The Godrej-White House connect

Updated: Dec 05, 2016, 10:29 IST | Malavika Sangghvi |

History has the strangest way of repeating itself. The Trump Presidency will be the second time that India’s illustrious Godrej clan will have a direct inroad into the White House

Former American president Jimmy Carter and (left) Adi Godrej. PIC/AFP
Former American president Jimmy Carter and (left) Adi Godrej. PIC/AFP 

History has the strangest way of repeating itself. The Trump Presidency will be the second time that India’s illustrious Godrej clan will have a direct inroad into the White House.

Young ’uns might not know how Jimmy Carter’s mother, the redoubtable Lillian had worked for 21 months with an NGO, in collaboration with the philanthropic-minded Godrej empire, way back in 1966 at Vikhroli. This had resulted in an invitation to the White House for sundry members of the family.

By a bizarre coincidence, the connection with the highest seat of power in the world has arisen once more, with Kalpesh Mehta, Godrej family patriarch Adi Godrej’s son-in-law (he’s married to Nysa Godrej) being commercially engaged with President-Elect Donald Trump in a real estate project in Mumbai!

Insiders say, however, that a clash of cultures was palpable when Mehta and Trump were at a social engagement on his visit here, with awkward silences ensuing when the world’s most powerful hairstyle displayed some of his brasher traits.

In fact, it is said, another famous SoBo builder and his wife were compelled to walk out of the event, because of Trump’s aggressive attention directed at the wife. Be that as it may, interesting times ahead all round. And will Trump’s commercial links around the world result in more hair pulling for international diplomats, as are his misguided phone chats?

Family first
Word comes in that fashionista and philanthropist Natasha, and Serum Institute’s scion Adar Poonawalla, jetted off to the exotic Maldives last week in the company of their two kids for a quiet getaway. The occasion was the birthday of the pretty Natasha, and we are informed that the couple chose to stay at the LVMH-owned top-of-the-line Cheval Blanc Resort.

Adar and Natasha Poonawalla
Adar and Natasha Poonawalla

A source informs us, “The couple had booked the Owner’s Villa at a luxury resort that’s said to cost around Rs 40 lakh a day. This is the best money can buy in the Maldives.” Sometimes, special occasions are best celebrated only around family.

’Tis the season
Last week, Udaipur was host to what guests are now referring to as the grandest, big fat Indian wedding of them all. The Bangkok-based Indian billionaire Aloke Lohia’s oldest son Yash got married to his girlfriend Sanjali.

Yash Lohia and Sanjali, at wedding
Yash Lohia and Sanjali, at wedding

Aloke Lohia is the founder and CEO of Indorama ventures with a net worth of $1.3 billion and his older brother Prakash Lohia is the group’s chairman, and has a net worth of $4.2 billion (he is married to Seema Mittal the sister of Lakshmi Mittal). The grand celebrations were spread between multiple venues including the Udaivilas, the Lake Palace and Jag Mandir.

Ranveer Singh and Jacqueline Fernandez performed. (L) Ellie Goulding also belted out her songs. Pic/AFPRanveer Singh and Jacqueline Fernandez performed. (L) Ellie Goulding also belted out her songs. Pic/AFP

The entertainment was spearheaded by Bollywood’s Ranveer Singh and Jacqueline Fernandez, who both performed their signature dance numbers, and if that wasn’t all, the finale saw international pop sensation Ellie Goulding perform to a packed house. “The highlight of the celebration was when Yash took to the stage impromptu and danced with Ellie as his friends cheered on,” says a guest.

Kalyani continues to stay stylish
This weekend saw the launch of a new fashion e-commerce venture spearheaded by Dior India’s gorgeous Kalyani Chawla. She took to social media to share the news: “five months of labour has finally come to fruition thanks to an amazing team that I am so fortunate to have.

Kalyani Chawla and (R) Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra
Kalyani Chawla and (R) Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra

Thank you for all the love and shop. (sic)” Kalyani says, “It transcends the online retail landscape for women, children and some very useful gifts for men by offering leading-edge styles covering a rainbow of categories including plus sizes that are just not available in India.”

She has already received support from friend Roohi Jaikishen, who endorsed the venture, and Bollywood’s Alia Bhatt and Parineeti Chopra, who were both spotted wearing outfits from the portal. Congratulations, Kalyani.

The travails of the rich and famous
Often, have we recounted the trials and tribulations of the Very Rich, especially those men and women who inhabit that most horrific stage of Dante’s Inferno: Rich Enough to Travel First Class – but not rich enough to buy their private jet.

By now everyone has heard the anecdote of the group of newly-minted Mumbai billionaires who were showing off about their various First Class travel preferences, until someone asked the one lone individual who’d been silent what his were. “I only fly private,” he had shrugged using the four words that punctured their pomposities quite sweetly.

The following revelation about the behaviour of this A list industrialist, someone who resides in the first twenty of every billionaire list in the country addresses this situation. “What our friend is known to do, is book his wife and kids into four First Class seats on every inter-continental vacation they go on. Then he books the balance of the seats in First Class under a different name,” says our source. “Having done that, he cancels those seats before take off and there are no (or minimum) cancellation charges,” explains the source. “Next thing you know, he and his family board their flight and voila, they have the entire First Class to themselves!! As good as flying private and way cheaper.”


Perhaps that’s how they get to become billionaires.

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