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Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Clubbing it India Inc-style

mumbai Updated: Feb 26, 2018 11:42 IST
Hindustan Times
Malavika’s Mumbaistan,Nirav Modi,Kala Ghoda

(HT)

Its website describes it as ‘the premier leadership organisation of chief executives in the world’, with 25,000 members in more than 130 countries, who generate approximately US$6 trillion in annual revenues.And its Indian roster boasts some of India Inc’s most-famous names, but you will hardly hear of its inner workings or read its name in the papers; and that’s because its members and its sister organisations are expected to maintain an omerta-like silence about the organisation and its workings.

After all, to qualify as a member, a businessman has to meet its exacting standards, not only of turnover and balance sheets, but also of social status and conduct, and once in, is afforded an almost unprecedented opportunity to schmooze with the fattest of cats, making it one of the ultimate clubs to join for an ambitious jeweller from Antwerp who’d recently relocated to Mumbai with his New York-born wife.

Which is why, the fact that beleaguered jeweller Nirav Modi along with his wife Ami, who had been an active and prominent member of the club’s Mumbai chapter, have been reaching out to his erstwhile fellow members for solace in their time of need this past week is not surprising. After all, one of the tenets of its membership is said to be the undertaking to come to the aid of a fellow member in his time of need.

What is surprising is that in Modi’s case, his calls are said to be going unanswered. In fact it is said that one of the top executives of the country’s biggest corporations, himself a relative of a powerful family who’d once, along with his wife, been close buddies with the Modi couple, is said to have refused to take the jeweller’s incessant calls for help over the past few days. “Do not call me again like this please, you will only drag me in to the trouble,” is the message he is said to have conveyed. A transgression by the club’s rules? Not quite. Apparently, in one of its rare instances of blackballing, (less than a handful of members have been dropped during its decades in India). Modi’s membership had been revoked last year, insiders inform. “Something about him did not appear kosher and the decision was taken to ask him to leave,” one master of the universe was overheard saying this week.

A pity; if this information had been more public, the larger interest would have been better served and less monies would have been lost.

Mumbai’s last strand?

For those of us old enough to remember the exact day when the Kala Ghoda jumped off its perch at Rampart Row and galloped off into the sunset, news of the imminent closure of the much-loved city institution, The Strand book stall, at Fort, comes as one more nail in Old Bombay’s coffin. After all, along with the Rang Bhavan and Café Samovar (declaration of interest, it belonged to our mother) and Rhythm House’s fading gently into the night, the book shop takes with it a generation’s collective memories.

And what are the equivalent landmarks for the city’s current generation of hipsters?

We see them in their trendy coffee shops and malls, their spanking new multiplexes and their spiffy style miles, forming new associations and memories as they go about their daily lives. Will their ultimate closure evoke the same emotions too at some later date?

We cannot tell, but we do hope so.

Goa, goan , gone

“Thank you Mumbai, you have been more than kind and generous. It’s time for my Goan sardar avatar,” posted advertising and fashion maven and one-time head of IMG India’s Fashion Week, Anjana Sharma, before loading her car with her bag, baggage and belongings to drive off to relocate in the sunny state this week. We caught up with the feisty singleton, as she sipped her first cup of tea on her balcony, on her first day in a gated community in the south of Goa. Though Sharma’s opting out of the urban rat race and relocating to Goa’s more salubrious easy-breezy climes appears to be unconventional and trailblazing, it is not. She is one among the hundreds of city slickers who have embraced the saudade ways of God’s own country. Ever since the 1970s, when the likes of Shashi and Jennifer Kapoor followed by Frank and Gita Simoes and Bal Mundkur found their place in Goa’s sun, there has been a steady trail of settlers from Mumbai following suit. “I woke up one day last year in my house in Bombay and just knew I was done. I had bought my dream home in Goa by 50, so why was I not living my dream? I also knew that I needed to work. So with single-minded focus I started exploring work options in Goa. So here I am, great job in hand, ready to write the next chapter. Bombay will always be special, but I feel it has lost its soul,” she said.

Anjana Sharma and a view of the Mumbai skyline from her erstwhile home.

She needn’t have, though. This picture, which she shot of her last morning in Mumbai with its tepid skies and bleak skyline-says


First Published: Feb 26, 2018 11:41 IST