Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Essentially Mumbai
We ran into Union minister for civil aviation, commerce and industry Suresh Prabhu and his family over the weekend. Dressed in a comfortable kurta-pajama, without any noticeable escort or security detail, the minister (said to be one of the brightest sparks in Modi’s cabinet), is a quintessential Mumbai cha mulga, born and bred in the sleepy tree-lined suburb of Khar. His wife, Uma Prabhu, has much to do with this. A dyed-in-the-wool journalist, she had been a colleague and friend from our daily newspaper days, and has resolutely retained her down-to-earth, level-headed approach to things, even as her husband’s political career witnesses dizzying success.
How is the couple enjoying life in the Capital? “We live in a beautiful, old Lutyen’s bungalow on Prithviraj Road, and we grow many flowers and vegetables in our garden. And it’s right next to Lodhi Gardens,” said Uma. “It’s just office and home for me when I’m not away,” said the minister.
Which is when we shared a description of the Capital that a witty friend had recently conveyed to us: “Delhi is a golden bowl,” he had declared and then after a dramatic pause added, “Filled with scorpions.”
Perhaps things had changed or perhaps their Mumbai essence protected them from the city’s alleged vicissitudes, but we found it significant that before they returned to their ministerial residence in Lutyen’s Delhi, the Prabhus would spend the rest of the evening in Tender Loving Khar.
Word comes in that there is considerable consternation among the promoters of this beleaguered white goods manufacturer over reports of having secured a loan to the tune of Rs4,00,000 crore from a bank headed by a CEO whose husband benefitted from their investment.
So wide and loose have the insinuations been, that the subject is the talk of the town and has given rise to many obvious puns and much social media hilarity. The reason why the promoters of the company are upset though is because they feel particularly singled out for public reproach and the media’s focus. What’s irked them is that apparently another equally beleaguered company with large unserved loans, this time big in infra, has been the recipient of a similar humongous loan from the same bank and coincidentally this is where the plot sickens — has also invested in the same banker’s same husband’s company in the same way!
“Why they are only picking on us?” one of the clan was overhead protesting on a recent outing. “We are not the only ones in this situation. How come no one is writing about them?”
Saturday afternoon saw us convene with the likes of Manish Malhotra, Pradeep Guha and the Taj’s Taljinder Singh, to judge the final round of a series of awards to be presented to the most influential and worthy brands and individuals who run the thriving wedding industry in India. As is known, the wedding business has grown exponentially and has given rise to a host of career options for the likes of wedding planners, scenographers, photographers, florists, designers, etc. “It’s all your and Karan Johar’s fault,” we kidded with Malhotra, but he being the precursor of many a trend in urban India was already ahead of the curve.
“We might just witness the advent of the really small, intimate bespoke wedding,” he said, “Like Anushka and Virat’s. It could become uncool to go OTT.”
But before that happens, there’s a couple of really big ones in the offing, including Sonam Kapoor’s, which we are informed will be held in Switzerland. Bring on the elephants and dancing girls.