Thursday, October 13, 2011
Paris-Reims Mystery Solved!
Thank you for your patience, Blogdosts. So... here's the story. I was the proud recipient of the Veuve Clicquot Tribute, in the category of 'Inspirational Women of the World' . The Veuve Clicquot Businesswoman Award was started 39 years ago, in 1972, to honour the memory of the founder, Mme.Clicquot, widowed at 27 and left to manage her husband's estate in Reims.This prestigious award recognises the contribution of women in different spheres, with a special emphasis on entrepreneurship. This year, there were 11 other recipients from far flung countries like Brazil. Since 1972, this Award has gone to just 300 women.
I was very impressed by the solemn, dignified manner with which the ceremonies were conducted over two intense days. Workshops, brain storming sessions, working lunches, and of course, fabulous dinners and celebrations with the best vintages. But it was the vine baptism ceremony that I most enjoyed. And the awarding of the medal. And no, 'Another Kiran from New York', disappointingly enough,there were no gold painted men in loin cloths peeling grapes pour moi. Just Stephane ( last pic) dressed appropriately like a French country squire! The formal black tie dinner at Les Crayeres (third last pic) was when my Tribute was presented in the most elegant setting and matching manner. I'd like to believe I responded equally elegantly! And if you are admiring the standing chandelier in the second last pic, it is indeed magnificent. After all, it is in the Maison Baccarat. Sigh!
There are more pics.... but I don't want to bore you. Ciao for now!
This appeared in the Asian Age....
"Only Raavans in India. Where's Ram?"
Okay. So we are done with burning Raavan’s effigies across India.And at least a few people are in a celebratory mood knowing they earn more than Rs.32 a day. As we prepare for the annual Festival of Lights ( even a single,decorated diya costs more than those measly thirty two bucks!) and discuss the victory of good over evil for the 900th time, we are fooling nobody. Least of all, ourselves. Let’s face it, we are in a mess. A terrible mess. Chachu Chids and Bodo Da Pranab can hold hands in public, even kiss and pretend to make up. But sorry… their overstated bonhomie has come through as a patently false and very unconvincing patch up. The kind one associates with high profile, warring Bollywood couples who appear together on reality shows to promote a new film, and dash back to their vanity vans the moment the shoot ends, to continue snapping and snarling in private. This sort of a spat would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago. Politicos have always waged bitter battles against colleagues, but never in the public domain. Such incidents were shrewdly handled behind closed doors, much like joint family feuds. That two of the most astute and powerful men in the cabinet decided to slug it out in such a khullam khulla manner, suggests just one thing – there’s nobody in charge at the top of the heap. Anarchy within families generally gets out of hand when the patriarch or the matriarch is too weak to arbitrate and restore order. It looks like present scenario in Delhi is similar. The Patriarch ( Manmohan Tauji) looked and sounded bewildered, even overwhelmed by the sudden outbreak of hostilities within the fold. While the Matriarch ( Sonia Madamji) was recuperating overseas, and not in a position to intervene when required. By the time Madam came back and took control, the damage was already done. That she asserted herself immediately on her return, says a lot about her complete and absolute control over the unwieldy party that has been bogged down by indiscipline and ego issues for quite a while. The two jhagda-jhagdi stalwarts eventually managed a small face (and party-) saving photo–op, plus, issued loaded statements that required no decoding. By then, the chattering classes had drawn their own conclusions.
Dekho bhai. Life is ajeeb. And has a gajab kahani. But when those who run the show start behaving like errant schoolboys, squabbling in a football maidan, then even the most loyal supporters realize that the bimaari is far more widespread than it appears. Since the tough and enduring fabric of India has remained consistently intact because of the reverence we possess for the Great Indian Family system, it is but natural that we should suffer from a case of instant disorientation and experience a deep sense of disillusionment when the head of the parivar is seen as a kamzhor individual - someone whose authority means not a thing. At such crisis points, our belief in the maa-baap system ( that has kept us together for centuries) gets rudely shaken. Without a wise, mature, caring, strong Pitaji and Mataji, the family structure becomes scarily dheela. Problems start. Tiffs happen. Family disintegrates. Nobody wants that. Not even Manmohan Singh’s detractors. He was India’s nominated Father Figure. A benign head of the family, we believed in for the longest time. He just seemed better than the rest. Morally superior. Above and beyond corrupt practices , no, even corrupt thoughts. A man India could trust. Rely on. Not terribly ambitious. But sober, soft spoken and non-threatening. Someone capable of handling the many personalities and thin skinned colleagues in the chaotic coalition that was clobbered together ( and has miraculously survived so far). Let’s hand it to him – Manmohan Singh ‘managed’, where several others might have failed. His job description was never as sexy as Chidambaram’s or Pranabda’s. And the poor man was willy- nilly reduced to playing the role of Madam’s chosen courtier. This couldn’t have been much fun for the celebrated economist, frequently credited with having turned India’s economy around. But such was the rather unenviable image and positioning he was stuck with. Despite that, he acquitted himself reasonably well. Till the recent debacle.
It’s time for our favourite Tauji to go back to being the man India loves to trust. It’s a pretty difficult expectation to live upto. But if anybody can pull it off, it’s our blue turbaned friend. We like the familiar. Manmohan Singh is the familiar … the familiar fall guy. We’d like him even more if he stopped playing the fall guy and started kicking butt. How about it, Sir-ji?