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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: High Flyers

mumbai Updated: Mar 14, 2019 00:43 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Hindustan Times
Azim Premji
Azim Premji(HT File )

“How many top tycoons have you seen travelling economy?” The question posed by a Silicon Valley pup had us stumped for a response. Hardly any, we had to admit. Ever since airlines decided to separate the fat cats (or those on company expenses) from the boys, on their domestic carriers, an airborne caste system began to torment upwardly mobile India. There were those who could spread their burgeoning egos and bottom-lines into the extra space afforded for the extra thousands and partake in conversations that they could dine-out on for weeks. And then, there was the rest of us junta schlepping it out behind (So insidious had been this snob system, that we had actually calibrated an astonishingly accurate system to predict the quotient of snootiness per passenger in relation to the seat placement up front, in what was initially called the ‘J’ class cabin). Mercifully, all this faded out with falling stock prices and receding airlines. And, perfectly-efficient and well-run budget airlines more or less made the notion of business class, on domestic and short distance flights, obsolete. Now it is usually a sad place inhabited by the odd foreigner or by those stars and tycoons who don’t have access to PJS (Ouch!). Be that as it may, we could not count the top tycoons we’d seen in economy class. Which is why, when the Bengaluru-based billionaire Azim Premji, who is recently reported to have increased his contribution to philanthropy to a whopping $21 billion USD, was spotted flying on the all economy low-cost carrier Indigo this week, it caught our attention. “He looked like Azim Premji sitting in the next row in an Indigo flight to Begaluru. He was Azim Premji,” tweeted a fellow passenger Kalpen Parekh. Others reported such sightings too. “Was once traveling from Hyderabad to Mumbai via Jet Airways, saw Mr Premji sitting in the economy class and he stood in line to collect his own baggage. That day I understood what humility means,” tweeted Sanket Raoin. And soon, more chimed in about spotting the other Bengaluru-based tech tycoon Narayana Murthy doing the same. “It’s part of the ethos of the tech world ya” said the Silicon Valley pup, and to buttress his point, instantly recalled the recent meme of Bill Gates waiting in queue for his take-away burger.


What They Say:

“The people of the country want to defeat the pair of [BJP president] Amit Shah and [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi. If the AAP, the JJP and the Congress contest together, the BJP will lose all 10 seats in Haryana. [Congress president] Rahul Gandhi should think about it.”

- Delhi CM and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal appealed to Rahul Gandhi to form an alliance in Haryana.

What They Mean:

“Arrey Bol Radha bol, Sangam Hoga Ki Nahi.”

Sartorial Strikes And Scissors Sorties
If you think nothing can top the atmosphere of hostility, suspicion, aggro and one-upmanship between India and her neighbour, think again. The festering feuds and rivalries between the country’s leading designers appear to reach their peak and far outstrip anything between India-Pakistan during the country’s top weddings. Time was when a top-line couturier used to be engaged to take on an entire wedding so that everyone, from the bridal couple to their families and bridesmaids etc, would carry their distinct chaap. But with weddings reaching gargantuan proportions, with multiple venues and receptions spread over months, this is just not possible. Which means that a small army of leading designers are called in to take care of the sartorial requirements. What this results in is an unseemly scramble to claim ownership for their creations by the designers in question. This, mind you, is no child’s play or personal ego-flexing. With the zillion eyeballs, these high-profile weddings command on social and traditional media platforms, every drop-dead lehenga worn by a celebrity results in unquantifiable gain for the designer who created it. No surprises then that post these weddings there is a race by each designer to claim their triumphs on social media, often, even before the evening is over. For all their boozing, schmoozing and demonstrating the courage of their convulsions on the dance floor, its big business after all for the fashion czars!

Zip Zap Zoom

Amruta Fadnavis
Amruta Fadnavis ( Instagram )

If there was further proof required that Amruta Fadnavis, banker, mother and wife of Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis understood social media and had star quality, it was her recent Instagram post on the occasion of Women’s Day. Astride a motorbike, clad in a power suit (safety helmet in place), she looked every inch like the thousands of feisty Mumbai women who commute across the city on their two-wheelers each day. In fact, both the CM and his wife appear to embody a young, aspirational, upwardly mobile Mumbai like few others in their place. Certainly Varsha (the CM’s residence) has rarely, if at all, had a CM wife with a career of her own. Though Sharad Pawar and the ever graceful Pratibha were the youngest occupants of the official bungalow in their time, and the dashing AR Antulay with wife Nargis had cut a glamorous, youthful picture during the former’s tenure, neither of the ladies was professionally engaged. In this regard, Amruta is a fitting poster girl for women empowerment. “Every day is Women’s Day. We can’t get ‘there’ by wishing for it or hoping for it, but by working for it,” had been her accompanying message.

First Published: Mar 14, 2019 00:43 IST

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