To Cuba with Fry

Feb 27, 2015, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

Like everything else about him, Lalit Modi’s current trip to Cuba is king-size. Organised by his good friend, the legendary Sir David Tang, of such excellent ventures as the Shanghai Tang fashion label...

Like everything else about him, Lalit Modi’s current trip to Cuba is king-size. Organised by his good friend, the legendary Sir David Tang, of such excellent ventures as the Shanghai Tang fashion label, the Cipriani in Hong Kong and Havana House and the Pacific Cigar Company Ltd distributor for all Cuban cigars in Asia Pacific, the trip has seen the Indian bon vivant and IPL founder rub shoulders with Fidel Angel Castro Diaz-Balart, son of Cuba’s former Prime Minister and President Fidel Castro, visit a Partagas factory and be presented with bespoke cigarettes with his face on the packet! But by far, what had us most envious was the presence of what looked like English comedian, actor, writer, presenter, and activist and one of our abiding heroes Stephen Fry on the trip.

Stephen Fry, Lalit Modi, Sire David Tang with friends at Nassau airport
Stephen Fry, Lalit Modi, Sire David Tang with friends at Nassau airport

Was it really the humanist and LGBT activist Fry amongst the merry group shot before take off at the Nassau airport, we asked Modi. “Yes. He is here with me. He is a marvellous person. Loves cricket and football,” said the bon vivant. To which what else could we say but, “Wow! You have the best life!”

Jail House Rock
We bumped in to Namrata, Sanjay Dutt’s lovely sister on Monday night at a dinner. Anju, as she is known amongst friends, was overheard expressing concern about her incarcerated brother’s health and the poor quality of prison food he is served at the Yerawada jail, where he is serving sentence in the 1993 Mumbai Bomb blast case.

Namrata Sanjay Dutt
Namrata and Sanjay Dutt

“Recently, he was given daal which contained live worms in it,” said Namrata. “Luckily, the meal was served at 4 pm but he hadn’t eaten until 8 pm and the worms had been noticed and he didn’t consume them,” said the doting sister. “The problem is that there is a tender system to purchase food raw materials for the prisoners and it always goes to those who submit the lowest prices.

This results in poor quality and even harmful food. Sanjay has already lost 18 kilos,” she rued. However, there is a high note for the actor’s family. His daughter Trishla has blossomed into a fine adult, according to her aunt who was showing pictures of her stunning New York-based niece proudly to the gathering.

“She’s a trained couple’s counsellor and also a criminal lawyer,” she said, “But she also runs this beauty blog and is doing very well,” she said. Any plans for a career in films, we enquired about the 25-year-old. “She was keen, but I think her dad put his foot down,” said Namrata.

Women to the fore
“India is well represented on the list with six candidates the second highest group after China/Hong Kong,” said Naazneen Karmali, India Editor of Forbes Asia, when we asked her about the magazine’s recently published list of Asia’s Power Businesswomen, 2015, that showcases a year of accomplishments by the region’s female entrepreneurs and executives.

Ameera Shah. Pic/Twitter Kiran Mazumdar Shaw
Ameera Shah. Pic/Twitter and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw

Speaking of the list, which has the likes of Arundhati Bhattacharya, Chairman, State Bank of India, Chanda Kochhar. Managing Director and CEO, ICICI Bank, and Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon, Karmali said, “Interestingly, of the dozen ‘women to watch candidates’, one third are Indians. We profile Ameera Shah of Metropolis Healthcare from that group in this issue.”

Will India have an even larger presence on future lists? “With the government making it mandatory for companies to have at least one female director, expect to see more Indian women making it to the list in the future,” said Karmali.

Not about my sister-you don’t!
The repercussions of the AIB roast are still being felt. According to a source, the latest Bollywood heavyweight to take offence is this hunky superstar who went ballistic over an uncharitable remark made about his sister, one of the participating stars.

The reference apparently was made about her appearance and it alluded to all of India’s offensive and unforgivable colour prejudices. So incensed was the star that he is said to have called up the person who made the remark and threatened dire consequences. “The industry seems pretty much divided down the line about the event with most of Bollywood’s establishment weighing in against it,” said an insider.

Happy Bikers in Goa
This weekend witnessed the third edition of India Bike Week held at the 10-acre festival village in Vagator, Goa. Said to be the country’s largest biking festival, it saw the coming together of 10,000 riders and bike enthusiasts (including 2,000 Harley Davidsons) who rode cross-country to Goa to celebrate the spirit and lifestyle of the Indian Biking community.

Dino Morea and Martin da Costa
Dino Morea and Martin da Costa

And representing Autologue Design a car and motorcycle customisation Company launching its new custom bike designs at IBW, was cricketer and bike enthusiast Yuvraj Singh, known for his enthusiasm for automobiles, along with other well-known faces like Dino Morea, Arjun Khanna, Martin da Costa, CEO of 70 Event Management Group (and the festival’s founder organiser) and Gaurav Gill.

“It was incredible to see over 10,000 bikers ride up on to a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean in Goa,” said da Costa, “It was an amazing two days which included some real bucket-list moments. Riding out with Dino Morea and friends on the GQ Gentleman’s Ride to la Plage to raise money for Matthew Spacie’s Magic Bus was definitely one of them.

And riding down from Alibaug down the coast to IBW with Colvyn Harris from JWT, Kersi Khambatta, Matthew Spacie, Yudhishtar Urs, and Ed McMullan; bunch of middle-aged men acting like kids. Never laughed so much in our lives. We can’t wait for next year’s festival!”

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