Malavika’s Mumbaistan: When You Gotta’ Goa
How chef Ritu Dalmia came to open a 64-seater restaurant in GoaUpdated: Nov 06, 2018 00:35 IST
“I’ve had a home in Goa for many years, and one drunken evening nine months ago, my architect talked me into opening a restaurant here and stupid Ritu said yes,” says celebrated chef Ritu Dalmia about the official opening of Diva in Goa’s Calangute this Saturday. The launch of the 64-seater, featuring Italian fare, an outdoor pizzeria and what she calls a “small but intelligent wine list” was attended by the likes of Jeeva Reddy, Jivi Sethi, Sonia and Thomas Schneider, Murad Rampur, Pooja Bedi and Maneck Contractor, amongst others, and already looks like it’s going to be one more ‘must-do’ eatery for Goa’s seasonal party hearties. “Goa in the season is overrun with Delhi-Mumbai’s well-heeled crowds, with money in their wallets and fun on their minds. So, Diva opening its doors this week is pretty fortuitous,” says an old Goa hand. “It’s a match made in heaven.”
“The funny thing is, I have always been saying I will never open in Goa, as it is my little haven...” texted Dalmia, who was in Mumbai yesterday for a meeting. Famous last words, we replied, adding a thumbs up and a smiley.
We do not know about you, but we find the recent campaign to promote a luxury, gated residential development of a prominent city builder a tad offensive for its insidious playing into the all-pervasive insecurity of upwardly mobile parents. “If you want your children to get into an Ivy League college,” one says, featuring a gigantic picture of two attractive young people on a pristine (and exclusive) sports facility, “Get them their own private basketball court.” As we all know, foreign education is the Holy Grail of ambitious parents in India. It began with England, and more specifically, the universities of Oxford and Cambridge as its epicentre. By the nineties, the dream of every Indian parent was to somehow get their progeny into an American university with the number of Indian students heading to the US for college education said to have increased by 52% in the past few years alone. Of course, the ultimate desire is to get into the much vaunted ‘Ivy League’ colleges, the eight elite schools in north-east America which include Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale; because it is widely believed that equipped with an Ivy League degree, a young person can expect the very best in their careers. Now, we have nothing against aspirations and ambitions or even the Ivy League, what we are concerned about is the underlying message in the sales pitch, that it is only money and status that can deliver you there. There are enough examples in our midst to prove otherwise… Being born into a poor family didn’t stop mathematician S Ramanujan from studying at Cambridge; Sachin Tendulkar honed his prodigious gift on the dusty fields of Shivaji Park, and Dhirubhai Ambani, the son of a simple school master, certainly did not have wealth and privileges that helped him achieve his goals. Not only does advertising like this put a staggering amount of pressure on those who cannot and do not have the means to come up with the millions to buy into gated communities, but might just have a detrimental effect in the long run. Imagine two friends discussing their higher education plans, with one telling the other: ‘I couldn’t get into an Ivy League college because my parents couldn’t afford to get me my own private basketball court!”
Shawl (noun): An attractive accessory draped exquisitely around the arms of a beautiful woman, when she’s entering a high-profile party, featuring truckloads of paparazzi and media. (Eg: Sushmita Sen was spotted with a shawl at Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra’s Diwali party, recently.)
Community spirit and camaraderie in art
We were struck by the generosity of spirit and deep affection that marked the tribute that artist and co-founder of the Kochi Biennale, Bose Krishnamachari, had written this week on the passing of his friend and colleague Anoop Antony Scaria, the founder of the Kashi Café and other initiatives such as artist residencies and the Cochin Carnival. The 58-year-old had succumbed to a long illness. “He took art, hospitality and music to many shores. But it had to start from one shore and that was Fort Kochi. I did not know much about him till he set up the pioneering Kashi Art Café. That was literally the beginning of art in Kochi” he’d written. Does this same generosity of spirit and community -feeling exist within the Mumbai art world, or was it a result of Kerala’s left-leaning liberal, community-spirited environment, we enquired of Krishnamachari yesterday. “I think Kerala has been a location for acceptance of the Other, be it religion, politics or ideologies. From Raja Ravi Varma to KCS Panikar, most successful artists from Kerala are ones who migrated to different parts of the world. Some of them returned to nurture the places of their origin and the artist communities within,” he said. And, does it exist in Mumbai, we prodded. “Yes, of course,” said Bose, himself one of the art world’s leading agent provocateurs and community-spirited leaders. “Especially, senior artists and other creative people in all disciplines. Akbar Padamsee, Laxman Shreshta, Atul Dodiya, Sudarshan Shetty and the late Prabhakar Barwe, Mehli Gobhai. The list goes on...”