>> There are some families in Mumbai whose lives are inextricably enmeshed with those of the city they dwell in. The Hiranandanis are one such. Patriarch of the family Padma Bhushan awardee LH Hiranandani, the celebrated ENT surgeon, like the gynaecologist Mumbai’s legendary Dr Shirodkar was one of Mumbai’s most loved doctors. In fact, a whole generation of Mumbai’s kids had their tonsils removed by him — this diarist included. The kids loved him because he recommended ice cream for post-op healing.

And their moms loved him too because of the twinkle in his eye and his charming bedside manner. His son Niranjan inherited his father’s outgoing manner and penchant for public life. A thorough gentleman Niranjan acquired the reputation for being a business leader and a pillar of Mumbai society. Parties at the Hirandanani home at Malabar Hill were a congregation of Mumbai’s movers and shakers and people who made the city tick. That Niranjan and his brother Surendra also changed the Mumbai skyline with the world class Hiranandani Garden at Powai and then went on to establish a billion dollar real estate empire is credit to their hard work and entrepreneurial zeal. And yesterday we learnt there’s one more reason for the community to celebrate with the Hiranandani when we received an exquisite pink package containing a miniature bottle of rose bubbly and chocolates. Niranjan and Kamal’s son Darshan and his wife Neha announced the birth of their daughter Zoya. “The birth took place six months ago, but it’s never too late to share joy with people,” said the dapper Niranjan with the family’s trademark twinkle in his eye.
We agree!

School’s in!
>>  We bumped in to Lina Ashar recently and were gobsmacked to learn that Tina Ambani’s lovely niece (her elder sister’s daughter) has established an educational empire that boasts of around 170 schools across the world in less than 18 years. “I established my first pre-school Kangaroo Kids in Juhu in 1993, when I came to live India from Australia, and saw the need for child-centric schools that made learning fun and gave children freedom from the assembly line rote system that was being practiced,” she told us.

 Lina Ashar.

“Next on the insistence of the kids’ parents who saw the change in their kids, we started the Billabong High schools that took their education all the way to the Std XII. But these schools could not be mass-marketed and there was an urgent need to have excellent schools for India’s growing middle classes and so we started the Brain Works institutions,” she says. Ashar’s passion stems from the year, which she spent in India while in college. “Any one can see that as a country India is miles ahead of any other,” she says.

Tina Ambani

“Which is why it saddens me to hear of its corruption and underprivileged masses. If we can give a great education to even two or three generations of its children think what we can achieve,” she says. What drives her? She smiles, “I grew up being known as Tina Munim’s niece and vowed that some day I’d be known in my own right for my own achievements,” she says. “But the irony,” she smiles, “Is that I am now known as my son Drish’s mom — given that when we go out he’s asked for his autograph”. For the uninitiated, Drish is a TV anchor and an aspiring actor in his own right.

Cell phone scam
>>  Something weird is happening to all our friends: they’re receiving from numbers in Belarus (code +375) and Romania (code +40). One such person says it’s a hacking scam and any one who answers the calls will have their contact list stolen. Another refers to a newspaper article that says if you call these numbers back you get charged.

And if you receive the call it is a collect call. And a third asks what the business model of the scamsters behind the calls could be: (who benefits since were paying for these calls — unless it’s the service providers themselves). One service provider has put out an advisory that it’s a lottery scam and yet others say you catch a virus if you answer. Whatever it is, we think it’s times like this when we ought to remember what our elders told us: don’t talk to strangers-especially not from places you cant pick out on a map!

Wedding News
>>  A little bird tells us that the fantastic wedding that was to be held this weekend at an exotic European capital and had the upper echelons of Mumbai society in a tizzy has been postponed, as a family elder has suddenly taken ill. But a bigger bird tells us that the marriage has been called off completely due to reasons unknown. Then, a medium-sized bird tells us that the wedding had already taken place a month earlier (and attended by witnesses) and so it makes no real difference if celebrations are not held at all, as they were a formality. Which bird to believe? We have no idea yet, but only pray that at such sensitive and significant times good sense prevails and that things go off exactly the way the young couple desires.

Big fat Indian Weddings
>>  Ok. So here’s the thing about big fat Indian weddings. The pecking order is: the high-flyers conduct theirs in Istanbul (The Allanas), Venice (The Mittals) and Mauritius (The Piramals); the more budget conscious ones are held in Udaipur and Goa (where the experience is just as great but the rates better) and for the all-out fun in the sun crowd, Bangkok is the place to go.

And now that everyone’s sorted which place gets our vote as the best place to tie the knot in? Ah, gentle reader — the moment we get some ‘gyaan’ on that — you’ll be the first to know.