A big hug to our Blogdost, Harish Iyer (Aham) who has won the ndtv Zindagi Live Award for Social Service!! Applause! Applause! He richly deserves it! And one more hug for another Blogdost Aparna Velankar for conducting a superb 'In Conversation' at the 25th 'Parle Katta' on saturday. It was a really special evening spent with 500 pre-dominantly Maharashtrian residents of Vile Parle. Not only was the function (held in a large garden) exceedingly well organised, but the thoughtful snacks served ( delicious sabudana khichdi,spicy batata wada with sweet chutney and elaichi flavoured, home brewed coffee) rounded off an ideas-charged evening, made still more special thanks to a fragrant tokri of Champak blossoms given to me and Aparna. Wish more people would offer local seasonal flowers to guests instead of boring, commercial bouquets! Questions from the audience were challenging and lively. This is the kind of crowd nobody can fool. I was delighted to be a part of it. So, when Mark Tully ( I met him at the closing party for the just concluded Mumbai Lit Fest, aptly called Literature Live, and ably chaired by Anil Dharker) snarkily asked me whether I had accepted such an invitation in order to sell more books, I snapped back ( no regrets!) and told him where to get off. Really!Such a crass question!
This appeared in Bombay Times today...
The Five Crore Man..
Sushil Kumar from Bihar has joined the ranks of the ‘most-recognised’ celebrities in India after winning 5 crores on Amitabh Bachchan’s KBC. Excellent timing ( Diwali ) and superb marketing have propelled the young man from a life of total obscurity to an entirely different world under the spotlight. So far, Sushil Kumar remains delightfully underwhelmed by the attention and the moolah. I happened to share the same flight to Delhi last week, and have to confess I didn’t recognize the non-descript young man who was minding his own business and reading a Hindi newspaper. The story changed as soon as we landed. Several co-passengers gheraoed him , asking for autographs. He posed for pictures and chatted away without the slightest self-consciousness. Someone brought him over for an introduction and he disarmingly stated that since he didn’t speak any English, we’d have to converse in Hindi . He spoke sensibly and sincerely about his win, neither boasting nor underplaying its significance in his life. At the swanky New Delhi terminal, once again Sushil Kumar was enthusiastically mobbed by passengers and staff. The last I saw of him,he was in the middle of a large crowd getting clicked on several cell phones. He appeared cool and unfazed by all the attention. This is true celebrity.
Contrast Sushil Kumar’s attitude to that of nobodies parading as celebrities. Especially B- and C- grade Bollywood types who refuse to take their shades off inside the aircraft, and strut up and down the aisle strenuously trying to attract attention. It’s easy to spot these wannabes from a mile as they collar Page 3 photographers at splashy events and insist on being photographed with the Chief Guest. If a pesky kid is stupid enough to ask for an autograph, these delusional people display the worst attitude and a basic lack of good manners by playing hard to get. Quite forgetting that their 15 minutes of fame got over years ago. Perhaps a few months from now, not too many people will remember Sushil Kumar ( someone else may win 10 crores by then!). But chances are, it won’t matter to this down to earth man. He is clear about his objectives and wants to spend his win on educating his brothers and continuing his own education. Married less than six months ago, he smiles shyly when asked what he’d like to gift his wife. For now, Sushil Kumar is in a happy space, soberly enjoying his fame and good fortune . He isn’t likely to buy the latest designer shades to hide behind. Nor does one expect him to go for a fancy car. But while his moment of glory lasts, Sushil Kumar is all set to enjoy every minute of it! Good luck to the 5 Crore Man!
Driving back from Pune recently, I had to pinch myself several times. The skyline has changed so dramatically it’s possible to believe one is in some futuristic city. Those towers! The mad architecture that mimics the best and worst of Singapore or Dubai. The gigantic shopping complexes that cover several acres! Mumbai is beginning to look like a poor cousin of Vashi and Belapur! Some irony, that!
Happy Birthday Bombay Times! Those who made it to the Anniversary Mad Hatter’s Party confirm they had an absolute blast. Nothing less was expected. Get ready to devour Page 3 to Page 20 crammed with wall-to-wall coverage of the event that saw the city’s Most Terrific at their party best.