Happy Easter! I had a traditional Easter feast at Alex and Namita Kuruvilla's art filled home, and gorged on the hard to resist culinary treats in an entirely unladylike manner. How can one not attack the typical Syrian Christian cuisine of Kerala ( dry beef is Alex's speciality)? Combine that with piping hot aapams from the griddle, dipped into a steaming chicken eshtew ... Oh god!! Stop me, someone! You get the story? It was the most perfect way to spend such a special sunday. Especially since Alex and Namita are such laid back, warm and chilled out hosts.
I pounced on the latest swimsuit issue of Vogue India ( Alex heads it ), and trust me when I say this - summer and white bikinis have never looked better! The theme is subtle but strong - 'The Dawn of Dusk' the magazine boldly states on the cover which features India's top models - not just any models - these are the ones who happen to possess the most delectable honey gold skin. In other words, these gorgeous ladies do not fall into the 'Fair and Lovely' mould - thank God! The entire issue celebrates dusky skin without any kind of overstatement or cheesy emphasis. This is really a big one for Vogue - a bold step to announce the arrival of dusky on the fashion front, after years of worshipping pale! Well done Alex!
I strongly recommend you go check this one out for yourself - it may just become a collector's item.
And here's my Sunday Times column.
For my take on Sania-Shoaib, you'll have to wait till tomorrow. Watch this space!
Dubai’s Sheikh Mo is a ‘lambey race ka ghoda’…
“ A man has two choices, either to be a follower or to show initiative… we greatly desire to be pioneers.”
Thus stated Mohammed bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE,Ruler of Dubai.It was a clear and strong message – Dubai is open for business. Again. And if bail out partners, Abu Dhabi, are getting over ambitious, whoa, Sheikh Mo still has the best thoroughbreds and jockeys. He is certainly not in the mood to rein them in or hand over the Derby winnings. The jackpot remains in Dubai. And what better venue for a coming out party than the recently opened $ 1.5 billion race course complex? Sheikh Mo was in full flow as he welcomed 500 celebrities from across the globe for the priciest horse racing event on earth – the Dubai World Cup, where the prize money was a staggering $ 10 million ( the Brazilian winners went home a deliriously happy couple after their filly Gloria de Campeao won by a nose). But what left the generally hard-to-impress guests gasping was Sheikh Mo’s legendary hospitality. He had pulled out all the stops – with good reason. It was time for Depressed Dubai to reassure disheartened investors that ‘aaal eeez welll,” in the desert kingdom… the money is about to start rolling in once more, and hello!! Who said anything about those trendy sheesha bars shutting down?? Sure, building activity is not happening and the day-and-night cranes have stopped whirring, but wait a minute, Sheikh Mo has a thing or two to say about the future.
Protocol is protocol, even if you are a Russian oligarch. And the instructions were perfectly clear . You don’t talk to Sheikh Mo – Sheikh Mo talks to you. And when he does, you make sure to address him as ‘Your Highness’ ( he isn’t royalty, and comes from Bedouin stock , but so what, he’s the mighty ruler, remember?). But if his lovely wife, Princess Haya favours you with an audience, make sure she is addressed as ‘Your Royal Highness ,” ( she is legit royalty from neighbouring Jordan). Nobody was taking chances – these tips came as written instructions in a neat folder. The impressive Chinese delegation seemed bewildered ( peasants are not supposed to acknowledge such proletariat issues), but the Japanese could be spotted cheerfully bowing away to every dish dash that passed. It was obvious that there was a clever strategy behind the super lavish, shrewdly marketed weekend that saw British royals ( Prince Andrew , better known as Randy Andy) and Liz Hurley ( dressed like a lemon sherbet, and equally refreshing), besides business and media czars from everywhere, who were treated to a Phantom of their own to chauffeur them around. Sheikh Mo made his agenda abundantly clear during an informal speech on the beach ( interrupted by his own cell phone ringing loudly over the p.a. system). He talked about people standing by him during good times and bad, (“ You remember those who support you when things are down” – we hear you brother!), adding significantly that Dubai continues to value its independence, its cultural identity, its special position, and is not about to surrender or sell out There are leaders and leaders, he reminded the audience, but only one remains number one – “ because number two does not exist.” Wow! If there were VVIPs from Abu Dhabi present, they must have been hiding behind the camels.
Later, as he strolled hand-in-hand with his favourite wife ( same lady – Princess Haya), he once again sent out a message that wasn’t lost in translation – Dubai will remain the L.A. of this volatile region – a chilled out place for good timers to have an even better time ( alcohol service was not suspended during his address). The focus will remain on attracting international high rollers ready to put their money where their fun is. All that nonsense about banning wine in French cuisine, imposing bans on PDA s or implementing unrealistic dress codes, will be tossed out of the window, just in case Abu Dhabi was getting ideas. Oh…. about those innumerable abandoned buildings ( crazily overbuilt in the first place – there are enough empty apartments in Dubai to house half of Shanghai and all of Mumbai), the people will come. Or that’s the Dubai Dream. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi can model itself on Washington and become a political\cultural hub with an emphasis on education and mushrooming museums. Dubai will remain the desired destination for heavy duty, non-stop partying – the Middle East’s answer to Las Vegas. And if the tallest, swankiest building in the world – the Burj Khalifa – has had to be renamed in order to appease Abu Dhabi, it doesn’t matter. After all, it still stands in Dubai, where everything is bigger and brighter.
Nearly sixty thousand people watched that nail biting finish at the Dubai World Cup from those state of the art stands that are true architectural marvels. Heaven knows how many million across the globe watched the race (and the spectacular closing ceremony) over television. After the well synchronized fireworks, there were top class performances by Elton John and Carlos Santana. It was total paisa vasool – even if you didn’t win a dirham. That’s entertainment. That’s also brilliant P.R. As image building, morale boosting exercises go, this one is hard to beat .
Who says Dubai is broke??
Maybe we should hire Sheikh Mo for the Commonwealth Games in Delhi???