Waltzing Diplomacy

"Salman Khurshid, Madhu Kishwar and the German ambassador to Delhi being all silly in a Bollywood song and dance"
"Creepiest shit ever."
"So bad it was good."

Could there be any explanation for the bizarre dancing video of the current German ambassador to India, Michael Steiner, his wife, and Congressman and former foreign minister, the very dignified and erudite Oxonian Salman Khurshid?

The video features Salman Khurshid,  German Ambassador Michael Steiner and his wife
The video features Salman Khurshid,  German Ambassador Michael Steiner and his wife

The video, which was launched over the weekend at a high-profile party at the German Embassy, has the two pillars of international democracy waltzing away to KJo’s lilting Kal Ho Na Ho, while making some bizarre point about ...wife swapping? Saving the world with fox trot? The superiority of Indian amorousness? Whatever.

Shot against a backdrop of Delhi’s lush gardens, historic monuments and the Ambassador’s own residence, the video has had many shares and retweets with much giggling over Khurshid’s cheesy moves. Steiner, of course, is not new to controversy. In 2001, he had drawn flak for allegedly leaking sensitive information involving Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and US President George W Bush.

In the same year, he had a very public quarrel with German soldiers in Moscow, whom he had called ‘XX@#$’ and from whom he is supposed to have demanded caviar during his plane’s stopover. An incident that he had subsequently apologised and resigned from his position for.

Up for retirement in June, this appears to be the noted maverick’s last hurrah his paean to Bollywood, of which he says he’s watched over 150 films. What makes the music video beyond bizarre is the cameo appearance of none other than the love him-hate him liberal-turned-Modi worshipper, academician Madhu Kishwar. Creepiest shit ever is the word.

No horsing around
It’s been one of the enduring examples of clubbing excesses and has added to the mythology of NY’s Studio 54, the iconic night club of the late Seventies owned by Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager.

Bianca Jagger
Bianca Jagger

But this week, activist and human rights advocate, Bianca Jagger, former wife of Rolling Stone’s Mick Jagger, wrote to no less than the Financial Times to deny that she had ridden a horse into the famous club, though admitting that indeed she did sit atop it for a few minutes.

"It was a beautiful white horse that reminded me of mine," writes the Nicaraguan, who is Member of the Executive Director’s Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA, "and I made the foolish decision to get on it for a few minutes ..." she says referring to the pictures of the scene which ricocheted around the world.

"As an environmentalist and an animal rights defender, I find the insinuation that I would ride a horse into a night club offensive ... I hope that you can understand the difference between ‘coming in’ on a horse and getting on one," she wrote.

Incidentally Jagger is a great lover of India and makes frequent visits here and also has a daughter, Jade Jagger, who lives in Goa.

A tribute to Pearl
"Many of those who knew and loved the powerhouse of talent Pearl Padamsee will be coming together to pay their tributes Mummy’s 15th anniversary," said Raell Padamsee about her mother, the late Pearl, who had fostered many a talent in her time.

"We are doing a show ‘Celebrating Pearl... The Giant Pixie’ on Friday, 8th May, at Tata NCPA," said daughter, the producer Raell.

Pearl Padamsee
Pearl Padamsee

"It’s a retrospective of Pearl Padamsee’s best theatrical works, including musicals like ‘Godspell’ and ‘The Wiz’ and plays like, ‘Betrayal’, ‘Mass Appeal’, ‘ The Serpent’, ‘Taming of the Shrew’ and will feature the likes of Alyque Padamsee, Gerson da Cunha, Sabira Merchant, Vijay Crishna, Farrokh Mehta, Sharon, Ronnie Screwvala, Zarina Mehta, Cyrus Broacha, and Kunal Vijayakar amongst many others," said Raell. So here’s looking at you, Pearl, Mumbai’s eternal Giant Pixie.

The art of the matter
It’s a busy time for the Kallats, Reena and Jitish, who individually and together are at the forefront of India’s international art resurgence. Reena, who is currently in Switzerland for a show, has a major public installation with the Vancouver Art Gallery, and Jitish has his large installation of 4,500 bone-shaped letters titled ‘Public Notice 2’ opening at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.

Jitish Kallat
Jitish Kallat

Public Notice 2, which is owned by an Australia-based foundation, is being gifted to the museum. And given that both their shows are scheduled to open on May 14 in two different (and very far-flung) corners of the planet, we hear the Kallats have decided to meet at the roughly half-way point in Venice, where they will attend the Venice Biennale with their young son.

"Then, the two of them will head to Vancouver and I’ll go the other way to Sydney," Jitish was overheard saying to a friend. The days of the artist in the garret are mercifully long over!

Unseemly Turf war
Following the splashy opening of a new mid-city gallery that attracted a slew of Mumbai’s movers and shakers recently, an unseemly turf war appears to have broken out amongst two of the people hired to organise the event. The object of the battle appears to be ownership rights to the celebrity artist and guests between the two socially prominent women, with both using the event to reportedly settle personal scores.

"To think that an art event should attract so much bad feeling when other galleries and corporates have been hosting them smoothly for so many years," said an art czarina present on the occasion, "demonstrates the level of amateurishness of the par venues involved," she sniffed. Tch tch.

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