Mumbai Diary: Saturday Dossier
The city - sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce.
Where's the mask?
As cases in the city see a surge, such casual behaviour by these travellers on a bus in Kandivali on the Western Express Highway defies logic. PIC/Satej Shinde
Securing Gautam's legacy
It may have been nine years since his passing, but the memory of her brother and noted fashion photography legend, Gautam Rajadhyaksha is clear as the day in the mind of the author, Shobhaa De. Remembering him on his death anniversary, she told this diarist, "Gautam and I shared many common interests from classical music and Italian opera to books, paintings, movies etc. He had a comprehensive collection of rare opera, Indian classical music recordings and even manuscripts. His studio was truly a treasure trove.
A big regret continues to remain that his old prints and films of great icons remain inaccessible. Many from the photography world asked for these to be preserved for a new generation of photographers to learn from. And while I've spoken to his inheritors about it, I have no locus standi in the matter. It's a massive loss to his fans."
Back to B-boying
This has been a rough period for B-boys, too, since open spaces like public parks and gardens that these dancers practise their moves in had also been shut. Nonetheless, city-based B-boy Wildchild has made it to the list of top 32 participants for BC One E-Battle, one of the world's most prestigious B-boying competitions in the world, which moved online this year. "[The lockdown] has been difficult because I don't have enough space in my house, so I'd go all out to train whenever I found an empty spot," he told this diarist. Our best wishes to him.
When art entered the Taj
Elizabeth Kerkar, art connoisseur and interior designer for many Taj properties, passed away at the age of 80 yesterday. Mortimer Chatterjee of Chatterjee and Lal, who had appraised the landmark hotel's art collection in the early 2000s, feels that she will be remembered as a great patron of the arts. "The art collection at the Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, is testament to her fine taste. Over the years, she helped to build a world class group of artworks; a unique initiative amongst hotels at that time. Using the Taj Art Gallery as a frequent source, Mrs Kerkar secured artworks by such luminaries as VS Gaitonde, Ram Kumar, KH Ara and MF Husain."
Chef and Taj veteran Hemant Oberoi fondly recalls how Kerkar was particular about bread. "At the time, we didn't get great flour for a variety of breads, and she is the one who suggested we import it. Her eye for detail was creative and innovative," he said recalling her input to bring down pillars from Thanjavur while designing Tanjore or creating the décor for Zodiac Grill, "It was Mr Kerkar, her husband, who interviewed me in Delhi and brought me to Mumbai."
Art historian Pheroza Godrej paid rich tribute to Kerkar calling her "a woman of impeccable taste." They would often meet when she stayed at the Taj — walking through the art gallery to view a painting, or checking on décor. "She left a stamp of good taste at all the Taj properties from Rambagh, Lake Palace to Fort Aguada." Dimple Ahuja, owner of lifestyle and home décor store Studio Malabar, says Kerkar had an amazingly gentle nature. "We took over Malabar Store after Laura Hamilton passed away, and relocated to Chowpatty around eight years ago. Our team looked up to her when she came to the store to buy artifacts for the hotel. She loved brass and used to collect bird sculptors for her office." Kerkar is survived by her husband Ajit (who was managing director of Indian Hotels Ltd from 1989 to 1998), son Peter and daughter Ursula.
Godrej sums up her legacy, "She created the feeling of luxury for patrons. Of Swiss origin, she truly made India her home."
No kidding, it's Lord Archer
One of the most widely read authors in the world, Lord Jeffrey Archer is back in the news, this time to woo young readers, the 80-year-old's publisher,Pan Macmillan India announced recently. The three books were written by the bestselling author for his children, William and James, almost 40 years ago at a time when they demanded their own books, and were too young to read his popular title, Kane and Abel. "When I wrote these books for my own children, some 40 years ago, it had never crossed my mind that they would cause so much interest in 2020. I am both excited and delighted that the first country to be so enthusiastic about them is India. I hope children all across the country will enjoy them," the author told this diarist, about these thrilling, fun adventures that are bound to keep five-to-nine-year-olds engaged for hours.
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