Old friends

Apr 01, 2013, 07:30 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Of all the compliments a person can receive the ones we hold highest are those received from old friends.

>> Of all the compliments a person can receive the ones we hold highest are those received from old friends. In our book old friends — especially those from our school and college days — hold that unparalleled advantage of knowing us before we became the people we had to become: In that regard they often hold the key to who we truly are.

In the past few months we have been blessed with many reminders of the insight of old friends. At a tony Delhi wedding over the weekend to which many had flown to attend from all over the world we found ourselves talking to an NRI IT whizz from America, an alumni of Wharton. 

Turns out he’d been a classmate of both Anil Ambani and his brother-in-law, the Goa based industrialist Raj Salgaoncar, both of whom he had not met since college. 

Anil Ambani
Anil Ambani

But we could see the warmth and admiration he had for the latter: “Raj used to invite all of us Indian students to his apartment and cook Indian meals for us, knowing how broke we were and how much we missed home food,” he recalled, his face glowing even today with the memory.

Raj Salgaoncar
Raj Salgaoncar

“How many people would do that?” he said. The memory of old mates reaching out from the forest of time to place a flower of gratitude at our feet. 

International portrait artist
>> And this from our dear friend Derry Moore, the 12th Earl of Drogheda, whose photography exhibition featuring portraits of grand old Maharanis and flighty social divas we had attended in Delhi only recently. “It was a treat to see you in Delhi and it was particularly good to see you looking so well,” he wrote. “I had a lot of portrait commissions in Delhi — eight families! And have been busy editing the results. My hosts had hoped to arrange for some commissions in Mumbai, where the show goes at the end of April, something I’m looking forward to as apart from anything else, the winter refuses to leave us in England this year.” For the record, Moore is one of England’s most sought after and noted portrait artists and 37 of his works hang in the National Portrait Gallery and many celebrated homes and palaces around the world including those of the British Royal family.

Derry Moore
Derry Moore

Diaper alert!
>> His voice was a whisper in the Nira Radia phone leaks. Always considerate, thoughtful and with his USA via South Mumbai accent breaking through the static Jehangir Pocha, former China correspondent of the Business Globe, and co-founder of IndiMedia Pvt Ltd that owns News X, came through as one of the few who hadn’t lost his head during that sorry chapter. Not much was known about the noted Delhi based journalist and channel head since then until this recent post added on his time line: “Happy to be married... and a dad! Of twins, no less, a boy (Darius) and a girl (Daeya). Life is good :-)” Incidentally, what’s it with senior journalists, late marriages and babies? Chidu Rajghatta, the Washington based foreign editor of the Times of India whose humane and elegant dispatches from the New World have delighted readers also wed recently and is the father of a bonny young babe!

Kissa kursi ka
>> The fine art of placing guests on a table according to social hierarchy and their standing with their host is a tricky one and few ever get it right leading to some awkward social situations. We have seen captains of industry and media superstars storm out of packed halls when they’ve perceived a slight and conversely we have been witness to more than our share of those who bludgeon their way to high table, elbowing out their shocked predetermined occupants. But nothing comes close to the chutzpah displayed by this high profile industrialist, who at a seriously well attended media awards function recently, ignored the seating arrangements, and walked straight up on stage to take his place next to the country’s president, without so much as a by your leave. Only to be firmly ejected by the chair’s rightful owner. To say it was the talk of the evening was an understatement!

A cat called James Dean
>> And this from TV actor and passionate animal activist Kitu Gidwani, a poignant tale about a much loved cat called James Dean and a callous airline that begins with “Dear Jet Airways, we are waiting for your condolence call. We know that if you had personally known the deeply loved pet cat who passed away while she was under your care that you would have called already.” According to our source, James Dean was a beautiful grey striped Indian cat who died while being transported by the airline, reportedly crushed by a vehicle on the tarmac. Its owners naturally devastated by the tragedy are asking some heart wrenching questions of the airline: Why do you offer to transport animals if you do not have anyone working for you who is qualified to handle them? Why is there no veterinarian in case of emergencies? Why do you not advise passengers to bring a leash and collar for the pet if you are going to ask them to remove their pet from the cage while you x-ray the cage separately? When James jumped out onto the tarmac and her life was crushed beneath the Air India vehicle why then did you not go to her? Why did you ask a garbage disposal man to lift up her body for you? And whereas we will be happy to hear the airline’s side of the story, and try and wade through the legalese large corporations trot out when they need to damage control in such situations, the question that most interests is this one: ‘The fine print says that you are not liable in case of injury or death but where is your heart on this matter?’

Kitu Gidwani

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