Wild world in Dubai

>> And it seems to be the season for the reappearance of our childhood pop idols.

Following our report of Cliff Richard’s Goan ancestry, we chanced upon exclusive pictures of Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens taken from a friend’s camera in Abu Dhabi.

The friend happens to be author journalist Pranay Gupte whose recently published ‘Healer—Dr Prathap Chandra Reddy And the Transformation of India (Penguin Books) took him to the Middle Eastern states where he was a guest of Friday lunch at Majlis of His Highness Sheikh Nahayan. “While there I happened to spot the enigmatic musician now very much a devout Muslim,” says Gupte.

Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens. Pic/Pranay Gupte

Readers might recall the story of how Steven Demetre Georgiou born in London to a Greek Cypriot father and a Swedish mother who had found great success and fame as Cat Stevens converted to Islam in 1977 and gave up musical activities for more than two decades. “You come to a point where you have sung, more or less ... your whole repertoire and you want to get down to the job of living.”

To see the re-emerged musician (he began performing and composing in 2005 after his son brought a guitar home) looking very much a traditional Muslim in the Middle Eastern state where he spends part of the year with his wife Fauzia Mubarak Ali and their five children, was a pleasant surprise.

“I remember his wonderful songs from my college days back in the 60s and 70s,” said Gupte, “The little boy with him is his grandson.”

The Taj Mahal in Juhu
>> Friday night was a Taj Mahal kinda evening. Not only did we catch glimpses of the award-winning Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story, the Bollywood historical drama film produced in 2005 when we were guests at the home of its director Akbar Khan at his beautiful bungalow in Juhu, but towards the end of the nostalgia and warmth filled evening, actor Kabir Bedi who has reprised the role of Emperor Shah Jehan twice (in Khan’s epic and in the more recent Canadian theatre production Taj written by John Murrell) regaled us with dialogues from the play.

Kabir Bedi and Akbar Khan

That, and the presence of other Khan siblings like Akbar’s elder brothers the dashing Bangalore real estate tycoon, Ahmed (who’d gone by the screen name Sameer many moons ago), Shah Rukh, the international businessman and their beautiful sister Dilshad from Kashmir made the evening a stand out one in Mumbai’s social calendar.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane…
>> Hipsters returning from the standout DJ Armin Van Buuren concert at the NSCI on Saturday night were pleasantly surprised to see the concert’s promoter Percept’s flamboyant head Shailendra Singh, slip through the inevitable post concert traffic snarl on a nifty cycle. “Not only did he zip in and out of the stalled Beemers, Porches and Mercs,” said an observer about the charismatic head of the media empire, “But he got past all the security checks as sooner as a consequence.”

Shailendra Singh

And on reaching Palladium where he was meeting friends at Asilo, Singh is said to have hopped off while an attendant valet-parked his cycle!

The jury’s out on what was cooler, hosting what insiders say was easily one of the best produced and conceived gigs in the country — or making every one else stalled in their limos feel like schmucks as he flew past!

Relationship counselling in Mumbai
>> ‘Are you planning to get divorced and are scared of how your family and community may react?

Are you married or in a relationship, and feel trapped with a man who has personal “issues” like drinking, depression, or family conflicts which are ruining your life?”

Gayatri Madhvani

These and other leading questions are asked by Gayatri Madhvani on her website for relationship counselling.

Madhvani, the sister of artist Nikhil Chaganlal and art collector and activist Rohita Doshi who grew up in Mumbai married into the famous Madhvani clan in the late ’80s divides her time between Uganda, Mumbai, London and New York pursuing her career in the therapeutic field.

“I have always had a passion for people and their stories which lead me to pursue a background in counselling and mentoring,” says this mother of a college going daughter in America who received her training through the Certified Coaches Federation and then later with World Coach Institute in the US.

“I feel there is a need in India for relationship coaches because there is little to no social stigma attached to seeking the help of a coach as opposed to seeking the help of a mental health professional, which is commonplace abroad,” she says. Mumbai could do with some relationship counselling, we think!

Romancing Mumbai
One of the nicest new trends in Mumbai is that of people celebrating the city for all it offers and has come to stand for. This combined with a new found interest in nostalgia has given rise to a new kind of Mumbaikar: one who signs up for city walks, buys books and maps of yore, hunts down regional cuisines and quaint eateries, can be seen taking pictures of buildings and streets on Sundays and generally romancing the city.

A case in point is the imminent closure of Grant Road’s legendary B Merwan n Co the, landmark Irani café famous for its mawa cakes, omelettes, egg fries and bun maska with tea, which has been attracting its fair share of Mumbaikars eager to have one last experience of its famous marble top tables, wooden chairs and ubiquitous signboard.

This weekend we hear publisher Padmini Mirchandani with her daughter food blogger Pooja Vir and author, columnist Sidharth Bhatia were spotted partaking of a sumptuous repast. “Last pilgrimage to Merwan, didn’t make it in time for the historic Mawa cakes, but what a fun morning it was!” said Mirchandani.

As for naming the members of this growing community readers are requested to come up with a suitable moniker: Maximalist Mumbaikars is my contribution.

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