Ram's elixir of youth

Sep 16, 2013, 07:28 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

And as we had predicted earlier, Ram Jethmalani's 90th birthday party at the Taj Chambers on Saturday night was a gathering of the best and brightest, the bold and the beautiful, the movers and shaker

>> And as we had predicted earlier, Ram Jethmalani’s 90th birthday party at the Taj Chambers on Saturday night was a gathering of the best and brightest, the bold and the beautiful, the movers and shakers (and every other cliché in the book). Hosted by his loving children, sons Mahesh (with his wife Haseena,) and Janak and his daughter Shobha (with husband Suresh Gehani) it drew the likes of ministers Sushil Kumar Shinde, Praful Patel, industrialists Adi Godrej, Shashikant Ruia and Nusli Wadia, film stars Dabboo, Rishi, Neetu, Babita and Karisma Kapoor along with a delicious slice of Mumbai society.

And what about the birthday boy himself? He was clearly pleased as punch with all the attention and love coming his way. Incidentally, when we asked Jethmalani the secret of his youth and vitality, he said “I follow King Solomon’s words on combating age. You should always surround yourself with younger company,” said the nonagenarian who still plays badminton on most mornings.

We reminded him that the other two individuals who embodied the same vitality, Khushwant Singh and MF Husain also professed to prefer young company. Female company, we added to make our point.

Jethmalani winked charmingly. “Sunday, it will be Delhi’s turn,” we overheard him telling longtime friend, Pranay Gupte, the author, about a similar bash planned in the capital. Let’s see who shows up.” In view of Ram’s long record in the capital, it’s a safe bet that putting party politics aside all roads must have led to Number Two Akbar Road last evening.

Nusli Wadia spotting
>> Nusli Wadia spotting is a particular art form in Mumbai. The reclusive industrialist keeps his social appearances to the minimum. The last time we spotted him was at Ishaat Hussain’s daughter’s wedding at Colaba, when he made a quiet entrance with his son Jeh. This time was no different.

Nusli Wadia. Pics/Pranay Gupte

The industrialist who came in with wife Maureen, two sons Jeh and Ness and attractive daughter-in-law, largely maintained a low profile. But given the resurgent interest in his grandfather, Mohammed Ali Jinnah – Pakistan’s founding father – a friend was tempted to ask if he was considering a family history.

The Wadias have been a witness to some of India’s most epochal and contentious moments, not excluding the great battle with Dhirubhai Ambani, which almost divided the nation.

What a story that will be if Nusli chooses to tell it!

Adi’s story
>> Adi and Parmeshwar Godrej were headed to London but decided to stop by at the Jethmalani soiree. Meeting Parmesh after long, we found ourselves chatting about our children. “Of all the jobs that we undertake, bringing up good kids is the most important,” said the glam diva.

Meanwhile, there’s considerable buzz in publishing circles about a biography of Adi that Penguin had commissioned under the imprint of Shobhaa De Books.

Adi and Parmeshwar Godrej

The book had been scheduled for publication in December 2012, and Nandini Bhaskaran, the Mumbai-based journalist, penned a draft. Penguin sources say that the book chronicles Adi’s growing-up years, and his university days at Boston and MIT.

However, the sources also say that some members of the Godrej family felt that the initial draft did not fully capture Adi’s personality and skills. It’s unclear when the biography will be released. Adi, who joined a traditional but conservative family business at 21 and then made it one of the fastest growing and most nimble companies in the country, has another great story to tell.

So many great books. When will we get to read ‘em?

A hug for Dabboo
>> Nothing escapes our eye, of course. Not the good, the bad or the ugly. And this anecdote pertains to the former, thank God. Waiting for our vehicle on the Taj steps, we were witness to a touching family scene: a lean and dapper Randhir ‘Dabboo’ Kapoor escorting Babita and daughter Karisma to their car before getting into his own, but not before receiving a great big hug from his daughter. We found the scene as dignified as it was poignant.

Salaam Mumbai: The art of making small talk
You know that thing about long distances phone calls? (Trunk calls, we used to call them in the bad old days). How everything one said on them sounded either too profound or too trivial? I’m like that with small talk at big parties.

Small talk at big parties, according to me, is what separates the wheat from the chaff; it is the mark of the savant, at its feet lie the vestiges of human enterprise. I am hopeless at small talk. What do people say to each other, every evening, all evening, I often wonder? It’s the same wonder, which I experience when I see those photo ops at international summits. Reagan with Mrs Thatcher. Clinton with Tony Blair. Angela Merkel and
Dr Manmohan Singh. What are they whispering to each other while their photographs are being taken? Are they talking about their vision for the world?

Their pet poodles’ latest antics? Their painful haemorrhoids? And why are they smiling so much? Isn’t it weird? Me, I tend to hem and haw and say the most trivial or most profound things at parties. Usually together. Luckily for me, no one’s actually listening to a word any one else is saying at these occasions. You can talk about the weather, the state of the nation, the price of onions, your neighbour’s lousy hygiene level or the mating habits of fleas at Mumbai parties. No one really cares. Just as long as you do it with a big smile and remember to end your exchange with, “You’re looking lovely, you’ve lost so much weight. We must meet soon!” But don’t take my word for it. I need to go into small talk rehab.  

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