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Home / Mumbai News / Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Ambassador of empathy

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Ambassador of empathy

This weekend, a host of his friends and admirers gathered to welcome the Ambassador of Israel to Finland and Estonia, Dov Steinberg, at a sparkling Sunday brunch in his honour

mumbai Updated: Jan 13, 2020 16:54 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Hindustan Times
Diana Davids and Dov Steinberg.
Diana Davids and Dov Steinberg.
         

He’d been posted in Mumbai as the Consul General of Israel at the turn of the century, during what is believed to be one of the city’s most convivial phases. And this weekend, a host of his friends and admirers gathered to welcome the Ambassador of Israel to Finland and Estonia, Dov Steinberg, at a sparkling Sunday brunch in his honour.

Hosted by his old friend Kaveer Shahani, food and wine impresario and man-about-town at his art-filled Bandra apartment overlooking the sea, the afternoon was something of a gathering of the tribe, as the likes of restaurateur AD Singh, musician Ash Chandler, media maven Anita Horam, actor Denzil Smith, entrepreneur Vinod Advani, and model agency owner Alison Woodham amongst many others, dropped by to meet the affable diplomat.

Kaveer Shahani, Ash Chandler, Dov Steinberg and AD Singh.
Kaveer Shahani, Ash Chandler, Dov Steinberg and AD Singh.

The reason why Steinberg was visiting his favourite city epitomises the kind of person he is and might provide a clue to his popularity. He is here to oversee the completion of the apartment that his long-standing and much- loved cook, Diana Davids, has bought in her hometown Goa as her retirement home.

Davids had been engaged at the Steinberg residence while he worked in Mumbai, and had followed him across the world since, at his postings in Qatar, South Africa and Finland, cooking up spicy Goan curries and Indian kebabs at myriad effervescent evenings, and making the Steinberg table a much celebrated one.

“For me she is like my younger sister, and since we are both single and in our early sixties and nearing retirement age, I have helped her acquire an apartment in a nice neighbourhood in Goa, close to where her sisters are, so that she can live the rest of her years in security and peace,” he said, adding, “I’ve been in Goa all of last week, choosing taps and tiles for Diana’s dream home.”

That such a deep and caring relationship of mutual regard and respect has been forged between an employer and an employee, which has spanned two decades and many continents, perhaps is a clue to why Sunday afternoon saw some of the city’s best and brightest declare that the presence of the warm and empathetic Steinberg brought back their most cherished memories of the city’s glory days.

Fashion and art frat

The fashion frat turned up in large numbers for the preview of model- turned -photographer Sheetal Mallar’s debut exhibition ‘Transient’ at Colaba’s Art Musings gallery last week. Seen on the occasion were the likes of Suzanne Sablok, Beverley Dabral, Gauri Sinh, Lascelles Symons, Bikram Saluja, Arpana Sharma, Colleen Khan and the Italy-based Madhu Sapre – back in the bay for a brief break – as well as designer Shahab Durazi, filmmakers Arti and Kailash Surendranath, photographer Farokh Chottia and Vogue publisher Arjun Mehra; along with filmmaker Kiran Rao Khan, actors Rahul Khanna and Arunoday Singh, artist Lekha Washington and musician Uday Benegal.

Sheetal Mallar and Kiran Rao Khan.
Sheetal Mallar and Kiran Rao Khan.

“Sheetal and I share a long history as we both were in the fashion industry. It’s the first time our gallery is exhibiting photographic works. The exhibition showcases Mallar’s works culled from the past seven years,” said gallery director Sangeeta Raghavan. A poetry reading by Ranjit Hoskote was also held on Sunday at the gallery in conjunction with the exhibition.

TRUELIES: It’s about the money, honey

Sources say that there were many questions put by leading members of India Inc to the the powerful head of this right-wing organisation, who had been invited to address them at a mid-city five star over the weekend, but only few of his answers had satisfied them.

“What was apparent to all was that the audience was genuinely concerned about the economy and unafraid to ask pertinent questions, but 20 minutes in to his glib presentation, and almost all were on their phones checking their messages,” says a source.

Apparently many of the things that the beloved leader said had indicated the dismal economic outlook. Replying to a query on public sector units (PSUs) and their much-needed sale to improve the diminished government coffers, the visiting dignitary is said to have made it clear that the country’s strife-driven national air carrier, currently seen as a great drain on the nation’s resources, might never get to be sold, thanks to an all-pervading sense of nationalism. “We will oppose any move to sell it to a foreign buyer,” is what the guest had thundered from the podium. As to be expected, this was not music to the ears of the hard-nosed gathering, anxious about their bottom lines.

Freak, freakier freakiest…

The ‘Cut Throat Freak Show’ at Hotel Shanghigh.
The ‘Cut Throat Freak Show’ at Hotel Shanghigh.

Word comes in that the indefatigable restaurant owner Zorawar Kalra launched his latest offering to the city with the opening of Hotel Shanghigh at Kamala Mills, on the property that previously-housed his restaurant Kode. “Our love letter to the ‘Shanghai of Old’. Retro Chinese food, incredibly unique (sometimes weird) performances, a custom designed ‘runway’. We call this ‘High-energy performance dining,” Kalra had said about his newest project which promises to feature live performances that keep guests entertained and which become more risqué and outrageous, as the evening progresses. And this weekend, the eatery hosted a preview night for media invitees, which is said to have included performances from international acts such as the ‘Cut Throat Freak Show’ and a drag queen act from a performer known as ‘The infamous BoomBoom’.

Zorawar Kalra, Arvind Sawant and Asif Bamla.
Zorawar Kalra, Arvind Sawant and Asif Bamla.

Interestingly, Kalra managed to persuade two Mumbai-based politicians, Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant, along with BJP spokesperson Asif Bamla, both from the conservative right-wing to inaugurate the nightspot. The duo was photographed cutting the ribbon along with Kalra. We wonder what they had made of the evening’s freak show…