Vive la France!

At the end of the month, we have been invited to a lunch thrown in honour of Valérie Trierweiler, the feisty French political journalist and partner of François Hollande, the 24th President of the French Republic, hosted at the Oberoi by Mumbai’s Chayya Momaya

>> At the end of the month, we have been invited to a lunch thrown in honour of Valérie Trierweiler, the feisty French political journalist and partner of François Hollande, the 24th President of the French Republic, hosted at the Oberoi by Mumbai’s Chayya Momaya.

French President Francois Hollande with partner Valerie Trierweiler

Trierweiler studied Political Science at the Sorbonne, has hosted political talk shows and was a journalist with the leading French magazine, Paris Match, until recently. She had met François Hollande during the 1998 parliamentary elections while he was still living with Ségolène Royal, the former government minister, and a prominent member of the French Socialist Party, Trierweiler-Hollande began their relationship in 2005, when she was still a married woman, and made it public in October 2010 after the divorce was declared. Till date, both have shown a commendable disregard for the institution of marriage and mercifully, their ‘unmarried but living together relationship’ has not come in the way of Trierweiler being afforded the respect and regard that the partner of the President deserves.

As recently as Feb 2013, when she travelled to India on a state visit with Hollande, she was received by the Prime Minister, the President of the Indian Republic and Mrs Sonia Gandhi with full state honours.

But then, such is the savoir-faire and sophistication of the French electorate — and the world would do well to emulate it.

We say this because a decade ago, when we accompanied an Indian prime minister to the White House as part of his press corp, we had been aware that one amidst us enjoyed a rather special relationship with the leader of the nation, and given that they were both consenting single adults, we had chosen to respect their privacy.

But, such were those times and India’s official adherence to tradition that once we landed, of course, the lady hadn’t been given state honours.

A shame. Because like Valérie Trierweiler, she had been a lady of immense charm, courage and dignity too.

Vive La France!

Ek Ladki in Goa
>> We have been a fan and admirer of Manisha Koirala ever since we saw her in 1942. And the ubiquity of Facebook (we are FB friends) has made us familiar in that tenuous way that social networking does.

Manisha Koirala

So, when the talented actress faced her personal vicissitudes of health and heart, we felt her pain the same way we would for a dear friend of ours.

This December, when we ran into her at Raj Salgaocar’s, we had a more real world encounter. And we were happy to see that the effect of Goa’s sun, sea, sand and the company of friends had brought the colour back in her cheeks and the sunshine back in her smile.

Kangana Ranaut

And perusing her pictures of her Goan holiday we see that the actress — true to form, and always someone who has lived life on her own terms and with a great degree of integrity — did Goa the way it is meant to be done: leaving her starry status back in Bollwyood, she had spent it on on untrammeled beaches and in anonymous beach shacks!

And on the subject of Koirala. Are we the only ones who think that the absolutely real and free-spirited Kangana Ranaut is her natural successor?

Kebabs and Korma
>> The lovely Kalyani Chawla, Dior’s glam VP-Marketing and Communications, called to invite us this week to an event a tad more rustic than usually associated with the French couturier: to sample Punjab Grill’s winter menu launch over dinner at the Palladium.

Kalyani Chawla

The Punjab Grill, run by Rohit Aggarwal and Amit Burman, will see a coming together ‘of some of Mumbai’s beautiful people’ like Aarti and Kailash Surendranath, Gaurav and Pratima — all our friends,” said Chawla.

Nice! Winter is a time to eat kebabs and curries and kormas . The Bœuf bourguignons, Coq au vins and escargots can wait!

On the bestseller list all year
>> And from our friend, the talented Mr Ashwin Sanghi, comes this delightful bit of news: “I am delighted to see that two of my titles (Chanakya’s Chant and The Krishna Key) remained on the national bestseller list for all 52 weeks of 2013.”

Ashwin Sanghi

We like!

Jaipur Lit gets a new sponsor
>> We are more or less the first people to say in print that the relationship between DSC and the Jaipur Literature is over. We had heard the news while we had been in Goa, and though we met our friend, the lovely Surina Narula of DSC, we hadn’t found the opportunity to sit her down and ask what was going on.

Subhash Chandra Goel

But the news had shocked and pained many, as the construction conglomerate and the world’s biggest free literary festival had become almost as synonymous as, well, a horse and carriage, or whisky and soda…

But, for those already packing their Fab India woolies and their unfinished manuscripts to take to Jaipur, there’s good news. Last morning, we had confirmation that the Zee group — Subhash Chandra Goel’s behemoth, comprising TV , newspapers and net presence, had come in as the official ‘presenting partners of the Zee Jaipur Literary Festival.’

The 2013 Jaipur Lit Fest

And with Zee’s popular English national mainstream newspaper DNA (for which we write a column) being edited by the talented author poet CP Surendran — we are sure that the new coupling is going to be a win- win for both!

I’ll take the piano
>> So, who is the celebrated design maven who is using her measuring tape these days for nothing more edifying than the size of various pieces of furniture to remove from her late friend’s home? Friends of the deceased gent are shocked at the alacrity with which the lady has stormed into his SoBo residence to measure pianos, dinner sets and sofas (the last when people are still seated on them) which, they say, ought to remain with his loved ones — namely his children or his paramour.

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