Enter, the table tennis league

Jul 17, 2017, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Niraj Bajaj, chairman of Mukand, is one of those rare industrialists, someone who consistently underplays his wealth and position

Niraj Bajaj
Niraj Bajaj

Niraj Bajaj, chairman of Mukand, is one of those rare industrialists, someone who consistently underplays his wealth and position. This is because the Harvard educated scion of one of India's most respected business clans has outstanding achievements of his own, beyond business and industry. Between 1970-77, Bajaj represented India in table tennis internationally, and was ranked India No.1 four times, and was also a recipient of the Arjuna Award. Now, the leading businessman has taken his love for table tennis to another level altogether. Along with his wife Minal, and Vita Dani of the Asian Paints family, he has become a promoter of a new league called '11 Sports,' with an aim to promote the game. "Our key event is the Ultimate Table Tennis (UTT) League, specifically created to promote my favourite game, and also showcase the best talent in the world," he says. And this month will see the league kicking off with matches in Chennai, Delhi, and finally in Mumbai at the end of the month where the semi-finals and finals will take place. "For me personally, this is a dream come true," he says.

Hormazd Sorabjee. Pic/Twitter
Hormazd Sorabjee. Pic/Twitter

The vroom vroom men
"Big day for #MahindraRacing. Anand Mahindra and Pawan Goenka here for #FormulaE race in #Brooklyn. Drivers Nick Heidfeld, Felix Rosenqvist fastest in practice. Now hoping for 1-2 in race," posted auto editor, Hormazd Sorabjee. Sorabjee was excited about the Indian entry in the new FIA Formula E Championship, that uses only electric-powered cars. With Mahindra's championing of electric cars, this outing would mean a lot for positioning and name recall, especially as its new-age approach also gave considerable agency to the internet by inviting fans to vote for their favourite driver via various social media channels to give them an extra power boost. To be sure, Sorabjee was gung ho about the Mahindra M3Electro when we spoke to him in Brooklyn at the site of the race on Sunday. But it's a measure of how fast paced the sport is, that only a few minutes later came his message, "Mahindra guys looked quick but their qualifying for the race didn't go well," he said, but added a cheery, "I've got my fingers crossed for the finals to be held two hours from now."

Aparna Sen and Gurinder Chadha with friends
Aparna Sen and Gurinder Chadha with friends

Away from the red carpet
They are both highly talented and equally celebrated female directors, so when screenwriter and actress Aparna Sen (36 Chowringhee Lane, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer) bumped in to English film director of Punjabi-Sikh-Kenyan-Asian origin, Gurinder Chadha (Bhaji on the Beach, Bend It Like Beckham), on the margins of the Cannes Film Festival, it would be safe to say that cinema was very much part of their conversation. Sen was in Cannes with her film Sonata starring Shabana Azmi and Lillette Dubey, and the two met at a cocktail party hosted by The International Emerging Film Talent Association. The two share a mutual respect for each other according to a source, and what followed was a long discussion on films, acting and new projects. And yes, it might be hard to believe, but red carpet fashion outings sponsored by make up conglomerates is not why the festival was created in the first place. Bringing together two very different, but equally talented female filmmakers so that they might talk about their shared experiences and issues, is. And from all accounts, it was a meeting of minds.

Dr Sudath Talpahewa and Saroja SirisenaDr Sudath Talpahewa and Saroja Sirisena

Wedding bells
Ever since Saroja Sirisena, the charming Consul General for Sri Lanka arrived in Mumbai, she has been winning friends and influencing people to visit the beautiful emerald shaped country in the Indian Ocean. Now, it seems she has also made history. This weekend Sirisena married fellow Sri Lankan Dr Sudath Talpahewa, making it most likely the first wedding of a consul general while in office in Mumbai! Talpahewa lives in London, works at Skyways Medical Centre, and was educated in England. We wish the handsome couple every happiness.

Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Suhel SethRahat Fateh Ali Khan and Suhel Seth

Of ghazals and guzzlers
Currently and flamboyantly in London, Suhel Seth has done very much as an Englishman would: lunched at the much sought after private club 5, Hertford Street (Down Shepherd Market, the entrance attended not by burly guards, but by women in floor-length dresses), and been one of the privileged few present at Centre Court to watch Federer vs Cilic in the Wimbledon Men's Finals, no doubt surrounded by flutes of bubbly and helpings of strawberries and cream. But too much of this 'walking, talking English' could get a bit wearying, especially for a hot-blooded Punjabi like Seth, and so we learn that over the weekend, Seth attended a very special recital by celebrated Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan at the Dorchester, where over ghazals and guzzles, he allowed his inner Punjabi to emerge from behind his Saville Row suit. This included lustily singing that hoary old classic from Aradhana 'Mere sapnon ki rani' with one arm around the celebrated singer and a tumbler of whiskey in the other. As they say, you can take the boy out of the Punjab but...

Single women on top
We wonder what our friend, the trailblazing Sushmita Sen thinks about the new proposal by Union Minister for Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, which is said to favour single women over 40 with financial means as the most preferred candidates for adoption.

Sushmita Sen with daughters Renee and AlisahSushmita Sen with daughters Renee and Alisah

According to reports, the resolution was passed this month taking into account the rising trend of single women coming forward to adopt and raise a child on their own. Sen, as is known, had taken the extraordinarily courageous step of adopting her daughter Renee while a single woman of only 25, in 2000, six years after she won the Miss Universe Pageant (Ten years later, she adopted her second daughter Alisah).

Maneka GandhiManeka Gandhi

Could the long-legged beauty who pioneered so many trends (Indians winning international beauty pageants, beauty queens entering Bollywood, etc) also have contributed to this progressive step too? When we spoke over the weekend, Sen was in Dubai, so when she's back at the end of the month we shall find out.

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