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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Malavika’s Mumbaistan: Old Friends

mumbai Updated: May 29, 2019 00:10 IST
Malavika Sangghvi
Malavika Sangghvi
Hindustan Times
Tavleen Singh, Naveen Patnaik and Vasundhara Raje
Tavleen Singh, Naveen Patnaik and Vasundhara Raje

Could there be any more telling evidence of how friendships and shared pasts can transcend ideologies and party politics? When author and columnist Tavleen Singh posted this portrait of three attractive people in their 20s, sporting the distinctive fashion of that era (tie dye, third world chic and turtlenecks), who would have imagined that they’d end up on such different ends of the political spectrum? Because, both Vasundhara Raje and Naveen Patnaik had gone on to enter active politics and become chief ministers of Rajasthan and Odisha subsequently. “It was shot by my sister in Naveen’s house on Prithviraj Road, in 1977 or 1978,” said Tavleen, about the gem. “I worked in The Statesman as a reporter. Naveen was a glamorous socialite and Vasundhara, a young mother who had been forced to defend the Gwalior family during the Emergency along with her younger sister Yasho, while their mother was in jail and brother Madhavrao Scindia had escaped abroad to avoid arrest,” said Singh, adding, “Naveen’s father was also in jail and he was politically conscious, but at that point, if someone had said he would one day become CM of Odisha, he would have been declared nuts,” said Singh, who herself has fiercely political and outspoken views as expressed in her numerous writings. “The idea that they would both end up as chief ministers would have been impossible to believe then,” said the author of Durbar, a ringside view of Delhi’s movers and shakers.
Who has she remained closer to?
“Naveen. I spoke to him just the other day to congratulate him on becoming CM for the fifth time. He has transformed Odisha, especially in the villages,” said Singh. As for Raje, her tone was wistful. “There are distances now, so let it be. It’s a long, boring story.”

The Sheikh’s Iftaar Dinner

Anshuman Mishra (second from left ) with Sheikh Nahyan and Vivek Oberoi along with other guests
Anshuman Mishra (second from left ) with Sheikh Nahyan and Vivek Oberoi along with other guests

He’s a soft-spoken Oxonian who’s served as Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and held the position of Minister of Education, and Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development. So, on Monday, when Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, avowed friend of India and the UAE Minister of Tolerance hosted his sumptuous Iftaar dinner at his magnificent, but also quixotically austere Palace in Abu Dhabi, it was followed by a viewing of the biopic on PM-elect Narendra Modi. Hosted by the well-heeled Indian diaspora in the region and attended by Indian Ambassador to UAE with lead actor Vivek Oberoi delivering a talk during the intermission, it is being described as a gathering of wall-to-wall movers and shakers and powerbrokers, of the most significant gathering of sundry movers and shakers. Familiar faces like Gopi and Ashok Hinduja, who, as is known, are in the throes of bidding for the beleaguered Jet Airways-Etihad combo and Anshuman Mishra, enigmatic Swiss-educated investment banker – friend of the late Beatle George Harrison – whose Twitter handle describes him as ‘Admirer of Rodin, Aurobindo & Rumi. Ideology committed to Conservative, Right of Centre Politics’, was there as a guest of the Abu Dhabi Crown prince and the CEO of the Abu Dhabi national oil company. As for Sheikh Nahyan, we remember meeting him two years ago and hearing him explain how the UAE, with its emphasis on education and culture, had let international institutions like the Louvre open its doors in Abu Dhabi. His affection for India had been palpable (he is a great friend of Pakistan too), predicated on his love for the two things that unite both countries: cricket and mangoes.

Tweet Talk
Modiji invites neighbours for swearing in ceremony.
Always a good idea to call the neighbours for your party, even if you don’t know them well. At least they won’t call the cops and bust your party if the music gets loud.
- Tweeted by comedian Atul Khatri

One Flew Over

Lalit Modi
Lalit Modi ( HT File )

What a hoot IPL architect and fugitive Lalit Modi is seen to have on Indian-American funny man Hasan Minhaj’s latest episode of Patriot Act. The recently-widowed, bon vivant and motor-mouth is the subject of an elegant take down by Minhaj and no one appears to be loving it more than he himself. Greying, gruff and increasingly blasé, the high-living Modi allows his notoriety to wash off like water off a goose liver pate’s back, chuckling gleefully over the more racy of earlier misdemeanours and getting away with them with the manner of the feisty neighbourhood uncle.

Comedian Hasan Minhaj
Comedian Hasan Minhaj ( AFP )

So, while Nirav Modi has had to suffer the double ignominy of wearing an atrocious jacket as well as serving jail time, and Vijay Mallya appears wan and in need of a new hair stylist as he fights off extradition, Lalit Modi seems to be doing what he loves doing best: coking a snook at authorities, most likely from a luxury island somewhere in the Bahamas.

First Published: May 28, 2019 23:51 IST

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