Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Instagram envy
Who in today’s selfie-obsessed age invokes the most Instagram envy? This was the subject of a recent discussion among a particularly well-heeled category of city slickers, we hear. Apparently, ‘envy’, these days, is an aspirational emotion to evoke on social media, by way of minute- by-minute broadcasts of the holidays one takes, the hotels one stays at or the luxury goods one purchases. Was it a hedonistic film star, whose every post caused maximum heartburn? A high-flying industrialist’s wife, with a permanent front row seat at every international fashion show, who brought on waves of covetousness? Or even an upwardly mobile ‘influencer’, elbowing his way into first class lounges with the insouciance of the very young and brash?
All these sorts were considered and found wanting by one or the other member of the elite coterie, until a consensus candidate was reached: it happened to be none other than Amit Bhatia, the dashing investment banker, whose 30mn-pound wedding at Versailles Palace in 2004, to Vanisha Mittal, daughter of steel magnate LN Mittal, made international headlines. According to those in the know, the London-born Bhatia won the title of having the most envied lifestyle, as seen on Instagram, hands down. “The best hotels, most exclusive clubs, most private spas and the finest of cars,” is how one person described Bhatia’s gilded lifestyle, adding, “When it comes to luxury-living, his Instagram account arouses the most envy.” Oh, another thing: Envy is this generation’s version of respect, we’re told.
Suhel Seth-watchers (and there are a few) can be excused for waxing eloquent on the high flyer’s latest romp. As is known, the peripatetic marketing guru is known to show up at a staggering amount of international hot spots, from high tea at Buckingham Palace, to a night at the Opera or an evening at the MET, always in glam company. Well, this time, his friends say, they’re seeing a new and different Seth. Bare-chested, sun-kissed and looking uncharacteristically introspective, in the company of the fabulously statuesque international model Lakshmi Menon, all 5.11 inches of her – the bouncing, bon vivant has been posting pictures of the two, together, on what looks like an idyllic getaway in sunny Palma De Mallorca. What’s more, the committed bachelor, who has been seen in the company of a slew of attractive women in the past, also appears to look, for the first time…smitten. Could it be love?
The upcoming Pondy Litfest in Pondicherry, is attracting much comment, not only for its choice of speakers (Smriti Irani, Swapan Dasgupta and Kiran Bedi for starters), but its unfortunate choice of name. Decades before the era of blue movies and internet porn, the Indian school boy’s only resort to pornography was through what were called ‘Pondies’: cheap paperbacks sold at railway stations and corner shops, which brought their sexual yearnings to fulfillment. That a high profile litfest had inadvertently named itself after this spurious sub-culture of literature, naturally, was cause for much hilarity. “The one and only Pondy literature I am familiar with is ‘Venus in India’ by Captain Charles Devereaux. It was a much sought-after book during my university days,” commented Delhi-based media maven Vinod Dua, while erstwhile bureaucrat Amitabha Pande ribbed him about his choice, with, “Don’t make public confessions of your sub-cultural sub-literacy.” Names of other local writers of pornography like Mastram and Begum Kanpuri were also brought up. And there were others, who sought deeper meaning behind the choice of the festival’s name. “In the ultra-prude Victorian England, books with anything interesting could not be printed. So, they printed them in more liberal France and then smuggled to India via Pondicherry, The nickname ‘Pondy’ was used to specify the contents of the book,” someone ventured. As for the grumbles about the alleged ‘right-wing’ slant in the festival’s choice of speakers? Easy guys, this is how the other side must have felt all these years about the line up at lit fests like Jaipur.
THE PARSI ‘MODI’
We received ‘The Parsi Modi’, a delightful anecdote, pertaining to the late Russi Mody, the feisty and visionary chairman of Tata Steel, which epitomised the leadership qualities he was so celebrated for, on WhatsApp. Apparently, during his weekly meeting with the Tata Steel staff at a football ground in Jamshedpur, a worker had taken up a niggling issue. He’d said, “The quality, cleanliness and hygiene of toilets for workers were very bad.” Whereas, he pointed out, “The quality, cleanliness and hygiene of executive toilets were always very good.” The message said this prompted the chairman to turn to his top executive, asking, when this could be redressed. On hearing that it would take a month, Mody had replied, he would do it in a day. “Send me a carpenter,” he’d thundered. When the carpenter had arrived, Mody had simply ordered the signboards to be swapped, with instructions that they had to be interchanged every fortnight. This stroke of genius had ensured that the quality of both toilets, for the executives and workers, became at a par in three days’ time! Usually, we do not give credence to such WhatsApp forwards, but since this one was sent to us by a nephew of Russi Mody, we thought it fit to share. Of course, the title ‘The Parsi Modi’ was an irresistible one too.