This was written for the Asian Age \ Deccan Chronicle
Oh I came across this lovely picture with my daughter Avantikka, shot by my darling cousin, ace photographer Gautam Rajadhyaksha
Dear Mr. Cameron, the natives are restless tonight…
British PM David Cameron is hip, hot and sexy. A little like that other perennial British pin-up – Elizabeth Hurley. What fun! They can be conveniently bracketed in the ‘same same but different’ category given their India connections. Hurley is married to Mr. Bandgala… and it sure looks like Cameron is ready to wear one. What better way to woo those restless natives. All for a good cause , of course! As photo-ops go, his ‘namastey’ in Bangalore made a few front pages. As good p.r.giri goes, his references to national icons and symbols ( SRK, Sachin, curry, lingo) during his Bangalore lecture for 2,000 techies, won him several extra brownie points. Cameron is a smart cookie, and it really was high time the British figured out how the cookie crumbles in India. A steamy Indo-British romance is heavily in the air. So far, we are reasonably pleased with the suitor’s efforts. Cameron is on a mission to woo us – and we aren’t being bashful or coy, either. In these crass and nakedly commercial times, nobody should shy away from discussing lolly. In fact, it should be the number one item on the agenda – money. How much are we going to make after getting into bed with Britain? I’m all for a pre-nup. That’s the bottom line, everything else is secondary. Once those dirty filthy commercial details are taken care of, Manmohan Singh can also praise Lady Gaga, Elton John and their cricket captain. But he must never ever make the mistake of praising British food or else the world will know he is lying.
Courtship rituals vary, but Cameron and his band of merry men ( well, mostly…. there were very few saucy lassies on his team of 90), stayed with a fairly traditional, even predictable script. The mood was ‘Hawk-ish’ – the Rs.5,200 crore deal for advanced jet trainers is in the bag. There were several other ‘farmaishes’ on the British wish list – from UK law firms interested in setting up shop in India,to British banks and supermarket players like Tesco getting down to serious business here. Let’s do a little singalong folks, “ All I want is a deal somewhere…. far away from this cold nightmare…… oh, wouldn’t it be loverly”?? This two-day visit – let’s call it a quickie - spells (and smells of) just one thing – cash. But at least there is no fake attempt at making the whirlwind trip sound like anything other than what it is – a shopping jamboree.
Cameron’s crack team is packed with cuties, too. George Osborne whizzed through Mumbai, all bright eyed and bushy tailed, despite his hysterical schedule. As always, Mumbai’s unchallenged power couple,Parmesh and Adi Godrej pulled out all the stops and showed the visitors what the mega watt Mumbai magic is all about at a marvelously structured dinner party for sixty of their closest and dearest friends – other industrialists, Bollywood stars, fashionistas, socialites, writers, professionals. It was a dazzling line up of the city’s best and brightest, to say nothing of the hottest. Since the dishy under-40 Chancellor of the Exchequer was the star invitee, Mumbai sat up and took notice, giving him the sort of ‘bhav’ generally reserved for Bollywood royalty and nobody else. An invitee who had flown in from Delhi especially for the soiree commented wryly, “ Thank God for Adi and Parmesh. Thank God George’s first impressions of India will be formed at an evening like this, rather than at a stuffy Delhi dinner,where guests often ignore the visiting chief guest and gherao the local politicians present. The Mumbai crowd is so much more blasé and cosmopolitan – the guy can relax and have a great time.” Well, given that gallons of Dom were generously flowing and the dinner table was laden with baked crab and salmon, it must have been very difficult for Georgie Boy to concentrate on biz talk or even believe he was indeed in India. How many times did he pinch himself that night???The enticing stretch of the glittering Queen’s Necklace glittered wickedly beyond the tranquil infinity pool of the Godrej mansion . Ironic! The Queen (Victoria) to whom this ‘necklace’ was dedicated was the Empress of British India at the time! And now every Mumbaikar believes this priceless necklace belongs to him \ her – as it indeed does. Members of Georges’ team were caught ogling the lovely ladies present.The lucky visitors had the chance to feast on enough eye candy to give them a belly ache for weeks. Gorgeous men and women floated around dressed in the most eye popping couture. A mega industrialist’s beautiful wife was sporting a whopper of a diamond ( not less than 40 carats )… and oh-so-casually at that ( over a classic black dress). Everywhere one turned, there was red hot glamour ( starting with the hostess dressed in a figure hugging red Herve Leger). Mercifully, there wasn’t a behenji in sight, as the Dilliwalla observed, while he braced himself for round two of partying in the Capital the following night.
Well, the Big Boys from Britain have successfully pulled off a charm initiative. As a seasoned legal eagle who attended a cruelly timed (7 a.m) breakfast meeting with Osborne , the morning after the night before, commented, “ He made all the right noises and kept repeating, ‘We are here to learn’… that’s a good place to start.” You bet! Especially when you forget to add, “We are here to sell….” Let us watch how it goes once the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), make it official.
It is pay back time, buddies. We know how to drive hard bargains and squeeze the testicles of trading partners when needed. Your time begins now - tick tick tick tock . The mouse ran up the clock. Big Ben and Rajabai Tower are the new BFFs in town.
Oye, Lucky, Oye!!