Still India's top airline owner

Aug 21, 2012, 07:48 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Naresh Goyal, India's premier aviator has fascinated us ever since we flew with him to Kuala Lumpur to bring back a Boeing aircraft many years ago for the then nascent airline he was heading (Behram Busybee Contractor and Mario Miranda were fellow travellers on that occasion).

>> Naresh Goyal, India’s premier aviator has fascinated us ever since we flew with him to Kuala Lumpur to bring back a Boeing aircraft many years ago for the then nascent airline he was heading (Behram Busybee Contractor and Mario Miranda were fellow travellers on that occasion).

Naresh and Nita, his dynamic wife are a tribute to the ethic that hard work and a bit of street smarts can take you anywhere you want. From a humble employee at a travel agency to a GSA professional to the owner of India’s best private airline — Naresh is testimony to the adage that it’s not where you come from, but where you’re going that matters. So, when we met Naresh at a high-profile soiree over the weekend, we couldn’t resist asking him to clarify that morning’s news headlines of another private airline trumping him as India’s largest. “Humbug,” said Naresh in his inimitable style. “It’s less than a one per cent lead” he emphasised. “In any case it’s only because we have stopped flying to some non–profit sectors.” We hope he’s right.

Naresh Goyal

As far as we are concerned, Jet Airways (and never mind those ownership rumours) is the best airline in the country and we wear our loyalty on our sleeve. Of course, it helps that its owner is the twinkly eyed, ever-smiling, ever media savvy Goyal.

Sibal’s evening out
>> When the heat and dust of Dilli politics gets too much to bear, guess what its best and brightest do: fly down to Mumbai to experience its cool and sparkling. Or at least that’s what it appeared to be as Minister for Human Resources Development Kapil Sibal was doing when we ran into him at a fashion show in the city over the weekend.

Kapil Sibal

“I’m here to attend the anniversary celebrations of the IIT,” said the erudite Harvard educated minister, who obviously was attending to another constituency altogether as the evening progressed. Be that as it may, Sibal as far as we are concerned is the man to watch, with his softly urbane Lutyens Delhi manner and his squeaky clean image he might just be the Manmohan Singh to Rahul’s ‘Sonia’s role’ in the near future. We thought that Salman Khurshid might fill that slot but Sibal might just appeal to more ‘mainstream’ sensibilities within the party, especially now that it seems clear that RG isn’t keen on the top job.

The cool man Kamath
>> One of the rarest of rare spottings this weekend was of ace banker and one of the country’s most ardent feminists — KV Kamath. When we met the brilliant visionary who has spearheaded one of India’s fastest growing banks, he admitted he was something of a social recluse.

KV Kamath

“I’m happy and busy with my family, my wife, children and grand kids,” said the distinguished statesman. “This is one of the rare occasions that I’m going out. Socialising and networking are overrated attributes in the modern world.” We like and what’s more we concur!

Musical chairs
>> How crass is crass? At a high-profile very exclusive weekend party where the who’s who and the whose whose were in attendance and mostly everyone was on their best behaviour, one small incident that could have marred what was otherwise a perfect evening was brought to our attention: apparently miffed at not being allotted a seat that was befitting of her status as the wife of a young billionaire, a very stylish lady chose to usurp the seat allotted to a society grand dame.

“How crass,” were the words that escaped the said grande dame’s lips before she decided to let bygones be bygones and gracefully stand on the sidelines so as not to distract from the event at hand.

Serenading your rivals
>> Ritu Kumar has always struck us as someone who’s a square in a round hole. Amidst the hype and hyperbole of the air kissing, back stabbing, ever facetious and facile world of fashion, she has managed to not only hold her own — but also flourish.

Ritu Kumar
Ritu Kumar

So, how pleasing it was to run into her over the weekend as one of the few designers invited to grace Abu-Sandeep’s 25th year anniversary and their book launch. In the world of fashion politics, it is a rarity to have two designers in the same room — let alone two designers of more or less the same genre. What is most endearing is that when we were leaving Abu-Sandeep’s inimitable event on Saturday, we chanced upon Ritu serenading Sandeep with a hoary old Bollywood vintage gem while waiting for her car. Of such things memories are made!

Fabulous Farah
>> We have been a fan of Farah Khan even before she married the enigmatic Shirish Kunder, ventured into direction and had her triplets. After all, she was the lady with not only the best moves — but also the best lines in town! So, when we met her recently we were happy to see that none of the above seems to have dimmed her fire. Showing us pictures of her adorable triplets, telling us about her forthcoming acting debut in Shirin Farhad ki toh nikal padi without a semblance of false modesty or pride and maintaining her sense of individuality all the while — Farah is always a delight to meet.

Farah Khan, Boman Irani, Shirin Farhad ki toh nikal padi

About her acting debut, the talented choreographer and director said, “It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done.” But admitted to being suitably chuffed to see herself on hoardings. “But your column is not going to mention my film” said Farah to us when we met her. We’ve just proved you wrong Farah! And see you in the movies!  

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