Finally, the Shangri-La

Published: Dec 05, 2012, 08:17 IST | Malavika Sangghvi |

He is one of Mumbai's most popular hoteliers and a regular fixture on its social scene, which is why the opening of Farhat Jamal's Shangri-La hotel at Phoenix Mills has been such a closely watched affair.

>> He is one of Mumbai’s most popular hoteliers and a regular fixture on its social scene, which is why the opening of Farhat Jamal’s Shangri-La hotel at Phoenix Mills has been such a closely watched affair.

Because not only is it expected to give competition to some of the city’s older more established inns (one of which is Jamal’s previous employer the Taj Group), but given its location — promises to be the much-needed bridge between North Mumbai glamour and South Mumbai old money. And now we have it on reliable authority that one of the first events to be hosted at the mid-city hotel will be sharp dressing, fast talking banker Ashok Wadhwa’s wedding anniversary later this month.

Reena and Ashok Wadhwa
Reena and Ashok Wadhwa

The Wadhwas occupy a unique position on the social landscape combining big money (Ashok is on to some of the biggest deals in town) and glamour (wife Reena has interests in the luxury business and showbiz). That they will draw in the right crowd to showcase the hotel is a foregone conclusion. Now fingers crossed that the project (still in its final stages of completion) will be brought in on time.

Delhi’s Durbar
>> Durbar, Tavleen Singh’s chatty insider account of Delhi’s inner elite circle, has been creating quite a lot of consternation amongst the powers that be. The well-known political columnist and our erstwhile neighbour (we lived in the same building in Delhi some years ago) not only has been privy to a fair amount of the machinations of Delhi’s power base, but has played a part in some of them too.

Tavleen Singh
Tavleen Singh

Which is why we are dying to hear her read from the book this Thursday at the Oberoi, where the tome will be officially launched in Mumbai. And what does the author hope the book will achieve in a city often considered out of Delhi’s political loop? “I want people to read it as a book that is a denunciation of a ruling class that has consistently let India down. And, that Sonia Gandhi is only one character in what I hope will be read as a bigger book,” she says. We like!

Vikram’s next move
>> The SMS alerting us to the change was befitting the quiet elegance of the man. It said simply ‘Please note my change in address to..’ It was only on further enquiry that we learnt that Vikram Mehta who had recently stepped down as Chairman of Shell India has accepted chairmanship of the Brookings Institution in India, will be advising universities like Fletcher and Oxford, has a fellowship to Kings college Cambridge and will be lending his considerable heft to various NGOs besides serving as on a few non executive company boards like Mahindra and Larsen and Toubro.

Vikram Mehta
Vikram Mehta

Whew, that’s an enviable portfolio, but it still does not add up to the job we believe the erudite Oxbridge educated gentleman is made for: India’s ambassador to the US. Consider the evidence: he hails from a family of distinguished diplomats (father Jagat Mehta was India’s foreign secretary). His family has personal equations with some of America’s leading political clans like the Kennedys. He’s had governmental experience (he once served in Rajiv Gandhi’s secretariat) and the clincher? As Chairman of Shell, his area of expertise just happens to be oil, one of the pivots on which India-US relations turns on! Oh… and he’d look great at official banquets too!

Chillin’ in Goa
>> Good God is the man unstoppable! Word has it that Vijay Mallya was spotted chilling at Goa’s hip shack Calamari this weekend in the company of what appears to be his American twin — Paris Hilton

Paris Hilton
Paris Hilton

(There goes the neighbourhood!) According to one of our favourite hip-hop musician’s Charles Dickinson, who is one half of the band Low Rhyderz, “It was a crazy white party last night at Marbela Beach, Goa.

Vijay Mallya
Vijay Mallya

Low Rhyderz were chillin until Vijay Mallya walked in and the whole place stood still.” There have been Mallya spotting at other Goa shacks too. It’s a bird, it’s a plane…

Hang on to your husbands!
>> It was the best line of the weekend. As the private Dom Perignon charter flight back from Jodhpur to Mumbai carrying some of the city’s most glamorous couples landed on the tarmac and one slightly harried woman was seen rushing around searching for her handbag, a droll wit who had been observing the on-air subtle seductions and flirtations said, “On a flight like this you don’t need to worry about losing your handbag. It’s your husband you should be concerned about!” At which point three people blushed furiously!

Say cheese!
>> We had the opportunity to ask RRO’s Roohi Jaikishan, intrepid traveller, stylish dresser and lifestyle muse to Mumbai, why our favourite Boursin cheese, which her company had so successfully launched in India, was not available any more. “We miss it,” we whined, “And so does our breakfast table! None of the stores stock it any more!” “Boursin has been bought over in France by groupe Bel and they do not consider India a priority as volumes are still low. God knows we struggled to convince them,” she responded. But here’s the silver lining, “We do some fabulous cheeses from Fromi, which supplies to all the top stores like Bon Marche, Harrods and many many others,” she said. “Available at the West Side at Army Navy stores and Nature’s Basket”. We like!

Sunday brunch option


>> Ellipsis, SoBo’s trendy eatery and lounge has launched a Sunday brunch and Wednesday night live music evenings to add to their repertoire of enticements. And from what we learn, the crowd just gets bigger, better and dare we say it — hotter!

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