. And her name happened to be Neerja Bhanot — then just a college student, but once the magazine with her picture had been printed, soon to become a much sought after model.

It was the first time the heroic Pan Am airhostess' name had appeared in print and one, which she never failed to remind us of when we used to run in to her subsequently. Of course, we never imagined that this beautiful girl would meet such a tragic end or that she would become the international face of courage in our times.

Which is why we especially hoped to see Neerja and applaud the courage of that fresh-faced young woman who we'd chanced upon all those years ago as Mumbai's most attractive 'girl next door'.

Did you ever shoot with Neerja during her modelling days, we asked celeb photographer Atul Kasbeker when we spoke to him yesterday. That was way before my time, he said. Now you see why we had begun our story with the caveat 'many moons ago...'

The abomination of auto correct
THE perils of texting are many and top amongst them is the abomination of auto correct, where words which you have never meant to say end up being sent out in to the world often with horrific consequences.

And nothing epitomized this virtual modern day pitfall than the plight of one Star Mama. "I make the most pathetic typos," she confessed to us recently. "Once when a producer called to enquire if he could sign my daughter, I texted the poor old man that my daughter will 'boomsehocte' with him," she said shuddering.

"When he finally met my daughter he gave her a sound talking to," she laughed. Which means that there are still decent old men in the industry. As for 'boomsehocte', we still don't know what the Star Mum meant before auto correct had mangled it!

Pee Cee and her Golden Man
Don't know what you thought, but as some one who looks forward to each new year mainly because there'll be a new Oscar ceremony to watch, we found yesterday's ceremony particularly disappointing.

Priyanka Chopra
Priyanka Chopra

Regardless of the controversy over its alleged racism, in spite of its awarding prizes for political expediency rather than performance and despite it being a rather tried and tested formulae, the Oscars had always delivered sparkle.

Not so this time. As for Priyanka in her blink and you miss it appearance — kudos that she spoke in a Mumbai patois and that she didn't look overawed or out of place, but really — we've seen her looking far more glamorous at your average neighborhood pan masala sponsored awards nights back home.

Hopefully she'll get her act together when she goes back next time to collect her own golden man, of course.

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