Mumbai has its Zeenie Baby, and the world has Zubi-baby (Zubin Mehta, to you!). It is just incredible what his presence has done to the city - people who don't know their Wagner from their gardner, are falling over themselves to somehow get an invitation to the concerts.... and the lavish dinners impeccably hosted by the Taj. The one I attended saw a terrific turn out of the culturati dressed in their arty best( Parsee garas for the ladies, band galas for the men). But it was Zubi -baby who stole the show effortlessly with his natural charm, genuine warmth and an abundance of good humour. It was only appropriate that he spoke about the two volunteers who'd wrtten out 12,000 invitation cards, undertaking the daunting task in 40 degrees heat! He invited them up on the podium because he was so overwhelmed by their commitment. The ladies were either missing or too shy, for there was a no show. Zubi broke into Bawa Gujarati and the entire Crystal Room swooned. It's called the Zubin effect. He really is most extraordinary.... I managed to get a personalised autograph that I shall cherish... and now for Domingo at the CCI. I'M KEEPING MY FINGERS CROSSED NOTHING UNFORTUNATE TAKES PLACE. Zubin has been commenting openly about the communal divide in Mumbai, besides the touchy language issue. There are enough fanatics out there who could stir up trouble. After all, Zubin has also been expressing his strong views on Palestine and other prickly matters. Being pro-Israel is one thing, but being so blatantly political, quite another. Musicians should make music.... and not meddle in matters that are politically sensitive.The great conductor that he is, I hope for his sake he doesn't land in a mess on account of his views.
Sigh.... why not remember the exquisite after- taste of the green apple sorbet at the banquet that had slivers of tamarind, crushed pepper and flakey red chillies adding the right piquancy to it??? Just like Zubin's theekha-meetha interviews.
I kid you not when I say I met a socialite who thought Placido was like a placebo, but was dying to show off her latest Burma rubies at the concert!