This appeared on monday in Bombay Times.... just as the city's tireless party- goers were recovering from a LOOOOOOONG , hard night of net- working and grabbing attention at the Bombay Times Halloween-themed bash of all bashes . Does nobody have any plain simple fun these days?????
As for me, I was away in distant Chandigarh enjoying the sharp nip in the air, plus, the company of intelligent, uncomplicated, real people. I was there to launch 'Shobhaa at Sixty' - and what a memorable launch it turned out to be!! More on that once I get the pictures. But just to give you a small jhalak - over 1,100 balloons with a strong message were launched by the students of the Vivek High School ( started 26 years ago and going strong!), to mark the occasion. The kids welcomed me with a vigourous Bhangra performance that was the asli, not naqli Bollywood performance. Energetic, robust,colourful - I was enthralled. And yes, I had the creamy, thick, ice cold lassi in a mitti glass at Gopal's, ginger and ajwain flavoured chaat at Garg's Gol Guppa House and a splendid Chinese meal at The Black Lotus in the Taj Hotel where I was staying. I didn't spot any witches and ghouls, though. Guess they were all at the Bombay Times party in Mumbai!!!!
The Power and Pull of Page 3…
Since I have been travelling extensively over the past month, I have been doing my own ‘Page 3’ research in every town and city. The findings are fascinating! Since the entire Page 3 Phenomenon started right here, sixteen years ago, and just grew and grew into this mammoth-sized monster devouring every wannabe in its path, it is a subject that requires closer scrutiny. Nearly every local paper now has its own version of Page 3 – including all those holier- than- thou establishment papers that used to sniff derisively and claim they would never succumb! A quick trip to Aurangabad opened my eyes still further. For one, this is the city that got the world talking by placing a single order for 151 Mercedes cars in one dramatic go! Since then, another order for 28, top of the line, S- Class Mercs ( over a crore each) has also been placed – that’s what I call a real Diwali in Stuttgart, the home of Mercedes. Local papers regularly cover the lives of those richie rich car owners and their incredibly lavish life styles. They are happy being super celebs in Aurangabad even if the rest of India hasn’t heard of them. Ditto in Hyderabad, which boasts of over 10 Phantoms, as many Maseratis and countless Bentleys. Who owns these fancy wheels? Who knows? But they cruise around the throbbing city with posh owners at the wheel… the same ones who feature morning after morning on Page 3 partying with one another in palatial homes that resemble Italian \ Balinese palaces. Same story in Pune, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Bangalore. That’s where the wealth is and that’s also where a new generation of Page 3 regulars is being spawned. I was pretty amazed by what I saw in Chattrapur last week – bet you don’t know where Chattarpur is, right? It’s about an hour and a half outside Delhi, and is rapidly becoming the Alibag of that part of the world. This is where those sprawling farm houses are located. This is also where the latest Porsche scrapes past a smoke spewing tractor on a narrow dirt track. And village women wearing grubby ghagras gather firewood as memsaabs clad in glam gowns rush off into the still night driven by haughty chauffeurs at the wheels of blood red Ferraris. This new breed of Page 3’s neither knows nor cares who rules the social roost in Mumbai. They are smug and happy in their neighbourhood being Queen Bees of their own party set. They preen and pose for friendly photographers they’re on first name terms with and airily take their places on the front rows during fashion week as if it’s their birthright. Which is why it becomes doubly embarrassing when desperate for recognition Mumbai socialites crash Delhi parties and shamelessly network with people who wonder how they are there in the first place! This happened right in front of my eyes on the lawns of the French Embassy, but the host was too polite and well mannered to throw the woman out. On her part, she had flown in that morning and muscled her way into the soiree, determined not to be left out of such a high profile, high powered evening. Being a fixture on Page 3 in Mumbai did not guarantee her an entrée into society in Delhi. But let’s hand it to her for brazenly trying! Next time, she may even succeed.
Such is the power and pull of Page 3.
Take a bow, Team B.T. Or, better still….. HIDE!