Zoroastrian Race Day at the races!

>> And this weekend will celebrate all things Zoroastrian and one of the events to mark the historic and much awaited 10th World Zoroastrian Congress being held in Mumbai from December 27-30, will be the RWITC’s full race day in honour of the community.

Vivek Jain and Dr Cyrus Poonawalla

Put together by the Parsi Panchayat, and Vivek Jain on behalf of the Club, word comes in that it will be a record breaking day, with eight “million” races, all on one afternoon, for the first time in the history of any race club in India.

Working closely with Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, the chief sponsor of the Congress, Jain managed to get the Parsi community to come forth with munificent contributions to make the day and the all-Parsi affair. Prominent names such as Shapoor Mistry and Noshir Talati are amongst the sponsors.

And what’s more, all Parsi members have been requested to come wearing ethnic dress, so many an elegant jhabla angharka, skullcap and gada saris will be on show. Nice!

Beach Intellectuals
>> Spotted enjoying a cozy Christmas day brunch at Morjim’s La Plage, Goa’s landmark watering hole for the discerning, was a group made up of some of India’s most celebrated creative people: author and cultural impresario William Dalrymple, the internationally renowned artist couple Subodh Gupta and his wife Bharti Kher (who are looking for a place in Goa we’re told) and photographer Aradhana Seth-Vikram’s sister who has made Goa her home.

William Dalrymple and Aradhana Seth

Now what would such a select group of creative heads be discussing amidst the sun, sea and sand? Perhaps how to fund the upcoming Jaipur Lit fest of which Dalrymple is chief instigator. Word has it that DCS has pulled out as a sponsor this year and that so far there haven’t been any serious takers.

We hope a more salubrious subject occupied the crowd.

The latest corporate perk
>> They are masters of the universe and captains of industry, with the destinies of millions tied up in their every decision. So how on earth do some of India’s top industrialists cope with their ever-increasing pressures?

When extra marital affairs, weekend getaways to their Swiss chalets and full-on retail therapy doesn’t reach the parts that need reaching, guess what really does it for the big boys?

Personal masseurs. Yes, their own 24X7, on call at any moment and dedicated set of nimble fingers to knead way their worries.

So compelling has this need to de-stress and unwind become, that we hear the head of one publicly listed corporate giant with interests in real estate, infrastructure and financial services, has managed to put his personal (and personable) French female masseur on his company pay roll.

And why not say his peers? After all what makes the poor overworked and stressed-out boss happy is good for every one - including the shareholders - right?

The Healer and the Prezzie
>> “There’s a history to Dr Pranab Mukherjee and Dr Reddy,” says our friend Pranay Gupte, author of the newly released ‘Healer: Dr. Prathap Chandra Reddy and the Transformation of India,” (Penguin) a 600-page biography of the creator of one of post reform India’s most enduring successes-the Apollo Hospitals phenomena.

President Pranab Mukherjee was presented the first copy of Dr Prathap C Reddy’s book at Andhra Pradesh’s Raj Bhavan 

“When Mukerjee held portfolios such as finance, steel, he was a stalwart supporter of promoting healthcare through the private sector,” says Gupte adding, “He helped Dr Reddy (and others) get over bureaucratic barriers concerning steel and cement quotas, and giving permission for corporate-sector hospitals to get loans from banks.”

And to mark the release of the book, the President was presented the first copy of the tome at Andhra Pradesh’s Raj Bhavan last week at a private ceremony hosted by AP Governor E S L Narasimhan.

The book which has been two years in the making to coincide with the occasion of Dr Reddy’s 80th birthday, and the 30th anniversary of the founding of Apollo Hospitals meanwhile is enjoying brisk sales according to Anuj Bahri of the fabled Bahrisons in Delhi’s Khan market who says, “Dr Reddy’s biography is headed for the bestseller charts.”

King of Chutzpah
>> “Oh no he wouldn’t — would he?’ is what the chattering classes in Goa are saying after receiving invitations to this year’s version of the King of not so good times, Vijay Mallya’s fabled New Year’s Eve party at the Kingfisher Villa in Goa’s Candolim.

Vijay Mallya

Because unlike the previous years when his airline hadn’t hit bad times and business was good, Mallya’s hospitality was a thing of beauty and a joy forever for the hundreds who would clamour to his Baliesque villa on the beach for a night of unlimited champagne caviar and Bollywood hits.

But with stories of unpaid staff salaries, suicides, houses being attached by banks and the general economy heading south, people are just gobstruck at his sense of appropriate behaviour and timing.

That or his quotient of chutzpah is more than any one ever reckoned for.

And to readers a poem written on Christmas Eve —all the way from Goa!
On this still
And distant planet
Where the one star
On this night of benediction
Sleeps the unborn prince
The hope of his mother
The patriarchal tide
And we who have no manger
Rise up to Yuletide
Rise up to embrace our future
The dreams that we have spun
They’re just around the corner
Turning on a drum
Long whispers in the bushes
Fire in the grass
The princely child is coming
To say his special mass. 

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